Friday, 16 November 2018 13:11

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 17

 

Race 7 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:17 PM Eastern

 

This could get a little complicated because of the snow and rain that fell Thursday through Thursday night but with a day and one-half of fair weather, I'm hoping the race stays on the turf as scheduled. Greek Alphabet gets preference because in a field in which at least five horses have a decent probability to win, he opens at ridiculously high 15/1 morning line odds. Like most, Greek Alphabet won a maiden special weight and NW1X allowance level race to belong at this NW2X condition and like many, one of his wins came on grass. That was his maiden win and it was his ONLY turf start to date among five career races, in July at Belmont and in that race Greek Alphabet ran professionally, leading from start to finish on solid fractions in a field of six with Maragh aboard. He won next out in an off-turf race by 5 lengths with Maragh up then ran last of 9 in September before taking two months off. The turf win in July came off a layoff since the previous September so this two month rest is of no concern, and this royally bred son of Medaglia d'Oro who cost $875K at auction and who is handled by very good trainer McLaughlin has every right to run a winning race today.

 

 

 

Gucci Factor and Dr. Edgar finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, on July 11 at this distance on grass at the one lower NW1X allowance level a big effort for both. Dr. Edgar came out of that race to win on 8/26 only to be disqualified to 2nd then won powerfully and without being dq'd on 9/16. Meanwhile, Gucci Factor moved into New York bred stakes company for the Cole Stakes on 9/23 and closed well for 3rd, beaten a half-length by next out winner Offering Plan. With Gucci Factor dropping from stakes back to allowance company and having won three of his last four non-stakes races in a row on turf and with Dr. Edgar having won three of his last four (not counting the DQ), these two could have a big say in the outcome here.

 

 

Clyde's Image returned from a lengthy 20 month layoff last month to win as if he had never been away, at the one lower NW1X allowance level at this trip on turf by a nose. He had finished 1st or 2nd in three straight before the rest and as he should be stronger physically in his 2nd start off the layoff, he must be given a lot of respect as his 8/1 morning line odds are a bit high given his probability. Adonis Creed also opens a bit too high to ignore at 8/1. Even though he just won a non-winners of 3 lifetime claiming race rather than an allowance race, Adonis Creed did so with authority.

 

 

"IF" this race gets taken off turf, without doubt Greek Alphabet and Gucci Factor are win contenders as both have excellent form on dirt. In addition, Lunaire would be a contender off a win in an off-turf race last month.

 

 

Bets: Greek Alphabet to win at 7 to 2 or higher odds, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

Consider win bets on Clyde's Image and Adonis Creed at 9 to 2 or more.

It's unlikely either Gucci Factor or Dr. Edgar will reach the odds necessary for a win bet worth the risk in this field, but if either happens to be 7 to 2 odds or higher near post time, they can be bet to win as well.

For dirt, Lunaire is playable as win bet at odds of 4 to 1 or higher.

 

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Personally, I will be passing exacta bets in favor of doubles to race 9. You are certainly able to play them but I feel there are a lot of "ifs" about this race and would rather play doubles.

 

 

Doubles: Greek Alphabet, Clyde's Image, Adonis Creed, Gucci Factor and Dr. Edgar in Race 8 with Zulu Alpha, Soglio and Bigger Picture in Race 9.

 

 

"IF" race 8 moves to dirt due to weather, add Lunaire to the horses to use in doubles with the contenders in race 9.

 

 

Red Smith Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:47 PM Eastern

 

Zulu Alpha won three of the first 16 races of his career through May of this year. However, starting in August when blinkers were removed, he has become a different horse entirely winning three of four races and missing by a neck in the other. Along the way, trainer Michael Maker claimed the horse for $80,000 in September and immediately rewarded new owner Michael Hui with $60,000 of that claim price with a win in the Sycamore Stakes at a mile and one-half, earning a 111 Equibase Figure in the process. Cutting back to a mile and three-eighths is not an issue, and considering Zulu Alpha earned career-best 116  figure when winning in September just before the Sycamore, he fits here perfectly as last year's Red Smith winner (Spring Quality) earned a 109 figure in victory. Additionally, having beaten the 2016 Red Smith winner Bigger Picture in the Sycamore, Zulu Alpha has already proven capable of performing well enough to win at this level.

 

Bigger Picture is a pro, having won 10 of 31 career starts on the grass and having earned $1.3 million in the process. On the other hand, he is winless in seven starts since taking the John B. Connally Stakes in January and he was no match for Zulu Alpha in the Sycamore last month when checking in a non-threatening third. One race before that, Bigger Picture missed by a half-length in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, earning a strong 118 figure and finishing a neck ahead of Soglio, who came back to win one month later. In 2016, Bigger Picture missed by a nose in the Sycamore before winning the Red Smith and so it would be no surprise if he steps up with his biggest effort of the year in this situation.

 

Soglio has won three of nine races this year and although none were stakes, he's proven to be very tough in his four year old season. He won at this 11 furlong turf trip in May with a 118 figure that is good enough to win if repeated and he's run very consistently since then. Following the win in May, Soglio finished third in three straight races, two of those stakes including when just a neck behind Bigger Picture in the Kentucky Turf Cup.  His figures for those efforts of 120, 113 and 118 are all strong enough to have him in the thick of the action on the finish line if repeated.

 

Three more horses deserve honorable mention and should at the least be considered for exacta tickets as they can finish second if they run their best. Call Provision has been first or second in 11 of 19 career races including seven of eight at this 11 furlong turf trip. He rallied from eighth to finish second in last year's Red Smith to earn a 108 figure and he's earned 121 and 118 figures since then, the latter when beaten a nose on the wire by Focus Group in the John's Call Stakes in August. Postulation was a dual stakes winner last year when victorious in the Cape Henlopen and American St. Leger then went off form.  However, since changing trainers to Michael Matz he has put in two good efforts, especially his most recent when second in the Point of Entry Stakes at a mile and one-half with a career best 118 figure. Focus Group won the John's Call Stakes at one mile and five-eighths in August with a 118 figure, then wasn't disgraced a bit when third of 11 in the Canadian International last month so rounds out this trio of potential contenders for the exotics.

