Join this Horseplayer in Handicapping Woodbine

By Art Parker

One of the things that simulcasting and Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) gave horseplayers was the opportunity to broaden our horizons. When simulcasting came around we were able to stay at our home track and play a couple of other tracks from around the country. The simulcast menu at most tracks has grown to the point where plenty of track options are available everyday you walk in the door. ADW extended the opportunity since most ADW companies do their best to offer any track that is running.

In case you haven’t played Woodbine, the premier track in Canada. then consider what the Toronto track offers.

Woodbine currently has the lowest take out on straight bets in North America. That’s very enticing, particularly if you also get rebates on your wagers. Along the player-friendly lines, Woodbine offers a 20 cents minimum on trifectas, superfectas, pick 3s and pick4s…the door is open to everyone on the exotics wagering menu. Plus, the pick 4s have guaranteed minimum pools every day.

The Woodbine meet is long, starting in April and finishing in mid-December. It is a great track for keeping records and being acclimated to everyday play. The track offers racing almost every Wednesday with a card consistent in quality with its normal daytime cards. The quality of racing at Woodbine is very good and, even though many of the stakes are restricted to Canadian bred runners, Woodbine has a very good stakes program, including quite a few graded events that always give the player a big race to look forward to.  A perfect example is this Sunday (July 7) with the $1 Million Queen’s Plate card.

The surfaces at Woodbine are excellent. The layout is unique since the main track is located inside the turf course. The Polytrack has performed well with its consistency and safety.

For the player that wants to have a track that is on the ball and providing plenty of information, then Woodbine is your track. I’m convinced the track has the best commentary and analysis in the racing world. Excellent commentary before the card begins, with analysis before each race that also includes a paddock analysis. When you put this together with an excellent audio/visual system then you have a horse player’s dream. Woodbine also does a great job with its website where information available to the player is far more in-depth than at most track websites.

I believe Woodbine is, indeed, the true “Player’s Track.” Take a look at Woodbine.  Check it out the next time you play the horses. I think you will wind up agreeing with me.

— Art Parker  is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns.”  Art keeps detailed trainer notes on both Keeneland and Woodbine racing.  His Keeneland publication comes out every spring and fall here at AGameofSkill.com

Kelzenberg’s Late Pick-4 Analysis for Prairie Meadows Iowa Festival of Racing

by Anthony Kelzenberg, The Flat Bet Prophet

Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s time for the Iowa Festival of Racing! And that means a few good horses running in shorts fields for great money.

Race 6) Saylorville Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 6 furlongs

This is a contentious field, with every horse having a chance. Most of the mares know only one way to go – to the lead! As such, I will go with classy midpack-running animal #5 BEAT THE BLUES as my top pick, as she can close off fast fractions. She likes to win too – 10 wins in 24 starts while racing in top company. #4 LIVI MAKENZIE and #3 LULU WONG would both appreciate it if the other horse wasn’t in the race – they are both one-dimensional speed balls. But both are capable of winning. #1 SECOND STREET CITY intrigues me because she’ll be a relatively high price and she’s in great form. I will throw her in my pick 4.

Race 7) Iowa Distaff Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 1 1/16 miles

I am lukewarm on #2 FLASHY AMERICAN. Her last race was dynamite, but it took her 18 starts to get through her “two other than” allowance condition. I am going to use her but I would not be surprised to see her defeated. #4 CRUZETTE is the speed of the race and will have to be caught. Her speed figures are good enough to contend and the trainer and jock hit at a 30% rate together. #7 QUEEN LILY KAY’s speed and pace figures also put her in the mix if Flashy American falters.

Race 8) [Feature] Iowa Sprint Handicap – Purse $125k, 6 furlongs

In possibly one the the most significant owner/trainer switches since Seabiscuit (okay, may not that many years), #3 DELAUNAY has turned into a win machine, winning seven stakes in his last eight starts, running huge figures. #2 GENTLEMAN’S BET is nearly as good, showing four wins and a third in five starts. Should be a great race for all the fans who come watch Friday night.

