• Resolutions

    POSTED Dec 29, 2011
    At the end of every year, a lot of folks love to look back at the people, places and things that shaped the previous 365 days. Like Rodin’s sculpture of “The Thinker,” they assume a thoughtful pose — usually over a glass or bottle of something fermented — and ponder what went right and what went wrong in their lives and in the world as a whole.

    As a guy who writes a column about horseracing, I suppose this means I should be waxing poetic about 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, or singing the praises of Breeders’ Cup Classic champ Drosselymeyer, or getting misty-eyed over the accomplishments of claimer extraordinaire Rapid Redux.

    Well, sorry, but I’m not a look-in-the-rear-view-mirror kind of guy… which could explain the honking horns and screeching tires I hear on a regular basis while driving.

    Honestly, though, I just don’t see the point of contemplating what was when what is holds so much promise and intrigue. Hence, today’s column will focus on what lies ahead, not what lies behind.

    Personally, I think 2012 is going to be a fantastic year.

    One of the reasons — perhaps the biggest reason — I say this is because, in 2012, I will make a serious attempt to become a better bettor… and I hope some of you will join me in this quest.

    It hardly takes the insight of Nostradamus to realize that many people lose money at the races not because they’re lousy handicappers, but rather, because they’re lousy bettors. And this phenomenon is not confined to the Sport of Kings. In “Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom,” Dr. Van Tharp, the book’s author, references a study that stock trader Ralph Vince conducted with forty doctorates.

    “They started with $1,000 and were given 100 trials in a game in which they would win 60 percent of the time,” Tharp explained. “When they won, they won the amount of money they risked in that trial. When they lost, they lost the amount of money they risked for that trial.

    “Guess how many of the Ph.Ds had made money at the end of 100 trials?” Tharp asked.

    The answer was two.

    Two… that’s fewer winners than one would expect to see at a taping of the “Jerry Springer Show.” True, none of the doctors chosen had a background in math or statistics (for shame) and I’m not sure exactly how the trials were conducted, but the results are still pretty eye-opening.

    Keep in mind: Vince’s game had a positive expectation of 20 percent. Yet, 38 highly-educated people managed to turn black ink into red ink. So what do you think the results would have been in a game like horseracing that has a negative expectation of 15-20 percent?

    Naturally, Tharp, being a doctor himself, felt compelled to name this tendency to turn a positive expectation into a negative outcome in speculative endeavors. He called it the “gambler’s fallacy,” which he defined as the belief (shared by many, I'm afraid) that one is “due” for good or bad fortune based on previous results.

    Of course, the goofiness of this belief should be evident to anyone who is not a cast member of the “Jersey Shore.” If I flip a fair coin six times and get six heads in a row, it does not mean that my chances of getting tails will improve on the next flip. In fact, the percentage of getting either a heads or a tails stays the same — 50 percent — regardless of the prior results.

    Still, even though most people know this, psychologically there is a tendency to get more conservative during lucky streaks and more aggressive during losing streaks. In both cases the logic is the same: this can’t go on. Unfortunately for those who think that way — and I shamefully plead guilty — the streak can and often does go on… and on… and on.

    Thus, the real key to sound money management is to treat every investment opportunity the same way. This doesn’t mean that one can’t stake different amounts depending on the odds/expected return — provided there is data to support such a strategy, go for it — but it does mean that one “good” bet is the same as the next.

    There is no such thing as being “due,” no mortal locks, no lucky/unlucky breaks that are destined to “even out.”

    With that said, I present my betting/investment plan for 2012:

    1) Flat 5-10 percent win wager on every play that meets my fair odds, including qualified Win Factor Report “Prime Overlays” and “Key Selections.”

    2) 5-10 percent show wagers on alternate contenders when there is a negative show pool and a dubious favorite.

    3) An option to use 1-2 percent of the allotted win money to play exactas (provided the odds are well above what I deem fair).