 

Bets: Win bets on whichever two of these three have the highest odds near post time, of at least 5 to 2 or more:

Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio.

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exactas: Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group.

 

Then also play the reverse of the above exacta to cover the three main contenders finishing 2nd. We also win twice of two of the three main contenders finish 1st & 2nd: Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio.

 

Optionally, you can play the first exacta as a trifecta as well, because at the $0.50 minimum it has a cost of $18. That bet is Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group.

 

 

Bob Hope Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 7 PM Eastern / 4 PM Pacific

 

Sparky Ville is already a stakes winner, having won the Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita last month at 6 1/2 furlongs. This seven furlong trip is insignificantly longer and in the Sunny Slope he ran a very mature race when sitting in fourth early before rallying to draw off. In this race, Sparky Ville will also be able to rally nicely as I don't see any other early pace scenario except one wherein Mucho Gusto and Savagery (both who earned their only wins leading from start to finish and both who wear blinkers) duel on fast early fractions. The 96 Equibase figure is the second best last race figure in the field, with Extra Hope having the best (101) but earned against maidens and not winners as Sparky Ville earned his against. So with improving to do and with Stevens riding back after being up for the stakes win last month, Sparky Ville gets top billing in this year's Bob Hope Stakes.

 

Sueno may look overmatched on paper and as he opens at 15/1 but he has a shot to upset here. Not only does he have a stalking style that should benefit from the pace scenario, as well as a good post to sit and watch the other six jostle for position, he gets a jockey change Kent Desormeaux for his brother Keith and that is a very sneaky angle that has paid well in the past.

 

Metropol is one of two from the Baffert barn, the other being morning line favorite Mucho Gusto, whose chances may be compromised by the pace battle with Savagery. Metropol closed from 2nd early to win in his debut last month with a 93 figure which can be improved upon and Baffert won this race last year with Mastery off a debut maiden win so perhaps the only thing that needs to happen for Metropol to give Baffert another win in this race is to break well and establish position. The rail may not offer the best opportunity for that so that's why  he's rated as third most probable, but he can't be discounted as a win contender.

 

Extra Hope can be included in the exacta, which will use Sparky Ville as a key in first and second position.

 

Bets: Sparky Ville to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more, a true low odds overlay key bet.

For a smaller amount, Sueno to win at odds of 5 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or higher.

To finish off the three win contenders, Metropol can be bet to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

 

Don't forget, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge.

 

Exactas: Sparky Ville over Metropol, Sueno and Extra Hope. Play the reverse of that wager as well, which is Metropol, Sueno and Extra Hope over Sparky Ville.

 

Doubles: Sparky Ville, Metropol and Sueno in Race 8 with Go Ghetto and Baby Bear's Soup in Race 9.

 

Race 9 at Del Mar - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 Pacific

 

This may be just an $8K claiming race but there are two vulnerable, if not false, favorites in Matriculate and Vending Machine, which makes the race playable. Matriculate comes back from six months off after finishing second and being claimed but with the claim being voided, likely because of an issue. He has won 2 of his last 8, gets the rail which isn't great for this distance, and may be overbet. Vending Machine was claimed for $40K in June, finishing 12th, 8th and 6th in three starts since then, most recently at the $32K claiming level just 23 days ago. He's dropped to the bottom 8K level, suggesting even a trainer like Mullins doesn't know what to do to get him to run well and just wants someone to claim him.

 

On the other hand, Baby Bear's Soup is the likely "lone frontrunner" in this otherwise paceless race and with seven pound apprentice jockey Fuentes riding can lead this weak group from start to finish. Off for 2 1/2 months from August to three weeks ago, Baby Bear's Soup showed speed for the first five furlongs through 21.6 and 44.8 fractions before tiring and in his 2nd start off the rest and with the apprentice aboard he may get an easy lead and never stop. If he does stop, Go Ghetto is the one to run him down, just as the horse did three back on 8/15 here at Del Mar when rallying from 5th and missing by a neck on the wire, at this identical 8K claiming level and with jockey Payeras riding as today. Go Ghetto won at 7 furlongs in January so this 6 1/2 furlong trip is of no concern, and the horse put in a sharp 47.6 workout in preparation for this race for a trainer (Clark) who also owns the horse and who has won nearly 25% of his claiming races in the past year.

 

 

For the exacta, I'll throw in Louden's Gray, who finished second under similar conditions last month but who I think has distance limitations as his two wins this year came at the shorter distance of 5 1/2 furlongs.

 

 

Bets: Baby Bear's Soup and Go Ghetto (either or both) to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Of course, if you played the doubles to these two in race 8 and are live you can skip the bets.

 

 

Exactas: Box Baby Bear's Soup, Go Ghetto and Louden's Gray

Thursday, 15 November 2018 14:10

Mirror, Mirror

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

November 15, 2018

Mirror, Mirror

By: Jonathan Stettin



I’ve said many times as students and fans of the Sport of Kings we have been quite fortunate the last decade or so. While the game has had a fair share of problems and then some, we have not lacked truly great racehorses. The accomplishments of some of these runners would be superlative in any era. That’s saying something in a game with a history like ours and a list of equine stars miles long.

Who would have thought in a year where we had a Triple Crown winner there would be a debate amongst turf writers and racing’s social media ranks over Horse of the Year. What would normally be a foregone conclusion is now a debate due to the early retirement of Justify. That left the door open for Accelerate, and he came crashing through with a decisive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I’m not going to point on who does or doesn’t deserve the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. Frankly, I think the Eclipse Awards are overrated and have lost some of the luster they had in the past. We can leave that subjective argument to those who have an interest in it or think it still means what it did in the past. California Chrome received a vote for Turf Horse a few years back. They lost me right there.