Race 9) Claiming $12,500, 6 furlongs

#1(1a is OK but I much prefer the #1) 8-5 morning line

PICK 4 Ticket: 1,3,4,5 with 2,4,7 with 2,3 with 1,5,8  ($36 cost for a 50 cent base wager)

Always remember to wager within your comfort level.

— Kelzenberg has a B.S. Degree in Engineering from U of Minnesota, M.S. Degree in Engineering from Northwestern University. He has run a Math/Science tutoring business since Sept. 2003

Horse Racing Fans Need to Step Up to the Plate

by Art Parker

About the only time I go to a track is when I am on vacation, have a business trip or visit my daughter in the D.C. area. I’m definitely part of the growing Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) legion of players. Last week I took a few days off and visited my daughter, who lives on the Maryland side of our nation’s capital. She invited me to come since it was around Father’s Day time and, of course, she sweetened the invitation with the one line I love to here, “Dad, we can go to the track one day.”

My daughter, now 32 years old, was taught how to read a Racing Form when she was in the third grade and she is a good handicapper. Even though we are separated by 700 miles we “play the races together” online and in online tournaments. I can say that the love of horse racing is a family affair, so you can imagine the priority we place on going to the track together whenever possible.

Delaware Park walking ring, horses. June 2013. Photo by Art Parker for AGameofskill.com

copyright Art Parker & AllStarPress.com

When I visit her in the summer we go to Delaware Park (DEL). It is not too far from the D.C. area, and if not for the ridiculous road tolls in Maryland, it would be a delightful trip especially when the weather is nice. We went to DEL on the Saturday before Father’s Day and the weather was picture perfect. It was a great day to be outside and we decided to hang out in the picnic area. DEL is a beautiful track in a beautiful setting.

“Racing missed the original sports television era and then has tried to play ‘catch up’ ever since. It has been forced to fight a massive swell of casino operations that have covered the landscape far beyond the borders of Nevada where all of that started.”

We shared the track that day with many others. I don’t know if there was a special promotional day or not, but there was a ton of kids there. You could tell it was a day for mom and dad, or grandpa and grandma, to take kids to the track.  The track has a great outdoor area with plenty of “climbing” equipment that young kids love, which located next to the picnic area at the clubhouse turn. For those with kids it is a good area to watch the races especially when the race goes around two turns.

One could also tell that many in attendance were “rookies,” not just because of the kids but because of the long lines at the tellers and how slow they moved. It is safe to assume that many in the teller lines were rookies because the self service machines had no waiting lines.

For one race I strolled up to the fence hoping to see my horse win with ease, which didn’t happen. The man standing next to me was in a bad way and said with disgust, “I’ve never seen so many rookies in my life.” I asked him what he meant just to make sure I knew since he directed the line toward me. “All of these damn rookies get in the way, hold up the lines, and they probably brought all of these kids,” he growled. I just nodded primarily to acknowledge the fellow and avoid an argument. I came close to chewing his butt out, but I thought better of it and remained silent.

I thought it was a great day. I was glad to see the rookies and I was glad to see the kids. We need them. We need new enthusiasts. We need kids to come to the track and have fun and then pester their folks about coming back again.

Racing has not been wise when it comes to fan development. Racing missed the original sports television era and then has tried to play ‘catch up’ ever since. It has been forced to fight a massive swell of casino operations that have covered the landscape far beyond the borders of Nevada where all of that started. In addition to those near mindless games found in a casino, horse racing has had to fight the completely mindless games called lotteries. The fight is ongoing and it is a tough one. And the fight will remain tough if we do not open every possible door to potential newcomers. Having tracks open up for families to go to the track and take the kids is necessary for horse racing to continue the fight for its share of, not only the gambling dollar, but the entertainment dollar.

