All Ubercapper

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and blogger for HRRNEquibase handicapper Ellis Starr and I have been friends for over a decade. Both Kentucky transplants from California, we share a love of Thoroughbred racing and a fascination with the puzzles of handicapping. He was my regular cohort during my stint as host for, “Today in Thoroughbred Racing,” a weekly radio show devoted to the betterment of the sport and the intricacies of playing the horses.

Monday morning, Ellis, known publicly as, “The Ubercapper,” sent out a tweet:

Ellis Starr @Ubercapper
Compliments to @racehorsereport for helping me many years ago to understand how the “all” button can be your friend.

Over the years, Ellis and I have had countless handicapping conversations – on the air, at handicapping seminars, tournaments and privately, usually in the Keeneland press box. Despite being an excellent handicapper, he is understandably a conservative bettor. Ellis sometimes handicaps and writes reports on five or six cards a day, which are sold at equibase.com, and despite their quality, to wager on 50-60 races a day is a sure path to financial ruin.

He picks his spots.

I did not become, “The Pontiff of the Pick Four,” by keeping the rubber band on the bankroll. Nowadays, my handicapping concentration centers around the late Pick Four at the tracks I play. The later races are usually the better ones on the card and being at the end of the day, I have more time to address them.

My process begins by eliminating the horses who I don’t think can win. Locating any possible singles or doubles is next. Then I formulate my ticket and decide whether the payoff is worth the risk. Finally, it is pass or play?

Sometimes I don’t have a clue about a race and sometimes I can’t eliminate enough horses. This is where, “the ‘all’ button can be your friend.”

Ellis hates wasting money on losing bets. Who can blame him? But he was the first guy to say to me, “Why didn’t you back wheel him for $2?” when Closing Argument ran second to Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby (G1), keying a $9000 exacta. Ugh.

In his defense, the Ubercapper seldom “wheels” anything or hits the “all” button. He sticks to the selections he sells, unless some new tidbit of information is revealed after publication, but having seen me make some pretty nice Pick Four scores, he has become aware that even as “Uber” as his handicapping is, sometimes a race is so chaotic, “all” is the best selection.

Ellis loves Pick Threes, and the one that spurred the tweet was a 2x7x1 combination that returned $481 for every buck invested. Now that ladies and gentlemen is a nifty payoff, and certainly better than stabbing at four top “contenders” in the “all” race to save $6.

One last note.

No crying when you “all” a 12-horse race and get the favorite home on top. Remember, the public is right a third of the time so this will happen. You can console yourself with the memories of the $98 winner who provided a $13,000 score that sent you on a winter trip to the islands.

“Good night, Barbados.”

Listen to Live Horse Racing on the Road!

HRRN DEBUTS HRRNLive! DAILY RACE COVERAGE WEDNESDAY ON XM 209

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY announced Tuesday, plans to expand their extensive race coverage schedule with the debut of HRRNLive! this Wednesday.  The new show will be broadcast nationwide on XM channel 209 and feature live coverage of races from designated tracks across the country.  HRRNLive! debuts with a four hour broadcast Wednesday through Monday from 3:00-7:00 p.m. ET, with analysis, live race calls and exclusive interviews.

“TVG and HRTV provide tremendous coverage on the television side every day and HRRNLive! will fill the void for this type of coverage on the radio,” said Mike Penna, President of HRRN.  “We’ve had countless horsemen and fans tell us they wish they could listen to races when they are in their car or away from their TV.  Horse racing is a sport crying out for greater exposure and it’s extremely exciting to be working with the great team at SiriusXM to provide this coverage to listeners across the country.”

HRRN plans to host the new HRRNLive! shows on-site from Saratoga this week as the network returns to the historic track to provide live coverage of the Ballerina (G1), Travers (G1) and Personal Ensign (G1).  In addition, fans can tune-in to exclusive coverage of the Pacific Classic (G1) from Del Mar on Sunday.

HRRN’s popular weekly talk show, the Equine Forum, debuted on Sirius 93/XM 209 this past Saturday and will be carried each week as part of HRRN’s expanded offerings.  The Equine Forum airs Saturday mornings from 8:00-10:00 a.m. ET.

SiriusXM will also make all of the coverage available through their internet and smart phone applications on channel 862.

