Friday, August 31, 2012

Post Travers & Pacific Classic Thoughts...

You know, I heard a lot of complaining before the Travers, how it wasn't going to be exciting because we didn't have any of the top echelon horses from this years Triple Crown running.  And while that was true, how much more excitement can you ask for than a dead heat in a major Grade 1 race?  Yes, there were other 3 year olds that would have trounced this field, but they have unfortunately been sidelined or retired.  However, we must not forget that we watched an historic event Saturday when Alpha and Golden Ticket hit the wire together.  With that being said, I do think that Alpha was the better horse in the race.  Wide on both turns he had to run down the rail saving Golden Ticket.

Dullahan, solidified himself as a freak - a polytrack freak, but still a freak.  Nobody else in the Pacific Classic was going to run down Game on Dude and he seemed to be home free turning for home.  But just a few jumps into the stretch you could clearly see the wire was not going to come soon enough for Game on Dude as Dullahan was closing fast.  There has been some criticism about the ride Chantal Sutherland gave Game on Dude, that she moved too soon.  I think she rode Game on Dude like she was on the best horse in the race and made a move similar to winning ones they had made in the past.  And it would have been a winning move if it wasn't for a horse with a lot of heart who is now an absolute a proven freak on polytrack.  Honestly, I think Chantal rode a great race and Game on Dude simply got beat.  It does continue to leave the door open for older horse of the year conversation, but if Game on Dude takes the Breeders Cup Classic, it will be hard to argue against him.  And Dullahan doesn't figure to be in the BC Classic since it will be run on dirt at Santa Anita.  Even if Dullahan shows up I think Chantal and Game on Dude will have his number that day.

Below I've posted my trip notes from Saturday at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic.  I hope this helps.
Saratoga - Race 9
*Fast Pace
#2 Zagora - Stalked, good move on the 2nd turn, excellent ride
#4 Hungry Island - Good move on 2nd turn, chased, easily 2nd best
#5 Summer Soiree - Lead through fast fractions, past by better in stretch 

Saratoga - Race 10
*Fast Pace
#3 Book Review - Last early, no bid
#8 Contested - Broke a little slow, stalked 3 length off pace, took over top of stretch, good trip

Saratoga - Race 11
*Tight Finish
#1 Willy Beamin - Close well late for win *3days rest
#4 Fort Loudon - 4 wide on turn, out closed to wire
#9 Trinneberg - Lead, faded, no excuses *pace well within means
#10 Doctor Chit - Stalked, faded just before wire

Saratoga - Race 12
#3 Golden Ticket - Rail saving trip
#6 Alpha - Good Trip, but was 3 wide 1st turn & 4 wide 2nd turn, had to run down rail saving horse
#11 Fast Falcon - Well off pace, hauling ass late

Del Mar - Race 9
#5 Dullahan - 4 wide move on 2nd turn, closed hard late for win *good move back to preferred surface
#9 Game on Dude - Broke a little slow, squeezed, 3 wide 1st turn, moved up on back stretch for lead, run down just at wire

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Del Mar 8-26-2012 Pacific Classic Selections

Apparently I should have read my bottom paragraph a little harder!

Race 9 - Pacific Classic G1
A - #9 Game on Dude - just very much the best if all goes well, doesn't seem to be a lot of speed here. - Second
B - #3 Richard's Kid - love Del Mar and has the 1-1/4mi stamina - Third
C - #2 Amani - 2nd off layoff, proven stamina, but still some questions
D - #4 Where's Sterling - Good Beyer #'s, has some good races over 1-1/8min
E - #1 Rail Trip - Distance and rail post a concern

Also, you may want to use #8 Suggestive Boy in your exotics and/or #5 Dullahan.  Dullahan does have the right to improve here with the switch back to his preferred surface, I just took a stand against him until he proves me otherwise.   Suggestive Boy is not without a shot, but he has only run on Turf, but he has won at 1-1/4 mi on the Turf. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saratoga 8-25-2012 Travers Day - Races 9,10,11,12 - PRE SCRATCHES

Here are my selections pre scratches.  Once the scratches come out, I'll adjust and type my reasoning and thoughts on each race. 