Today, I’ll discuss what I feel was the most impressive and historically significant performance of the year. The credit belongs to horse, trainer and rider whom all came together and made some history.

Not everyone knew Enable was less than 100% when she tried to win the Prix de Arc de Triomphe this year. She was going for a consecutive win in the event, against the boys, which is tough when you are on your game and nearly impossible if less than perfect. She was able to get it done due to a masterful training job by John Gosden, a masterful ride by Frankie Dettori, and the huge heart in her chest.

While preparing for her repeat try in the Arc, Enable had a few minor setbacks which caused her to miss some training. When I learned she had to be turned around in her stall at Gosden’s yard so she couldn’t see the other horses train, as it made her mad, I thought this is my kind of racehorse and athlete. That’s heart. Gosden felt she was right enough to give a good account of herself, and she did more than that when she won.

If you watch the replay of this year’s Arc, you will see Frankie had a smart hand in the win also. He sat motionless on the filly covered up most of the way. He angled her in the clear while still sitting chilly and then asked her for just enough of a three-furlong burst to get the deal sealed. She might not have won if he had done anything differently and the way things played out set her up perfectly for the Breeders’ Cup. Now she was fit, and far from spent. The ideal scenario.

Her trip in the Breeders’ Cup Turf was less than perfect. She broke from the inside and had to dodge some traffic. She went wide to get clear turning for home and had to dig in from out there over a boggy course she did not care for. She again was game and talented enough to seal the deal and cap the elusive Arc – Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year double. No small feat for a filly competing against the best turf males in the world.

So while the masses debate Horse of the Year, I say when we say mirror, mirror on the wall who was the grandest of them all, the answer is clear. Enable.

Enable likely won’t be a Horse of the Year candidate in the Eclipse voting off the one North American race, but her mark on racing history will remain just the same. She is a great one. Indeed.

Friday, 09 November 2018 12:21

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 10

Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park West- Post Time 2 PM Eastern

 

Lovesick opens at 9 to 2 odds and if those odds hold up, or even if she drifts down to about 2 to 1, the odds could prove to be a gift as I think she's an absolute standout in this eight horse field of Florida breds. In her debut on August 19, Lovesick made short work of a similar field when leading but lapped-on in the early stages and continuing powerfully to the wire in front by a length and one-half. The 80 Equibase Figure doesn't do justice to how well she ran and now three months later, more mature physically and mentally, she's not facing much tougher than she did over the summer as she beat "open" (not restricted) company that day and is facing statebreds here. This gal is bred to be a good one, as three of her siblings on the dam's side are winners, two of them stakes winners, including her full brother Patternrecognition (4 for 10) who won the G1 Kelso Stakes this year. With Lopez riding and little if any other early pace in the race, Lovesick should blast out on top and never look back.

 

Bets: Lovesick to win at 3 to 2 or higher odds, a true low odds overlay win bet.

 

 

Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes – Race 8 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 3:36 PM Eastern

 

Decorated Ace is already a stakes winner, on grass, at a mile, which are the identical conditions to this race, with one exception. The exception is the stakes race Decorated Ace won, the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth on September 1, was an "Open" race and this is a race restricted to Florida breds. She ran poorly in her only start following that win, when overmatched in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes (won by eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord), so facing much easier and having proven herself capable under all these conditions, Decorated Ace has a nice shot to win, and to make us a profit as she opens at 6 to 1.

 

Likewise, Vow to Recover, who starts at 10 to 1 odds, is another to be greatly respected here. As with Decorated Ace, Vow to Recover will benefit nicely from a hot early pace battle between Lovely Luvy and Jolie Bay, who open as the two favorites at 3 to 1 and 5 to 2, respectively, and who are vulnerable favorites because of the likelihood neither will get the front to themselves in the early stages. Vow to Recover tried turf and two-turns for the very first time one month ago and took to the grass like a duck takes to water, rallying from seventh to draw off late over this course at Gulfstream Park West under Paco Lopez, who rides right back. The filly has room to improve in her second start on turf and should be flying late.

 

Bets: Decorated Ace and Vow to Recover to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Trifectas (instead of exactas): Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over ALL

 

Then play the two contenders in case they come in fist and third (since the above bet covers them coming in first and second): Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over ALL over Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace.

 

Doubles: Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace in Race 8 with Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9.

 

Also Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace in Race 8 with Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet in Race 9.

 

Millions Distaff Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 4:06 PM Eastern

 

Yes I'll Go is one of five contenders, in a 10 horse field, but with no strong favorite it can be a profitable race for betting purposes. Yes I'll Go opens at the second highest odds (10/1) of the quintet and that doesn't make sense because we can easily draw a line through her last three past performances and look to her fourth back as the race she can run today to win. Her last race was on turf and therefor irrelevant. Her second race back was irrelevant because a horse fell in front of her and she was steadied hard to avoid falling herself. Her third race back was irrelevant as she was ridden badly, dueling for the lead, and tired late against multiple stakes winner Curlin's Approval, who would be the odds-on favorite if running in this race. FOUR races back, on July 12, Yes I'll Go stalked in third early and won going away, at this seven furlong trip. She did the same three races before that in April and she won on this course at Gulfstream Park West previously. The key to a big effort is leading jockey Lopez taking over and a strong quartet of workouts over the track in preparation for the race.

 

Shanghai Starlet opens at 9 to 2 odds and although much lower than 10/1 on Yes I'll Go they are HUGE for this horse trained by Todd Pletcher. She won three of five races on dirt after her turf debut in March, including a win in the Panama City Stakes, a race nearly identical to this. Zayas was up for that win and the win that preceded it, both at the distance of a mile around one turn, so she'll love this seven furlong trip. She ran poorly in her most recent start but that was completely irrelevant as it was on grass. Back on dirt, with pace to chase as Heavens Pulpit goes way too fast for her own good, Shanghai Starlet can repeat her Panama City effort for the win here.