Penna, who also serves as HRRN host, will anchor the new coverage along with analysts Jude Feld (regular contributor to AGameofSkill.com), Sean Clancy, Kurt Becker and Duane Amos.  More information is available on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net.

About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is the Eclipse Award winning broadcast organization, providing live radio coverage of many of the sport’s biggest races throughout the year.  In 2012, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the country, and is the exclusive radio network of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and provides the national radio broadcast of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

ARLINGTON MILLION TO BE BROADCAST NATIONWIDE LIVE ON HRRN

Radio Broadcast will include American St. Leger, Beverly D. and Secretariat

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY announced today, they will return to Arlington Park for the eighth consecutive year on Saturday, August 18, to provide live coverage of the 30th Arlington Million.  HRRN’s broadcast will be aired nationwide on Sirius channel 94 beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET and include the inaugural running of the American St. Leger as well as the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.

The Arlington Million is part of HRRN’s “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” presented by Breeders’ Cup, which features live coverage of 36 Challenge races leading up to HRRN’s broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 2nd and 3rd at Santa Anita.  A complete Challenge Series broadcast schedule can be found on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net.  The Million is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, while the winner of the Beverly D will punch their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

In addition to the live race coverage, HRRN will host a special Arlington Million edition of their popular morning talk show, the Equine Forum, from Arlington on Saturday morning.  The Equine Forum airs live from 8-10 a.m. ET and can be heard on Sirius channel 93, HANK 96.1 FM in Lexington, KY, and ESPN 680 AM in Louisville, KY.  All broadcasts via live streaming provided on the HRRN website.

HRRN President Mike Penna will anchor the coverage along with analyst Jude Feld, who is regular contributor here on AGameofSkill.com.

About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is the Eclipse Award winning broadcast organization, providing live radio coverage of many of the sport’s biggest races throughout the year.  In 2012, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the country, and is the exclusive radio network of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and provides the national radio broadcast of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

HRRN, BREEDERS’ CUP PARTNER TO CREATE BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE BROADCAST SERIES

Broadcasts to be aired nationwide on Sirius satellite radio

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY and Breeders’ Cup announced Tuesday, they have partnered to create a series of broadcasts showcasing thirty six Breeders’ Cup Challenge races.  The new “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” will air nationwide on Sirius satellite radio as well as on select HRRN affiliates and be streamed worldwide on HRRN’s website,www.horseracingradio.net.

“Breeders’ Cup has done a tremendous job of providing fans with an easy to follow format leading up to racing’s championship days in November,” said Mike Penna, President of HRRN.  “Our new broadcast series creates a great opportunity to promote the Breeders’ Cup Challenge schedule Win and You’re In schedule and showcase these major races to our national and worldwide listeners.”

“We are very pleased to partner with HRRN to promote the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series to Sirius listeners,” said Craig Fravel, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. “In addition to providing horsemen with the  opportunity to gain automatic starting positions in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge creates increased international awareness for the world’s great horse races and for the outstanding horses that will be competing in the Championships.”

HRRN has provided the national radio broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships since 2007. Listeners in 52 countries made HRRN their home for Breeders’ Cup coverage in 2011.

A complete Challenge Series broadcast schedule along with Sirius channel information can be found under the schedule tab on the HRRN website.

About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is the Eclipse Award winning broadcast organization, providing live radio coverage of many of the sport’s biggest races throughout the year.  In 2012, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the country, and is the exclusive radio network of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and provides the national radio broadcast of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

About Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 15 races and purses totaling more than $25 million will be held Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Lessons from the Golden Bear

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and blogger for HRRNWin, lose or draw, Jack Nicklaus probably has done more post-round television interviews than any golfer in history. One of those had a big influence on my life, as a person and a horseplayer.

Leading the tournament at the time, after a birdie-filled day when many other tour players seemed lost, the Golden Bear said something to the effect of: “It’s great to have a game plan, but you’ve got to be able to adjust. Things change on the golf course and the players that can make the adjustments are the ones at the top of the leaderboard.”

I’ve got my handicapping rules and stick with them pretty faithfully, but once in a while, when something changes, I kick them to the curb. Like everything else, sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s not so good, but in the long run, taking Jack’s advice has been profitable for me.

When I put out my public handicaps, what you read is what I like. I don’t save the good ones for myself and put people on the chalk so I can get a better price. But it is important to remember that I ordinarily make these selections a couple of days out and things can change dramatically in 48 hours. Usually, I check the weather forecast and plan for track conditions, but “the weatherman is a lousy handicapper,” as we all know.

