The Unbelievable True Story of Trainer Antonio Sano

Gunnevara Fountain of YouthHe is now training a major Kentucky Derby contender

Antonio Sano was Venezuela’s most successful thoroughbred trainer. Race after race, 3,338 times, his horses won as his reputation as the “Czar of the Hippodrome” grew. Until he lost it all in the span of 36 agonizing days. Not at the track, but in a cell of a room that had no windows, no toilet, no… [Read more…]

Tom McCarthy, trainer of General Quarters, dead at 82

 Trainer Tom McCarthy, who became a sentimental favorite when he conditioned former claimer General Quarters to victory in the 2009 Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, died on Thursday after a battle with melanoma. McCarthy was 82. A retired school teacher and principal, McCarthy became the darling of the 2009 Kentucky Derby season with his one-horse… [Read more…]

Doug O’Neill’s Long-tenured Crew

Preakness 2016 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Steve Rothblum’s eyes were weary with joyous fatigue. As he rested his frame upon a barrier at Churchill Downs’ Barn 41 the morning of May 8, the arm of Leandro Mora draped over his back and, together, they tried to articulate to the surrounding media the case of deja vu that arrived less… [Read more…]

Handicapping Tip of the Day #23 – Watch for this Sneaky Trainer Move

Up in class, distance switch

by Art Parker

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

I know you have seen it so you should remember it. A horse comes off a layoff and runs opposite of its historical successful distances. The horse gets trounced in his return to battle but then shows up a short time later for another race. But this time the horse goes back to its successful distance and goes up in class. For most players this move is a world of trouble simply because of the increase in class.

When you are confronted with this, take the time to view the replay of the return race. Did it look like the horse was intentionally wide in the trip? Was the horse gunned to the front when it is not usually a speed horse? If something doesn’t look right it may be that the trainer was using the return race to tighten up the horse. The trainer may know his horse is close to being ready and just needed to get a race in his charge. One key is the short turn around. If a trainer thought his horse wasn’t ready after a return race then why hurry it back to the track?

Other things to look for in this situation is a positive jockey change or a change in equipment. Catching a good trainer with a slick move is hard to do. Remember, suspicion will not work for you unless…you are suspicious.

Trainer Profile: Albert Stall, Jr.

Al Stall, Jr., the 54 year old born in New Orleans, is a part of a well-known Louisiana racing family. His father was chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission for many years and the turf course at Fair Grounds is, in part, named for his grandfather. Stall also served as an assistant for Frankie Brothers, another lofty name in Louisiana racing history.

But the Al Stall that is one of the Kings of Keeneland earned his greatest nugget of fame by pulling off the upset of a racing legend. In 2010 Stall won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with champion Blame and defeated the previously undefeated Zenyatta in the process in one of the greatest Breeders’ Cup moments in history.

Exactly 70% of Stall’s Keeneland victories have come in the fall and over a third of those are first layoff runners. His rested runners either come from Saratoga with short layoffs or they come from Fair Grounds where they have been off the track for several months. Class movement will vary with his layoff runners so one cannot focus on class drops or class jumps. Stall will usually hold a runner’s last work 7-8 days prior to race day and the work is more likely to be short as opposed to long. Stall is very consistent on the amount of work his layoff runners have with almost all of them recording 12 or 13 furlongs of work within 30 days of race day.

Stall has also scored several winners using debut runners and the majority of those have been juveniles. He has longer gaps in works with his debut runners but almost always works them from the gate in their last workout before a race.

Stall also does well with his second time starters. All of these winners ran either at Saratoga or Fair Grounds in their first race and then broke their maidens at Keeneland in their second career race. These runners usually work or race 12-13 furlongs in the last 30 days before their second race, and their last work will usually come 4-6 days prior to race day.

Most of Stall’s Keeneland victories come with clients Claiborne Farm or Columbine Stable.

Fall meet edition 2014His top riders has been Shaun Bridgmohan, Garrett Gomez and Robby Albarado. However, he has also used Rosie Napravnik, Greta Kuntzweiler, Chris Landeros, Shane Sellers, Julien Leparoux, Freddie Lenclud, Miguel Mena and Brian Hernandez.