We have many great tracks in America like Delaware Park. And these tracks can be a great place to take the family. Let’s make sure we let all people feel welcome. We need new blood and new enthusiasts. Once they get there then we have to teach them how to play or we will lose them. Remember, our game is a game of skill, not a mindless game of chance.

If you see a rookie at the track be sure and welcome him or her, then offer to help. After all, that person may want to bring his whole family next week. And that’s not a bad thing. I promise.

Horse Racing is a Game of Skill…in India, too

Is horse racing handicapping a game of skill?

The current gambling laws in India are ambiguous. The Gambling Act, 1867, prohibits gambling and the setting up of gaming houses. However, it does not apply to “games of skill.”  Several court judgments have discussed the difference between “games of chance” and “games of skill”. In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that betting on horse races is a game of skill, and not just luck. Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu allow betting on horse-racing, provided it is conducted on race courses and through licensed bookies. Gambling on rummy is also allowed.

“In a similar fashion, a game of cricket involves skills of players,” says FICCI’s Singh.

Read the rest from Business Today (India)

What Happened to Shanghai Bobby and Uncaptured?

Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER for AGameofSkill.com

Shortly before the Breeders’ Cup last year, a nice colt named Uncaptured invaded Kentucky from Canada and won the Iroquis Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs, defeating the future Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze in the process. Overanalyze went on to run in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Uncaptured bypassed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park, but stuck around Kentucky and once again proved his fondness for Churchill Downs by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) defeating Frac Daddy, the future runner up in the Arkansas Derby and a participant in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

While Uncaptured was making a name for himself, Shanghai Bobby was winning everything in sight including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Shanghai Bobby, who is trained by America’s top conditioner Todd Pletcher, was named the two year old champion for 2013. Uncaptured was named Canada’s Horse of the Year for 2012 and the first two year old to be voted Canada’s Horse of the Year since 1986.

The 2013 season started with defeats for what many thought to be the best colts in North America. Shanghai Bobby lost in late January in Florida and then lost in the Florida Derby. A few days after the Florida Derby, a press release from the Bobby camp said the colt would miss the Triple Crown and may be back in late summer or in the fall. Uncaptured lost in his 2013 debut at Turfway Park to a 15-1 shot named Black Onyx, a horse he should have run down in the stretch. Three weeks after that Uncaptured ran terribly in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a performance that took him off the Triple Crown trail.

The day after the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Uncaptured was back home at Woodbine in Toronto in the Wando Stakes, a listed stakes event that seemed to be beneath Canada’s Horse of the Year and a Kentucky Derby hopeful. Uncaptured was defeated by a one time winner and barely managed second place.

What happened to these two colts? I don’t believe you can blame it on training. After all, Pletcher is good enough to have five run in the Kentucky Derby. He had so many horses in America’s premier race that the media referred to them as “Todd’s Squad.” Yes, Pletcher is that good. And Uncaptured is trained by the King of Canada, Mark Casse. In the last four years Casse has won almost 400 races just at Woodbine.

When horses are injured, a reversal of form is expected. But it is difficult to understand how some horses go in the wrong direction when they are not injured. It is even more difficult to understand when the horses in question are top notch stakes horses.

I have the answer and the answer is, I don’t know. And none of us should pretend to know the answer. After decades of playing the horses and being a dedicated student of the game, I can tell you that this happens all of the time and it always will. Every year I see some great prospects become also rans. Just like we see some that can’t run a lick and then, late in their three year old year or early in their four year old year, they start running and winning. I’m sure breeding may have something to do with some of this, but we can only predict the impact of breeding on an individual horse just so far.

I’ve been told that a thoroughbred is not fully grown until sometime between four and five years old. If that is true (or near the truth) then the difference between ages two and three, and the difference between ages three and four, is like a rapidly changing cycle. It is like dealing with a human from age 12-17. For those of you that are parents and your kids are this age or older, you know that dealing with kids is a near impossible task! Don’t get upset if you are one of those that bet on Verrazano or Goldencents in the Kentucky Derby. Remember, you placed your faith in an irresponsible teenager that cannot decide what to do with his life. What else can you expect?