    So, with renewed vigor and optimism thanks to a solid wagering strategy, let’s take a look at some races this weekend…

    Weekend Win Factor Plays

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    COMMENTS: I wanted to highlight this race because it illustrates the difference between playing cheap claiming races and other, more prestigious affairs. Simply put, MINED is the best horse. What’s more, new trainer Samuel Breaux is three-of-four with horses dropping in class immediately after being claimed… but that’s where the positives end. Mined has dropped in class in each of his last four starts, yet hasn’t won any of them. Worse, he’s hung in each of his last two tries — finishing third at even odds on Nov. 2 and second as the 3-5 choice on Nov. 25.

    He hasn’t worked since that last race and figures to be a prohibitive favorite again today; could be worth playing against. I’ll be using him on top of exactas with 2, 3, 4 and 10 and I’ll bet the 2, 3, 4 and 10 to win at odds of 9-1 or greater (whichever ones qualify).

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    COMMENTS: This is another race featuring a morning line favorite that could be an underlay. Sure, NOBLE GRACE looks good in this spot, but: A) She’s never raced beyond seven furlongs and is bred to sprint; and B) Since 2005, trainer Gary DeLong is 0-for-12 with horses making their route debut. Hence, I’ll be boxing 5 with 1, 6, 7 and 8 in an exacta — or two — and I’ll bet the 1, 6, 7 and 8 to win at their fair odds or greater (I’m using 9-2 as the adjusted fair price for 1-Oh Golly Ms Molly).

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    COMMENTS: Tough race, but I think ALSVID deserves to be favored.

    FREE Weekend Win Factor Reports


    Gulfstream Park (12/31/11)
    Santa Anita Park (12/31/11)

  • Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New

    POSTED Dec 28, 2011
    First and foremost, we wish all the TwinSpires staff and crew and every player on the site the happiest year to come. We had a pretty good year playing harness and we will be doing everything possible to make it another good year, perhaps a greater year, perhaps the greatest year ever.  

    Thank you, readers and players, for sharing with us a lot of action, as well as continuing to come to TwinSpires, where harness racing is treated like on no other website where you can wager. We hope to bring you more exclusive material and up-to-date action tips, as well as we hope to be on site for some of the season’s top events—another exclusive feature of harness betting at TwinSpires. 

    Also thanks to the Hambletonian Society for its participation in so many Grand Circuit events. Their dedication to the bettors, as well as they serve the owners and horsemen, is what makes Tom Charters, Moira Fanning and the whole staff so special and priceless to this side of the sport. 

    New Year’s Eve Special

    Saturday evening, Dec. 31, Pompano Park is one of the few harness arenas with a program on New Year’s Eve. It presents eight races starting at 7:15 p.m. EST. 

    John Yinger, Racing Operations Director, said “We’re just rounding up the last of the details for what was already going to be a huge New Year’s Eve race card and to have Dan Noble committing to be here to chase the drivers’ dash title for the year should really add to the excitement level.”

    Noble is in tight quarters with George Brennan to win the title. That duel could go right down to the wire with Noble listed on four of the eight races at press time.  

    Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano may also be in Florida to drive in some races that night. That would mean the driving champions of 2009, 2010, and 2011 are all on the same program. That is the perfect time to watch for overlays on horses being driven by other Pompano sulky chauffeurs, including Joe Pavia, Jr., Ed Hensley, Wally Hennessey, Bruce Ranger and Rick Plano, to name a few. The colony is quite talented.

    The Dec. 31 Open Handicap Pace may feature an appearance my Little Brown Jug-winner Big Bad John. He qualified last Saturday at Pompano in 1:55.4. In his last race as a sophomore, he is less than $12,000 away from reaching $1 million in earnings. Dan Hennessey is the trainer while “John” is away from his Ohio base.

    On our Pompano Watch List (H2W), here are some prospects for the coming week:

    Best Catch; Bluebird Chrome; Dojea Delight; Don’t Call Us; Eel; Escrow Blue Chip; Fox Ridge Banker; I’m A Scooter; Julius Secret; Keystone Thomas; Running Ron; Special Art; Spring Goal; Sundowner Bob; Too Busy Tobe Bad; Twin B Impact.


    We always seem to be out of step with the Cal-Expo schedule, so we catch up when we can. There is a New Year’s Eve program, despite what we wrote a week ago. So, the no-takeout Pick 4 is on for Dec. 31, 2011, though by the time it’s over it will already be 2012, Eastern Time.