My analysis of the 2012 Summit of Speed stakes was pretty good, if I say so myself. I had the winner of five out of the six races listed on my sheet, with the lone miss coming in the Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) when Gantry romped home an easy winner over my pick, Indiano.

Gantry had spent the early part of his career in New York, going through his conditions in the care of Michael Hushion. Shipped to the barn of young, up-and-coming trainer Ron Faucheux, he won three stakes in-a-row in New Orleans before finishing a respectable third behind Shackleford and Amazombie in the Churchill Downs (G2) on Derby day.

How did I leave him off my handicap?

He was an out of towner. It has been my experience, having attended the Summit of Speed the last five years, that the Calder horses have a tremendous advantage. As a matter of fact, local horses had won seven out of the eight graded stakes in the last two years. A shipper from middle America, Gantry got the redline.

Things changed on Friday morning.

It seemed like everyone I talked to was discussing Gantry and how good he training. “Who?” I asked when told about him the first time. I was very high on Indiano and until then, never really had shipper Gantry on my radar.

In discussing the race on our Saturday morning Equine Forum show, I talked about, “the wise-guy horse,” and how the whispers were out. After scratch time, as I formulated my pick five and pick four tickets, that bullet :47 3/5 workout over the Calder surface on July 1 began sticking out like a sore thumb – indicating he liked the surface and had been in town for at least a week to acclimate to the oppressive south Florida humidity. I decided that it would be prudent to include him, even though it was going to double the price of my ticket.

“It’s great to have a game plan, but you’ve got to be able to adjust. Things change on the golf course and the players that can make the adjustments are the ones at the top of the leaderboard.” – the Golden Bear

It was the right adjustment.

Gantry beat Indiano on the square and I hit both the pick five and pick four instead of ripping up my tickets.

That little adjustment made Saturday evening so much more enjoyable, as my wife and I celebrated my score at Luca Bella in Aventura and later had Manhattans with friends, in a penthouse overlooking the Atlantic, the moon over Miami shining on the waves.

HRRN to Broadcast Summit of Speed Live

Radio Broadcast to be aired nationwide from Calder on Sirius 92

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY, announced Thursday they will return to Calder Casino & Race Course for the sixth consecutive year to provide live coverage of the 13th Summit of Speed.  HRRN’s two-hour broadcast will air live from 4-6 p.m. ET and include coverage of four graded stakes: the Carry Back (G2), Azalea (G3), Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) and the Princess Rooney Handicap (G1).

The Summit of Speed is part of HRRN’s new “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” presented by Breeders’ Cup, which features live coverage of 36 Challenge races leading up to HRRN’s broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 2nd and 3rd.  A complete Challenge Series broadcast schedule can be found on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net. Saturday’s Smile Sprint Handicap is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Fans can tune-in to the Summit of Speed nationwide on Sirius channel 92 as well as on select HRRN affiliates and online with live streaming provided on HRRN’s site.

In addition to the live race coverage, HRRN will host a special Summit of Speed edition of their popular morning talk show, the Equine Forum, live from Calder on Saturday morning.  The Equine Forum airs from 8-10 a.m. ET and can be heard on HANK 96.1 FM in Lexington, KY, and is streamed worldwide at www.horseracingradio.net.

HRRN President Mike Penna will anchor the coverage along with analyst Jude Feld, a regular contributer at AGameofSkill.com.

The Five Percent

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerA lot of talk during the weeks leading up to the 2012 Belmont Stakes (G1) centered on jockey switches. Two of the main contenders, Union Rags and Dullahan, who on race day would be the top two odds choices when I’ll Have Another scratched, were both changing riders.

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was being replaced on Dullahan after a bad breathalyzer test weeks earlier upset his connections.

Union Rags probably should have won the Florida Derby (G1) but was never given the chance by jockey Julien Leparoux. After another troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1), he was sent packing in favor of Hall of Fame elect John Velazquez.

The switch to Velazquez proved positive for Union Rags with a huge and trouble-free victory, while Dullahan was so unthreatening, he obviously wasn’t going to win, even if the great Isaac Murphy rose from the dead to ride him.

Jockey switches in major races always draw headlines, but what about your average race – a maiden claimer on a Thursday or an allowance race on Friday afternoon?

