• Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 1-31-11

    POSTED Jan 31, 2011
    The last weekend of the first month of 2011 worked well for us at three of four venues and our watch lists have been productive, complete with repeat performances.

    In Paris, however, at the big show at Vincennes, the favorite, Ready Cash, was dominant over the second choice. This ignited one of the lowest combos for the event in recent memory.

    At the Meadowlands on Jan. 29, among our three Presidential Final contenders, our second choice won, paying $10.60. Our 8-1 shot, last year’s champ, Blatantly Good, was not at his best, finishing seventh at 8-1 (an entry for trainer Don Campbell with Real Celebration, the shocking winner of the first leg).

    When Summer Camp tanked in the Clyde Hirt Final, both of our choices over him completed the $27.60 exacta. Meirs Hanover won, paying $6.40, with Sniper Seelster second.

    No one could beat St Elmo Hero in the Complex Final as he rolled out his 23rd-straight victory, paying $2.40. We’ll keep an eye on cracking that code, because “Elmo” will have to begin facing much stronger horses as the season ensues.

    At Cal Expo we made a bit of noise, even when one of our Pick-4 singles scratched. In Race 14 we warned of a big price, awaited win from Awesome Deal N, with Anelectricmachine right behind him. That is how it resulted, with a $19.60 win price for the former and a $30.90 exacta for the combo.

    In the first leg of the non-takeout late Pick 4, Mad River Hanover scratched. Race 12 was a stinker with Code Blue and Elegant Emma out of it and Race 13’s single, Exit Hanover, broke at the gate and was never in the race. We encourage wagering on the individual contenders when the price is right, so if you caught Race 14 to win and/or as an exotic, you sensationalized brilliantly on a Pick-4 ticket gone awry.

    Also on Saturday night in Sacramento, Snowmurs won for us, paying $10.40 and a repeater from our watch list, Sandra Hotspur, returned to the winners’ circle at a remarkable price of $10.80. The night before, Myra’s Hiho came through as a big choice, paying $3.40.  

    On Friday at Maywood, we gave you three winners: Fox Valley Ruler at $15.80, Prime Minister at $5 and Triggerfish at $3.20. At Northfield that night we were shut out of the top spots.

    Track news
    Yonkers Raceway, track publicist Frank Drucker write, rings in the shortest month with longer distances. Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 1, all of Yonkers’ overnight races will be contested at the distance of 1 1/16th miles.

    GM Bob Galterio said, “It’s something we've been discussing for a while. We think it’s going to get more outside horses into the race earlier.”

    This distance remains in effect until further notice. It had been implemented any number of times before but never over a long period.  All series and stakes races will remain at the mile distance.

    Rosecroft Raceway may not be defunct for harness racing, as Penn National Gaming (PNG) became the new owner. PNG agreed to pay $10.25 million in cash for the harness track in an auction. It previously bought a share in the thoroughbred tracks at Laurel and Pimlico.

    Rosecroft has struggled for decades to stay om business. Now, PNG plans to work with standardbred horse owners and the Maryland Racing Commission to develop a plan to resume live racing at Rosecroft.
  • Free Sunday Selections

    POSTED Jan 30, 2011
    Gulfstream Park (1/30/11)
    Race 2 * 6.5 Furlongs * Dirt

    6-Tap For Luck (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 2-1
    3-Because I Like It (4/1)
    Fair Odds: 3-1
    4-Funny Sunny (6/1)
    Fair Odds: 9-2

    COMMENT(S): It’s with layoff starters like TAP FOR LUCK that trainer Todd Pletcher excels — a classy horse dropping in class. Tap For Luck looked spectacular winning her lifetime bow with a 102 Equibase speed figure (today’s par is 93) and -3 late speed ration (LSR). She then tried graded company in a trio of routes, finishing second in the Grade 3 Tempted. Today, she’s back sprinting, which I think suits her better (her dam has a 6.20 Dosage Index). BECAUSE I LIKE possesses the best (lowest) early speed rations (ESRs) in the field and should be tighter in her second start off the shelf. FUNNY SUNNY ran OK in her debut race at Hoosier Downs.

    BET(S): WIN on 6 at odds of 2-1 or greater.

    Gulfstream Park (1/30/11)
    Race 4 * 8.5 Furlongs * Turf

    8-Performing (4/1)
    Fair Odds: 7-2
    1-Ba Ba’s Bunch (20/1)
    Fair Odds: 12-1
    2-I Dreamt I Was (5/1)
    Fair Odds: 5-1

    COMMENT(S): PERFORMING looks best on paper, but she has a tendency to hang, making her very vulnerable at a short price. BA BA’S BUNCH recorded an excellent +2 LSR in a Dec. 2 win off of a long layoff and then bid and hung last time. With improvement, she could prove to be dangerous at a price. I DREAMT I WAS ran very well last time (85 Equibase speed figure, -1 LSR); she fits.

    BET(S): WIN on 1 (at odds of 12-1 or greater) and/or WIN on 2 (at odds of 5-1 or greater) and/or PLACE on 8 (at odds of 7-2 or greater).

    Gulfstream Park (1/30/11)
    Race 8 * 7.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    6-Dancinginherdreams (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 5-2
    3-Third Chance (5/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    4-R Heat Lightning (3/1)
    Fair Odds: 3-1

    COMMENT(S): DANCINGINHERDREAM’s effort in the Grade 3 Pocahontas was simply awesome, earning the daughter of Tapit a -10 ESR and -7 LSR. Obviously, she has a ton of ability, though I’m concerned about the layoff (91 days). THIRD CHANCE improved significantly last time, garnering a 98 Equibase speed figure (today’s par is 100) and a -9 LSR. More importantly, she’s got enough early lick to contend early. R HEAT LIGHTNING is another that appears to be improving and her recent workouts look encouraging.

    BET(S): WIN on 6 at odds of 5-2 or greater.

    Gulfstream Park (1/30/11)
    Race 10 * 8.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    4-Black N Beauty (6/1)
    Fair Odds: 7-2
    2-Major Gain (8/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    6-Leave of Absence (10/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1

    COMMENT(S): BLACK N BEAUTY could not have looked more impressive in his latest and my pace figures back up the strong visual impression I got from that race. The Canadian-bred son of Devil His Due earned a -10 ESR and -5 LSR in winning that N1X allowance affair on Jan. 7. On the negative side, he was just a $2,500 yearling purchase, indicating some potential physical issues, and he’ll be tested for class today, but the early returns have been good. MAJOR GAIN broke his maiden in a Grade 3 event at Arlington Park and raced well in his dirt debut on Nov. 27; he could be overlooked. LEAVE OF ABSENCE recorded a woeful -20 LSR last time, but his previous effort was good enough to win this.

