Thursday, 31 January 2019 18:15

Things Do Happen

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January 31, 2019

Things Do Happen

By: Jonathan Stettin

I always get a laugh when I see someone make what seems to be an outrageous or bold claim or accusation on social media regarding horse racing, and some expert talking head dismisses it as preposterous. If history has taught us anything, it is things do happen, and often the worst is true. At times the reality is even worse than what we imagine. Add money, lots of it, into the equation and you have a scenario where nothing alleged is really that preposterous at all.

Forgive the redundancy from previous articles, but if I were to ask you to believe that not that long ago people were betting pick 6’s after say four of the six races were run, and doing this on the Breeders’ Cup, you would probably have laughed at me. Can you imagine the expert industry talking heads response? I’d be dismissed as a crazy no doubt and put on the pay no mind list. They would be right about the crazy part, but I have never claimed sanity as a defense of anything. They would have been dead wrong about the pick 6 though, wouldn’t they?

Some years back a good jockey friend of mine, who I was with up at Saratoga, rode a horse in the last race who went off at 30-1. He went to the lead and by about two lengths and held that until deep stretch. At that point the favorite at 8-5 changed leads and kicked in. He was being ridden by one of the leading riders. He nailed the longshot on the wire. A nose separated them.

The next day was a Tuesday which was a dark day. The other rider came over to my friend who was barbecuing a steak on the grill. He said;
“Why didn’t you tell me that horse was live yesterday? I could have got in trouble, and we all make money.” It seemed like half a joke and was laughed off as such. It likely was.

Just last week a top Australian trainer who is a Melbourne Cup winner had their barn raided by law enforcement. The Melbourne Cup is one of the most famous and difficult races in the world to win. It has prestige on a par with a Kentucky Derby, and the same level of scrutiny. Darren Weir and two other “licensees” were taken into custody by the Victorian Police’s Sporting Intelligence Integrity Unit after four buzzers or batteries were found in the barn. A sporting intelligence integrity unit. Can you imagine if we had one of those in the states? Weir won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 with Prince of Penzance. Weir has two training locations, and both were raided. He was released and no charges have been filed yet. While the absolute rule may or may not apply to a licensee, in a criminal case possession would likely have to be established. Nevertheless, it would appear on the surface the batteries were present.

If you asked industry insiders if they thought a Melbourne Cup winning outfit was using batteries, I’d wager most would say no way. Maybe they are right, and maybe they are wrong, but the question is not ridiculous at all, is it?

I wonder how people in the industry would respond today if they had to live and work through the race fixing scandals of the ’70s. Pretty much the entire list of leading jockeys on the NYRA circuit was involved on one level or another even if it was just being subject to questioning. One rider, Mike Hole, committed suicide under what was considered questionable circumstances back then. Another rider was asked on the stand if he ever heard the expression “to hold or pull a horse?” He said simply, no, he never heard that and didn’t know what it meant. Con Errico in another scandal went to prison. In Europe, a top rider was actually put on trial for race fixing not long ago and was acquitted. Things happen. Questions are not crazy nor are those who ask them when money is at stake.

Most of us know how difficult it is to detect some of the illegal performance-enhancing substances in professional sports. Athletes get caught in major mainstream sports with at least some degree of regularity. Our game is not mainstream. Nor does it have mainstream resources. Does this mean every 40% trainer is using “something?” Probably not. It also means asking those tough questions is far from unwarranted. Having some skepticism in many cases is not foolish. Pretending it is preposterous or the thought of a crazy is, well is just plain crazy. Things happen.

Thursday, 24 January 2019 21:08

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 26

Fred W. Hooper Stakes - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:38 PM Eastern


Unbridled Juan ALWAYS shows up, which is all we can ask when wagering on a horse. First or second in four of six since returning from an eight month layoff last May, Unbridled Juan, who opens at 8 to 1, ran three "A" races in a row last fall, all stakes, earning 108, 114 and 106 Equibase figures which are on par with lower odds horses in the field. In 11 career one-turn races (like this one), Unbridled Juan has a record of 5-4-2. He's won at Gulfstream and Cintron, up for his last three starts, rides him again. I can't find a single knock and so I'm hopeful we can start today's series of races out with a nice overlay winner.



Before winning on 12/7, Breaking Lucky had not won in 12 starts dating back to August, 2016. He did have a couple of big second place finishes during that time, when second by a neck in the 2017 New Orleans Handicap and when second to Gun Runner in the 2016 Clark Handicap. Apparently, this one-turn mile trip suits him well, as the 12/7 effort earned a strong 110 figure with Saez aboard then as now. Likely to move forward second off the layoff, Breaking Lucky must be considered a strong contender, and also offers value opening at 9 to 2.



Aztec Sense has won EIGHT races in a row and nine of 10 since the $12,500 claim by Navarro in the summer of 2017. Four of the wins came in stakes with purses of $100 or more, although none were graded, and the most recent came at Gulfstream last month in the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes, in which he won gamely by a neck on the wire in a field of 12. The one-turn mile is not issue as he won last February at the trip over the track, and with his last five Equibase figures being 107, 104, 107, 121 and 106, repeating any of his recent efforts could have him in the thick of the action on the wire once again at the very least.



Coal Front is a contender but has two knocks so I'll use him defensively as I don't want to be beaten by him. The first knock is his 9 to 5 starting odds which are out of line with probability in my opinion as he has no more chance to win then any of the previously mentioned contenders. The second is he gets the rail, which can be problematic in this one-turn mile which is basically a long sprint. Only farther back than one length one time after a quarter mile in any of his races, Coal Front will need to show speed to get good position in this 10 horse field and there's no guarantee that is going to happen. On the other hand, his second start back from a 13 month layoff on 12/22 was a big effort as he won the Mr. Prospector Stakes at seven furlongs with a 108 figure. He's had a month off so is unlikely to regress, but he's never run this mile trip previously whereas the other three all have wins at the distance.



Bets: Unbridled Juan to win at 3 to 1 or higher, adding a place bet if 4 to 1 or more.