There are three types of jockey switches the handicapper should pay attention to in every race on the card.

Switching to a top rider.

This is basically a no-brainer, and therefore most noticed by the general public, usually making the odds drop. It is a very positive indicator however.

Owners and trainers need rank and file jocks to ride their horses as they learn the racing game or get ready for winning efforts coming off a layoff, but when the horse is ready to win, they often tip their hand by hiring a top five rider. It happens every day, some days many times. It is not a guarantee of success at the windows but it is a solid indication of trainer intent.

Switching to a rider who has won with the horse before.

This switch is a lot more subtle and can be responsible for some excellent prices. Because many fans use a track program for their handicapping, it is more easily spotted by players with a full set of past performance charts.

I claimed a horse named Slay the Dragon when I first started training. He hadn’t won a race in three years. I had cashed a ticket on him in his last win and Fernando Toro had ridden him that day. He got fit and happy while I had him and after a nice gate work, he was ready to enter. I had to really make a case to Toro’s agent, Chick McClellan, to give me the call, but he did in the end and it worked out perfectly. Slay the Dragon was an easy winner.

Some riders have a knack with certain horses, some horses prefer certain riders. It might be something subtle like the pressure of the bit in their mouth or how the rider holds the reins that matters to a horse or it can be a matter of riding style that causes horse and rider to gel.

The great John H. M Gosden trained a horse many years ago who had a breathing problem. Jockey Terry Lipham knew this and found a way to ride him that allowed the horse to breathe better. He was one of the greatest betting tools ever. Without Lipham he ran horribly. With Lipham, he was near stakes caliber.

Top rider jumps ship.

This can be a big negative. Top jockeys usually have top agents and the two are usually in constant contact with each other. Every mount is discussed post race and even if the conversation is brief, it is important. Riders know which horses they like, who they think has potential and who they wish to avoid in the future.

It helps to know the rider’s regular client base because sometimes jockeys are first call jockeys of a particular stable and may be forced to ride a lesser horse because of their commitments, but all things being equal, if a top five rider gets off of a horse it is not a good sign. It is even more glaring if he sits the race out.

It’s been said that Thoroughbred horse racing is 95% horse and 5% jockey, and in handicapping players should concentrate the bulk of their attention on the horse’s form. But there are instances when noticing a jockey switch can mean adding hundreds of dollars to your bottom line and that’s what horseplaying is all about.

HRRN Launches 13 Hours of Live Belmont Stakes Coverage

Broadcasts will air nationwide on HRRN affiliates, SiriusXM and online at horseracingradio.net

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY, announced Monday they will begin 13 hours of live Triple Crown coverage from Belmont Park beginning Wednesday, June 6th.

HRRN will host a series of two-hour morning shows from outside the Belmont Café on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning.  Each show will feature interviews with jockeys, trainers, owners and Belmont Stakes personalities, as well as up to the minute workout reports and top stories surrounding Belmont 144.

The three “Triple Crown Countdown” show’s will be broadcast live from 8-10 a.m. ET on select HRRN affiliates and can be heard via live streaming on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net.  SiriusXM will air the Countdown shows nationwide on taped delay from Noon – 2:00 p.m. ET each day on Sirius 93 – XM 209.

HRRN will also provide live coverage of the Belmont Stakes post position draw on Wednesday morning beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET.  Draw coverage can be heard exclusively on the HRRN website.

HRRN returns Saturday with six hours of Belmont day coverage beginning with their popular weekly Equine Forum show from 8-10 a.m. ET followed by live coverage of the Belmont Stakes undercard from 2-4 p.m. ET.  The network’s coverage culminates will a 2-hour broadcast of I’ll Have Another’s run at history in the 144th Belmont Stakes from 5-7 p.m. ET.

Fans can tune-in to all Belmont day broadcasts on Sirius 94 – XM 208 and on the HRRN website.  HRRN’s broadcast of the Belmont Stakes will also be carried on more than 50 affiliates across the country and broadcast to U.S. service men and women around the globe on the American Forces network.

HRRN’s Eclipse Award-winning broadcast team will be anchored by HRRN President, Mike Penna, along with analysts Jude Feld and Kurt Becker with paddock interviews and commentary provided by Sean Clancy.  Lee Dellapina and Michelle Penna will produce.