    BET(S): WIN/PLACE on 4 at odds of 7-2 or greater.

    Santa Anita Park (1/30/11)
    Race 7 * 7.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    8-Switch (1/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-5
    6-Quissiana (8/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    2-Mother Ruth (8/1)
    Fair Odds: 8-1

    COMMENT(S): SWITCH is the real deal, but I wasn’t thrilled with her last race and would try to beat her in the show pool.

    BET(S): Show on 6.

  • Free Saturday Selections

    POSTED Jan 29, 2011
    Gulfstream Park (1/29/11)
    Race 8 * 6.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    1-Wildcat Heiress (6/1)
    Fair Odds: 9-2
    7-Amen Hallelujah (3/1)
    Fair Odds: 3-1
    5-North Rodeo (30/1)
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    COMMENT(S): In a very contentious race, I’m looking for WILDCAT HEIRESS to lead from flag fall to finish. Her trainer, Tevis McCauley, is very good with sprinters and, despite the lack of recorded works, I’m reasonably confident he has Wildcat Heiress ready to roll. I thought/think AMEN HALLELUJAH was among the most overrated sophomore fillies last year — right there with Devil May Care — but this is a new year and today’s distance is much, much better. Her workouts have been strong and progressive and I expect a good showing today, albeit at a short price. NORTH RODEO is not the third-best horse in this event, but her pace figures are improving and I think she stands a shot of hitting the board at an inflated price.

    BET(S): WIN on 1 at odds of 9-2 or greater.

    Santa Anita Park (1/29/11)
    Race 5 * 6.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    3-Cost of Freedom (1/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-5
    7-Apriority (9/2)
    Fair Odds: 4-1
    5-Excessive Passion (15/1)
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    COMMENT(S): COST OF FREEDOM is clearly the one to beat, however, he is attempting the dirt for just the second time in his career and, at the age of eight, is coming off of a lifetime-best 115 Equibase speed figure earned 49 days ago at Hollywood Park. If you’re seeking value in the race — and if you’re not, you should be — look no further than APRIORITY, who is a perfect three-for-three on the dirt and has solid speed and pace figures. EXCESSIVE PASSION has been training like he might have improved this winter and lures Russell Baze to ride.

    BET(S): WIN on 7 at odds of 8-1 or greater. SHOW on 7 (in case there is a negative show pool).

    Santa Anita Park (1/29/11)
    Race 6 * 9.0 Furlongs * Turf

    4-Soul Candy (8/1)
    Fair Odds: 9-2
    7-The Usual Q. T. (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 3-1
    3-Jeranimo (3/1)
    Fair Odds: 3-1

    COMMENT(S): I really like what trainer Patrick Gallagher has done in attempting to prepare SOUL CANDY for this race, as he’s trained him almost exclusively on the grass since his last try on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. The son of Birdonthewire is improving and should offer value in this spot. JERANIMO exploded through a hole on the rail to win last time and has a ton of talent. THE USUAL Q. T. should improve off of his latest.

    BET(S): WIN on 4 at odds of 8-1 or greater.
  • Shoe Business For Prix d’Amerique Handicappers

    Here are some exclusive insider views on the classic race for older trotters in Paris on Jan. 30, being carried by TwinSpires along with five other events from the program.

    One of the mares in the race, Private Love, has been in “Amerique” prep races wearing shoes. Three races back, she won at 24-1, without shoes, defeating three a number of Jan. 29’s Amérique contenders.

    Thirteen races back, 11 months ago, “Love” defeated four of the Prix d'Amérique contenders at 15-1 without shoes. Among them is last year’s 172-1 winner Oyonnax.

    Second to Oynonnax last year was Quaker Jet. His last five wins were accomplished without wearing shoes. His most recent five races are all losses (making him an outsider in the 2011 Amerique). In those losses he wore shoes.

    Last year in this event he went off at 107-1. On Jan. 29, “Jet” will be shoeless.

    Also, there is a big driver change on Jet. Last year, Vercruysse, who is a 5-percent-winning driver, handled the horse. This year his trainer, Jean-Etienne Dubois, guides him.

    Dubois, who wins at a 10-percent clip, is the same Dubois who was connected to owner/breeder Daniel Wilderstein, who won the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic with the ill-fated Arcangues (R-Kong, pictured left winning 'Classic.').
    It is reported that among 32 public handicappers in the Paris-Turf, one picks Private Love and two pick Quaker Jet.
  • Free Weekend Win Factor Report Plays

    POSTED Jan 28, 2011
    Tampa Bay Downs (1/28/11)
    Race 7 * 8.0 Furlongs * Turf

    3-Fagedaboudit Sal (3/1)
    Fair Odds: 8-5
    5-Ebbtide (4/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    8-Generalissimo (2/1)
    Fair Odds: 9-2

    BET(S): WIN on 3 at odds of 6-5 or greater.

    More picks (for Saturday) coming…
  • SimonSays Showdown

    POSTED Jan 27, 2011
    Much has been written about Muhammad Ali’s epic battle with George Foreman on Oct. 30, 1974. Dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle,” the heavyweight boxing title bout in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) helped launch Don King's career as a professional boxing promoter (I guess Brett Michaels was right: every rose does have its thorns).

    Long before the opening round bell sounded and Ali made pugilistic history, however, the Kentucky-born fighter known as the “Louisville Lip” and, later, “The Greatest” showed his softer side by composing a poem in honor of the occasion. In one of many related versions,
    Ali quipped:

    “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
    George can’t hit what his hands can’t see
    Now you see me, now you don’t
    He thinks he will, but I know he won’t
    They tell me George is good, but I’m twice as nice
    And I’m gonna stick to his butt like white on rice.”

    I thought of this masterwork the other day, as I downed a cupful of raw Cadbury eggs on my way to the meat market, otherwise known as Bally Total Fitness (I couldn’t find an actual meat locker in my area), to train for an upcoming verbal sparring session with Claire Novak.