 

Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak are four other win contenders and none of them should be a surprise if victorious, even Ms Meshak (who opens at 12/1). Oola Gal finished second in the restricted Barely Even Stakes in August before a fourth of 10 finish in the similar Sheer Drama Stakes in September, but it was her winning effort one before the Barely Even when drawing off to win by a couple lengths that gives her a shot to be competitive here if repeated. Starship Bonita was third behind Shanghai Starlet in the Panama City but won the Sheer Drama next time out on September 8, with Ms Meshak clearly second in that 10 horse field. Heiressall is going for her fourth straight win, the most recent over the track. She's never raced this far but won at 6 1/2 furlongs so should get the trip and she's a talented filly. As previously pointed out, Ms Meshak finished second in an identical stakes race last out and as she was first and second in her two starts prior to that her 12/1 starting odds are out of line.

 

Bets: Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Consider an additional win bet, for a smaller amount than on Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet, on any of the other four – Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak, preferably just the one that goes to post at the highest odds, at 4 to 1 odds or higher.

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exacta: Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet over Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak.

Optionally, play the reverse of that exacta, which is Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak over Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet.

 

Doubles: Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9 with He'll Do, Mega Bucks, Lucky Mike and Stirling Drive in Race 10.

 

Also Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9 with He'll Do and Mega Bucks in Race 10.

 

Juvenile Turf Stakes - Race 10 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 4:36 PM Eastern

 

He'll Do took to turf like a duck takes to water last month when trying grass for the first time in his second career start. He led from start to finish because no one wanted the lead but the slow fractions and pace figures, particularly his final quarter, tell me he can run just as well from off the pace. Keibar Coa rode him last out and rides back for the Proctor Stable and the colt goes from "Open" (not restricted) company to Florida breds only so it's really not a raise in class as this nine horse field is composed of FOUR horses which are still maidens and three others who have won just once the same as he has. Likely to improve nicely off his second career start, first on turf and first around two turns, He'll Do will do nicely as a win bet as he opens at 4 to 1.

 

Mega Bucks is the other horse with the bulk of the probability to win, opening at 3 to1 but NOT the favorite as that will be Stirling Drive. Mega Bucks, like He'll Do, ran awful in his debut on dirt but ran HUGE when trying turf for the first time as he missed by a neck on the wire. Rested seven weeks, Mega Bucks returned on 10/27 and rallied from 8th in a very mature fashion to win by a neck on the wire. With the rail to save ground and with Zayas riding back after being up for the first time in victory last month, over this course, Mega Bucks just needs to find a place to run in the stretch and he may be passing them all for the score.

 

Lucky Mike (12/1 morning line) and Stirling Drive (2/1 morning line) are the other horses which can win or finish second. Lucky Mike finished fast from 10th to 4th, beaten just a length and one-half, in the race Mega Bucks won on 10/27. Although he's a maiden facing winners he should be good for a share at the least so has to be used on exacta tickets we play and we must bet at least a couple of bucks on him to win so we don't kick ourselves later should he post the upset. Stirling Drive can win but shouldn't open at 2 to 1. He ran exactly the same, no better, than He'll Do and Mega Bucks when winning his 2nd career start, first on grass, in September, then he finished third in an "open" stakes race at the end of the same month. However, although he did have some traffic trouble early in an allowance race over the course on 10/25, there was still no excuse for his 4th place finish and there's no telling if he will improve or regress in this situation.

 

Bets: He'll Do and Mega Bucks to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exactas: Box He'll Do, Mega Bucks, Lucky Mike and Stirling Drive. 

Thursday, 08 November 2018 15:44

Horses Humble Everyone

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

October 17, 2018

Timing is Everything

By: Jonathan Stettin


If you are in this game at any level, at some point you are going to be humbled. There are two types of horse players; those that have been humbled, and those that will be humbled.

As with many aspects of life, it comes down to how you respond to these types of things. I suggest picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and getting back into the fight.

If you backed Abel Tasman in the recently run Breeders' Cup Distaff, it was a humbling experience. While after the race she was easy to knock off the last poor performance, but to do that prior to the race, with conviction you'd have to believe two things. First, that Bob Baffert brings horses to big dances at less than their optimum. Second, that you are smarter than he is at accessing a horses' chances. Both not likely, the latter especially, when it comes to one of his runners.

Having watched the Distaff, it is hard not to compare Abel Tasman's poor performance to her race last out in the Grade 1 Zenyatta. She trailed beaten double digits in that one and never seemed interested in running. It is a safe assumption she trained well enough to convince her Hall of Fame trainer she'd bounce back and show up in the Distaff. Of immediate concern after the break in the Distaff, was how Mike Smith had to quarter horse her along the inside, in an attempt to get her in the game and interested. It looked very briefly like maybe it worked, but that proved not to be the case. Once again, Abel Tasman trailed by double digits and has now been retired. From a top racing mare to a horse practically distanced in her last two starts in a matter of weeks.

Looking at this on paper it resembles the rapid decline of another Bob Baffert trained star, Arrogate. At his best, he could run with just about any horse. After his huge win in Dubai, he was never the same and seemed almost disinterested when he ran. Many waited for him to return to form, as we looked for Abel Tasman to rebound, but in both cases it didn't happen. It is a reasonable conclusion both horses trained well into their last starts, so this had to be even more humbling for their trainer than the bettors who backed them.

We have all heard the saying "morning glory." This refers to a horse who trains well, works fast but does not duplicate that in the afternoon under race conditions. Neither Abel Tasman or Arrogate were morning glory types of horses. Both accomplished a lot on the racetrack.

We have also all heard the term bounce. This is when a horse regresses off a peak effort and is a real and pretty common occurrence. Trainers are aware of this, they watch for it, and yet they get humbled by horses who bounce or regress off big efforts. They will fool you even when you know what to look for. Most times, a horse will return to form after a bounce but not always. Look at Rachel Alexandra. She was never the same after her win in the Woodward. She suffered what I call a permanent bounce, or being "gutted." You see all horses, no matter how great, are not machines and only have so many of "those races" in them. To expect more is unreasonable. I offer that trainers are not always the best judges of when this will occur. They can be biased about their horses, as parents are when accessing or talking about their children. As bettors, we are afforded the chance to be objective and analytical in looking at these things.