Note: This trainer profile is an example of the new feature that will be found in the upcoming edition of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” by Art Parker.  Pre-order today and save off the regular price. 

Did you miss this trainer profile?

Mark Casse – How He Wins

If You Were the Trainer…What Would You Do?

By Art Parker, author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

It is early afternoon on August 20. You have a horse in the barn that appears to be ready for a top effort. You take out the condition book and look at upcoming races. On August 24 there is a claiming race for $12,500 at six furlongs. The purse is $26,000. But you know your horse is better than that and even though he may win he will probably get claimed and you want to avoid that. Not only is your gelding better than the $12,500 claiming tag, the owner will shoot you if you lose his horse at that price.

Tampa paddock inspectionLet’s see, what else is available? There is a race for a $40,000 price tag on August 25 with a hefty $51,000 purse. That looks inviting but your guy finished second in a photo for a $25,000 claiming price last out. This race may be too tough. At that level you always catch some of those tough allowance types looking for an easy score.

There it is; a race for $25,000 on August 31. Maybe a half-mile work in a few days and he will be ready. Oops. That race is a mile and your horse is a pure sprinter best at either 6 furlongs or maybe 6 ½ furlongs.

He hates the grass so those few turf sprints are out of the question. Well, the only thing left is a race on September 8 with a claiming price of $20,000. The purse is $31,000. He is really worth a little more than $20,000, but you just don’t have any more options.

So, what would you do if you trained this horse?

This is what a trainer faces nearly every day. The overwhelming majority of the betting public has no idea about this part of racing. They do not know what a condition book is. Have you ever sat around the track with some guys and they just cannot figure out why a horse runs for $20,000 this time since he ran well for $30,000 just a couple of weeks ago, or why a horse is jumping in price for no reason?

One of the things a good trainer does is find the right race for his horse… the best he can. It is almost impossible for a trainer to find exactly what his horse needs with any regularity. The reason is a track may have 1,200 head in the stable area and that translates into 1,200 needs. A racing secretary has the tough job of writing races that will accommodate the most horses as frequently as possible. Trainers must be flexible with their race selections and the training of their runners. It is not an easy job especially when you have a bunch of owners that never want to lose a race and constantly complain about the cost of keeping a horse in training.

Next time you look at past performances start to envision why a horse ran in each of his races. If you do this several times you may find yourself able to understand why trainers do the things they do. The sooner you can understand what trainers do, the sooner you escalate the probability of winning at the races.

First or Second Time Out? A Good Trainer Knows the Answer

 By Art Parker

 The best horse players pay attention to trainers, at least to a small degree. Some players look beyond the initial statistics and general information. Some, like me, try to keep up with a great deal of information looking for an edge.

If you sit around the table with your buddies at the track discussing the next race someone is going to say something like, “Yeah, and this guy does pretty good with his layoff horses,” or something along those lines. 

A response you may hear to that statement may sound like this. “That’s right, and he wins at a 14% rate with those types.” If you listen to the conversation you would first hear a broad general statement and then one validating it by a specific claim. But, is there more to it?

Yes.

Good trainers that excel at certain types of races make plans to win; they don’t just fill out entry slips and hope for the best.

Let’s examine one of the frequently discussed categories of trainer performance – debut runners. Unless you are equipped with a great deal of information, and you get what can be confirmed as a true overlay, these races probably deserve a pass. I must admit that the intrigue is something that makes horse racing the great game that it is and the strong desire to figure out a tough race with several firsters (career debut runners) is something to be admired. That’s right, admired. I salute anyone who will read and study hard to figure out an impossible race as opposed to the mindless man who sits and pulls the handle of a slot machine.

It is more than knowing a certain trainer scores with debut runners more often than his competition. The questions are how and when does he do it?

Trainer Reade Baker

Trainer Reade Baker

Let’s take a very good veteran trainer like Reade Baker at Woodbine. Here is some raw data on Baker, according to my unofficial stats: In the last three years at Woodbine he has notched 189 wins and 23 of those were first time starters. At the end of the 2011 Woodbine meeting, Baker, (according to BRIS) had a win rate of 10% when he sends a rookie to the gate. Better horse players are pretty much limited with that information I have just given you, but they have an advantage over others with it. But when can we feel even more confident about betting this trainer (or others) when he has a debut runner?