    Who is
    Claire Novak, some may ask, and why am I debating her? Well, Ms. Novak is an award-winning journalist who once wrote for Bloodhorse Magazine and, now, regularly lifts her pen for ESPN. Recently, she received an e-mail from a guy named Tom De Martini, who chastised her for not betting on the races she covers. Her public response, “Love of the game,” which appeared on the ESPN Website on Saturday, is the driving force behind our little tête-à-tête.

    While I’m generally not a fan of angry missives (especially those accompanied by a brick and the sound of breaking glass — damn in-laws, I told them we’d return the casserole dish this weekend), I have to admit I understood and even sympathized with where Mr. De Martini was coming from.

    So, I invited the esteemed Ms. Novak on my Friday “SimonSays Racing” podcast, which airs live at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, to discuss the issue of fans vs. bettors: which does the Sport of Kings need more of? I’ll be representing the bettors, while Ms. Novak will plead the fans’ case. And, just like Ali, I have written a poem on the eve of battle:

    “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like Charlie Sheen’s pee
    To make Claire understand this bettor’s solemn plea
    Takeouts keep on rising, while racing keeps declining
    And bettors foot the bill whenever the industry starts whining
    I don’t need great races to enjoy a day at the track
    I just need race officials that I know have got my back.”

    Tale of the Tape:

    SimonSays Handicapping Challenge Kicks Off

    Speaking of betting, a couple of weeks ago, I challenged both public and private horserace handicappers to do what I do and prove their mettle at the windows by allowing me to record and track at least some of their picks on a weekly basis. My goal behind this challenge was to, hopefully, show “newbies” as well as potential “newbies” that the races can, indeed, be beaten —in a variety of ways.

    Sadly, my casting call was met with about the same amount of enthusiasm as a plea for photographic evidence at a Bigfoot Convention (yeah, they actually have those). Nonetheless, one brave soul did step forward and I’m hoping others will follow.

    Anthony Kelzenberg is a Facebook friend and former podcast guest that teaches math and science in the great state of Minnesota. Below are Anthony’s first round of free selections for Friday, Jan. 28, 2010:

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 1 * 6 Furlongs * Dirt

    20 units to WIN on 4-The Pia Angel
    3 units EXACTA 4-3 and 2 units EXACTA 3-4
    6 units DAILY DOUBLE 4-2

    Rationale: The #4 is faster out of the gate than the #3 and is in-form.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 5 * 5 Furlongs * Turf

    10 units to WIN on 3-Unicorn Girl

    Rationale: Ben Perkins can crank a horse up and this gal has good works; probable loose leader.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 7 * 1-1/8 Miles * Turf

    10 units to WIN on 2-Br. Alexander

    Rationale: #2 has typical comeback work pattern for trainer Kenny McPeek and may have value in talented field. The tandem of McPeek and jockey Julien Leparoux hit at a 22% clip.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 8 * 5 Furlongs * Turf

    20 units to WIN on 9-Beer Stein (turf only)
    6 units DAILY DOUBLE 9 with 1,6

    Rationale: #9 may have been a short horse last time and should be fitter. Plus, the #9 is a class standout and might be the quality speed too.

    Total Expenditure: 83 units (a unit is simply one’s base bet).
  • Veterans On The Bills In Two Continents

    POSTED Jan 26, 2011
    The United States and France are the pacing and trotting theaters on this last weekend in January. TwinSpires has all the significant action, so load your account and let’s peruse the action from each side of the ocean.

    The Meadowlands’ offers its first big stakes of the season Saturday, Jan. 29, with series’ finals, all for the older pacing divisions. On Saturday, there is the Presidential Final and the Complex Final, following Friday’s Clyde Hirt Final.

    On Sunday, Jan. 30, TwinSpires will carry one of the world’s most popular trotting stakes, the Prix d’Amerique from Paris, along with five other races on the program. Exclusive info and analysis is below.

    Other, older standardbreds keep the action going in overnights across North America. Aside from the non-takeout late Pick 4 at Cal Expo on Jan. 29, we offer you another look into our “watch lists” for suggested contenders going to post this weekend. And, of course, our other weekend selections for Cal Expo at the bottom of the blog are also in need of your attention.

    Big M Finals
    At the Meadowlands on Saturday, Jan. 29, the main feature is the $127,000 Presidential Final for free-for-all pacers. The co-features are the finals of $65,000 Complex at $62,600 Clyde Hirt, for older pacers with conditions.
    First up is the Complex, where superstar St Elmo Hero will try to sweep the series and continue his win streak to 23. His perennial chaser has been Windsong Gorgeous and you can be sure the public will be using them one-two in exactas. But, if able to make the final as an also eligible, Ise The By Boy would be a brave upset choice after being disqualified from finishing fourth last week. If “By” doesn’t make it, watch the Silvermans with Urgent Action, who has finished fourth in both rounds of the Complex, going off with value in both of those starts. “Elmo” will, of course, be tough to topple.

    Next comes the $62,600 Clyde Hirt Final. A star four-year-old by the name of Summer Camp will also be looking for a series sweep and his fourth win in a row this year. Last week he beat Sniper Seelster for trainer Nikolas Drennan, a 50-percent winning trainer at the Meadowlands so far. Two horses to look out for would be Meirs Hanover and Sniper Seelster.

    Last of the finals is the traditional January contest, the Presidential. In last week’s episode, a competitive Vlos beat Western Shore in the second division and Bettor Sweet and Alexie Mattosie shared a victory with a dead-heat in the first division. Last week, Schoolkids had some trouble trying to catch the speedy “Bettor” and fast closing “Alexie.” We are looking for an upset with last year’s winner Blatantly Good, who has struggled to get his first win of the season. He may be ready to tackle these, especially since Alexie Mattosie was able to take on Bettor, the figured series winner.

    Pick-4 Mania
    The no-takeout late Pick 4 at Cal Expo every Saturday is becoming more popular. If you are betting at TwinSpires from an east-coast location you are getting involved in much of the only late-night action available after seaboard tracks are done with their programs. The California-capital-city mile oval is one of two available for redeye bettors (Fraser Downs in Vancouver is the other).

    Our ventures into hitting legs of the Cal Expo set have been profitable seperately, though we have not offered a winning Pick-4 combination. Our small-ticket, power-pack approach to taking a Pick 4 down, however, has been resulting in strong winning individual legs. So keep in mind after you put your ticket together that there could be a few high-paying horses in the suggestions we have for leg inclusions.