As bettors how can we recognize in advance when a horse has been gutted and take advantage of it?

Fortunately, there are often clues. You just have to train yourself to look at things like a seasoned pro as opposed to just a horseplayer. A horseplayer looks at a race and sees it as this horse should do similar to what they did last time. A pro looks for why they won't do what they did last time. This thinking goes against the grain but leads to scores.

I believe Rachel Alexandra, Arrogate and Abel Tasman were gutted.

Rachel had an epic and very demanding three-year-old campaign which saw her race the boys several times. The Preakness, the Haskell and eventually the Woodward against older males on a very humid day. How many should we have believed she had in her?

Arrogate broke a historic record in the Travers running the fastest one ever. He went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, the Pegasus and then travel to Dubai to win the World Cup in the desert without Lasix. The Dubai race alone has gutted a fair share of horses but look at what we expected of Arrogate. He broke slowly that night and overcame it, albeit on a closers track, but had to dig in and run-down Gun Runner. That would empty most tanks.

Abel Tasman ran huge in the Ogden Phipps. She then ran tremendous in the Personal Ensign, where she had to dig in and hold off a very well meant Elate, who was full of run and momentum. They all have just so many of those in them.

The bounce is real. So is the "gut." Believe them both.

 

Friday, 02 November 2018 13:12

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 3

 

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile - Race 5 at Churchill Downs- Post Time 1:16 PM Eastern Time

 

The problem with horses which are undefeated, such as Catalina Cruiser, is must of the public bets them as much based on hype as on form, which pushes down their odds. That situation makes it difficult to bet them to win unless they are standouts, which Catalina Cruiser is NOT in this field, but he is definitely one of four that can win. The good part of undefeated horses being bet down is other horses, who normally would go to post at low odds, will offer value for the risk.

 

 

Firenze Fire is such a horse, opening at ridiculous 6 to 1 odds in my opinion where he was 5 to 2 winning the Dwyer Stakes by nine lengths in July and was 7 to 5 winning the Gallant Bob Stakes near the end of September. He had some traffic trouble and got a less than optimal ride when third in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes between the two wins but redeemed himself in the Gallant Bob not only with a career best 109 figure but battling head-and-head for the ENTIRE last four furlongs and when his foe to the right tries to bite him in the stretch. Firenze Fire loves this mile trip, as his Dwyer win came at the distance, as did his win in the Jerome Stakes in January and last year in the Champagne as a two year old. Recalling how three year olds have fared in Breeders' Cup races against their elders, specifically how Goldencents destroyed the field in this race a few years back, Firenze Fire gets top billing in this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

 

 

Seeking the Soul is the other potential overlay in the field, because although he may have the same probability to win as the other three contenders, he's likely to go to post at the highest odds of the quartet, opening at 5 to 1. Having won at distances ranging from seven to nine furlongs, this mile trip is not an issue particularly as he prepped for this race by winning the Ack Ack Stakes at the distance over the track in September. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November with a career best 117 figure and this being his third race off a layoff a similar effort could be forthcoming.

 

 

City of Light was good enough to win this kind of race last December and through the spring but there's a slight question of whether he is this good now. Only worse than second one time in nine career races, he won the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 1 Triple Bend in December and March at 7 furlongs then stretched out to win the nine furlong Oaklawn Handicap in April with a career best 117 figure. Third behind Classic bound Accelerate in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, he took three months off then finished 2nd to Whitmore in the shorter Forego Stakes with a 105 figure and as he's been working up a storm in the morning he could be back to his early 2018 form which might make him a formidable foe in this race.

 

 

Catalina Cruiser is undefeated in four starts, each better than the rest, starting with his debut last October then his comeback after seven months off in May. His last two efforts were his best yet, with 118 then 125 figures which, if repeated, would make it very difficult to beat him. However, the quality of those fields wasn't that great and it could be he is a need-the-lead type as he was just a head from the lead at the start in his most recent race, as well as the only reason he closed from sixth to win his debut was he broke slowly. However, he's got a great attitude and he's not the type of favorite I could label suspect so he will be used as a win contender on any exotic bets I make involving this race. However, I'd be dishonest if I didn't say I would much rather any of the other three emerge the winner for a better profit.

 

 

Win Bets: Firenze Fire to win at 2 to 1 or more.

For a smaller amount, Seeking the Soul to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

 

 

Exactas: Firenze Fire and Seeking the Soul over ALL

Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser

Trifecta: Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser

 

Senator Ken Maddy Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita- Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern, 3:30 Pacific

 

Miss Southern Miss, who opens at 15/1, has the same credentials as lower odds horses like Storm the Hill (7/2 opening odds) and Painting Corners (4/1 opening odds) but has to the first of the trio of win contenders to be considered for wagers in this race. As a two year old in the summer of 2016, Miss Southern Miss finished 2nd in the Landaluce Stakes in her second career start, then second in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes before a poor effort in the Del Mar Debutante. Showing an affinity for turf in her grass debut, she won the Surfer Girl Stakes in her final start at two before taking a break. After a poor effort trying to get on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks in the Las Virgenes stakes to start her three year old campaign, Miss Southern Miss went back to turf and hasn't been of the stuff since. She ran poorly in her three starts last fall and winter but when returning as a four year old in January she won down this sometimes tricky downhill turf course with a career best effort and career best 108 Equibase figure to boot. She ran fourth in a stakes one month later but something went amiss and she was on the sidelines for seven months. Returning in a tough classified allowance race last month, won by Painting Corners (who was 13/1 that day), Miss Southern Miss finished with interest from ninth of 10 to get sixth late and in her second start off the rest she has potential to return to the form shown this past January, an effort good enough to win here. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has a sneaky good record down the hill at Santa Anita – 6 for 26 in the past two years, so I'll give this gal a long look to help make a big profit in this race at double digit odds.