    Coming off of a holiday break, we are handicapping this exotic from our recent notes on trips prior to the rest period. So here are our suggested contenders.

    Leg 1
    (4) Franco Smoothie N showed a lot of early speed at 24-1 and finished third.
    (6) Jeff The Builder has been sharp and took the show spot as one of the public choices.

    Leg 2
    (5) Whitman has been winning and in the mix all winter.
    (9) Devilish Donnie could offer more price from this post while peaking.

    Leg 3
    TJ Beach Poker continues to fight at high odds to surprise the public.

    Leg 4
    (3) Shoot The Works could open up in this group.

    On the Cal-Expo H2W, check out these promising entries: 

    Laredos Goose, Dec. 30, Race 6
    Ailene’s Prince, Dec. 30, Race 10

    HAPPY NEW YEAR and resolve to win in 2012.
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Dec 26, 2011
    Our Watch List (WL) from Dec. 23 produced three winners. At Northfield, Big Bad TJ won, paying $7.20. At Maywood, KB’s Taylor won, paying $7.60 and KB’s Robby turned into the race favorite, won and paid $3.20 (apparently a lot of bettors were watching, so to speak).   

    The weekend was quiet; we hope you all had terrific holidays. 

    Then, as the shopping madness ensued through the world on Dec. 26, Woodbine’s Boxing Day program presented two stakes. 

    In the Valedictory Final we talked of two horses and they were the two that finished first and second. Our choice, Audreys Dream, was the place horse and the winner was Itrustyou, paying $5.90. If you took the boxing seriously, a hum, you got yourself a meager exacta return of $12.50 on $4. 

    We loved DG’s Tinkerbell in the Niagara Final but the 7-5 favorite took control in the deciding steps of the race and left our choice to finish second at 6-1. With the favorite and our choice second, the exacta came back $33.90. 

    The no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal-Expo returns next weekend as harness continues its programs on Dec.30. We will have our analysis of the New Year’s Eve Pick 4 in this Thursday’s blog.  

    Also on Thursday’s agenda will be some 2012 schedules as planned for some power-packed players’ programs at various tracks as the new season launches with familiar faces taking on new divisions and a look at some of the highly touted horses that will have to meet their expectations in the glamour divisions. 

    Harness News

    Christmas at France’s historic Vincennes offered the $155,000 Criterium Continental. The crowd, always loud and ready for action at the harness kingdom, was there to see if Timoko (photo right by Gerard Forni) could top his four-year-old trotting foes (there is no pacing in France) after a three-month layoff. With Rich Westerink in the bike, Timoko returned to beat the horse that got him last October in the 1 5/16ths-mile stakes. That nemesis is the Swedish-bred Kadett CD. With the win, Timoko aims at the classic Prix d’Amerique in January, 2012, attempting to be the first five-year-old to win since 2007, when Offshore Dream took the classic. 

    Our good friend, harness correspondent Ken Weingartner, talked to George Brennan, named Driver of the Year by the harness writers group. Brennan won 754 races and earned $14.5 million in purses from them. They included the Hambletonian—which we hit big with the TwinSpires Players Pool—with Broad Bahn.  

    “It’s really unbelievable,” he told Ken. “You always hope to win it one time and to get lucky enough to win it … in consecutive years is a really great achievement.”

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)

  • opening day! (Santa Anita retrospective & picks)

    Thoroughbred horse racing in North America can at times feel as if it's just one long season (or grind!), but marquee events (e.g. Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands) and race meetings (e.g. Saratoga) help create a seasonal vibe not otherwise found when considering there is live Thoroughbred racing 364 days a year.

    Opening day at Santa Anita Park creates such a vibe. Known as "Boxing Day", "December 26", or "The Day After Christmas" outside the horse racing world, opening day at The Great Race Place is as much about renewal as the New Year that dawns several days later.

    Huge live crowds are typical, but the simulcast world pays attention as well. It's only been eight days since Hollywood Park went into hibernation, but Santa Anita opening means looking forward, not back. There is the promise that comes with emerging three-year-old stars on the Triple Crown and Kentucky Oaks trails as well as the establishing of a pecking order among the top regional horses in such glamor divisions as handicap male, older female, and turf milers. Plus plenty of good, old-fashioned West Coast speed on display in everything from maiden races to Grade 1 sprints.