    Race 11 – Mad River Hanover put in a real clunker last week. The race before he was highly charged and backed, failing not as miserably. With those two ugly lines showing on his past performances he may be a big overlay in the first leg. Though a loss knocks you out, a brave single here may also launch a giant ticket.

    Race 12 – Elegant Emma was tough from the 10 hole last week, saving ground and charging late for a place spot. Code Blue has been knocking on the door of a big win and just needs a fine-tuned trip to do it.

    Race 13 – Exit Hanover produced a big brush to the half last out and was forced to race and duel on the outside, still holding well through a strenuous stretch drive. Another single for the stronghearted.

    Race 14 – Anelectricmachine is still very much in shape after we nabbed him two back at a price and he wallowed home second last week; use him. The mystery horse remains Awesome Deal N. The pacer has had more support than he has been able to live up to but merits another shot if we make excuses for his recent tanks. If overlooked in this by the public while racing how he should have three back, any P-4 ticket with him included is heading for the bank.

    French Trot Frenzy
    The Prix d’Amerique trot from Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes, will be a six-race card on TwinSpires, with the main event as the first race, going to post at approximately 9:50 a.m. Eastern Time. The last race will go to post at approximately 12:25 p.m., Eastern.

    One-million euros will be divided between the first seven finishers of this historic race honoring the United States. It is expected that Ready Cash will be sent off as the public choice for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin, from Lower Normandy. This is a six-year-old who was an easy winner in the Prix de Bretagne recently. Having had much success prepping for this event at Vincennes, Franck Nivard will drive.

    Maharajah, the expected second choice, is a Swedish champion (there has been only one Scandinavian-trained winner in the last 15 events). Örjan Kihlström will drive him. In his native land he is known as “the trotter that never tires,” but that alleged stamina will surely be tested on French soil.

    Defending champion Oyannax could be back but this time is valued at 8-1. He was a victor at 172-1. He was recently third behind Ready Cash in a prep.

    Other possible trotters in the field include Iceland, the winner of the 2010 Elitlopp (19-1); Quaker Jet (8-1); Olga du Biwetz is labled 14-1; Nouba du Saptel, a 10-year-old, gets early odds of 16-1; and a 59-1 Ilaria Jet, from Italy.

    Expected to be an outsider is Nuit Torride, who is our early choice. She is getting better with age and has a wicked closing kick that could work here if she is not burdened by traffic.

    Traffic is the key element in this race and drivers are extremely aggressive when they let their trotters hit their best stride. Like an auto drive around the circle at the Champs de Elysee, the trotters in this race find their own paths to victory. All of the races on this card will feature the strong antics of French drivers, who think nothing of pushing their steeds two and three wide in a big field. The course is kind to outsiders and many win at the urging of their forceful pilots.

    Watch List Action
    At Northfield Park, Jan. 28 includes four horses we have on our watch list for the Cleveland track. Race 2 – (5) Moira’s Intended; Race 3 – (1) Europan Vacation; Race 5 – (3) Beauty’s Life and (6), Ferris Wheel.

    At Maywood on Jan. 28, check out if Richard Traci makes it from the also-eligible list into Race 1. We also suggest: Race 4 – (9) Prime Minister; Race 5 (3) Odds On Emanuel; Race 9 – (3) Fox Valley Ruler; Race 10 – (8) Windy City Ron; and in Race 14 – (2) Trail Master and (3) Triggerfish.

    All of our watch-list horses are suggested based upon recent trips, wagering support and personal evaluations after viewing their performances.

    Cal Expo Fri. 1/28 –
    Race 3 
    3-Gold Of Lodi   

    Race 10
    4-Natty Life  

    Race 11  
    6-Myra’s Hiho     

    Race 14
    8-Keyword Hanover           

    Cal Expo Sat. 1/29 –
    Race 3
    4-The Goose
    6-Dreaming Of Amy

    Race 4 

    Race 5
    2-Whoop And Shout

    Race 6 
    7-Stand Up And Shout     

    Race 10
    8-Above Timberline        
  • Harness News: Prix d'Amérique to Be Offered on TwinSpires

    What is widely considered to be "the most prestigious harness race in the world", TwinSpires is very happy to be able to offer the Prix d'Amérique.

    The race is this Sunday, January 30th. The Prix d'Amérique will go off as the first race on the card . We will offer a total of six races from the overall card.

    The Prix d'Amérique website (in French) can be found here. More info will be posted on our Facebook Page and over on TwinSpires.com. Our weekly eNews will also have complete race and wagering info.

    In case you've never seen this race, it is DEFINITELY worth checking out (video below):
  • Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 1-24-11

    POSTED Jan 24, 2011
    The deep freeze is in full bloom on the east coast. But this is a good season for us, the harness gods of winter can be kind, as they were again the past weekend.

    Kindness from the horse spirits does not propel our horses to victory, it allows the general public to dismiss our picks, so that the strong contenders we suggest can win at terrific odds, valued far more than the horses’ chances.

    Certainly the Peter Lobell Final at Cal Expo on Friday, Jan. 21, was a major example of seeing value explode. In a five-horse field, we trusted Art Of Arts to win and hoped for a price of 3-1. To our advantage, “Arts” went off at $9.50 to the dollar, a remarkable offering. He won and paid $21. Consider that the win price was only a few cents short of the exacta ($21.70) and you have another reason to trust in win wagering.

    If you thought 5-2 were worthy odds for Gerrie Madison on Friday at the Meadowlands you were rewarded with a $7.60 price. It was a chalk-filled night in the winners’ circle that evening, so perhaps 5-2 suit you well.

    Saturday, Jan. 22, our focus on the Willowbrook Final at Woodbine rested upon the closing odds and your discretion of value. We wrote that Art Professor could be an overlay but he was bet down sufficiently for us to look at the other horse we mentioned, Twin B Warrior. At 5-1, this one was the bet. He won and paid $12.30. Sometimes these tightly contested races are worthy of attention.

    What happened in the Willowbrook was a lot like what happened in the Peter Lobell. The public tends to concentrate on a single contender, resulting in a favorite that does not deserve the heavy backing. This imbalance is so common in harness races; it is our bread-and-butter betting move that keeps us in the black.