 

Storm the Hill is a grade 3 winner in a grade 3 race so there are no issues there. She won the Wilshire Stakes at a mile in June on this course with Bejarano up and with a strong 111 figure. Bejarano gets back on after Leparoux rode her for her trip to Kentucky in September when a decent fourth of eight in a tough stakes at Kentucky Downs. She was overmatched in between those two races when fifth to Cambodia in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon but in this grade three race and having won two of three career starts at this trip at Santa Anita, as well as reunited with Bejarano, this filly has every right to return to stakes winning form.

 

As stated previously, Painting Corners was 13/1 when winning the classified allowance last month down the hill, bringing her record to 3 for 6 at the trip. That was her 2nd win in a row since adding blinkers, both turf sprints, and the jockey change to Roman (with Van Dyke out of town) is no issue as Roman rode her to a victory one year ago in a turf sprint at Del Mar. The 109 figure earned last out matches well with the 111 Storm the Hill earned in her best recent effort and the 108 Miss Southern Miss earned at the trip in January and her 4/1 starting odds, as well as the 7/2 starting odds on Storm The Hill, are well above what I think is reasonable given her 25% probability to win.

 

Win Bets: Miss Southern Miss to win at odds of 3/1 or more, adding a place bet to be sure at 6/1 or more.

Bet either Storm the Hill or Painting Corners, whichever is the higher odds of the pair, at 3 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners.

Exacta: Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners over ALL.

 

You can get my detailed Breeders' Cup Classic analysis free at this link to Equibase and you can get my full card detailed analysis for both days of Breeders' Cup in the selections section on Equibase web site as well. 

Thursday, 01 November 2018 13:38

Key Races & Bets for Friday, November 2

 

Marathon Stakes - Race 10 at Churchill Downs- Post Time 6:43 PM Eastern Time

 

Honorable Duty has NEVER raced past a mile and one-eighth in 20 starts so this 12 furlongs could be an issue BUT both his breeding AND trainer's record are in his favor. Sire Distorted Humor has a couple of marathon distance winners from seven starters in the last five years and trainer Walsh won the 2016 Marathon (on Breeders' Cup weekend) with Scuba, saddled the 2nd place finisher in the race in 2014 and the 3rd place horse in 2013 so apparently knows whether his horses have a shot in this kind of race. Honorable Duty is just shy of having earned $1 million in his career and was 2nd in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster over the track in June so there are no questions of class or liking the track, particularly as he has won 4 of his other 9 races here. North American leading jockey Jose Ortiz rides for the first time and that's a big plus as well.

 

 

Rocketry won the mile and five-eighths distance last time out on 9/30 at Belmont, Rosario up for the 1st time and riding back, so he has to be considered a strong contender, while Big Dollar Bill is the only horse in the field to have ever run this 1 3/4 mile trip and particularly to have won at it as he did so in August in the Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga with Landeros aboard as today. Big Dollar Bill enters the race off a win at 1 1/16 miles last month and his Birdstone win was also earned off a win at the 1 1/16 mile distance so all signs are "GO" for a top effort once again.  

 

Win Bets: Honorable Duty to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Also Consider Rocketry for a win bet as well, at odds of 5 to 2 or more. If Big Dollar Bill happens to go to post at 4 to 1 or more, I'd make a win bet there as well, for a smaller amount than either Honorable Duty or Rocketry.

 

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exactas: Honorable Duty, Rocketry and Big Dollar Bill over Honorable Duty, Rocketry, Big Dollar Bill, War Story and Dabster.

 

Play the reverse of that exacta as well, so we win twice if any two of the top three finish first AND second. That bet is Honorable Duty, Rocketry, Big Dollar Bill, War Story and Dabster over Honorable Duty, Rocketry and Big Dollar Bill.

 

Lure Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:52 PM Eastern Time, 3:52 Pacific

 

Alert Bay is an absolute standout and a likely low odds overlay. He has won 9 of 19 career starts on turf, four of those at Santa Anita including the Grade 1 Mathis Brothers Mile in 2014. He's five for eight at the trip and a true miler and he's ONLY eligible for this restricted stakes because he has started twice this year and his win when last seen on September 3 came in a stakes race with the winner's share being $30K. This race is only open to horses who have not won a stakes worth $55K or more in 2018 and he's the ONLY stakes winner in 2018 in the field. Top northern California jockey Hernandez comes into ride and has a 4-1-1 record on Alert Bay this year and last. Shipping down from Golden Gate where trainer Wright is based, the veteran gelding has put in a steady series of works and lays over this field on class and on speed, as his stakes win on turf last time out earned a 120 Equibase figure, the same he earned last spring (2017) when winning the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile easily. Last year's winner of this race, He Will (who races here) earned a 116 figure in victory but has run poorly since so will not be a threat to Alert Bay.

 

Secretary At War, Kencumin and Le Ken all have run well enough in the past to get second or third so in addition to hopefully being able to bet Alert Bay to win even at low odds we can play exactas and trifectas using these three.

 

Bets: Alert Bay to win at even money or higher, a true low odds overlay Key Bet.

 

Exactas: Box Alert Bay and Secretary At War. Box Alert Bay and Kencumin. Box Alert Bay and Le Ken.

 

Trifectas: Alert Bay over Secretary At War, Kencumin and Le Ken over ALL.

You can get my detailed Breeders' Cup Classic analysis free at this link to Equibase and you can get my full card detailed analysis for both days of Breeders' Cup in the selections section on Equibase web site as well. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 17:56

Late BC Bullet Points

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

October 31, 2018

Late BC Bullet Points

By: Jonathan Stettin


By now most of us have at the least finished our preliminary work for the Breeders’ Cup. We know the post positions, fields, probable weather and the wagering menu. Before finalizing decisions, I am going to keep some bullet points in the forefront of my mind.

