We have three major Kentucky Derby preps this Saturday in three different states across the country. The Wood Memorial in New York, the Santa Anita Derby in California, and the Blue Grass in Kentucky. Unfortunately, all three are in danger of being run under less than ideal conditions. Poor weather is hovering around all of those races. This really puts the connections, who have waited for these spots to get the points they need to get into the Kentucky Derby, up against it. The following Saturday we have the Arkansas Derby and Lexington Stakes that will wrap things up and set the stage for the first Saturday in May. Since the inception of the point system in 2013 all the Derby winners were undefeated in their three-year old campaigns. I don’t believe that was by accident or coincidental. Starting back in 2013 and through last year Orb, California Chrome, American…
March 28, 2018 Everyone in the Pool By: Jonathan Stettin It’s an exciting time of year in the Sport of Kings. The final Kentucky Derby preps are upon us. The Run for the Roses is shaping up to be an interesting contest with possibly two horses having a chance of knocking out the Apollo curse, by winning the Derby without having raced at two-years old. The Dubai World Cup is Saturday and pits West Coast, the heir apparent to the top older horse in training in the US, against Talismanic the winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. Saturday is also Florida Derby day at Gulfstream Park and that major Kentucky Derby prep will anchor a stakes filled card to end the Championship meet. Something else will be happening at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. There will be a mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 pool provided there is no single…
I go back a pretty long way with the sheets, also known as the Rags or Ragozins. Today I use Thoro-Graph. Of all the speed figures I find they give you the best chance of finding an edge. I’ll get into that a bit later. We are just about all familiar with Beyer figures. Today there are an array of speed and pace figures to choose from. In addition to the ones I mentioned above you have Timeform, Brisnet and some others providing figures. One of the biggest mistakes handicappers make is thinking any figure is a substitute for handicapping the race. They are a tool. Not a short cut or substitute for doing your homework. Bruno De Julio of @racingwithbruno offers his Delta Figs, which contrary to all the other figures out there, attempt to gauge the figure the horse will run on race day wherein others assign their…
Regardless of what happens on the first Saturday in May, it seems kind of silly to anoint a horse with just two starts, no Kentucky Derby points, and no stakes experience as the winner of the next Run for the Roses. As of today, we do not even know if Justify, a fast and talented, albeit inexperienced and untested colt, by Scat Daddy and trained by the master himself, Bob Baffert, will be in the starting gate. Based on the ease in which he won an allowance race this past Sunday, in a quick time over a fast strip which was wet, he looks visually as talented as any three-year old we have seen in 2018. That, along with all the positives already pointed out, does not make him the Derby winner. Racing hungers for that next champion, that next special horse that out performs expectations and captures the hearts…
I have taken my fair share of criticism on ticket structuring, which is an important aspect of success when you wager on horse races. Of course, when you win you’re brilliant and when you lose you are a fool who put together a terrible play structured improperly. Be it raves or critique, I never pay attention to anyone when it comes to ticket structuring. If I have to do that I am in trouble before I start. First off, as I mentioned if you win you will get accolades, and if you lose those same people will give you kudos. None of that matters. While I can’t say I have a formula to structuring multi-race tickets, I definitely have a “go for the kill style,” and also do not subscribe to the ABC method many people prefer and find helpful. Briefly, I don’t personally like the ABC approach as I…
Many of us watch a lot of races over the course of a week. The normal tendency is to watch either the horse you bet on or the leader. We also tend to watch a horse making a move or one the track announcer brings to our attention. When looking for troubled trips you must train yourself to watch all the horses in the race and see things that might not be the focal point of most other spectators. Sure, the running lines will identify some troubled trips for you, but those are the ones everyone will know about. To gain an advantage it helps to see some that are for your eyes only. There are many different types of troubled trips. Some result from bad racing luck, post position, poor rider decisions, pace, and all sorts of other intangibles. Sometimes something can happen right in front of a horse…
I have written and spoken a lot about steward decisions in the past few years and frankly thought I was done with it. What is the point, they make decisions that impact our money based on subjectivity with little to no accountability? There have been so many poor and illogical decisions in recent years that the whole thing just gets old. When a number is blinking who knows what will happen. It doesn’t matter if it is a small circuit or our biggest of stages. We all remember Bayern and the sucker punch he threw coming out of the gate. Arguing that didn’t affect the outcome or a better placing shows two things: 1) you do not understand horseracing and what goes on when they leave the gate and 2) you have never been hit with a sucker punch and tried to recover from having the wind knocked out of…
In any business to be successful you have to know your customer. This is basic business 101. You have to know who they are and what they want. The old saying “if you don’t take care of your customer someone else will” is as true today as it was when it was first said long ago. One of the things I think most racetracks make an effort to get right, but ultimately get wrong, is knowing their customer. Just this past summer I heard a shot caller for a major racing circuit make the statement on television that the owners are the backbone of our industry, in an effort to celebrate them. I took that as a partial truth and slight at the same time. It also displayed a disconnect from identifying with who their customers are. While the owners and bettors are the only two groups putting money into…
Kentucky Derby fever engulfs the Sport of Kings each year around February or March, and with it comes the Kentucky Derby prep races. I imagine if you have a two-year-old or three- year old that looks to be Derby quality, the fever can set in earlier. Even with the Breeders’ Cup, Dubai World Cup, Pegasus World Cup and many other great races and programs, the Run for the Roses remains the anchor of our game and as they say, “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” It is one of the few times in today’s landscape horse racing crosses over and becomes mainstream. Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby is challenging, exciting, and financially rewarding for us bettors. Most of us start watching the contenders early. Many contender lists are compiled early, with none more popular than Steve Haskin’s Derby Dozen. What I always found to be a flaw…
People talk a lot about growing the game and returning it to the glory days it has seen in the past. There were indeed glory days and a big part of that was twofold; large crowds at the races, and stars on the racetrack. That is what the crowds came to see. Horses stayed in training longer, and that created rivalries. The Sport of Kings was a game of rivalries for many years. Today we long for rivalries between great horses to the point we are willing to call even two races against each other a rivalry at times. The just retired Gun Runner was a breath of fresh air to those of us who remember the old rivalries and the excitement they produced. He would have fit just fine in that era. Commercial breeding, different philosophies, a new landscape, and of course money has changed all that. Great rivalries…