    We apologize for listing the incorrect races for Saturday’s non-takeout Pick 4 at Cal Expo. At press time we could not reach the Cal Expo race office to confirm which quartet of races on the card made up the wager, considering there were only 13 races that evening. We went with the Pick 4 as the final four races, when in fact it began with Race 9.

    However, the evening was far from a bust. One of the choices in our small ticket was Jet Tet Tet in Race 11. He won and paid $16.40.

    We nailed what we thought was the final leg of the Pick 4, Race 13, with Sandra Hotspur. She won at $11.20.

    We suggested you use My Real Love in Race 10 but didn’t care for an even-money price, as it turned out. Still, it was the second leg winner at $4.

    Speaking of bad prices, at the Meadowlands on Saturday in a division of the Presidential, a dead heat destroyed the price of Bettor Sweet as his nose was directly beside the nose of Alexie Mattosie. The win price was $2.10. Our other “Prexy” contender, Mr Saratoga, finished sixth, while our Complex contenders, Windsong Gorgeous and Ise The Big Boy, finished second and fourth (disqualified and placed seventh), respectively.

    At Pompano, Reve Pride and Dragon’s Blood finished second and Monet CC was eighth.

    Track news
    Pompano has added a Pick 3 on the final races of each card, beginning Jan. 24. Before this there was only one multi-race exotic available, a Pick 4. Post time at Pompano Park is 7:05, EST, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

    The Presidential, Complex and Clyde Hirt finals are the Meadowlands’ top events next weekend. The Prexy could develop into a fine betting race with many strong contenders, as well as this is the season for quick-developing accomplishments.

    Three-year-old colt pacers, only recently freshmen, take their sulkies around the frozen tundra of Woodbine in the Count B Series opener next week. We have to keep our eyes on the young guns this early in the year. Before long the new divisions will be in full force and the Grand Circuit will host any number of very valuable wagers as the ice melts.
  • Last Call for Vegas - Thank You and Congratulations to Our 29 winners!

    The TwinSpires "Last Call for Vegas" online tournament concluded Saturday evening, and we would like to congratulate Mike Midland of Chicago, IL for taking home the first place prize of a berth into the 2011 Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, $1,150 cash and four-night hotel stay! Mike's $103.80 cumulative bankroll from the Fair Grounds' 10 contest races was one dollar best over the next competitor, Daniel Pastaleniec. Chris Larmey finished third with a $99.20 bankroll.....read the full article here.
  • Free Fair Grounds Plays

    POSTED Jan 22, 2011
    Fair Grounds (01/22/11)
    Race 1 * 6.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    4-Early Return (8/5)
    Fair Odds: 9-5
    1-Sweetsouthernmoon (5/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    7-Mambo Galliano (7/5)
    Fair Odds: 5-2

    COMMENTS: This doesn’t look like a great betting race, barring something crazy, although I do think the top two morning line favorites should probably be reversed. EARLY RETURN has great tactical speed and trainer Stephen Margolis is sticking with a familiar and successful work pattern coming into today’s race; rates the edge. SWEETSOUTHERNMOON has a 12-3-5-3 ledger in his races on the dirt and should be closing late. MAMBO GALLIANO loves Fair Grounds and fits very well here, but I’m a bit troubled by the 58-day respite after his win in the Thanksgiving Handicap.

    BET(S): WIN on 4 at odds of 9-5 or greater.

    Fair Grounds (01/22/11)
    Race 3 * 6.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    3-Dance Caller (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 8-5
    4-Heavenly Chorus (7/2)
    Fair Odds: 7-2
    6-Be Me (9/2)
    Fair Odds: 6-1

    COMMENTS: Pace makes this race. DANCE CALLER has won five of six starts when leading after the first call, which seems almost assured in this event, provided jockey Shane Sellers is on the ball. HEAVENLY CHORUS ran great in his 2011 debut, but was claimed from master conditioner Steve Assmussen and faces tougher today. BE ME is in good form.

    BET(S): WIN on 3 at odds of 8-5 or greater.
  • Free Weekend Win Factor Report Plays

    POSTED Jan 20, 2011
    Aqueduct (01/21/11)
    Race 1 * 8.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    5-All About Alex (3/1)
    Fair Odds: 2-1
    7-Indian Blossom (9/5)
    Fair Odds: 5-2
    2-Spoleto (8/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1

    COMMENTS: Although I’m concerned about the 47-day “vacation,” ALL ABOUT ALEX has a ton of talent (considering the class of the race, of course) and wins with a repeat of her latest. INDIAN BLOSSOM will likely be favored and certainly fits with, although her recent late speed rations (LSRs) leave something to be desired. SPOLETO might be the quickest early, but her conditioning is suspect. CODY SAMORA is great when she’s allowed to set the pace, horrible when she’s not.

    BET(S): WIN on 5 at odds of 2-1 or greater.

    Aqueduct (01/21/11)
    Race 2 * 8.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    5-Smokin’ Cat (9/5)
    Fair Odds: 8-5
    1-Savannah Bay (10/1)
    Fair Odds: 5-1
    3-Captain Stone (2/1)
    Fair Odds: 5-2

    BET(S): WIN on 5 at odds of 8-5 or greater and/or WIN on 1 at odds of 5-1 or greater.

    Aqueduct (01/21/11)
    Race 3 * 8.3 Furlongs * Dirt

    2-High Stakes Player (6/1)
    Fair Odds: 4-1
    7-Rigby (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 8-5
    4-Warrant Ofc. Cook (4/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1

    COMMENTS: The conditions of this race clearly favor four-year-olds with more than two lifetime wins, which is true of both HIGH STAKES PLAYER and RIGBY. I’ll give the nod to the former based solely on price.

    BET(S): WIN/PLACE on 2 at odds of 4-1 or greater.

    Aqueduct (01/21/11)
    Race 4 * 6.0 Furlongs * Dirt

    1-Unique Ally (6/1)
    Fair Odds: 7-2
    2-Idol Image (5/1)
    Fair Odds: 6-1
    5-Fuzzy’s Story (2/5)
    Fair Odds: 8-5

    BET(S): SHOW on 1 & 2.