Breaking Lucky to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

In the unlikely event Aztec Sense is anywhere near 3 to 1 at post time, he can be bet to win as well.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



$0.50 Pick 4 ticket:

Race 9 – Coal Front, Breaking Lucky, Aztec Sense, Unbridled Juan

Race 10 – Soglio, Canessar, Hunter O'Riley

Race 11 – Yoshida, Aerolithe, Next Shares, Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

Race 12 – City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat

At the $0.50 level, if all of the above run, the cost of the ticket is $90



In the event the cost of the pick 4 is too steep, then play a $0.50 Pick 3 ticket as follows:

Race 9 – Coal Front, Breaking Lucky, Aztec Sense, Unbridled Juan

Race 10 – Soglio, Canessar, Hunter O'Riley

Race 11 – Yoshida, Aerolithe, Next Shares, Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

At the $0.50 level, if all of the above run, the cost of the ticket is $30



Optional Double:

Race 9 – Coal Front, Breaking Lucky, Aztec Sense, Unbridled Juan

Race 10 – Soglio, Canessar, Hunter O'Riley



W.L. McKnight Stakes - Race 10 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:14 PM Eastern


Soglio ran fantastically well, although beaten a head, last month in the two mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes over the course. He ran as well when a nose shy in the off-turf Red Smith the previous month, won at this 12 furlong turf trip in October and nearly won the identical Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes in September when he led late and was beaten a half-length and a neck on the wire. Last time out and in the win, Soglio had the services of Jose Ortiz, who rides today, so from a ground saving inside post perhaps all the hors needs is the slightest bit of luck compared to the Jerkens, when he lacked room at a critical stages or might have won. Sent to post as the 6 to 5 favorite that day, Soglio opens at 9 to 2 odds and that makes him a great bet to win and to use on exacta tickets if those odds, or anything close, hold up.



Canessar has a recent record similar to the top choice, as he was beaten a length one before last and a neck in his most recent race. The first of the two was the two mile Belmont Gold Cup last June and the latter was the identical Stars and Stripes Stakes in July. He won in his U.S. debut in the summer of 2017 at this marathon distance on turf in a $100K stakes and with Castellano riding and freshened since last summer this tough runner with a six for 15 record has a big shot, also opening at very playable odds of 5 to 1.



Hunter O'Riley will make things very interesting, and profitable, if he runs well, as he opens at 20/1. Winner of over $400K in his career, he rallied from 12th to fifth in the 2017 Belmont Gold Cup after a win at this 12 furlong turf trip in the spring. Two later, in July 2017, Hunter O'Riley proved capable at the level when posting the 16/1 upset in the Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga. Three poor races ensued through last April, but he's been off since then and perhaps more importantly, recently gelded. Leading Southern California jockey and superb turf rider Flavien Prat takes the call and the gelding has been in steady training on the turf going back six weeks so he appears fit and ready to run his best, which could be good enough to post the double digit upset.



Bets: Soglio to win at 5 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 4 to 1 or higher.

Consider a second win bet, on Canessar, at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 9 to 2 or higher.

Definitely consider at least a minimum win and place (or win, place and show) bet on Hunter O'Riley at 5 to 1 or higher.



Exacta: Box Soglio, Canessar and Hunter O'Riley



If you didn't play the Pick 4 starting in race 9, you can play the pick 3 starting here as follows:

Race 10 – Soglio, Canessar, Hunter O'Riley

Race 11 – Yoshida, Aerolithe, Next Shares, Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

Race 12 – City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat

At the $0.50 minimum level, if all horses above run, the cost of the ticket is $22.50



Optional Double:

Race 10 – Soglio, Canessar, Hunter O'Riley

Race 11 – Yoshida, Aerolithe, Next Shares, Bricks and Mortar, Catapult



Pegasus World Cup Turf - Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:51 PM Eastern


Bricks and Mortar got the cobwebs out when returning from 14 months off on 12/22 and rallying from sixth of 10 early to win. The effort not only earned him a career best 116 Equibase figure but that figure, the third best last race figure in the field by just a few points, is bound to be improved upon in the horse's second start after the long layoff. Brown is adept at so many things, but better still is 14 for 35 (40%) the past few years when his horses have a bullet work with 14 days going into a graded stakes, and his starters are 6 for 19 (33%) when going from an allowance win into a graded stakes. Ortiz rides back and the son of Giants Causeway put in a big workout on the Palm Meadows turf coming into the race to signal his top form.



Catapult is the other main win contender in my opinion, with a 5 for 15 record on grass and four straight "A" efforts coming into this race, three in graded stakes. He won the 9 furlong Eddie Read last summer with a 120 figure then missed by a half-length in the Breeders' Cup Mile with a 121 figure before the near three month layoff he returns from here so all signs are that he can easily run well enough to win.



Although on pick 3, pick 4 and double tickets started in earlier races we went five deep here, I'm using the other three on exacta tickets only in this race itself. Those three are Next Shares, Aerolithe and Yoshida. NONE have big knocks and are proven Grade 1 or Group 1 winners so must be respected.



Bets: Bricks and Mortar and Catapult to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Bricks and Mortar over ALL, then a reverse of that exacta for just the minimum $1.

Catapult over ALL, then the reverse of that exacta



Doubles (all for the minimum $1)

Race 11 – ALL 

Race 12 – Tom's d'Etat



Race 11 – Yoshida, Aerolithe, Next Shares, Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

Race 12 – Tom's d'Etat



Race 11 –Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

Race 12 – ALL



Race 11 –Bricks and Mortar, Catapult

Race 12 – City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat



Pegasus World Cup Invitational - Race 12 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:36 Eastern


In handicapping this race, I started by eliminating (as win contenders) a trio of horses who don't appear to have much probability to win – Kukulkan (MEX), Imperative and Something Awesome. Kukulkan (MEX), although undefeated, just isn't fast enough to compete with the top contenders in the Pegasus. He earned a 105Equibase Speed Figure in the Caribbean Classic Handicap last month, whereas the top horses have consistently earned 115 or better figures. Imperative has not won a race since capturing the Charles Town Classic in April of 2017 and has been uncompetitive in top company during that time. Something Awesome won the Charles Town Classic last April with a 118 figure but I view that as a fluke as his other two best efforts in the past year earned 105 and 106 figures.



Next, there's the issue of the mile and one eighth trip. Patternrecognition earned a career-best 115 figure winning the Cigar Mile Handicap last month but is trying two-turns for the first time in his 12th career start. STATS Race Lens statistics on his sire Adios Charlie paint a dim picture of Patternrecognition having the ability to run that well at this distance because over the last five years the sire's progeny have run 220 route races and only nine of those starts have been at nine furlongs. Furthermore, the only winning horse at the distance earned that win at Camarero Race Track in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Patternrecognition earned his last three wins leading from start to finish and from the extreme outside 12 post  he would be forced to use a good deal of early energy to get the lead he needs to succeed. True Timber is winless in five tries around two-turns in his career. He is bred to succeed at the distance but has yet to prove it. However, unlike Patternrecognition, True Timber could be in a mid-pack position in the early stages and could be part of the exacta or trifecta, particularly as he's coming into the race off a career-best 113 figure earned when second in the Cigar Mile.