    One of the things I like most about Southern California racing is the premium placed on quality handicapping information. Since joining Brisnet.com in July, I've become far more interested in West Coast racing because of the information available on a daily basis. Andy Harrington's National Turf Clocker Report, Bob Selvin's Fair Odds & Analysis, and Today's Racing Digest premium edition are three of the specialty products Brisnet.com and TwinSpires.com have available for this circuit, and the information is a valuable complement to our Ultimate Past Performances, Daily Selections full-card analysis, and other products.

    I love handicapping races because it's a challenge. I very rarely have bet someone else's pick blindly without doing at least a little research on whether "this horse is right for me", but I routinely read other people's analysis. Speaking of which, another great asset for betting Southern California is Tom Quigley's Twitter feed, which provides real-time information on the impressions entrants make in the paddock before each race.

    Whether you're chasing a six-figure score in the Pick 6, looking for a few winners here and there, or anything in between, there are lots of opportunities at Santa Anita Park--both wagering and in receiving information.

    As for the nine-race opening day card, my best bet is Mr. Bossy Pants in race six. Here is a look at my selections for all nine races.

  • A Practical Case for Value Wagering

    POSTED Dec 22, 2011
    I hear it all the time.

    “You gotta take what the track gives you,” some bettors say, as though racetrack payoffs are as inevitable as death and taxes.

    Value, they claim, doesn’t matter… just as long as the horse you bet wins.

    Well, I have long maintained — once I had my fill of unprofitable “winning” tickets — that price is the only thing that matters.

    Look, I have no problem with playing short-priced favorites, but they must offer value.
    In other words, they have to be overlays — horses with a greater chance of winning than their final odds suggest. And the only way to determine that is through testing or, at the very least, years and years of experience.

    Rarely has the case for value been made more emphatically than in the daily double comprised of the sixth and seventh races at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17, 2011.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Now before we can evaluate the value, or lack thereof, in this sequence we must first determine what represents a fair daily double price. Luckily, this is not very hard to do.

    One simply divides $2 or $1 (depending on the fair payoff sought) by the product of the adjusted win rates for each of the projected winners (see table above).

    Note: The adjusted win rate ignores the effect of takeout and breakage.

    When 3-Bud I Crushed It won the fifth race and 7-McKenzies Way won the sixth race at Hollywood Park on Dec.17, bettors were right to expect a monster double payoff. After all, Bud I Crushed It was 85-1, while McKenzies Way was 10-1.

    Yet, the $2 daily double, which should’ve paid in the neighborhood of two grand, instead returned a measly $174.20. This payoff was so ridiculously low that a Facebook friend of mine asked me what the deal was.

    I had no answer.

    Determined to get to the bottom of it, though, I contacted Hollywood Park and spoke to Heidi Ritcherson, supervisor of the mutuel department. Ms. Ritcherson assured me that state auditors had looked into the sequence and found nothing shady.

    “At one of our out-of-state facilities, somebody did a $200 daily double that wheeled that race and singled Leparoux’s horse [McKenzies Way] in the second leg and that’s why it killed that payoff,” said Ritcherson.

    The explanation makes sense. Without going into the math, such a wheel, which disregards the odds in the first leg, would definitely have a crippling effect on the daily double payoff.

    And that, my friends, is why fair odds are important. Yes, on this occasion, an 85-1 shot won, but statistics tell us that such monster upsets are rare… and, thus, we need to take advantage of the price discrepancies other player's ill-founded strategies like a blanket wheel create.

    We definitely don't need to take what the track gives us.

    FREE Weekend Win Factor Reports


    Fair Grounds (12/23/11)
    Gulfstream Park (12/23/11)
    Tampa Bay Downs (12/23/11)


    Gulfstream Park (12/24/11)
    Parx Racing (12/24/11)


    Hawthorne (12/26/11)
    Santa Anita Park (12/26/11)
    Turfway Park (12/26/11)
  • Racing is cool

    Through the misfortune of my son being sick I've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of great people.