    Aqueduct (01/21/11)
    Race 8 * 8.3 Furlongs * Dirt

    4-Saginaw (5/2)
    Fair Odds: 5-2
    2-Spa City Fever (5/1)
    Fair Odds: 9-2
    6-Driven By Success (4/5)
    Fair Odds: 5-2

    BET(S): WIN/SHOW on 4 at odds of 5-2 or greater and/or WIN/SHOW on 2 at odds of 9-2 or greater.
  • Derek Does Derby #1

    As spring approaches and a young man's fancy turns to the Kentucky Derby (get it right, Tennyson), I thought now would be a good time to start looking at various potential Derby candidates and offer my opinion. And the first horse I decided to put under the microscope, thanks to a reader’s suggestion, is To Honor And Serve, the son of former Preakness winner Bernardini.

    (click on image to enlarge)

    PROS: The big maiden win in an off-the-turf affair on Oct. 2 was very impressive and stamped this William Mott trainee as a horse with promise. Note too that To Honor And Serve came off the pace in that race, which at the very least suggests that he is more than just a one-dimensional speedball.

    CONS: In his only try around two turns, To Honor And Serve recorded very average pace figures, making me very dubious that he’s going to relish 1 ¼ miles on the first Saturday in May, barring substantial improvement. Sure, he received a +1 LSR in the Nashua, but that came after a +2 early speed ration. As it stands now, To Honor And Serve’s most impressive effort remains the maiden-breaker referenced above — and that race only hinted at his talent, it didn’t confirm it.

    THE NEXT STEP: For me to have any faith in this guy, he’s going to have to do one of two things — either win on the lead with an ESR of -10 or less or come off the pace with an LSR of -8 or greater. In the meantime, I’d be looking to bet against him.

    To Honor And Serve winning the Grade II Remsen

    Early Speed Ration (ESR): A measurement of a horse’s early energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The lower the figure, the greater the horse’s early exertion in that event.

    -15 = Demanding.
    -10 = Brisk.
    -5 = Moderate.
    0 = Soft.

    Late Speed Ration (LSR): A measurement of a horse’s late energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The higher the figure, the greater the horse’s late exertion in that event.

    0 = Excellent.
    -5 = Good.
    -10 = Fair.
    -15 = Poor.

  • Thundering Through Winter

    POSTED Jan 19, 2011
    The Meadowlands’ winter series continue this weekend with the older pacing males taking on the second legs of the Clyde Hirt on Friday, Jan. 21 and the Presidential and Complex on Saturday, Jan. 22.

    Where it’s even colder, at Woodbine on Saturday, the feature is the $100,000 Willowdale Final, an open for fresh elders, four-year-old pacers.  

    The weekly Cal Expo no-takeout late Pick 4 on Saturday has crowded fields, offering a challenge that could hand the entire pool to a sole ticket, a bold ticket. But the day before, the Peter Lobell Final ($7,025) gathers the legs’ best.

    And on the bottom of the blog, as usual, there are some horses from our watch lists at various tracks that should be ready to roar.

    Big M series
    At the Meadowlands on Friday, there are two divisions in the second leg of the Clyde Hirt, with fields of 10 and 11, respectively. After a big win last week, Summer Camp looks to extend his win streak by going three for three. But the horse to watch in the first division is AB’s Attack. He was stuck on the outside for two calls and gave way, finishing sixth, in the previous leg.

    In the second division, Royal Cam-hall made a big move last week, gaining a total of 10 lengths at 38-1. He is up against likely favorite Highland Rocks, who has finished on the board every start and coming off a win in the first leg.

    Saturday’s Presidential leg shows 13 stalwart free-for-all horses in two divisions. The first division is to exhibit odds-on choice Bettor Sweet, longshot Schoolkids and River Shark. Schoolkids made a huge move behind cover last week and finished a good fifth, with River Shark holding him off for fourth.

    The second division features the two first leg winners, Real Celebration and Western Shore, the latter who has gone two for two this year and won in 1:49 last week. Real Celebration went 1:49.2, where he just beat Bettor Sweet. The one to watch here, though, is Mr Saratoga. He comes in from Woodbine where he had to make up 6 lengths last week at the half racing on the outside and finished fifth. The 3 post should give some relief to have a better trip, certainly at juicy odds.

    This week, The Complex’s second leg is one division with 12 horses, two of which are undefeated. One is St Elmo Hero and the other is McClelland, both undefeated this year, though “Elmo” has never lost, winning 21-straight efforts. The spoiler could be Windsong Gorgeous, who has been runner-up to Elmo all year. Another horse to watch is Ise The By Boy. He was hung last week and gave way.  

    Peter Lobell Final
    The choices in the conclusion of the Peter Lobell series for older pacers at Cal Expo should be Fakeutu Bluegrass and Vic The Brick, in that order. These two were right on the finish line together in last week’s chapter but “Fakeutu,” trained and driven by Tim Maier, won that battle as she won the other legs.

    “Vic” has been second to Fakeutu twice after winning three straight at the mile oval.

    Art Of Arts challenged boldly in last week’s episode and gained enough ground late to have the lead for a bit, before the aforementioned two ate up the remaining mile’s territory. “Arts” got there with a tough first-over trip and could be the spoiler if the top two wrestle or shuffle the lead.

    WD Cowboy Justice and C’mon Sweet Mariah complete the small field.

    ‘Willowbrook’ Donnybrook
    Woodbine’s Willowbrook Final is a $100,000 open event, featuring the best of the series’ four-year-old pacers over the first few weeks of 2011. It is difficult to predict a strong favorite here; this is a tight, competitive field.

    However, Art Professor, third in last week’s elim and a powerful winner at this track the week before, could be an overlay here from post 7.

    The two elim winners, Good Bad Lucky and Sparky Mark, may not be as good as those wins, considering the aforementioned “Professor” and Twin B Warrior, getting a good post and a chance for a better trip than his last two.

    Malicious has every right to improve at four and is as good as most of these. I must assume that Jackets Required will get decent support, as will the elim winners. The others are all right but would need some incidents to get them home on top of the rest.

    Four Score
    The no-takeout late Pick 4 at Cal Expo this Saturday looks very competitive. It is again time to take a courageous shot using some of the outsiders that may go off overlays.

    In the first leg, Race 10, Bullet Tooth Tony is a beaten favorite to Anelectricmachine and should race better this week. Also, you may want to use My Real Love, who closed strongly from an 8-hole start last week at 26-1.

    In the second leg, Freedomize may be a single, as he was last week when he was interfered with and could only muster finishing sixth.