On the other hand, the challenge of predicting form can play to our advantage. If one horse doesn’t run, it doesn’t mean they all stop. As one horse decides to loaf around there is another that decides to get going. There must be a winner in every race, and it is our job to find that winner. And there is a good chance that later this year or sometime next year, you analyze a race and may decide to bet on a horse that is “rounding into top form.” Don’t be surprised if his name is Shanghai Bobby or Uncaptured. Sometimes teenagers grow up and act responsible. 

Ken & Sarah Ramsey off to a fine start at Keeneland

Why not make it a dozen?

 

By ART PARKER

Entering the 2013 spring meeting at Keeneland, Ken and Sarah Ramsey accumulated 11 owner titles at the Lexington oval. Six fall meetings and five spring meetings have the Ramsey name at the top of the owner’s list. By the looks of things during the opening weekend at Keeneland last week, the Ramseys couldn’t wait to win their twelfth Keeneland title.

Keeneland Green LogoIn the first three days of racing the Ramseys were victorious in the first two races of the meeting, the last three races run, and one in between. The Ramseys won six of the first 29 races; a tad more than 20% run at Keeneland. The only bad news during the weekend is that the Ramseys actually endured fifteen consecutive races without a win! Go figure.

What is refreshing about watching the Ramseys win races is that there is nothing restrictive about their ownership involvement. In this game we see many owners that only come to the track when their horse runs, and usually their horse is a stakes runner. But with the Ramseys you see a little bit of everything, and they appear to be just as proud of a lower level claimer as a graded stakes runner.

Let’s look at the Ramseys winners in the first three days at Keeneland’s spring meeting.

Day one, race one: A $30,000 non-winners of two lifetime claimer. The horse was claimed at Gulfstream.

Day one, race two: An optional claimer “three other than” that shipped in from Fairgrounds.

Day two, race one:  A $16,000 claimer that was claimed for $30,000 at Fairgrounds.

Then the “drought” when the Ramseys were winless for 15 consecutive races.

Day three, race seven: A debut runner.

Day three, race eight: Entry level allowance (turf) shipper from Gulfstream.

Day three, race nine: A $10,000 claimer that shipped in from Turfway Park.

Thus far at the Keeneland meeting, trainer Michael Maker has won five races for the Ramseys and trainer Wesley Ward has won one race for them. Others are likely to show up in the winner’s circle with Ramsey horses. In the meeting last fall the Ramseys won with Maker, Ward, Wayne Catalano and David Vance. Last fall the Ramseys won a total of a dozen races. After just three days this spring they already have half that number. There’s a good chance no other owner can even match what the Ramseys have done thus far.

 

The highlight of the opening weekend was the Grade One Ashland Stakes and the impressive romp made by Emollient, a gate to wire winner that looked to be light years ahead of the other three year old fillies. Mike Smith rode Emollient to a nine length winning margin after breaking from Post 13. Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott, Emollient covered the one mile and sixteenth in 1:43.49. Emollient is a daughter of Empire Maker out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch. With Belmont winners on both sides of her pedigree, Emollient should be even tougher the longer she goes.

— Art Parker is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” now available in all e-book formats for the 2013 spring meet. Get the inside scoop on the horsemen that win at Keeneland!

 

What’s Your Handicapping Routine?

By Art Parker

A routine is a regular course of procedure or a habitual or mechanical performance prior to an act. It’s what you do before you do something you are planning to do.

copyright Karlien Du plessis – Dreamtime

Take a look at golfers, preferably professionals. Before striking a 190-yard approach shot, they find all of the recorded markers to gauge the distance. They determine the wind. The figure out where they want the ball to land on the green. They select a club. They stand behind the ball and envision a shot. They address the ball and waggle the club, then become still and finally, commence the back swing and execute the shot. Whether it’s putting or driving, good golfers will do almost the exact same thing every time. It’s a routine.

