It is uncanny how horses can humble us all. If you could have bet the Haygard Fayette Stakes at Keeneland last weekend when they were turning for home most would have joined me on board with Aurelius Maximus. It appeared he had collared Mr. Freeze and was well on his way to a win. Of course, Mr. Freeze who I loved on Derby weekend said no not today, and re rallied turning back Aurelius Maximus who ran huge in defeat. This weekend I’ll take a look at another Keeneland Stake, the Raven Run. I think the favorite and second choice are both vulnerable so why not take a swing? Never Forget goes from the rail under Robby Albarado fresh off his brilliant Preakness winning ride. The rail is tough going 7 at Keeneland, and this one looks in over her head to me. Four Graces is one for one at…
In perusing the past performances for the weekend, I saw some small fields, some tough chalk, and some unattractive multi-race sequences. This was truer at Belmont and Santa Anita than Keeneland, where it just looked plain hard. When this happens, I like to look for a one race play that can make or break the day. On Saturday, I landed in the Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland for my shot. The race looks competitive enough on paper, with what I view as a vulnerable favorite looking to get back on track after flopping against slightly tougher. The horse I like is about 10-1 and is on the upswing. I like horses on the improve and coming to what I think is a peak race.  Another observation for those inclined to pay attention is I loved Mr. Freeze last out. I singled him on some big plays. He didn’t run well at all, and…
If you read Past the Wire, my column here on AmWager, or follow me on social media, then there is a good chance you know I like improving horses I think will move forward, especially in big stakes races. You probably also know I don’t lock into horses or rules and the Preakness on Saturday is an example. I take each race and scenario as it comes. I find myself liking a horse I think has a good chance to bounce or regress in the Preakness, but after all things considered, that is where I landed. It is a pretty rare scenario for me, but that’s how I see things on Saturday.When I look at the Preakness, I see a race with a lot of pace factors. I have to think the pace will be hot, contested, or both. Obviously, Authentic is going to go towards the front, and John Velasquez…
There are a few reasons to take a look at the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. First, the race is part of the late pick 4 and 5 sequence. Second, the race might give us a little preview of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Third, once the better two-year-olds start sorting themselves out, we can start with the early Kentucky Derby thoughts. I found the race ripe for an upset. I’ll run down the 8 horses;1- Touchdown Brown comes in this off 3 sprints. Even with blinkers off I have to think will add to the pace. 2- Rombauer, turf to dirt and has some bottom to him. I think he gets a pace to run into and is a contender I would not discourage anyone from using, though he is not where I landed. 3- Dyn O Mite is still a maiden and looks a cut below these to…
It's always been surprising to me how many horsemen think that the rider of a racehorse doesn't make that much of a difference. You'll hear things like you have to have the horse, which we all know is obviously true. I have always disagreed and thought the jock makes a world of difference. I feel so strongly about that I will, at times, decrease or increase a wager depending on who is getting a leg up.When some of the great trainers make statements alluding to the rider not mattering all that much and that anyone can win with the right horse, it can make you rethink your position. I have rethought mine several times over the years but always come back to the rider matters; they matter a lot.Good horses can make any rider look good. It's easy to make the right split-second decisions on a fast horse. It's also…
I have both written and said this before:A bettor looks at the past performances and watches the races and assumes a horse will do what they did last time; a handicapper looks for the reasons they won’t. You’d be surprised at how many people play this game and adopt that philosophy since we are playing a pari-mutual game that is probably a good thing for some of us. Tiz the Law, Swiss Skydiver, Gamine, Serengeti Empress, what do they all have in common? They were expected to win, and they all got beat. True Swiss Skydiver and Gamine raced each other and barring a dead heat, one had to lose, but they both lost. Horses are not machines, and although we rely on their past performances to predict the outcome of races, those results are more foretold by patterns, trends, pace, form cycles, intangibles, and more than by simply assuming a horse will…
Pari mutual wagering is all about having an edge on the other players in the pool. If you do not understand that, your approach to the game is likely flawed. We play against each other, not the racetrack. They just take a cut for putting on the show. The 146th Kentucky Derby is less than two weeks away. In keeping with the above belief, I am looking for any edge or edges I can find. For the first time, I can certainly recall that Derby is not on the first Saturday in May and will actually be run in September. It will also be the first time I recall the favorite, a heavy favorite at that, has run a mile and a quarter before the big dance. That probably gives favored Tiz the Law an edge on his rivals, at least most of them, but will also lower his price on…
As if our industry didn’t have enough issues, we now learn the race timing issue is far worse than we even suspected. If the times of the races are off, even slightly, that throws off several other factors as well. Speed figures, pace projections, sheet numbers, etc. It is just something else we don’t need, but it also reflects a problem we have faced a long time—weak technology.There is no reason, with the exception of money, our industry does not lead the sports world in technology. There is so much we can do with timing, replays, tote, and past performances we just ignore because nobody in a position to will invest in improving the sport from that standpoint. One of the worst ramifications of this is the late scratch rule in horizontal or multi-race wagers. As we all know, a late scratch in a horizontal wager gets replaced with the post time…
Last Saturday at Saratoga, we saw two impressive performances from the likely Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks favorites. Gamine dominated the 7 Furlong Grade 1 Test Stakes, and Tiz the Law annihilated the field in the mile and a quarter Grade 1 Travers Stakes. Both horses pretty much assured themselves favoritism in their next starts, and we don’t even know who they will be running against, what the track will be like, how the pace sets up or what posts they will draw. What would be hard to imagine is that both these exceptionally horses will be able to repeat the efforts we saw last Saturday. Impossible, no, unlikely, yes. Gamine cut back from a smashing one-turn mile at Belmont to the 7 eighths at Saratoga. She’ll stretch out to a mile and an eighth for the Oaks, assuming that is where she goes. In a rare event, Tiz the Law will…
It is no secret I am not a fan of smaller minimum amounts for wagers on horse races. I’m of the opinion the 50-cent minimum hurts the pick 4 payouts, the 20-cent jackpot pick 6 killed the “real pick 6” and the 10 cent superfecta is not doing the serious bettors any favors either. I have heard all the arguments about these minimums increasing pool size and thus leading to bigger payouts. I don’t buy it. I think they create more winning combinations, and they dilute the value of price horses in the sequences because more people spread and fish as opposed to handicapping. It is what it is. When we have these small minimums and then add the small fields we are seeing of late, it makes the multi race sequences so many of us love to attack less appealing. Add the syndicates going into these pools more and…