Now it's onto the three horses I think can win this year's Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Of the three, Tom's d'Etat interests me the most as he is very likely to be a longshot. Tossing out his debut in May 2016 on turf, Tom's d'Etat has done little wrong, winning six of eight races. He won three of four in 2017, culminating with a nine length win at the nine furlong Pegasus trip in the summer of 2017, earning a then career-best 117 Equibase Figure in the process.  That figure is on par with nearly every one of the best figures earned by City of Light and Accelerate. Away from the races for 15 months, last November Tom's d'Etat picked up where he had left off with a seven length win and 112 figure, improving to a 119 figure last month when easily winning the Tenacious Stakes. The pattern for improvement in his third start off the layoff is unmistakable and as he has a two-for-two record at the distance, there are many reasons to think Tom's d'Etat can post the upset win in this year's Pegasus. For good measure, there is perhaps one more thing going for this horse as he is owned by Gayle Benson's GMB Racing. The horse is named after the late Tom Benson, who (along with his wife Gayle) was the owner of the New Orleans Saints. Considering what transpired last weekend on the field, it would be fitting for Tom's d'Etat to succeed in this race.



City of Light is the only reason Accelerate did not have an unblemished seven-for-seven record last year. City of Light had won the Malibu Stakes and Triple Bend Stakes prior to beating Accelerate by a neck in the Oaklawn Handicap last April. Then after two defeats, he finished off his four year old campaign with a powerful two and three-quarter length win in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, earning a career-best 126 figure.  That figure is not only the best last race figure in the field but also the best figure earned by any horse in the field, ever. Pointing for this race since resuming training in December, City of Light was working phenomenally at trainer McCarthy's home base at Santa Anita but shipped into Gulfstream for a workout on January 19 which can't be described as anything short of extraordinary as the horse worked a half-mile in 47.2 which was the best of 104 workouts at the distance on the day. Having shown versatility when earning two of his three wins last year from off the pace then dominating from start to finish in the Dirt Mile, City of Light should once again be very tough to beat particularly as the win against Accelerate last year was his only previous effort at this mile and one-eighth distance.



Accelerate held top form last year from February through November, which is no easy task. He has three wins at this distance and his only defeat was when second to City of Light last April. Although Accelerate only earned a 115 figure winning the Breeders' Cup Classic, he earned a 120 figure in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and followed that up with a 122 figure effort winning the Pacific Classic in August by a stunning 12 lengths. As such, there can be little doubt Accelerate has the ability to run well enough to win this year's Pegasus. I do have one concern though and that is he does not have an official workout over the track compared to City of Light. On the other hand, Tom's d'Etat doesn't have a workout over the track either and one of the things which make a top athlete so good is the ability to adapt to different situations. As such, Accelerate must be strongly respected as a contender to win the Pegasus.



For consideration on exacta tickets, Bravazo, Seeking the Gold, True Timber and Gunnevera fit the bill. Bravazo rallied for second in the Clark Handicap at the distance when last seen two months ago and could be passing a few of these late for the same result. Seeking the Gold rallied for second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last fall and gets the same comment as Bravazo. True Timber was second to Patternrecognition in the Cigar Mile and with Patternrecognition appearing unlikely to run this far and with a potential pace problem from his outside post, True Timber can possibly run the same kind of race. Gunnevera is likely to be last or nearly so in the early stages as he usually is and as a one-paced horse will inevitably be passing many of the rest.



Bets: Tom's d'Etat to win and place at 5 to 1 or more.



Exactas: City of Light, Accelerate and Tom's d'Etat over City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat, Bravazo, Seeking the Soul, True Timber and Gunnevera.



Trifecta: City of Light, Accelerate and Tom's d'Etat over City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat, Bravazo, Seeking the Soul, True Timber and Gunnevera over City of Light, Accelerate, Tom's d'Etat, Bravazo, Seeking the Soul, True Timber and Gunnevera.

The cost of the trifecta above at the $0.50 level is $45.




Thursday, 24 January 2019 21:05

The Morning Line


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January 24, 2019

The Morning Line

By: Jonathan Stettin

I think there are just some things related to playing the horses that come with time and experience. You can’t substitute anything for watching and learning the game by attending the races and studying the sport. There are no cliff notes or shortcuts. Does it mean you will win all the time? Of course not. Some players never win. Does it give you an edge over a novice or newcomer? Absolutely, if you’re an astute player and student.

One of the things that have come to me over time is looking at a field and knowing two things almost off the bat. One is the likely or approximate post time odds. The other is the odds a horse should be, based on their likelihood of winning. It just comes to me after looking at the past performances and more times than not I’ll be spot on. Yes, I look at the morning line, but I don’t have to to get my feel for the probable odds.

A true morning line is not indicative of the oddsmakers opinion of the horses and their chances. Not at all actually. It is reflective or at least should be of what they think the odds will be at post time. They are handicapping how we will bet more than the horses themselves. A lot of people think if an oddsmaker puts a horse at say 9-5, they must like that horse or think the horse has a good chance. That may or may not be the case. They may think the horse has no shot, but feel the public will bet the runner to 9-5. It is important to understand this when you look at a morning line.

Most line makers use a formula. It goes something like this:
Use a base of 100 and then add points to correspond with the win takeout, say 15%. Therefore, by adding 15 to a base of 100, we arrive at 115 points. Then, by designating an additional point per horse, the morning line will generally balance between 123 and 127 or something like that for fields consisting of 8 to 12 horses.

Once a race is assigned a point value, the oddsmaker must now balance the field of horses to add up to the designated total or at least as close as a point or two.

This is pretty much the formula that is used, or perhaps a close variation of it. If you like to make a fair odds line for yourself to spot overlays and underlays and bet accordingly, you probably use a similar formula. Personally, I don’t make a fair odds line. As I stated earlier when I study a race I know what I think the post time odds will be, and also what I think are fair odds on a horse based on my opinion of their chance of winning. I’m comfortable with that. I also don’t let it affect my betting as much as some might. I don’t bet against the horse I think will win regardless of price, and I don’t bet a horse I think won’t win just because they are long odds. That said if I think a 30-1 horse will win I will bet them the same as I would a 6-5 horse. I’ve singled long odds horses on expensive tickets. It’s just how I play. There is no value in a losing bet.

The morning line has less of an impact today than it did maybe 20 years ago and prior to that. There are far more sharks in the water today. I think it has the most significant impact on payoffs in multi-race wagers. Those are bet without knowing the odds of the advance legs. Those are the races you can easily take advantage of bad morning lines. Once live race betting begins the sharks will balance the line more often than not.

I don’t let odds dictate to me, so I surely would not let a morning line affect my play too much, or my opinion on a race at all. That works for me. It might not for you, and that’s fine. Whatever works for you is what matters.