Race 9
A - #2 Zagora - Winner
B - #4 Hungry Island - Second
C - #6 Tapitsfly
D - #1 Heavenly Landing
E - #5 Summer Soiree - Third

Race 10
A - #8 Contested - Winner
B - #3 Book Review
C - #10 Amie's Dini
D - #2 Aubby K
E - #6 Jazzy Idea

Race 11
A - #3 Currency Swap
B - #9 Trinniberg
C - #4 Fort Loudon - Second
D - #5 Laurie's Rocket
E - #7 Ever So Lucky

Race 12
A - #10 Nonios
B - #6 Alpha - Winner
C - #8 Neck 'n Neck
D - #9 Liasion
E - #4 Steelcase

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Working with Favorites

It's always great to find a horse who you think is a lock to win a race, the problem is most of the time the general public has come to that same conclusion.  It's always a little demoralizing to look at the tote board and see the horse you like as the 6/5 or 4/5 favorite or worse the track announcer comes on and tells everyone this is the horse to bet.  Still there usually some was to capitalize on your opinion.

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of your heavy favorite is to use him as a single in a Daily Double, Pick 3 or Pick 4.  That gets you through a leg and you can take advantage of prices in other races.  Even a third or fourth choice winning in another leg can cause your multi race bet to pay much more even with your heavy favorite winning.  However to play multi race wagers I still like to have a good opinion in at least 2 or 3 of the races in a Pick 3, if not all 3 races.  Or, 3 out of 4 races in a Pick 4.  Without a good opinion in at least a few of the other races you may just be throwing away your money and your opinion.

But what about betting the favorite within the same race?  For me win betting this favorite is almost always out of the question (I rarely win bet anyway), the payoff just isn't worth the risk.  Especially, knowing that I would have to bet a larger sum of money to get a decent return.  How many times have you seen a favorite stumble leaving the gate or be compromised by traffic or pace?  It happens - everyday at racetracks all across the world!  I also hear people all the time betting the favorite "across the board" (a bet to Win, Place or Show).  Still the place and show pools are going to be extremely suppressed because of the amount of money being bet on the horse.  Which still makes it hard to wager based on the small return you would get.  A $2.60 or $2.20 payoff for a $2 show bet is hardly worth the risk to me.

But there are ways to use your opinion that usually pays much better.  One of the great things about having a horse who appears to be a lock in the race is that your usually able to have an opinion about which horse or horses have a shot a finishing 2nd or 3rd.  Using exotics bets can help you increase the return you receive on your heavy favorite choice.  I mainly use exactas and trifectas in these situations.  To take advantage of this you need to think through how the exotic pools work and compare these with your selections so you'll know which bet to use. 

Watch the exacta prices and see if it is worth playing, but usually with a heavy favorite I like to bet him in the trifecta.  Here's why:  If you have a horse in the race who is a solid second choice that exacta payoff is going to be extremely suppressed.  Even the exacta prices on the top 3 choices will pay very small amounts because the majority of bettors box the top 2 or 3 choices.  It is an extremely inefficient way to bet, because you are giving all the horses in the box the same chance of winning even though you don't believe that in your handicapping.  However, with a trifecta even if the top 2 horses run first and second you still have a shot to get a little longer shot into the 3rd spot.  Or better yet what if you can get the second choice into the 3rd spot or even out of the trifecta all together.  One of my top trifecta hits to date was where a heavy 4/5 favorite finished first, an 8-1 second and a speed horse at 25-1 faded to finish 3rd.  Because I was able to get the second and third betting choices out of the top 3 spots, I was able to beat people who had boxed the top 3 or even 4 horses in trifecta.  This is one of my favorite plays where you have a speed horse at a larger price who figures to fade, but maybe not out of the money.