    Small talk with nurses, therapists of various sorts (respiratory, occupational, speech, etc.), social workers, doctors, security guards, Ronald McDonald House-mates, and a whomever else happens to be in proximity helps to pass the time and has introduced me to a world of different backgrounds and experiences.

    And I'm happy to say that I return the favor by sharing my zest for horse racing. Even better, though, is that many seem genuinely interested in the world in which I work, including several who told me how much they enjoy going to the races (including at nearby River Downs), how they wish they could go more often, and how they dream of attending the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (no one actually said "presented by Yum! Brands", but I gotta help those who help pay the bills).

    I'm willing to allow that certain social constructs require people to humor the dad with the sick kid, but as someone who delights in reading people's expressions (how great was Lie To Me?), I don't think people were merely being polite when the topic shifted to horse racing. I saw eyes light up, big smiles, and more eye contact when we talk about my passion.

    I spend my day in a place dedicated to healing sick kids, yet many people have told me how cool it is that I work in horse racing.

    I mention all this because it's often said that racing has an image problem and has trouble attracting new fans, and while that may be true day to day, there is clearly an audience willing to enjoy the sport. How to get the dozen or so people who are interested in what I do to actually experience it is definitely a tough question to answer, but at least we know these people exist.

    There is a market for new fans and a possibility for growth, and that is because horse racing is cool. Much has already been written about whether Luck can get people interested in racing, and based on what I've experienced in Cincinnati the past three months I think the more apropos question is not whether Luck can interest people--they're already interested--but whether it can actually get people to spend a day at the races.

    Luck can make horse racing chic in the same way that Man Men made viewers want to inhabit its world of philandering and backstabbing. And the good news is, the world of horse racing isn't only limited to big events.

    My aunt lives in Tucson, and she said there is a huge amount of cache associated with running horses at Rilito Park. A nurse who has only been to the races at River Downs said her son loves the pageantry of each race with the call to post, announcing, people scrambling to bet, etc. Being introduced to racing at Thistledown, I can relate. I was 19 years old before I ever saw a graded race live, but I was still drawn in by the excitement of live racing, the glitz of the clubhouse, and the glamor of being in the paddock (or even better the winner's circle!) with your horse.

    Insiders certainly know of its ills, but for all the problems out there, spending a day at the racetrack provides some of the very best in live entertainment (especially at the price point) for friends and family. Not only spreading that word but also encouraging others to do so as well could grow the sport.

    The take away of my experience talking about racing and the success of Mad Men is that word of mouth is a powerful thing, and one of the best marketing tools horse racing has at its disposal.
  • ‘Boxing’ Bets At Woodbine

    POSTED Dec 21, 2011
    The Boxing Day card at Woodbine is not a celebration of boxing exotic bets. It is the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, set aside in the Great White North for the return of holiday presents to the sources of their purchases. Stores are open, traffic around the country is heavy and Woodbine offers a complete harness program. 

    Included in the program are two features, rare five-digit races for standardbreds in the waning weeks of a year. Both offering a $60,000 purse, the Niagara Final is for soph-filly pacers (non-winners of $50,000 as of Oct. 31, 2011) and the Valedictory Final for soph-colt pacers. 

    Another Watch List (WL) report also follows, though with racing dark on the holiday weekend—Dec. 24 and Dec. 25—you won’t be looking to pick up on any.  

    The Cal-Expo no-takeout Pick 4 returns New Year’s Eve, as the track’s normal racing schedule returns on Friday, Dec. 30.    

    Due to the features covered in this blog we will not be posting a Weekly Harness Review until Tuesday, Dec. 27.  

    The Boxers

    The filly pacers meeting the qualifications for the Niagara Final line up after eliminations last week. The top three finishers in each elim and one fourth-place finisher, drawn by lot, have made it to this week’s event.  

    Here is the Niagara Final field: 

    1. Seascape Hanover
    2. Ms Graywalls
    3. Markella
    4. Windsun Soho
    5. Tu Sei Bella
    6. Carly Hollywood
    7. D Gs Tinkerbell
    8. Charolettes Maggie
    9. Cards That Count
    10. Twin B Miracle
    AE. Western

     The elims’ big favorites finished second, both suffering outside moves that cost them the wins. The best performance, however, came from DGs Tinkerbell, who drew post 7 for the final. 