Friday, 18 January 2019 12:56

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 19

Pasco Stakes - Race 7 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 3:10 PM Eastern


It appears Win Win Win and Cave Run are the only two which can win this year's Pasco Stakes, but they open as the morning line favorite at 5/2 and the third choice on the morning line at 7/2 so there may not be a lot of value on win bets. Therefore the main play in this race is a pick 3 to race nine, the Gasparilla Stakes. Still, there may be opportunity for a low odds overlay win bet. Cave Run, who opens at the higher odds of the two contenders at 7/2, has a slight edge over Win Win Win as he won over the track. The win came in his only start, on 12/15, and he not only showed a lot of maturity in victory when relaxing in third in the early stages before rallying to draw off by six lengths, he also earned the best Equibase figure of any horse in the field, 99. With improving to do in his second start and with a good outside post to once again stalk whoever decides to lead early, Cave Run has a big shot to win a stakes in only the second start of his career.



Win Win Win won the first two starts of his career then finished second, all at Laurel. The runner-up finish came in a stakes and at this seven furlong trip so he does have a slight experience edge over Cave Run. He improved from an 84 figure in his debut to 92 then to 95 last time out so he's likely to run in the range of Cave Run if that one just repeats his last effort, but on the other hand I expect Cave Run to improve in his second lifetime start the same way Win WinWin did in his so perhaps Win Win Win will just be running for second.



Bets: Cave Run to win at odds of 9 to 5 or higher.



$0.50 Pick 3 ticket:

Race 7 – Win Win Win, Cave Run

Race 8 – Ponti Scheme, Flossie, Summer Sweet

Race 9 – Molto Bella



Race 8 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern


Flossie is the main play here, with Ponti Scheme and Summer Sweet to be used on pick 3 tickets and exacta tickets. Flossie won her debut last June with a lot of maturity in a 10 horse field at Churchill Downs in a sprint then came back a month later and ran poorly. Not deterred by that effort, the next month she was stretched out to two turns and tried on grass, and voila, she ran huge, leading from start to finish and gamely winning by a head in a 10 horse field. Rested since the end of August and moved to the barn of Correas, the filly finds a weak field for the allowance level and appears to be fit as she's put in six workouts in just over a month. Cannon is an underrated jockey, especially on turf, and the trainer is 2 for 2 in recent history with horses coming back in turf routes off layoffs of 4 to 6 months.



Bets: Flossie to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.



Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern


This race is playable on its own because the favorite is legitimate and there's a horse opening at 20/1 whose odds should be much lower. Additionally, it offers some nice pick 3 action ending in race 11, the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes. Central Command is the legitimate favorite, opening at 9 to 5 on the heels of a 9 month layoff following a win in his only start. He's in the Chad Brown barn and Castellano rides and he won that only start last March easily and impressively by four lengths as the 8 to 5 favorite. He's been in steady training for his comeback and his workout three weeks ago (12/29) was superb, the 2nd best of 88 on the day for a half-mile. He finds a lackluster field of horses which are either stuck at the allowance condition or are better in claiming races and Brown continues to win at an above average 26% rate with horses coming back from long layoffs.



The horse coming in under the radar is Time to Travel, an impressive winner in his 2nd career start in April, 2017 at Gulfstream and at this 7 furlong trip. He got a late start on his career so the connections took a shot at Derby points in the Lexington Stakes but he finished fourth after leading mid-race. He finished 2nd in another stakes, tried turf and failed miserably then was given nine months off. After being beaten 42 lengths he was rested again and when returning last month he ran well enough, setting the pace for the opening quarter mile then fading to fifth in a race he had to need. Since that start, Time to Travel changed barns and today he shows up without blinkers and, more importantly, with Jose Ortiz riding. Likely without blinkers, Time to Travel put in a scintillating 46.4 four furlong work over the track on January 12 and this kind of "blinkers off/ fast workout" pattern cannot be ignored because back in 2017 when winning he earned a 102 figure. As such, Time to Travel is an upset candidate.



For exactas, we will use three horses who like to hit the board – Star Juancho, Articulator and Empire Power.



Bets: Time to Travel to win and to place at 4 to 1 or higher.


Exacta: Central Command and Time to Travel over Central Command, Time to Travel, Star Juancho, Articulator and Empire Power.


Pick 3 tickets: There are three tickets to play starting in this race, one singling a horse in race 11 and one singling a horse in race 9 so if both win and if we get the other two races right we can win the bet three times.



Race 9 – Central Command, Star Juancho, Articulator, Empire Power, Time to Travel

Race 10 – Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis

Race 11 – Dalmore, Forevamo, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama, Jay's Way, Souper Tapit

The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $30



Race 9 – Central Command, Star Juancho, Articulator, Empire Power, Time to Travel

Race 10 – Thinkin Cowtown, Picara, Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis, Starship Jubilee

Race 11 – Forevamo

The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $12.50



Race 9 – Central Command

Race 10 – Thinkin Cowtown, Picara, Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis, Starship Jubilee

Race 11 – Dalmore, Forevamo, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama, Jay's Way, Souper Tapit

The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $15



Gasparilla Stakes - Race 9 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 4:10 Eastern


Molto Bella is a standout in this race based on her efforts in July, September and October. She won her only career start at this seven furlong trip in July in career start #2, then nearly two months later ran a much better race even though second, before venturing into stakes company to finish second in the Rags to Riches Stakes, a one-turn mile race at Churchill Downs. The winner of that race was Mother Mother, who has since missed by a head and a neck in the Grade 1 Starlet and finished second recently to multiple graded stakes winner Bellafina in the Santa Ynez Stakes. Likely more mature as a three year old and shipping down from trainer Wilkes' base at Palm Meadows, Molto Bella meets a fairly suspect field and opens at 6 to 1 in a race in which the morning line favorite (7/2), Bella Ciao, finished third in a stakes last month at gulfstream but really didn't run well at all.



Bets: Molto Bella to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.



Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes - Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:47 Eastern


Forevamo, opening at 6 to 1 is one of only two entrants in this race to have even won at this nine furlong trip, with horses like second morning line favorite (3/1) Mr. Jordan having a record of 0-3-1 in five races and morning line favorite Souper Tapit (2/1) having a record of 0-2-0 in two races at the trip. Forevamo just won the Zia Park Championship Handicap at the trip, with a career best 107 Equibase figure, very similar to what Jay's Way earned (108) winning this race last year. Jay's Way is the only other horse to have a win at the trip but finished fifth in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview and 10th in his most recent start (albeit on turf). Meanwhile, Forevamo gets Castellano and a great post (2) to stalk the likely dueling leaders Dalmore and Jay's Way, who are both need-the-lead types, enabling him to win his second stakes in a row.