A complete Belmont week schedule with affiliates and SiriusXM information can be found at the following link:  HRRN Belmont Week Schedule and Affiliates

About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is the Eclipse Award winning broadcast organization, providing live radio coverage of many of the sport’s biggest races throughout the year.  In 2012, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the country, and is the exclusive radio network of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and provides the national radio broadcast of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Who Would’ve Thought? Reflections on Hiring a Young Doug O’Neill

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Penned May 22, 2012, post Preakness Day.

I thought about the Saturday morning Doug showed up at my barn, a skinny kid with sandy hair and an engaging manner. I remembered him walking that first horse…at arms length as most neophyte hotwalkers do.

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerIt was five o’clock on Friday afternoon in Baltimore. The spring weather was absolutely beautiful and Old Hilltop was awash in varying shades of pink, from the tablecloths on the infield tables to the dresses, shoes and hats worn by the bevy of pretty ladies at Pimlico for Black-Eyed Susan day.

Standing on the platform in front of the famous cupola, Aron Wellman, the master of Eclipse Thoroughbreds, was raising the massive crystal trophy of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner over his head, in the manner that has become fashionable whenever you capture a prestigious sporting event.

His In Lingerie had just won the historic race, grabbing her quarter leaving the gate and looping the field to victory, while showing extraordinary gameness despite her sure discomfort.

Zoning out for a minute, I thought of the nine-year-old, at 4:30 in the morning, sitting on the steps of my Del Mar condo, next to my muddy barn high tops, waiting for me to drive him to the track. The little surfer boy, in a Stussy t-shirt and Rusty shorts, who couldn’t wait to get up close and personal with my small stable of racehorses.

My mind then drifted to the 12-year-old version, applying poultice to the fragile legs of a Thoroughbred while oggling the cleavage peeking out from the tube top of my hotwalker Brandy, as she picked out the feet of my pony.

On to stable star Vieille Vigne, as the teenaged Aron groomed her as she prepared for the Chula Vista (G2) and the smile he wore in the winners’ circle picture when she beat Lite Light and Brought to Mind.

Then the day he said goodbye to my crew, as he headed off to college, to play soccer and get smart.

Returning to real time, a smile on my face, I shook my head as I’ve been known to do when life brings great surprises.

“This is really cool. Who would have thought?”

Back at the barn, after the races, I checked on In Lingerie and fist bumped Aron. He stood against the fence, in powder blue pants and a black blazer, cocktail in hand like a guy in a Ralph Lauren ad, watching Todd Pletcher and his staff bandaging the big filly’s foot.

“Such a fabulous race,” I said.

“How game is she? Aron replied. “That was amazing, especially after cutting a blood vessel. The vet says she’ll be fine. We are so fortunate to have a filly like her.”

Saturday brought more fantastic weather.

“Mother Nature must be a racing fan,” Mike Penna would say on the radio.

The 137th Preakness (G1) was going to be run on a fast track, in front over 120,000 people and only one horse would have a shot at the Triple Crown – I’ll Have Another.

The race set up the way I thought it would on paper. Bodemeister went to the lead and a couple of horses stalked him, as his Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, backed up the pace. I’ll Have Another laid fourth on the outside, in the clear and away from trouble.

When the field turned for home, Smith asked Bodemeister to assert himself, the Zayat colorbearer squirted away and I’ll Have Another was asked by his rider to chase him.

The Kentucky Derby (G1) winner seemed hopelessly beaten as they straightened out in the lane and Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert must have thought that he was about to win his sixth Preakness.

Just then, I’ll Have Another steeled himself for the drive. He put his head down and with jockey Mario Gutierrez encouraging him with hand, boot and whip, he collared Bodemeister in the shadow of the wire and was drawing away from his rival at the finish line.

It was 6:40 p.m. at Pimlico and Doug O’Neill was standing on that same platform that Aron Wellman had occupied the day before.

I thought about the Saturday morning Doug showed up at my barn, a skinny kid with sandy hair and an engaging manner. I remembered him walking that first horse…at arms length as most neophyte hotwalkers do.

Then recalling the day we left for his first Del Mar – vans to load at 3:00 a.m. with departure scheduled for 4:30 – the time that most young guys are just getting to bed on Saturday morning. With a couple dozen doughnuts in hand for his barnmates, a smiling face and a “rah rah” attitude, Doug supervised loading the vans, the more experienced in my crew more than happy to let the new guy do the heavy lifting.