In the race I mentioned above the 4/5 favorite was my first choice or A horse.  My second choice or B horse was the second betting choice at 2-1, but he was a closer and I didn't figure he would be able to make up enough ground to beat the 4/5 to lock.  The 8-1 was the fourth betting choice and my C horse or third choice.  My fourth choice was the 4-1 third betting choice and the 25-1 speed horse was my fifth choice. 

So my selections looked like this:
A Horse: 4/5
B Horse: 2-1
C Horse: 8-1
D Horse: 4-1
E Horse: 25-1

I figured if my 2-1 second choice couldn't make up enough ground to finish second, I had a decent shot at a trifecta that would pay.  One more thing I had going for me was this track offered a $.50 trifecta, which meant I could better weight my opinions when betting. 

Here's how I bet the race and why I made each play:
$2 - A / B,D / B,D = $4 - I played this trifecta in case the top betting choices ran in the trifecta so it would add value to the one below.

$2 - A / B,C / B,C,D,E = $12 - The trifecta I figured had the best chance of hitting.

$1 - B / A,C / A,C,D = $4
$.50 - A / B,C,D,E / B,C,D,E = $6

Even though a heavy favorite ran first, but because the 2nd and 3rd betting choices finished out of the money and I got a long shot into the third spot this trifecta still paid $268 for $1 - and I had it 2.5 times!  I designed the play to give more weight to the selections I knew would be boxed where the payouts would be suppressed.  This would allow me to still make some money if they all ran in the trifecta.  I also gave my 4/5 a chance to lose with the B / A,C / A,C,D trifecta.

Now it certainly doesn't work out this well all the time or even the majority of the time, but you can still catch some decent prices in the exotics when betting the favorite to win.

As always keep good records and you'll become a much better bettor!

I'll post my Travers Day Selections early Saturday morning and then adjust once the scratches come out.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saratoga 8-5-2012 Vanderbilt G1

1 - #1 Shackleford - Very much the class of the race.  He also has a lot of gate speed and the ability to get a good position.  That angle plus the speed makes him hard to play against.  Plus this horse just has the will to win.

2 - #2 Emcee - Seems 2nd best, but I think he may be more vulnerable than Shackleford.  Still has good early speed and the slight advantage being drawn outside Shackleford.  The only possibility I see to beat Shackleford to the wire.

3 - #3 Justin Phillip - Bad start and wide trip last out.  Has run decent at Saratoga and he picks up Dominguez.  Don't think he'll get the top spot, but definitely could fill out exotics.

4 - #4 Rothko - Has good early speed and is 3-4 wins and 4-4 in the money at this distance.  Faster pace would help, but like the above I think he is running for 2nd or 3rd.

5 - #7 Jersey Town - Always seems to show up.  Was give a break, so we'll see how he does off the layoff.  2nd and 3rd spot exotic use.

6 - #7 Sloane Ranger - Still a cut below the top two, but I do see him on the same level as Jersey Town.  Not sure I'll use him, but worth noting.

Suggested Plays:
$1 - 1,2/1,2/3,4,7 = $6
$1 - 1,2/3,4,7/1,2 = $6
$1 - 1,2/3,4,7 = $6

Saturday, August 4, 2012

8-4-2012 Whitney picks

I'm updated this from my mobile phone so I won't give you a whole lot of thoughts.  But, I will say I think this a tough race to bet and I wouldn't put a lot of money in it unless you have more thoughts that provide some clarity.

#1 Fort Larned - I think he sits dangerously on the outside and he has good early and tactical speed - Winner
#2 Ron the Greek - would relish a pace breakdown between trickmeister and fort larned - Second
#3 Hymn Book - always dangerous and runs good
#4 Flat Out - best older horse last year but needs some improvement here, but not without a good chance - Third
#5 Rule - needed a 5th, thinks most of the above are better, but include in exotics.