Any number of horses can finish second, including the aforementioned Dalmore and Jay's Way, as well as Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit. You'll note one of the pick 3 tickets started in race 9 and ending in this race, used all six horses, because in case Dalmore or Jay's Way gets to the front by themselves, anything can happen.


Bets: Forevamo to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Forevamo over Dalmore, Jay's Way, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit.

Play the opposite of that exacta as well, which is Dalmore, Jay's Way, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit over Forevamo

Thursday, 17 January 2019 15:00

It Wasn't Broke

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


January 17, 2019

It Wasn't Broke

By: Jonathan Stettin


We have all heard the saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There was a time not really all that long ago when racing was not a broken sport, but somehow the industry tried to fix it, and that left us with what we have today.

For those who have only been interested or exposed to the game for say the last 15 years or so, you really don’t know what you missed, and if you like the game today, you’d have probably loved it back a ways.

When I first started writing Past the Wire, I made an effort to stay positive and focus on the ups. Always one to call it as I see it that has become increasingly challenging and at times just difficult.

I’ve talked and written about many of the issues plaguing the Sport of Kings recently, and I won’t be making any shopping or laundry lists today. We all know the issues. Today I’ll touch on reporting and coverage and the erosion of horse racing journalism and media coverage. We have more coverage than ever thanks in part to social media and some dedicated networks, but do we have quality reporting and coverage? You tell me.

The Kentucky Derby attracts as much media coverage as any horse race in the world. A few years back a top contender trained by a top trainer, Bob Baffert was in danger of scratching in the days leading up to the race. The horse, Dortmund, had a bout with Colic following a workout on April 25th. He overcame it and raced despite the setback. I’m sure he was good if Bob ran him and he, in fact, ran a credible third. That’s not the point. You’d be hard pressed to find any media coverage of this pretty significant development anywhere before the race. If you bet Dortmund you’d have to feel a bit slighted. After all, you read which way American Pharoah was facing when he got his morning bath until you were blue in the face. Everyone with a press credential had to tell you countless times what a long flowing, beautiful stride he had. However, there was not a peep about Dortmund almost scratching from a bout with colic. That wouldn’t have happened in the 70’s or 80’s and we are more advanced now, have more access and more coverage.

99% of racing writers write about the same things with the same take as just about everyone else. Very few tackle the hardcore issues or address certain issues with candor and true journalism and reporting. Slaughter, sales, illegal drugs, and race fixing are off-limit topics for the most part, and the industry itself is complicit in that. Sponsorship, advertising, credentials, and access are all dangled as carrots to keep the reporting where the industry prefers it stays.

Back to the Kentucky Derby. Do you really need to read more than one Derby contender list? The same horses, pretty close in order is on each of them. Occasionally, I’ll do one and when I do you’ll always find at least one outside the box horse not on anyone’s radar. That makes it interesting and fun.

Now, I get there is only so much racing news on a daily basis. But all the publications regurgitating the same takes on the same topics all day long via email, social media and whatever other means they can is not helping to grow the game or keep those already engaged interested. Many in the game do not welcome the influx of so-called bloggers. I am not opposed hoping some more of them bring new perspectives and are not handcuffed from writing about the things it seems the industry doesn’t want any of us talking about.

Playing ostrich by keeping one's head in the sand doesn’t fix anything or make it go away. If our most serious issues are brushed under the rug by our reporters how will the industry solve them? On their own? Take a look at the past performances on that and let me know how you’re betting.

Of course, there are exceptions, but they are few. You can count on us to be one of the few. We’ll take you Past the Wire. Stay tuned.

Friday, 11 January 2019 13:54

Those Who Know

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January 11, 2019

Those Who Know

By: Jonathan Stettin


Is a tip ever a tip at the racetrack? If you ask a hundred bettors, I think you might be surprised at the assortment of answers that you get. I’ll come back to that. Most of you who know me know I spent many years going to the racetrack every day, without missing a beat, first in New York, and then in Florida. I’m talking decades. I once broke up with a girlfriend, or I should say she broke up with me because I had to bail on her sister’s wedding. Yes, she was in the bridal party, and it was a big deal. That said her sister chose to get married on the first Saturday in May. I did not miss many days.

For several seasons at the Gulfstream meet my Dad and I sat with a dear friend of ours Joe T., may they both rest in peace. My Dad would always make Joe laugh hysterically when he would ask us if we liked any of the horses we had running with Peter Walder. My Dad, also Joe, would say, “those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.” They would laugh together, and Joe T. would wave his finger and say, "You are right." Of course, Joe was never cold-shouldered out of any horse we liked, and I spent years chasing pick 6’s with him, and generally I don’t do partners.

Those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know. Interesting. Does anybody ever really know at the races. Sure, there are a number of times a year where I feel I know the outcome of a race, but there are intangibles, as A Raving Beauty showed early in the last Saratoga meet. You can know, but they still have to run the race.

Once I claimed a horse named Am Flippy from of all people The Chief, Allen Jerkens. She had run a big number on the rags at two, and Peter and I grabbed her for $62,500. Obviously, we had some good expectations for her. She did not train as well as we hoped, but we were limited as to where to run her back. We used to win at a killer rate off the claim back then, and she would have taken money wherever we ran. With limited options, we ran back in an allowance race.

I remember walking into the track that day and almost immediately being approached by a well-known race-tracker. The man asked me if I liked anything and I said not especially. He then said he had some good information on a horse. He said he knew the owner, and he was a big bettor who flew in from New York to bet and watch his horse run. I honestly had no interest, and frankly could care less. I do and did my own thing and go by only my opinion. Nonetheless, to be polite I asked who is the horse? Am Flippy he said. Yes, he gave me a tip on my own horse, and he didn’t even know it.

Those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know. This guy obviously didn’t know but he absolutely said. Am Flippy didn’t win that race. She was one of the few horses we never did any good with. Claiming from The Chief, not such a good idea.

One time in what seems like a lifetime ago, a well-known rider who is now a pretty well-known trainer, told my brother Joe DiMaio and I that he loved his horse at Belmont and was going to win this race the next day. The horse ran badly, and we didn’t even ask him, he volunteered the “info.” The next day when I saw him, I asked what happened, he looked at me with a degree of sincerity and disappointment in his face and said I should have read the form. What? Those who know don’t say and those who say don’t know.