    In the third leg, Jet Tet Tet has a good excuse for bombing last week, being hung badly and well meant at 4-1. In a small ticket, you could single him also.

    In the final leg, Music Of Lodi has a powerful closing punch, as witnessed in last week’s effort at 6-1. This could be the weakest field in the four, so you may want to add the beaten favorite Sandra Hotspur.

    You could try to hit it with a small investment, using 2,4/2/3,7/3,4. That is a brave and strong $8 ticket.

    Meadowlands Fri. 1/21 –
    Race 8 

    Pompano Sat. 1/22 –
    Race 2
    4-Reve Pride  

    Race 6 
    8-Dragon’s Blood     

    Race 7
    6-Monet CC        
  • The Bias That Isn’t

    If handicapping the races was as simple as handicapping the handicappers that play the races, gambling on the Sport of Kings would be easy. For example, when Zenyatta was named Horse of the Year at a gathering of racing industry insiders at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. on Jan. 17, the reaction was about as surprising as discovering that the diapered guy in Nadya Suleman’s new fetish video is Marv Albert. (I’m not claiming that’s the case, mind you, I’m just saying I wouldn’t be shocked or amazed or even mildly startled if it was.) As a value bettor that typically creates my own fair odds line on the races I’m interested in, I figured my chances of reading several rehashes of the “who-did-she-beat” argument over the next few days was about 1-9 — and it turns out that price was grossly inflated.

    Likewise, I fully expected that after the champion three-year-old filly Blind Luck was defeated in her 2011 debut in the El Encino Stakes, cries of “bias” would fill the air like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Again, I was not disappointed.

    Speed bias helps Always a Princess foil Blind Luck in El Encino,” screamed Steve Anderson’s headline in the Daily Racing Form.

    “My filly got beat,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Blind Luck. “We may have to do something else. If the track stays the same way, I don’t think we’ll run here.”

    So, what’s all the fuss about?

    Well, for those not hip to the happenings at the Great Race Place — based on handle numbers, that’s the vast majority — speed has returned to the Arcadia, Cal. facility in a big way. Already, three track records have fallen by the wayside since the opening of the meet on Dec. 26 (including one that was held by the great Spectacular Bid) and every race seems to feature blazing fractions and early leaders that miraculously find a second wind down the stretch. According to Brisnet, 40 percent of the six-furlong races run at Santa Anita through Jan. 16 have been won in wire-to-wire fashion and the average winner is within 1.4 lengths of the lead at the first call.

    Still, is that really proof of a track bias, one capable of stopping an Eclipse Award-winning filly and
    “The Sheets” Horse of the Year like Blind Luck?

    True, a 40 percent gate-to-wire win rate is exceedingly high for a non-bullring (track with a circumference of a mile or more). But it’s worth noting that, like Always a Princess, the majority of these “speed” winners have been well backed at the windows, suggesting that they possessed at least a modicum of past form.

    In fact, compared to other top tracks, specifically Aqueduct (AQU), Fair Grounds (FG), Golden Gate Fields (GG), Gulfstream Park (GP), Oaklawn Park (OP), Parx Racing (PRX), Tampa Bay Downs (TAM) and Turfway Park (TP), Santa Anita currently ranks third in terms of lowest average win mutuel. And while some of that is undoubtedly due to the less-than-robust field sizes in California (note that Golden Gate ranks second on the list), the low average odds are still meaningful given that smaller fields typically produce greater pace disparities (witness some of Zenyatta’s triumphs following sundial splits).

    What’s more, if one ranks the tracks above based on the average winner’s trailing margin (if any) at the first call, an interesting picture emerges. In both sprints and routes, we see that Santa Anita plays second fiddle to Gulfstream Park, a venue that has traditionally been kind to early speedsters, but not one that has garnered blaring headlines and threats of trainer boycotts of late.

    So what does all this mean? Well, I think it’s safe to say that Santa Anita’s new dirt surface is incredibly fast (at least so far). And I also think it’s safe to say that the surface, like most dirt surfaces, does, in fact, favor horses with good early lick — something that handicapping author Dr. William Quirin noted over 30 years ago when he called early speed the “universal track bias.”

    As for the track costing Blind Luck a victory in the El Encino? I don’t think so. In fact, if you watch that race carefully, you’ll see that Blind Luck was close — maybe too close — early, but fell back on the turn, as the leaders gradually began to pick up the tempo. Then, down the stretch she raced very erratically, while recording a career-low -18 late speed ration (LSR). Frankly, excepting ultra-quick frontrunners, a -18 LSR just isn’t going to cut it in a Grade I route and it makes me very dubious of this gal in her next start… whether she races at Santa Anita or not.

  • UPDATED: Crazy Video/Race of the Day

    POSTED Jan 18, 2011
    Leave it to France to have a harness race with 18 horses going approx. 1.67 miles.

    Youtube took down the original video posted here, so here is another. The action starts around 1:20...

    Wikipedia has more, here.
  • Cotolo’s harness-weekend review, 1-17-11

    POSTED Jan 17, 2011
    Let’s recap the Jan. 14 weekend, which covered high-and-low profile races for the early season, including the series and stakes for older pacers. Once again we nailed some horses that we suggested were ready to go and some of them were overlooked enough to get our money.

    At Woodbine, where the older pacers that raced best in the Snowshoe elims met in the $60,000 final on Friday, Jan. 14, the horse we thought best went off at 7-2, a reasonable price in this field. Premier Intel won and paid $9.90. We mentioned using Web Cam in exactas and though he raced well at a shocking 11-1, he finished third. 

    Friday at Cal-Expo, Kikiskissinkousin made the most noise, paying $30.60, while Code Blue looked great in the stretch but was passed, finishing in a dead heat as the final element in the trifecta.

    The Meadowlands has been a bit of a circus so far during its latest incarnation. It seems like a variable track, favoring no one and yet not especially kind to any particular type of pacer or trotter. Some might consider that a level-playing field but I don’t know how to evaluate it correctly. I have to watch more races and make a decision whether it is the track or the nature of the competition so far this season.

    Meanwhile, on Friday we were right about Definitely Mamie on Jan. 14, she won and paid $13.40. Diablo Seelster was second at 5-1. AB’s Attack, a part of the favorite entry, had a miserable first half and tanked, while Whybabywhy never took a step at 40-1.