    She paced every bid as good as the obvious choices but went off a little more than 8-1. She was strong on the lead for a few calls and taken over late. That race sent off a flare and with the obvious top choices here—Seascape Hanover and Carly Hollywood—we can hope for some decent odds on the 7.  

    The colts in the Valedictory Final are as follows: 

    1. Weigh The Odds
    2. Itrustyou
    3. Audreys Dream
    4. Lyons Johnny
    5. Thebestofjoel
    6. Curator
    7. Lonesome Attack
    8. Drive Em Cowboy
    9. Pansai Yamamoto
    10. Don’t Say Goodby

    We loved Audreys Dream in the Cleveland Classic a few weeks back and he faired well against tougher company there, finishing third. His “Val” elim was monstrous and he is very hard to play against to win this race. As a key for exotics we see Itrustyou following him bravely but as the probable second choice this exacta may come nowhere near a price worth playing. Keep your eyes on the exacta price, for it may turn into a low-priced overlay as the crowd looks around for unusual upsets.

    Winter Watch

    Here are some horses to add to our Watch List for Dec. 23.  

    Captain Korki, Race 2
    Big Bad TJ, Race 3
    Swing Anna Cash, Race 5
    Dr Jacks Shack, Race 13

    Pull The Tab, AE, Race 3
    KB’s Taylor, Race 4
    KB’s Robby, Race 8
    Real Desirable, AE, Race 13

    (Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog)

    Cartoon by Thom Pye
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Dec 17, 2011
    This weekend’s Watch List (WL) horses were unproductive at Cal-Expo (three), Dover (two of three raced at press time) and Balmoral (two). 

    At Cal Expo, on Dec. 16, our three WL horses raced badly. Jane The Brain (48-1) finished 9th, Blissful Kassie (33-1) finished 9th and Brooklets Sundance (11-1) took fourth. 

    At Dover, our closest to victory was Xposure, finishing 5th with a good excuse. At 7-2, Xposure dueled hard early and tired midway. Allstar Shark raced just as his 20-1 odds predicted.  

    At Balmoral, Ohyouateonetoo went off at 56-1, much to our amazement. The horse was nowhere to be found in the pack and finished 9th. Vette Man finished fifth. 

    Eleven horses on the three lists from our Dec. 15 blog have not taken to the track since we posted them. We will update their appearances on this blog as they perform, for better or worse. If you did not copy those horses, go the archive for the Dec. 15 blog and write them down. If you still have a problem, email TwinSpires and ask that I send you the lists. 

    These horses are all first-timers on the WL and so they remain on the list for another shot, whenever that happens. 

    You should be creating your own WL as well but we have no problem sharing ours with readers. These are the horses we are aiming to play, so readers are plugged directly into what is ordinarily a private accounting of horses we follow.  

    In the no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal-Expo on Dec. 17, we only produced one bad entry, as Devilish Donnie finished 8th as our single in leg three (watching this replay is a must). Our only winner, Quick On My Feet, was the obvious choice at $4. The complete order of finish for our ticket was 3rd, 2nd/ 1st, 9th/ 8th/ 4th, 3rd 

    Harness News

    The Meadowlands opens Jan. 6. This meet, drivers regularly stationed at the New Jersey plant will be commuting around the tri-state-area ovals for work as opposed to exclusive rides at the Big M.  

    One of them is high-profile Brian Sears, who feels since the quality of racing in New Jersey has lessened, he is going to move around for better money possibilities. This includes racing at Yonkers, which is offering better purses. 

    Sears told Harness Racing Update, “I support what they are trying to do [at the Meadowlands] but I also have to support myself . . . It cost me a lot of money to move out here and this isn’t the lifestyle I was looking for. I came here because the Meadowlands was the best harness track available. If that’s not going to be the case any more I’ll go someplace else. I didn’t come to New Jersey to race $7,000 claimers for $6,000.”  