Baseball is our national pastime but it is truly a routine game and more so than others. In addition to the usual action between the pitcher and catcher almost all plays are routine and repeated with unusually high frequency. Ground balls are hit to the infield. The infielder bends down with feet in position, catches the ball, the feet make the proper adjustments while the arm goes back and there is the throw to first base. Baseball teams take “infield” before the game just to establish the same routine. My favorite player is Derek Jeter (of my beloved Yankees) and there is no telling how many ground balls he has scooped up and subsequently thrown to first base in his life. I’m sure he will tell you that you can never repeat that routine enough. Mastering baseball routines (and good pitching) is the difference between a championship team and a team at the bottom of the standings.

So, you’re a horseplayer. What is your routine?

Most horseplayers do not have a routine or they do something based upon superstition. And most horseplayers lose money. If you know a very good horseplayer ask them about their routine, and I feel confident they can tell you exactly what they do every day they go to the track with specific details before they place their wagers.

I’ve known many good players over the years and all of them have a routine on days they play the game. Yes, they all differ, but all of them are habitual acts where the goal is to obtain what they believe to be critical information. In other words good horse players are investigators and they stick to their guns when it comes to finding evidence, and they will do this before they analyze a race and make a bet.

It is safe to say that good and bad players first take note of the weather, track condition and scratches. Then comes the time I believe that the men are separated from the boys. The good players start gathering other information instead analyzing races. One of the most critical pieces of information is the entry sheet and the scratch board. On the entry sheet you find the horses entered in alphabetical order, as well as the trainers and jockeys. If you are a careful student and you have made notes on troubled trips and maintain any trainer notes, then the entry sheet is a quick tip off to what may be in store for the races that day. The trainers list and jockeys list give you a quick view of what may be abnormal. Is a particular trainer listed that doesn’t normally run his stable at your track? What about the jockey who is rarely seen at this track? Why are they here? The most important question when you see unusual names is, “How many races are they participating in?”

Usually found on the entry list is the scratch board. This is a critical catalog of information. Who was scratched by the vet, and when? Is the horse taking a drop in class after the vet’s scratch? Best beware. And then a trainer may have scratched out of a race a week ago and his horse is entered in a noticeable higher class today. Better take a look if the trainer’s confidence is high.

Of course the conditions of each race need to be reviewed. I rarely play anything but sprints on the dirt so I place question marks by any race other than those races. I know where to spend the majority of my time.

There are many things a player can do to develop a routine prior to analyzing individual races and making wagers. Develop a routine that you are comfortable with and that gives you confidence. Make sure you take the time to gather the information you need to be successful and don’t just jump in the water. Some days, the water may be too cold.

Handicapper Art ParkerArt Parker is the author of “KEENELAND WINNING TRAINER PATTERNS” which has just been release for the 2013 Spring Meet. Over 100 trainers with two or more winners since 2010 are profiled in this book. Available for instant download.

The Pace Can Compromise the Best in the Field

A look at the 2013 Fountain of Youth Stakes

By Art Parker

The 2013 edition of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park proved to be an exciting race that yielded two conclusions. The first conclusion is a confirmation that quite often the pace makes the race and even the best horse in a field is subject to disappointment when the pace is not right.

Gulfstream Park paddockMajestic Hussar popped out of the Gulfstream gate and seized the lead proving to be the quickest of several early speed types. The leader held an advantage of a length or so over the balance of the first flight, which included heavy favorite, Violence. That first flight was clearly running away from all the others in the early stages of the race. Just after Majestic Hussar posted a blistering 45 2/5 half mile you could see the others in the first flight were slipping. At that time the rider of Violence, Javier Castellano, realized that the leader may get away and he was the only one with a shot of stopping a runaway train. Castellano got busy on Violence, who confronted the leader and eventually took the lead when leaving the far turn.

