Speed on the RailWritten by Jon Stettin
If you like playing the races with “their money” now is the time to pad that bankroll for the soon to be here Breeders’ Cup. With the fall Keeneland meet starting, Belmont finishing with some big days, and even some great European races like the Arc coming up, there should be something on the menu for every type of player.
Going into an event like the Breeders’ Cup hot, and on a roll, is just what the Doctor ordered. When you’re going good, and confident, you should be the most dangerous. By nature, we all have a tendency to play aggressively under those circumstances. If you are a reader or follower of mine you already know I am of the opinion aggressive play is the only way to beat this most challenging game.
With so many opportunities coming up we must choose wisely. As good as it is to head to the Breeders’ Cup smoking hot, it is equally as bad to head in cold. This is the time to start clicking.
Keeneland is such a tough meet. It always has been. Shippers pointing for wins at a short meet with big fields makes for competitive racing. While tough, that spells some nice payoffs. A player's dream.
The exception being the Polytrack period, Keeneland’s main track has historically been kind to speed. Especially inside speed. I remember responding to my Dad when he would ask me who I liked at Keeneland simply saying “speed on the rail.” That still holds true today. While it is not always easy to find the speed on the rail, if and when you do leaving it out or betting against it can be perilous. I don’t have many rules in Handicapping or betting, but I am always cognizant of speed on the rail or inside speed at Keeneland.
When playing Keeneland price or odds should never be a deterrent. This is generally true at any meet, but much more so at certain meets and Keeneland is one of those. Rarely will I let odds sway me, but at Keeneland they just don’t seem to matter at all, with the exception of the baby races in the spring. In the fall, players are all over the board, and recreational money is abundant in the pools. If you are right you will get paid. This is the ideal scenario for aggressive play.
As kind to speed as the main track at Keeneland can be, I’ve always favored late runners on the turf in Lexington. The first day or two when the grass is fresh can be an exception, but overall I feel closers fare better. California horses who are used to short grass and firm turf don’t seem to me to do as well as the east coast and NY turf horses who get different courses thrown at them more often. All these little nuances can lead to a score making decision.
Keeneland is so close to Breeders’ Cup time the win and you’re in races are vital. There are always a few outsiders looking to punch a late ticket to the big dance. You can often find some at more than fair odds. These are great opportunities. I love betting a quality horse when I know the connections are all 110% in. It’s a little different scenario then say when one trainer has three runners in the same 6 horse field and you are guessing who needs the race, who is pointing for another spot etc. etc.
A lot of US players overlook betting European races. Not me. I love it and find great value and success there. I’ll be playing the Arc card with enthusiasm. While the European Past Performances are shall we say lacking in comparison to ours, replay work which I love is critical. The field sizes are ridiculously large and the prices are crazy good especially if you get beyond the first two choices. There is no better place to bet a little to win a lot. There is damage to be done on those cards.
After the next two weeks, which takes us to two weeks out for the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll go into an ultra-conservative approach to betting. I like to start studying for the big event early and keep my focus there. Those two days are loaded, and there is much to absorb, and also much to miss if you don’t put in the work. We don’t want to beat ourselves by not being prepared.
Good luck these next few weeks. Let’s pad those bankrolls and head to Cali on a roll.