That first week, “where the turf meets the surf,” he was like a kid in a candy store – among the horses, at the track and away from home – every future trainer’s dream.

When Friday morning came, after raking the shedrow and tow ring, he bid the crew adieu for the weekend, much to the chagrin of my assistant. We needed to have a conversation.

“This is a seven-day a week job,” I told him.

“Oh. My Mom’s not gonna like that,” he said.

I told Doug to go home for the weekend, we could get by.

“Talk to your Mom,” I said. “If she won’t let you work every day, that’s fine. I understand. If you can talk her into it, we’ll see you Monday for the rest of the meet.”

Monday morning, Doug was at the barn to greet me. He stayed long enough with my stable to learn how to be a good groom and was a tremendous asset to us, full of the same energy and enthusiasm that everyone witnessed from him during Preakness week.

I remembered the day he quit, apologizing, and even asking me if I was o.k. with him going to work for Hector Palma, to groom the horses his brother owned. I remembered the day he won his first race as a trainer and how happy I was for him. I thought about me getting choked up on the air when he won the Kentucky Derby. I was glad I avoided that this time.

Before leaving the pressbox roof, at the end of this wild weekend, I looked out at the cupola again. Shackleford’s blue and white silks had been replaced by the Reddam purple and white on the weather vane. I thought about Frank Wright in his natty hat and Jim McKay in his Wide World of Sports jacket and all the times I watched them broadcast the Preakness on television. I thought of Joe Hirsch and Chick Lang and how many great races they covered here. Say whatever you want to about Pimlico, but the place just oozes history.

Our Horse Racing Radio Network crew went back to the Preakness Barn to have a cocktail and celebrate I’ll Have Another’s important victory. I hugged Doug, we had a Maker’s Mark toast and talked about the race and the possible Triple Crown, as people snapped a few photos.

As we left the grounds I reflected on the last two days. How Friday was big for Aron and his new Eclipse Thoroughbreds partners. How Saturday was huge for Doug and provides him a chance at significant racing history. And how it was my good fortune to be able to share in their moments, by broadcasting those amazing races, “coast to coast and world-wide,” on the Horse Racing Radio Network.

That’s the great thing about Preakness, it brings out the best in everyone.

Handicapping Magic by Jude Feld

by Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and blogger“Signs point to yes.”

This is one of the 20 possible answers if you ask the “Magic Eight Ball” whether the horse you pick will win or lose. The method of questioning a plastic sphere when to wager or not will undoubtedly supply a few winners, but there is a better way to predict the future.

Sometimes there are so many “signs” in a horse’s chart that it makes them the most probable winner and if the price is right, a magnificent bet.

The last race at Gulfstream Park on April Fools Day of 2012 is a prime example.

Sign #1:

Master Achievement drew the rail in a full field of 12 runners going a flat mile on the turf. In most grass races, run on firm turf, the inside posts are advantageous, as saving ground is of extreme importance.

Sign #2:

He had run twice before, both maiden allowance races at Saratoga, one at six furlongs in the slop and the next going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Today’s race was $35,000 maiden claiming event at one mile on the sod. The drop in class from maiden allowance to maiden claiming is the biggest in racing and usually a harbinger of good race.

Sign #2A:

His trainer, David Fawkes, had dropped 21 maidens in class like this in the past year and 19% of them hit the winners’ circle – obviously an excellent move for him, as he is winning at a 12% clip overall.

Sign #3:

In his turf start, Master Achievement had run against Daddy Nose Best, back-to-back winner of the recent El Camino Real Derby (G3) and Sunland Derby (G3) and was only beaten five lengths by the Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful.

Sign #4:

A $15,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale bargain, even though Master Achievement was dropping in class, he was running well above his purchase price.

Sign #5:

Fawkes gave the riding assignment to Juan Leyva, a jockey he has had a 21% success rate with in 2011-2012.

What do you need, an engraved invitation to bet?

The 12-1 morning line price was too much to ask for, but it certainly would make Master Achievement, “ice cream,” as trainer and top gambler Julio Canani would say.

As always happens in handicapping articles, our hero exerted his class and went wire-to-wire, returning an $18.00 mutuel to his backers.

If you asked the Magic Eight Ball if you will make more money looking at the signs in a horse’s past performance chart or consulting the black orb itself, the answer is likely to be:

“Outlook good.”