If you have spent a degree of time on the backside of the racetrack you learn fast it is different than the frontside. It is a world all its own. Generally speaking, trainers and riders (both exercise and jockeys) don’t like to share insight they may have into how horses are doing with just anyone. Bettors are often viewed as outsiders who don’t understand the backside, and there is really no upside for people on the backside to share what they may know about a horse. Often, they know of problems a horse may have that aren’t public knowledge and don’t appear in past performances. This information is good to have when you can get it, but you usually won’t.

Trainers have a tendency to talk about their horses like people talk about their kids. They may like their horse, and know he is training excellently, but can they rate and rank the competition as objectively as a sharp handicapper?

The most solid type of in the know information at the track, with the exception of knowing who will not win for one reason or another, is when a trainer cheats, and I don’t mean with illegal drugs, or doing anything illegal at all. I am referring to those scenarios where a trainer runs a horse worth 50K first time out for 20K knowing they will jog, and nobody will claim them. Sure, you can catch someone better in there, but for the tag as opposed to a Maiden Special Weight, you probably won’t. If you are fortunate to know about one of those, that would be a real “tip” or edge. Most of us likely won’t know until after the race when it becomes very visible.

Sometimes a horse will overcome an issue that was hindering them, knowing can be an edge, but will you? Probably not but things even out in the long run, as the competition can always be tougher.

Tips, or inside information, is not a prerequisite to success at the races. Can it help, maybe at times but remember, those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.

Friday, 11 January 2019 13:10

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 12

Tropical Turf Stakes - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern


Heart to Heart might win. He might not. Opening at 4/5 we have incentive to take the latter opinion and try to beat him. Although his best effort can win this grade 3 stakes, he is coming back from three months off and was badly beaten in his 2018 debut last year at 3/5 over the course. He's an 8 year old now and we all know where he can be found after the gate opens, in front, but there are some serious questions of condition and his ability to win off the layoff.



With a vulnerable favorite the race becomes very playable, starting with Doctor Mounty, who opens at 10/1. The jockey change from Boyce to Castellano is HUGE (no knock on Boyce) and the horse's winning effort in the similar grade 3 Baltimore Washington Turf Cup in September at this mile trip (with a 109 Equibase figure) beats all of these on the square if Heart to Heart doesn't show up.



White Flag is just about as probable to win, except he's only run a mile or more a few times in his career and none were very good efforts. On the other hand, Jose Ortiz gets on for Clement and the horse has only run 12 times on grass, winning five including a 100K stakes like this one (although non-graded). That effort, in the Allied Forces Stakes in 2017, earned a 108 figure and he comes into the race off a win in a 125K stakes on turf, although at 6 furlongs.



Since we're adopting the strategy of "go big or go home" by trying to beat Heart to Heart, Mr Freeze and Your Only Man will be used on some exacta tickets and some pick 3 tickets. Mr Freeze (opening at 15/1) is trying turf for the first time and coming back from nearly four months off. The former is NOT an issue as ALL FOUR other foals of his dam have had success on the turf, most in stakes including Capitano ($576K) and Dilemma ($367K). Winner of the West Virginia Derby last summer, the colt may need a race but if not, or even if not ready to win but in good enough shape to hit the board, he could help us make a profit. Your Only Man opens at ridiculous odds of 30/1 as he's getting a jockey change to 2018 North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. He may appear cheap on paper as he raced in claiming races this spring and summer, but since moving to the Vitali barn he's run very well, second in his last two races, both over the course, with 106 Equibase figures good enough to in the money if repeated.



Bets: Doctor Mounty and White Flag to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.



When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


I'm also making a token win and place bet on Mr Freeze at 6 to 1 or more and a win, place and show bet on Your Only Man at 7 to 1 or more.



Exactas: Box Doctor Mounty, White Flag, Mr Freeze and Your Only Man



$0.50 Pick 3 ticket: Doctor Mounty and White Flag in race 9 with ALL in race 10 (a wide open maiden race) with Bellavais, Bombshell, Valedictorian and Rose Tree in race 11. (If all 11 run in race 10 the cost of the ticket is $44 but remember if we beat Heart to Heart the payoff could be huge).


Marshua's River Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:47 PM Eastern


There's a suspect favorite in this race as well, just not one which opens at 4 to 5. La Signare won the similar grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes last June off a two month layoff and in her 2nd U.S. start. She had won one of two (a maiden race) in Europe before a runner-up effort prior to the win and then she finished 10th off the win before going on the bench. There is NOTHING to suggest she's a standout here particularly as the Wonder Again effort earned her a 94 Equibase figure which is marginal at best in this field. Bombshell may be the most likely to win, having nearly won four in a row since joining the Delacour barn last July. She missed by a nose and a neck in one and won the other three, two on turf. For her return off less than two months, she gets red hot Saez and the win in July was off a four month rest so firing with a win off a layoff is in her wheelhouse.



Bellavais moved to the Pletcher barn last fall and off an 11 month layoff won a classified allowance at Belmont as if she'd never been away She took two months off and was 4th in the similar My Charmer Stakes here at GP last month BUT that was in a 14 horse field. With only seven others to contend with here she could return to the form shown right before that with a 105 figure effort rock solid among this group.



Valedictorian has won or placed in her last four turf starts, all routes. Two of those were minor stakes but her win in the 150K All Along Stakes last September was very strong and if repeated gives her a shot to earn her 10th career win. Rose Tree was 2 to 1 when winning easily on the main track here at GP last month. She's earned $325K, all on dirt or all-weather, but has fine turf breeding and is handled by veteran Jonathan Sheppard, so she cannot be ignored when considering our wagers in this race as she opens at 20/1.



Bets: Bombshell and Bellavais to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.



When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exacta: Box Bombshell, Bellavais, Valedictorian and Rose Tree.



La Canada Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:04 PM Eastern/ 4:04 Pacific


K P Wildcat shipped into Santa Anita from New Mexico last week and put in a workout over the track to get familiar with it under the watchful eye of Jeff Mullins, who is listed as her trainer for the race. The mare comes back from just under two months away and won the Albuquerque Distaff Handicap off a similar layoff in August with the second best Equibase figure (100) of her career. She won another stakes the next month before a runner-up effort in October before being shortened up to a sprint for her final start of 2018, where she finished third. Jockey Roimes Chirinos, one of the top jockeys on the New Mexico circuit which includes Sunland Park, Zia Park and Ruidoso downs, has ridden K P Wildcat in 13 of her 21 career races, including nine of her 13 wins, and comes in to ride her in the La Canada which helps ensure another top effort good enough to win.



Escape Clause is another mare with an excellent winning spirit, evidenced by a 9 for 13 record in 2018 and an 8 for 11 record the previous year. Most of those races took place in Canada, but since coming to California in November she has held her own. When trying turf for the first time in the Kathryn Crosby Stakes in her Southern California debut, Escape Clause finished second but was awarded the win via a disqualification, before third and fourth place finishes in graded stakes. Her last three efforts yielded 105, 104 and 112 figures and her best previous effort on dirt earned her a 106 figure so Escape Clause has every right to be in the photo on the wire in this group.