The time for ¾ of a mile was an astonishing 1:08 4/5, a time that is much too hot for even the best older handicap horses, much less a 3 year old in the month of February. Castellano had no choice, in my opinion, but the move drained enough energy out of the leader where he could not hold off the fast charging winner named Orb. Even though the race did not have a speed duel on the front end, the pace made the race for a closer.

Besides confirming that pace can make a race the second conclusion is one regarding a specific horse. The most impressive horse in the race was Violence, who finished second by only a half length. The highly regard Violence turned out to be everything he was cracked up to be.  For those of you who get knee deep in handicapping the Kentucky Derby months in advance I suggest you put a ring around Violence. He was compromised about half way around and had to go all out too soon. The key element is his third quarter, which I calculated at 22 4/5 or 23 flat at worst. Violence is exceptionally well bred and probably has blue blood in his veins. A son of Medaglia d’Oro from the Gone West mare Violent Beauty, Violence is bred to run all day long. He was 3 for 3 coming into the Fountain of Youth and would still be undefeated had he not been compromised quite so much in the race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, this tremendous effort from Violence took its toll.  The talented 3yo was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid and is off the Triple Crown trail.

You Learn More When You Lose Than When You Win

By ART PARKER

Many benefits come my way in my real profession of a newspaper editor. Located in a bedroom community next to our state capital I have the luxury (or burden) of knowing many politicians and knowing the real truth about what is going on. This puts me in a position where people running for office often seek my counsel, especially those running for the first time that need of votes from my community. It is true, and don’t let anyone tell you different, that good columnists and editors of local newspapers have a colossal impact on the political landscape in this country, especially at the state and local level. But the time we have the greatest impact is with verbal communication with a candidate or one who already holds office.

I’m getting around to horse racing after this last piece of political chat so hang on. When a new comer to the political scene comes in my office and tells me he/she wants to run for a position I eventually get around to the key question. “What happens if you lose?” That is the question that starts the world turning in the other direction. They usually stammer or say “I’m not going to lose,” or something else. Never, do they say what they need to say to reflect wisdom. Eventually I get around to asking them that you may lose, especially if you run against an incumbent, so, what are you going to do then? Usually, there is no answer. Then I give them what I think is the best advice I could give anyone.

The advice applies to everything we do in life and certainly applies to politics and those that run for office. I tell them to run and don’t worry about winning. I tell them to get all involved and do everything you can to win. “But, if you lose it may be the best thing for you,” and that is when I get looks like I’m crazy. I always say, “You learn more when you lose than when you win.” It is a fact. I tell them run and don’t worry about it, just take a lot of notes. You get your name out there. You learn how to run. You may even find another office to seek besides the one you seek now. But whatever you do just remember, “You learn more when you lose than when you win.” Just ask Abe Lincoln. You look at his track record and one wonders how he was ever elected President.

Now, on to horse racing with this thought in mind. We are currently in the time of year where most everyone is in a “Derby craze.” Those who have played less than a few years are more susceptible to this mental state. The Derby craze will only get stronger the closer we get to the first Saturday in May.  So many players start reading everything about the ‘Run for the Roses’ and making decisions about this one race months away. They do not know what the weather will be on that Saturday, much less what horses will even be running. So every day that they do play, many of these horseplayers make their bets (and usually lose), but they always keep up with the Derby trail, what trainer said what, and read all about the latest hot horse, etc.

I’m glad there is much enthusiasm for our most sacred day, Kentucky Derby Day. It is a great day for racing. But that one race means so little in the grand scheme of things to the individual horseplayer.

Like many players, I spent several years at a track with my favorite bunch of “track buddies,” and pretty much every Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were together playing the horses. It was like guys that play golf together every weekend. Many of you have the same experience. One member of our group was the source of all the latest news on most everything that meant nothing at the moment. In the spring he knew just about everything about every horse that was a potential Derby runner. He would tell us all this stuff all weekend, every weekend. And he was a terrible horse player. He was a terrible “selector” and a terrible “bettor.” He was terrible. But, he was as great a fan of the game as you will ever find.