    Sears has been taking advantage of the high purses at Yonkers. He is outspoken about more than the money at the Meadowlands. He said he worries about the Meadowlands becoming “dangerous.”  

    He said, “If they bring in all those cheap horses from Freehold [to the Meadowlands], it could be a deathtrap. Last year, I wouldn’t race in anything lower than a $10,000 claimer. I don’t mind driving the cheaper horses at Yonkers because they have four turns and they slow it down every turn.” 

    So which drivers will be there?  

    Yannick Gingras said, “I am planning to be at the Meadowlands …  I committed to it in 2011 and had the best year of my career.” He said he could probably make more money racing at Yonkers but “at this point in my career my goal is to drive great horses. Everyone wants good two- and three-year-olds and those horses comes from the Meadowlands.”  

    Tim Tetrick will also return. He said, “I’m not really a Yonkers person … I’ve been

    going there a little bit but more than likely I’ll be going to the Meadowlands. I’ve been going to Yonkers mainly to kill some time. The Meadowlands is still our premier track and hopefully it will stay that way.”  

    Exclusive coverage of the Meadowlands for TwinSpires players, as the track makes dramatic changes under private management, will be at this blog and at my Twitter account.
  • More Morning Line Madness

    POSTED Dec 15, 2011
    In a recent column, I discussed the morning line and examined its usefulness as a means of finding overlays. Regarding the latter, it proved about as helpful as a kick in the groin; however, I felt like I had merely scratched the surface in unearthing exactly what the morning line can do.

    So, this week, I thought I’d present some more stats for players to ponder:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The Handicapping Worksheet

    I got an e-mail from a guy recently asking me how I go about handicapping using online past performances. He explained that he hated to print out all the PPs, yet he wasn’t comfortable analyzing races on a computer screen.

    It’s a great question… and a common lament, I think.

    Generally, I print out either my Pace Profile Report or my Win Factor Report and record all my comments on them, as opposed to wasting both paper and ink printing out pages and pages of past performances. And it got me to thinking: maybe I could come up with something more generic than my reports that would work just as well.

    I could and I did.

    What’s more, I even came up with a rating system that, in certain instances, will allow handicappers to start with a positive ROI or at least minimize the track takeout.

    The system rules are as follows:
    * Consider a horse’s most recent race and award points equal to its finishing position in that affair (“1” for a win, “2” for a second, “3” for a third and “4” for all out-of-the-money efforts).

    * Divide the number of days since the horse’s last race by 10 and add to the above (all races over 40 days old are worth four points).

    * Rank each horse’s last-race speed rating (using whatever figures you’re most comfortable with) and add it to the total. If the speed rating is not ranked among the top three, it’s worth four points.

    * Using stats from this year and last year, divide each horse’s total earnings by its total starts and rank the quotients from highest to lowest. Horses ranked fourth or worse are awarded four points.

    * Using two-year data once again, rank each horse by its win percentage. As usual, horses ranked worse than third are given four points.

    Note: In the event of ties, average the ranking, i.e. a tie for first and second counts as 1.5.

    Play – Bet the horse with the lowest cumulative ranking provided it last raced over today’s general surface (dirt/AWS or turf) and the Win Factor Report race rating is 75% or higher (players can also use their own race ratings or “gut feeling” to verify the strength of the final rankings).

    Below is an example of the worksheet in action. It is for the third race at Beulah Park on Saturday, Dec. 17:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    To download a blank copy of the Handicapping Worksheet, click HERE.

    FREE Weekend Win Factor Report

    Once again, I’ve produced a number of free Win Factor Reports for this weekend’s races. To access your free report(s), click on the link(s) below:


    12/16/11 Aqueduct (AQU)
    12/16/11 Fair Grounds (FG)
    12/16/11 Tampa Bay Downs (TAM)


    12/17/11 Aqueduct (AQU)
    12/17/11 Beulah Park (BEU)
    12/17/11 Gulfstream Park (GP)
    12/17/11 Hawthorne (HAW)
    12/17/11 Hialeah Park (HIA)


    12/18/11 Monticello Raceway (MR)
    12/18/11 Parx Racing (PRX)

    Have a great wagering weekend!