The first thing is to distinguish his runners by age. Of Baker’s 23 debut wins in that time frame, 16 of them were two year olds. That’s a big piece of information because the babies are not running the first couple of months of the season and, the number of two year old races doesn’t significantly increase until August or September. Baker is an outstanding trainer, but he doesn’t set the woods on fire with firsters age three and older.

Okay, now you have Baker on your mind when the two year olds start showing up at the gate. Is this all you need? Most guys will say yes, but the answer is no.

Baker’s training pattern varies little with a debut 2 year old winner. Almost always, these victories are preceded with the last several workouts (usually the last 4-5) taking place 6 to 7 days apart with the last work coming 5 to 7 days before the race day. And, you can expect a minimum of two gate works in the last 4 to 5 workouts.

Good trainers that excel at certain types of races make plans to win; they don’t just fill out entry slips and hope for the best. A trainer like Baker will have a pretty good idea when his trainee should be ready. He gets condition books well in advance and makes a plan to run. That is one reason the days of training are important; it is all part of the plan. Good trainers do this. Bad trainers do not. 

Oh, there’s a little more. Almost half of Baker’s 2 year old debut winners were owned by the Bear Stables. And, all but a pair of the Bear Stables’ debut winners wore blinkers. The utilization of blinkers on Bear Stable runners is far more prevalent than on all other Baker horses in the same category. That tells me that the Bear Stables are expecting quick results to recover their investment in livestock, and it tells me that Baker wants to make sure those runners pay attention, and they are more likely to show early speed.   

Unfortunately, most players approach second time starters with less intensity than debut runners. Wouldn’t it make sense to know a trainer’s winning move when his horse goes to the gate a second time, especially if the horse did not win his debut outing? It makes sense to me. In fact this is a category that gets ignored a great deal by players and those that provide information. There’s plenty of winning tickets to be cashed on second timers and we need to look no further than our Canadian trainer. Baker visited the winner’s circle in the last 3 years with 19 second timers. Of Baker’s 189 wins in 3 years, 42 of those came from horses in their first or second career start.

But here is the key to Baker’s second time starters…only one was a repeat winner. If you look at Baker’s second timers you want to focus on those that lost in their debut effort. The training pattern is pretty much the same with workouts spaced 6 to 7 days apart. Almost always, Baker returns to the gate with his second timer 20 to 30 days after the initial race. Baker usually keeps his runners in the same class for their second outing. If he doesn’t win the first time out, then he evaluates the performance and starts the process to win the next time.

I’ve never met or talked to trainer Reade Baker and probably never will. I can say the same for hundreds of horsemen that I follow. If you look deeper into past performances and charts, you can start to see things that 99.9% of the players never see. Yes, it takes some time and dedication. But, it is critical for a player to gain an advantage somewhere in the handicapping game.

Keeping up with trainers at your favorite tracks will help you get an advantage, plus it makes the game a lot more fun. We have the opportunity to find and develop our skills as horse players and taking advantage of that opportunity can give you an advantage…something that poor mindless fool at the slot machine will never have.

-Art Parker is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” published by All Star Press.

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Understanding the tendencies of the Keeneland trainers is paramount to success if your horseplayer. “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns for 2011” is a new e-book, available in all formats, that is based on the extensive database of handicapper and author Art Parker. The book has just been slashed in price 20% to only $7.97 so take advantage today!

What will find in this book? Parker analyzes the winning patterns of the most successful horsemen that race at Keeneland. With this guide you will know how each and every trainer that has saddled multiple winners at the fall meet prepares his runner for success.

How many works does this trainer’s winners have coming into the race? What kind of workouts did these winners have? Where do they ship in from? How quickly do they race back? Were there equipment changes? Were class drops used? How about surface or distance switches? Of course, you’ll also learn who rode these winners and for what stable this trainer wins for.

“Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns” includes these bonus features:

* The Key Factor that handicappers need to know about the Polytrack surface
* A special look at Two Year Old racing, which is quite frequent during the fall meeting
* A review of the 2010 Keeneland Fall Meeting

Just in time for Keeneland. Get instant access.