Here we go:

The draw is important in some races. Pay attention to it and who it has helped and who it has hindered.

Consider rider tendencies when you project how you think the pace will play out. Pace often makes the race. Some riders are more aggressive than others. Anticipating what they are likely to do can be an edge.

You have waited a year to get to this dance and you’re in it. Nothing in the rear view matters this weekend. Go in strong and with conviction on your opinions. #NoFear

The board is less important this weekend than on any given Wednesday at your local track. Everyone is here to win. Nobody is giving anyone room, a break, or giving a horse a race.

Go after your best opinions regardless of price. This weekend you will see horses of high quality going off at high odds. Take advantage of that when you like one. It is not every day you have 25-1 shots you feel have as good a chance as a 2-1 shot. It only takes one of those to make it count.

Do what you are good at and most confident in. If you like multi race wagers stick to that. If you like exactas and triples stick there. If you are a win bettor than bet win. This is not the weekend to change up.

Pick your spots and invest more in those wagers. There are a ton of wagers and if you chase them all equally you are not maximizing your best opinions. You have to do that. Maximize your return when you are right and you have a better chance of being right when your opinion is strong.

Don’t be afraid to change an opinion based on how the track or course may be playing or on who is hot and who is not. The game is both streaky and trendy. Sharp players adjust and never lock and load until they are approaching the gate. I adjusted and caught Caledonia Road last year on a closers track. Pay attention all day, both days.

If you score early stick to the plan. This is a marathon and not a sprint.

If something looks to good to be true believe it anyway just for this weekend. That’s what dreams and scores are made of.

Don’t bet against yourself. Go after who you believe in. You can’t cover every horse in every race. If you liked that horse so much you would have used it.

All the statistics thrown around mean absolutely nothing in any given race. Don’t be afraid of stats.

What happened last year or in other year’s runnings will not affect any outcomes this year. Act accordingly.

Trainers who are suspected of pushing the envelope and taking an edge or even unfair advantage likely can’t push that envelope this weekend. Use that to your advantage but don’t think it means they can’t win.

Don’t get consumed by looking for value. Go after who you like and if you are right value has a way of working out. There is No value in a losing bet regardless of the odds. None.

If you have a bad beat or break early act as if it didn’t happen. Champions do not deviate.

Most important of all, be right. Remember, even if you follow all 16 of the prior bullet points, you are going to have to be right. Do your homework. Come prepared and don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. No matter how you get there, or any way you slice it, you’re going to have to be right.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Breeders’ Cup. It really looks like a most competitive year. Some great racing looks to be a sure bet.

All the best to all the horses and connections and players. Any questions feel free to reach out and ask. I’m always happy to talk horses and share experience.

#BetBig #SwingHard #MakeItCount #P6K

Friday, 26 October 2018 09:30

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 27

 

Overskate Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:47 PM ET

 

Not So Quiet is an up-and-coming star while some of the others in this race, already proven, are contenders as well but open at much lower than the 5 to 1 he opens at. Not So Quiet is three-for-four in his career, with all three wins earned in dominating fashion leading from start to finish. Hernandez was up for all three wins and rides today and there is little doubt the strategy will be to SEND the horse to the lead form the start and control things on the front end once more. The 114 Equibase figure from the most recent win, on 9/22, is better than ALL BUT ONE of the career Equibase figures likely heavy favorite Pink Lloyd has earned in his 16 wins and better (by one point) than the 113 figure Kingsport (who opens at 5 to 2) earned winning the Bounty Law Stakes 19 days ago. One of three 3-year-olds in the field, Not So Quiet has defeated older in all three wins and with a pair of scintillating five furlong drills (best of 58 and best of 50) coming into the race could be very tough to beat.

 

Kingsport, who has won 10 of 29 career starts and who has finished second in another seven, certainly is a contender, as is Pink Lloyd, as well as Thor's Rocket, who led late in the Bounty Law and was a neck short of victory on the wire.

 

Bets: Not So Quiet to win at 8 to 5 or higher, a true low odds overlay Key Bet.

 

Exacta: Not So Quiet over Kingsport, Pink Lloyd and Thor's Rocket.

 

Trifectas (which have a $0.20 minimum): Box Not So Quiet, Kingsport, Pink Lloyd and Thor's Rocket.

Not So Quiet over Thor's Rocket over ALL.

Not So Quiet over ALL over Thor's Rocket.

 

Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern

 

Amiral may be something special based on the way he won last month in his career debut at Churchill Downs. In spite of being bothered by another horse at the start, resulting in breaking last of seven, Amiral made a bold move on the turn and drew off to win by four widening lengths. The 99 Equibase figure is more than average for winning at this first allowance level and the win came at this seven furlong trip, which is very difficult to win at first time out so there are no questions about the distance. After taking two weeks off, his first official workout was a sensational 46.8 for four furlongs which was the best of 82 on the day so there's little doubt he's holding his condition and in spite of this race having a big field there are very few other horses that an win.

 

One of those is Midnight Pleasure, who is a three time winner still eligible for the level as one of the wins came in a claiming race and another came in a starter allowance race. Since returning from six weeks off in August, he's run two "A" races in a row to earn 95 and 94 figures, both when rallying from far back and in both drawing off nicely. Landeros rode him last out in victory at this seven furlong trip and another big effort is very likely.

 

For exactas, we'll also use Ballard High (2nd by a nose in a one turn mile at the level last time out) and Mac Jagger (adding blinkers and getting Jose Ortiz off a 4th place effort at the distance and level in New York last month).

 

Bets: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure to win at 2 to 1 or higher.

 

As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exacta: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure over Amiral, Midnight Pleasure, Ballard High and Mac Jagger.

 

For half the amount of the above exacta, play the reverse of the exacta, which is: Amiral, Midnight Pleasure, Ballard High and Mac Jagger over Amiral and Midnight Pleasure.

 

Double: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure in Race 8 with Nice Not Nice and Leofric in Race 9.