One weekend only a few races remained before quitting time rolled around and our friend leaned over to me and asked, “Hey buddy, you got a hundred I can borrow?” I looked at him and asked, “How many tickets have you cashed all weekend, maybe two or three? And last weekend it was the same, right?” He hung his head and shrugged his shoulders. I looked at him, rolled up my Racing Form and popped him in the back of the head. “If you would quit trying to be a Derby expert and try to figure out why you get your butt kicked all the time you would not need to borrow money,” I said with an authoritative, fatherly tone. I was the oldest in age and had more tenure in the game than anyone else in our group, so I guess I got by with it and no one else said anything.

Well, our friend didn’t show up for the next five weeks at the track. He wouldn’t return phone calls from anyone in the group. Some of the other guys let me know I was too tough on him. I started to feel bad. Then he showed up on a Saturday, all smiles. He sat next to me and said, “That was the best thing you could ever do for me,” which, of course, made me feel a lot better. He saved everything and probably had a thousand Racing Forms in his house and the charts to go with them. Our weak player had decided to pay attention to what he was doing. He looked at me and said, “I didn’t pay attention to my losing ways and that is why I never learned anything. I’ve started to go back and see a ton of mistakes I’ve made.”

I’m happy to say that my friend from many years ago is a fine player now. He pays attention to what he is doing, especially the losing efforts. Today, if you ask him in late April about the Derby he probably will say nothing because he is analyzing the $7,500 claiming race from Delaware Park he just lost (he doesn’t have as many of these losers as he once did) .

You learn more when you lose than when you win.  It’s one of the greatest lessons in politics, in horse racing and in life. Remembering this lesson will surely improve your effort as a horse player.

Handicapper Art Parker  — Art Parker is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns.” A new edition is due out in March, 2012 and available here at AGameofSkill.com

 

How to Quickly and Easily Identify the “Sucker” Horse

by Rich Nilsen

Trainer Chad Stewart has been on a tear since the Tampa Bay Downs meeting opened in early December, scoring with 35 percent of his starters, 8 winners in total. Every horse of his has to be seriously considered. At first glance it looked he might add to that impressive win total with Misidentified in the finale (race 10) on Wednesday, January 9.

The Singletary mare was making her second start off a layoff, had a race over the track, and was getting a switch to 15% rider Jose Garcia. She came up solid on the class and speed figures and was a competitive 3rd on the BRIS Prime Power Rating. Best of all, based on her debut, it looked like she could sit a good trip in this weak field of $8,000 maiden claiming runners.

Racehorse sucker horse

copyright 2013 Equibase and Bloodstock Research Information Services.

 

But then the “quick-and-easy sucker horse identifier” caught my eye. Misidentified had been well bet in all three career starts. Certainly nothing wrong with that, right? Some horseplayers love to see horses that regularly take action. The problem for this five-year-old mare was that she had not once been competitive in any of those starts. The kicker was the second career start when her connections gave her a huge drop in class from maiden special weights company at Golden Gate to a low-level maiden claimer at the Iowa racetrack. Off at odds of just under 3-1, she had trouble at the start and then was quickly pulled up. If that wasn’t a red flag enough, she was then given a long layoff during the heart of the racing season.

When she returned this December at Tampa Bay Downs, she was making her first start for a red-hot barn, was placed in a logical spot, and was well bet accordingly. She never lifted a hoof.

So despite her competitive numbers, the impressive trainer stats, and the various angles she had going for her, Misidentified was clearly a sucker horse.

Off at odds of 4-1 on Wednesday, she attended the pace and then called it a day when the real running started. She narrowly won the photo for 4th while well beaten behind a trio of horses who were a combined 0 for 30 lifetime.

Identifying low-priced sucker horses can be as easy as just looking back within the recent starts and spotting horses that should have run well in a given spot and failed to do so. When you see a runner that meets that criteria in 2-3 consecutive starts, at low odds, chances are you’ve found a horse that will once again disappoint. That’s almost as good as finding a winner.