True Royalty deserves respect as the only graded stakes winner in the field. In August at a mile on dirt, True Royalty earned a career best 96 figure when winning the Torrey Pines Stakes easily by three lengths. After that, True Royalty tried and failed when sixth in a turf sprint. She then stepped up to grade two company while trying some tough sprinters in the Raven Run Stakes, finishing 12th behind eventual Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Shamrock Rose. Considering the career best effort and stakes win in the Torrey Pines came the only time True Royalty raced in a two-turn race on dirt, she must be considered strongly as a win contender in this year's La Canada Stakes.



Bets: Bet one or two of these three which are at least 5 to 2 odds near post time: K P Wildcat, Escape Clause and True Royalty.



When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Double: K P Wildcat, Escape Clause and True Royalty in race 8 with R Cha Cha, Lauren's Ladd, Incensed, Cool Green and Baby Bear's Soup in race 9.



Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:34 Eastern / 4:34 Pacific


It appears Tough But Nice, Storminside, Elwood J and also-eligible Silver Summer will all want the early lead at any cost, setting up any number of stalkers and closers. R Cha Cha won at this downhill sprint trip under apprentice Figueroa three back in October and has finished 2nd in two since so rates top billing as he continues in top form and is proven at the trip and level.



Lauren's Ladd moved back to the Baltas barn after Jacobson left California in November and the trainer made the odd choice to race the horse a mile on dirt (originally scheduled for turf) even off a 3 month rest. I view that as a workout as the horse pressed the pace for 7 furlongs then tired. He has run big at the trip, winning in June then finishing 2nd, and now making his 2nd start off a layoff and shortening up after that tightener could be very tough.



Incensed has won twice down the hill, as recently as June, and won his last start, scheduled for turf but run on dirt. He's got a good stalking style and good post and Roman got him to relax in 4th early last out so if the same tactics are employed he could be getting first run on the tiring leaders and hang on today.



Cool Green gets the disadvantageous rail for the trip but won from the 3 post at the distance in May and when Kent Desormeaux gets on for his brother Keith, as is occurring here, we must take note as that is a profitable angle. Kent rode the horse to his maiden win 3 years ago on the SA turf so I would not want to leave this horse out as a contender and be kicking myself later.



Baby Bear's Soup has never raced at the trip and only twice on turf in 22 races, but he missed by a neck the last time he did and he's in excellent recent form with two wins and a third place finish. He gets a good post and rounds out a quintet of contenders in the nightcap.



Trifecta: Box R Cha Cha, Lauren's Ladd, Incensed, Cool Green and Baby Bear's Soup

Friday, 04 January 2019 13:51

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 5


Ginger Brew Stakes - Race 5 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 2:05 PM Eastern


What a Beaut won her only start, four weeks ago at this identical 7 1/2 furlong trip on turf. All eight (who are entered for turf) are newly turned three year old fillies and she opens high at 12/1 because she is the most lightly raced in the field, but that doesn't mean she can't win because she showed a lot of maturity when establishing good early position in third early, five lengths off the leader, and getting up to win by a neck in a field of 12. Lopez rides back and vast improvement is possible off the experience of a race. The 90 Equibase figure earned in her debut is the same as favorite Pivottina earned in her U.S. debut last September and not that far from the 96 earned when third in the Jimmy Durante Stakes in her most recent start, which provides more reasons to believe What a Beaut can win this year's Ginger Brew Stakes.



Beechwood Ella is the other main contender for betting purposes, making her U.S. debut and third career start. She imported from Europe in November and has put in six local works for Biancone. She gets blinkers and Lasix and Biancone has won with an import in a similar spot, using Maragh as he's doing here as well. She earned the equivalent of a 92 Equibase figure in her 2nd start so fits on all counts.



Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl all can contend but none is a standout by any means.



Bets: What Beaut and Beachwood Ella to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Add a place bet on What a Beaut if 5 to 1 or higher.



When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.




What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella over What a Beaut, Beachwood Ella, Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl.



Play the reverse of that exacta as well, which is What a Beaut, Beachwood Ella, Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl over What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella.



$0.50 Pick 3: What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella in race 5 with ALL in race 6 with Fancy Dress Party in race 7.



Glitter Woman Stakes – Race7 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:08 PM Eastern


Fancy Dress Party is a standout in this restricted stakes race, having won impressively in her debut last fall at Keeneland when rallying from seventh of 10 and drawing away powerfully, then proving that to be no fluke when drawing off to a two and one-quarter length win near the end of November at Churchill Downs in a field of 10. She's been working at Tampa and I imagine trainer Colebrook sees this spot as no more difficult than the second allowance level the filly is eligible for so ships her to Gulfstream and gets red hot Saez to ride. The logical choice for the runner-up spot is Brunette Princess, who has never been worse than second in three races and who gets John Velazquez to ride.



Bets: Fancy Dress Party to win at odds of 8 to 5 or more.

Exacta: Fancy Dress Party over Brunette Princes, also BOX Fancy Dress Party and Brunette Princess.



$0.50 Pick 3: Fancy Dress Party in race 7 with ALL in race 8 with Moon Colony and Bourbon in May in race 9.

$0.50 Pick 3: Fancy Dress Party in race 7 with ALL in race 8 with Royal Urn, Moon Colony, Bourbon in May, Dakota's Dude and Henley's Joy in race 9.



Kitten's Joy Stakes - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:10 PM Eastern


Bourbon in May opens at 10/1 and although that morning line won't hold up because Pletcher trains and leading jockey Saez rides, she will still be underbet relative to her probability to win. Bourbon In May debuted at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf last fall at Keeneland and finished well for second in a field of 10, then improve nicely to win by a pair of lengths in a field of 12 over this course on 12/1, at this 7 1/2 furlong turf trip. Saez was up then as now and the colt is bred to be something special so should continue to improve. The reason his odds will likely remain higher than they should is Henley's Joy opens at 3 to 5. That's just a bad morning line because when winning the Pulpit Stakes over the track on 12/8, Henley's Joy went to post at 6 to 5 and earned a 93 figure, no better than the 93 figure Bourbon in May earned in his debut, that figure tied for the best figure earned by any horse in the field.



Moon Colony has won his last two turf routes, in October and at the end of November. He ran poorly on dirt in between the wins but that effort is irrelevant. Jose Ortiz rides and the maiden win earned a 92 figure nearly on par with the best figures Bourbon in May and Henley's Joy so Moon Colony, who opens at 8/1,deserves a lot of respect when considering which horses we want to bet to win in this race.