Hagyard Fayette Stakes - Race 9 at Keeneland - Post Time 5:30 PM ET

 

Nice Not Nice may not be a standout, but he has a much better shot to win then his 10/1 morning line odds suggest. This is because two of the three morning line choices are vulnerable, potentially FALSE, favorites. Prime Attraction (who opens at 2/1) ships in from California and will be bet dropping from grade 1 to grade 3 and facing the likes of Accelerate but his last win came 11 months ago and he beat nothing the process. Hofburg is facing older for the first time off a poor 4th in the Pennsylvania Derby and in his win before that in the Curlin (a restricted stakes) he beat nothing of consequence as well. On the other hand, Nice Not Nice just ran the best race of his career when 2nd in the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs last month and the horses which finished ahead and just behind him are significant. Winner Seeking the Soul has earned $1.4 million while the horse Nice Not Nice beat by a nose for second, Giant Expectations, has earned $1 million. Gabriel Saez has the key to this horse as he's been aboard five times, earning three wins and two second place finishes, the only poor effort in a very tough field on turf at Kentucky Downs. With excellent tactical speed, Nice Not Nice could be up close early and in the photo on the wire at decent odds.

 

Leofric is the other win contender in my opinion, coming off a third in the Woodward, beaten a nose for 2nd by Gunnevera. Both the winner Yoshida and runner-up are Breeders' Cup Classic bound and since Leofric won two in a row before that, with his Woodward effort and the one before it earning 110 Equibase figures, he is the one to beat in spite of likely being the 2nd or 3rd betting choice at post time.

 

Bets: Nice Not Nice to win at 3 to 1 or more. Leofric to win at 8 to 5 or higher.

 

As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

 

Exactas: Nice Not Nice over ALL and also (the reverse) All over Nice Not Nice.

 

Box Nice Not Nice and Leofric (even though contained in the bet above I think this is worth playing twice).

 

Leofric over Nice Not Nice, Hence and Rated R Superstar. (I have no interest in exactas with the favorites to finish first and second.)

 

Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:10 PM ET (3:10 PM PT)

 

Zusha was best in her most recent race, a sprint at this level and similar distance on 9/29, but she ran into a wall of horses nearing the eighth pole and her jockey could not extricate her to find a path until too late. She gets a jockey change here in a field of horses who not only will set up her late kick nicely but also really are as content finishing 2nd or 3rd as winning.

 

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

 

Exacta: Zusha over Sheza Chattycat, Conquest Flatterme, Hot Autumn and Cute Knows Cute.

For a smaller amount (about half of what you bet on the exacta above), play the reverse of that exacta which is Sheza Chattycat, Conquest Flatterme, Hot Autumn and Cute Knows Cute over Zusha.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:56

Seal the Deal

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

October 25, 2018

Seal the Deal

By: Jonathan Stettin


The Breeders’ Cup is a little over a week away. The pre-entry past performances are out. The early weather forecast is in. It is almost time to seal the deal.

The Breeders’ Cup is a major wagering event for many of us and there is a good reason for that. There will be a lot of opportunities and a full wagering menu to make the most of them. While final handicapping comes after the draw, I have begun to strategize my attack and will share some early thoughts.

Most serious players keep track of where they stand annually. I have for many years. While most years I am usually in a good spot by now and comfortably in the black, this year that is not the case. It has been a rough year on the racetrack for me, but that won’t change anything in my approach. I will kick the door open on Friday, as opposed to limping in. When you can’t even remember how many six figure days you’ve had in your career, you learn to do that. I’ll be aggressive and confidant. What’s happened this year prior to now doesn’t matter come Breeders’ Cup. No looking in the rear-view mirror.

There is going to be some rain leading into the event. The Churchill Downs main track handles water as good as any I have ever seen. The turf is likely to, at best, have some give in it and that is very important. I think a common mistake many handicappers make, is not looking at the type of course grass horses prefer. While they do it on the main track with sloppy and muddy track horses, they seem to categorize turf horses without that preference for good, soft, or yielding turf. There will be some potential edges in looking at horses who prefer and move up with give in the ground.

I am looking at multi race wagers as in pick 4’s, 5’s, and of course the Pick 6. My major play of the two days will most likely come in one of these sequences. I will also attack one, or maybe two, individual races where I feel the strongest about the outcome.

For multi race wager players, Enable is going to be a key, whether you like her or want to beat her. You are going to have to be right if you single her, or try and beat her, to maximize the pick 4,5, and 6 ending with the Classic. Obviously, if you beat her you are looking at a better payoff, but I am not opposed to singling a winner and going after the bet multiple times. I don’t know which way I will lean there, but it is going to be a key decision in those late sequences. Choose wisely.

I will definitely look for a multi race sequence where I like a single who is a price and not “everybody’s single.” That’s one of my favorite positions and scenarios. Wide open races often value. I like them in the sequences I play.

We are hearing a lot of talk about European horses dominating. Logical for sure, being we don’t have the greatest grass contingent this year, and the conditions seemingly favor them. I agree in theory and may wind up playing that way, but I won’t know that until I finalize the work. I don’t like forming my opinion until I know the exact conditions, riders, and posts.

The two-year-old races on Friday offer a lot of opportunity for an edge. If you are the type of player and handicapper who can anticipate horses moving up and recognize trainer patterns, then you will get your chances Friday.

Historically the Breeders’ Cup has taught us price doesn’t matter. You can bet a 25-1 with as much conviction as a 2-5. Take advantage of that. There is no better two days in racing to do so. No fear. None.

The bulk of my play will go into the bets I discussed above. I will play the rest of both cards, but on a significantly lesser scale. Money management is always key, but crucial over two days where you want to jump in almost everywhere. Patience and discipline.

If you are playing from behind, as I am this year, it is a good chance to erase the deficit and get into the win column. If you are already there, that’s even better, as now you get a chance to pull away. Scared money has a hard time winning, so I suggest and plan to do as I usually do. Play to make it count. It only takes one. You just have to be right.