    On Saturday at the Big M, McClelland took his second straight, as we thought he would, at a great price, $11.80. Windsong Gorgeous was second to a 1-9 shot (a horse that won his 21st-straight race). Mark Ford’s horses, River Shark and Handsome Harry, were not productive in the Presidential divisions. 

    At Pompano on Saturday, DVC Givemeatitude won, paying $6.40 (we liked the price). Mai Tai Guy was third, Goodnight Goodluck was off the board and Bo Bernie, an also-eligible, did not get into the race).

    Finally, on Saturday at Cal Expo, we liked Awesome Deal N in the first leg of the no-takout Pick 4. He was third, beaten by a horse from our watch list, Peter Hot Tail. This pacer had won once off the list, had a tough next out and then came back here and won, paying $17.20. Earlier that night, another watch-list horse, Anelectricmachine, won and paid $14.20.

    Track news

    The standardbred press seemed shocked about the Saturday, Jan. 15 Dover card, where the public showed every flaw it could, handicapping with less aplomb than usual. This resulted in monstrous overlays, all of them explainable and all of them from strategies and observations we have made at TwinSpires since the Harness Page launched.

    First and foremost, we touted the talents of driver Victor Kirby over the public’s love for Tim Tetrick and Kirby continues to deliver winners worth far more than their odds. On the Jan. 15 card two of his three winners paid $23.40 and $10.40. The program before, on Thursday, Jan. 13, two of his three winners paid $23.40 and $10.

    Back to Saturday, where the night began with a winner paying $28.60, getting there by a neck over a 69-1 shot while the public choice was hung badly and faded. The public doesn’t realize that such tactics are available to aggressive drivers like Corey Callahan (now leading Ron Pierce in wins at the track).

    Next, Occasionally Bad, coming off a terrific trip, though hidden to those who look for the obvious in past performances, wins out of the 8 hole at 35-1, decisively defeating the public choice. Mind Eraser wins next and with such grace that it is impossible to say that the Brian Burton trained-and-driven mare was greatly assisted by the favorite breaking stride early. She pays $60.80. A few races later Besmitten By A Vet pays $90.60 over the public choice that can offer no excuse. A strong overland journey by Awesome Blue Jean lights up the toteboard at $21.20, Southbound Joey pays $12.80 and Drivin Miss Rudee offers $10.20. 

    Watching trips and keeping a watch list and paying attention to the players’ side of wagering harness, which we exclusively offer at TwinSpires, are only a few ways to be ready to profit on winners as were delivered at Dover on Jan. 15. The great prices may not always come on a single card or at a single track but the arrive and you should not be so surprised. Leave that feeling to those who follow the chalk.

    The 2011 stakes, the Nadia Lobell for soph-filly pacers and the Moni Maker soph-filly trotters, move from The Red Mile to be raced at The Meadows.

    The Moni Maker will be raced on Friday, Aug. 19 and the Nadia Lobell will go on Monday, Aug. 29, with estimated purses over $200,000. There will not be eliminations; the events will be limited to the nine richest femmes of this year at time of entry.

    The Nadia Lobell was first raced at Garden State Park in 1990, then went to the Meadowlands in 2001. After a one-year hiatus, the race was moved to The Red Mile, which created the Moni Maker in 2005.

    So, for the first time in the history of the stakes, there will be three turns to negotiate. More on these races as the season ensues.
  • Post-Race Revelations

    POSTED Jan 13, 2011
    Once, on a beach in Seattle — yeah, they actually have beaches there… or at least they used to; they might be Starbucks now — I tried to lie in the sun. I say “tried” because, as is often the case in the Emerald City, the sun was playing hard to get — ducking behind drifting clouds at maddeningly regular intervals (you can do that when you’re the center of the universe). And a funny thing happened whenever it disappeared: everybody that was sunbathing suddenly sat up and looked around, like groundhogs searching for… well, whatever it is that groundhogs search for. It was surreal.

    A similar type of thing often happens at the racetrack, when, following a surprising result, horseplayers en masse reach for their past performances like they’re earplugs at a Michael Bolton concert. Some are seeking an excuse; others, knowledge; and still others, a brief respite from the guy yelling, “What did I tell you? I knew that horse was gonna win. He looked fantastic… I should’ve bet him!”

    Many times this post-race analysis does, in fact, lead to a greater understanding of the race in question — perhaps a past effort suggesting hidden talent or a missed workout indicating improved form. But just as often, I fear, such post-mortems only create greater confusion or, worse, a belief that the result was a fluke or in some way pre-determined, i.e. “fixed.”

    Hence, while I believe that players should always try to learn from their mistakes, I also think that handicappers must be careful not to overanalyze their failures to the point that they impair their ability to make decisions in the future. For example, in my analysis of the Spectacular Bid Stakes in last week’s column, I noted that Leave of Absence was “one of the few” in the field that “could have a say on the Triple Crown trail.”

    As it turned out, the only “say” Leave of Absence had was in how much the exacta paid, as 14-1 longshot Determinato pulled away to a handy 1 ¼-length score in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park feature. Of course, I immediately re-checked my figures to see if I had missed anything. My conclusion was that, while I whiffed on the race, my initial analysis was generally sound.

    The Spectacular Bid produced horrible speed and pace numbers: an 88 Equibase speed rating (80 Beyer) and a -19 late speed ration (LSR) for the winner. That, of course, jibes with some of Determinato’s earlier figures and all but convinces me that the son of Closing Argument simply beat a weak field last weekend. In other words, my “mistake” was not that I underrated Determinato but, rather, that I overrated Leave of Absence — which is knowledge that I can use the next time some of these horses run.

    Grasping Gulfstream

    And speaking of Gulfstream Park, aided by Brisnet and a six-pack of Michelob Ultra (got to watch the carbs), I have computed the LSR pars for a variety of different races and surfaces at the current meet. What they show is that the early speed bias is still alive and well at the Hallandale, Fla. track… at least for now.

    Early Speed Ration (ESR): A measurement of a horse’s early energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The lower the figure, the greater the horse’s early exertion in that event.

    -15 = Demanding.
    -10 = Brisk.
    -5 = Moderate.
    0 = Soft.

    Late Speed Ration (LSR):
    A measurement of a horse’s late energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The higher the figure, the greater the horse’s late exertion in that event.

    0 = Excellent.
    -5 = Good.
    -10 = Fair.
    -15 = Poor.