I wouldn't talk anyone out of ANY other horse in the field given the fact if Henley's Joy goes to post as the prohibitive favorite there could be excellent value on many others.



Bets: Bourbon in May and Moon Colony to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Consider place bets on either or both if their odds are 5 to 1 or more near post time.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Exacta: Bourbon in May and Moon Colony over ALL.



Sham Stakes - Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:04 Eastern / 4:04 Pacific


Sueno can post the upset in this race based on the way he took to two-turns last month when winning the Gold Rush Stakes. Having been away from the races for three months, Sueno maturely rallied from fifth to draw off late and earn a career-best 95 Equibase Speed Figure. Although the Gold Rush was run on all-weather, Sueno proved capable on dirt prior to that with a four and three-quarter length win in a field of 10. Kent Desormeaux gets the mount for the first time on Sueno and that's a very positive angle according to STATS Race Lens. In the past five years, horse trained by Keith Desormeaux which get a jockey change to Kent Desormeaux have won 25% of the time on 72 races and betting those 72 horses to win has returned a healthy 25% profit. The dam has produced four other horses besides Sueno, and all four are dirt route winners, which provide more reasons to suggest Sueno can improve nicely off his first route win last time out and post the upset in this year's Sham Stakes.


Gunmetal Gray won his two-turn debut in August by nearly seven lengths. He followed up that effort with a career-best 100 figure earned when second to four and one-half length winner Game Winner in the American Pharoah Stakes in September. Like Game Winner, Gunmetal Gray returned five weeks later to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile but he did not run as well, finishing fifth after being as far back as 12th in the 13 horse field. Rested two months in preparation for his three year old campaign, Gunmetal Gray gets the services of Mike Smith and has stakes experience three others in the field lack, including likely favorite Coliseum. As such, if Gunmetal Gray can logically improve off his American Pharoah effort as a much more physically mature three year old, he can run well enough to win this race.


Gray Magician broke his maiden impressively in his most recent race, by nine and one-half lengths, but facing stakes competition could be a whole different matter. However, Gray Magician earned a 98 figure while winning at this mile trip and following two months off so improvement is possible. Gray Magician has excellent breeding for the trip as well, as his half-brother Lombo won the 2018 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (in February) at Santa Anita. Grey Magician also showed a lot of maturity in his most recent race as he rallied from third, five lengths back, to win by nearly 10 lengths.


I feel I must mention Coliseum as he may be the betting favorite based on his easy six and three-quarter length win in his only race, in which he led from nearly start to finish and earned a field high104 figure. That style may be problematic in the Sham as Savagery puts blinkers back on and will likely be sent to the front from the start. However, Coliseum does have history on his side because his trainer, Bob Baffert, has won 33% of the time (14 for 42) when starting a horse off a debut maiden win in a stakes race over the last five years, including Midnight Hawk in this race back in 2014.


Bets: Sueno to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.



Exacta: Sueno over ALL, and the reverse, which is ALL over Sueno.

Exacta: Gray Magician and Gunmetal Gray over Sueno, Gray Magician, Savagery, Easy Shot and Much Better. (Leaving Coliseum off the runner-up spot because it will be a low paying exacta). 

Friday, 28 December 2018 20:44

Are you Talking to Me

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


December 28, 2018

Are You Talking To Me?

By: Jonathan Stettin


I have always felt if you can’t say something better yourself, then use a good quote. Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver comes to mind for this one. It’s a classic film, and the quote is “you talkin' to me.” It’s a great scene and line, and I could not do it justice here. That said I think we can put the quote to some good use and it definitely fits. At least for me.

Right up front, I’ll say I am not going to call out anyone individually. No names. No networks or racetracks either. If you know who I am referring too that is great but no names.

I can sort of, but not really, give some major networks a pass for their coverage of our classic races. Sure it is terrible for true players and Racetrackers, but at least there are some casual once a year people watching those broadcasts. During the course of the year, however, the only people tuned in watching horse racing channels are bettors or horseman. I have to ask, who do they think they are talking to? “Are you talking to me?”

The other day on one of the racing networks the subject of the pick 6 came up and how some people prefer the $2 version as opposed to the 20 cent jackpot version. The analyst said, "well they could always play it for $2 if they prefer that." The other analyst agreed. Neither bothered to discuss the ramifications of that advice or solution or what is involved in it. Theoretically, you could do this, but the gripe is based more towards the jackpot format than the denomination although it is a factor. That part of it was ignored.

Another day an analyst was discussing a carryover in a multi race wager. The pool had climbed obviously in increments to just over 700K. The analyst said the pool goes up to 700K in one flash. That’s a deceptive statement geared towards someone who has no clue what’s going on. “You talkin to me?” Well, we’re the ones watching and listening so who are you talking to? They then go on to state once the pool hit a cool million that for 50 cents you are playing for a life-changing million dollars. Come on, seriously. You probably have about the same chance of hitting power ball as you do of hitting the only ticket on a 50 cent play in a multi race wager with a large carryover. You can’t be talking to me so who are you talking to?

For some reason, ADW’s and racetracks love to push and focus on multi race wagers. Pick 3’s 4’s and 5’s is all you hear. Very little about win, exactas, triples or superfectas. I guess they forgot those wagers generate more churn thus handle. All day long another multi race wager is starting. Are they talking to you?

This was a classic also. Truly an all time social media racing moment. A high profile guy attacks a tout for selling their picks. He points out anyone who picks winners doesn’t sell picks. He blasts all who sell picks and identifies touts as ones who charge. Hey, it’s their opinion, and they are entitled to it. Shortly thereafter this same industry person plugs a tout and their picks. Interesting. It gets better. This same person then offers to sell their picks because they are that good and offers a money back guarantee if no positive ROI is reached by playing. Well, we know how this book ends. No positive ROI and guarantee canceled. Nonetheless, the tout basher is, last I heard, a full-blown tout. Who are they talking to?

The other day an announcer called a $6,250 claimer who went out in 22,45 under pressure as not having gone that fast. What? "Are you talking to me?" Idiot, I singled the horse in a multi race wager, and I knew I was cooked turning for home, and he had opened about 5. Nailed of course. Not that fast.

What I am trying to illustrate here is part of a bigger picture. There are so many more examples of our industry just disconnecting with their core customer, the gambler. People following racing coverage don’t want to be spoken too like they don’t have a clue by people who make it sound like they don’t have a clue, and I don’t know maybe some of them don’t, but some do. Those that do should act accordingly in my opinion as it would make the coverage all the better for who matters, their gambler customers.