• Insider Overlay Underlays

    POSTED Jun 28, 2012
    Although I often talk… and talk… and talk some more about the importance of overlays to one’s betting bottom line, there are instances when underlays — or at least perceived underlays — can be excellent wagers. Take, for example, the 10th race at Los Alamitos on Sunday, July 18, 2010.

    Among the entrants in that $10,000 maiden claiming event for quarter horses going 300 yards, was Ar Firestorm, a two-year-old gelding that had finished dead last, beaten 4 ¾ lengths (the equivalent of about 21 lengths at six furlongs), in his only start. Yet, despite being dismissed at 8-1 on the morning line, Ar Firestorm was heavily supported throughout the wagering, dipping to 3-1 in the final minutes before a rash of late money on the favorite drove his odds up to 9-2 by the time the gates sprung.

    Copyrighted ©2010 by Daily Racing Form, LLC and Equibase Co.
    Reprinted with permission of the copyright owner.
    (Click on image to enlarge)


    Now, years ago, handicapping author and professional gambler Barry Meadow thoroughly debunked the notion of “smart” money — at least as it relates to horses that are bet below their morning line odds. However, even Meadow left the door open for what he termed “mystery money,” or horses “getting hammered for no discernible reason,” which certainly appeared to be the case with Ar Firestorm.

    True, the gelding was dropping from a straight maiden affair to a maiden claiming event, arguably the biggest and most meaningful class drop in all of racing, but outside of that, there wasn’t much to like about the son of Red Fire, was there? 

    Well, on the surface, no, but remember: beauty is only skin deep. If one had taken the time to look beyond the obvious, three things about Ar Firestorm practically leapt off the pages of the past performances:
    1)  He was reasonably well backed (9-1) in his career debut, despite the fact that he faced superior competition that day.
    2)  Eduardo Nicasio was tabbed to ride the youngster. Prior to July 18, 2010, Nicasio had won with four of his five previous mounts for trainer Hector Hernandez. As Adam Sandler might say, “not too shabby.”
    3)  Hernandez was wheeling Ar Firestorm back to the races in just seven days (see above) — a clear indication that he felt the gelding was fit and ready to fire his best shot.
    So, as much as I beat the drum for overlay betting, I must admit, in cases like this, I love to see the horse I’m considering get some respect at the windows, as it suggests that the connections or other “insiders” are putting their money where their mouths are.

    Needless to say, despite breaking slowly for the second time in a row, Ar Firestorm closed with a rush and won impressively, returning $11.40.

    Big Races on the Prairie

    A trio of Grade III stakes races highlights a fantastic card at Prairie Meadows on Saturday. Here’s a look at each one:
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    COMMENTS: Traditionally, Prairie Meadows has been kind to early runners and, in this event, the quickest of the quick appears to be TAPAJO, who is coming off a win in the Panthers Stakes. In that race, Tapajo rated on a brisk pace (-10 early speed ration) and pulled away late to score by 6 ¼ lengths and earn a 92 Brisnet speed figure (today’s par is 97). Her latest work — a slow :51-1/5 for four furlongs — is a bit troubling, but the daughter of Tapit looks like the one to catch if ready. 

    Although ICE CREAM SILENCE beat just two rivals in her latest, including LIVI MAKENZIE who is also in this field, she did it with authority, earning an 89 BSF and -3 late speed ration.

    UPTOWN BERTIE ran great in her latest and would be a huge threat if she can duplicate that effort.

    BET(S): WIN on 3-Tapajo at odds of 5-2 or greater.

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    COMMENTS: Not surprisingly, HANSEN looks dominant in this spot. To begin with, he is the only Grade I winner in the field and he exits the Kentucky Derby, an event that earned a 13.3 Key Race Rating (the Prairie Meadows Mile, which featured both ALSVID and TRUETAP, has the next-highest KRR at 5.3). What’s more, Hansen figures to dictate the pace.

    Frankly, the only betting option in this race is the aforementioned Alsvid, who I would suggest playing to place — just in case there is a negative place pool (likely; there is no show betting) and Hansen finishes out of the top two (unlikely).

    BET(S): PLACE on 2-Alsvid.

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    COMMENTS: Trainer Charles Lopresti has said that he thinks SUCCESSFUL DAN is better than his other stable star, Wise Dan (winner of the Ben Ali and a close second in the Stephen Foster), and, according to my pace figures and the Brisnet speed figures, Lopresti may be right. That said, I’m intrigued by SHADOWBDANCING, who has won five of 11 starts at Prairie Meadows.

    BET(S): WIN on 2-Shadowbdancing at odds of 8-1 or greater.

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    Derek Simon’s Free Selection Statistics

    Races (Selections): 32 (33)       
    Wins: 8
    Rate: 25.0%     
    Return: $39.90  
    ROI: -39.55%    

    (This year's published selections through 6/28/2012)
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