• Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Jan 29, 2012
    At the Meadowlands this past Saturday we cautiously approached a few winter finals and managed to nail just one. 

    A minor success among the swarm of favorites in the trio of events was our exacta choice in the Clyde Hirt Final. There, we suggested two horses, Special T Rocks and Thebestofjoel. Those two finished first and second, respectively, with a $4.60 win price and a generout $26.20 exacta included. 

    The Presidential and Complex finals were taken by the obvious horses and our suggested upsets were both dead last in each.  

    Our suggestions as we tweeted for all races at Woodbine on Jan. 28 in an attempt to help TwinSpires players to pick up 10X points on successful $10-win bets was a parade of bad breaks.   

    We tweeted only one winner, Quarter Bayama, and he was disqualified and placed second for galloping at the wire. The closest any other pick came was an honest second, per se, as Harnessnitencanada took the place in the seventh race.  

    A few other of our horses never got started, breaking at the gate, and a bad trip or two burned out another few along the way to a disastrous dozen races mostly dominated by public choices.  

    Those of you following the winter series at Woodbine may have picked up DGs Tinkerbell, the filly pacer we liked a few weeks back to win the Blizzard Series Final. She did just that, though only paying $6.20.  

    From the Watch List (H2W) at Pompano, Fox Ridge Banker won, paying $35.60, and Running Ron won, bringing in a poor $4.60. 

    At Cal Expo, the no-takeout Pick 4, a single 10-1 shot managed to combine with three favorites for a $393 payoff.  

    Two of the winners were on our ticket, which cost $8 based on a $2 wager. When handicapping the races (on our Thursday TwinSpires blog also available through espn, we had no idea they would be so heavily bet. We had the first leg with Freedom’s Art ($6.80) and the final leg with Jane The Brain ($5.20).  

    Our second leg participants included two horses: Hollywood Lenny at 22-1 and Asgoodasioncewas at 32-1.  

    The longshot that won the third leg beat our horse that turned out to be the favorite, Komodas Fantasy. So, even with some of our choices going to the public, our Pick 4 with either of our second-leg picks winning would have come in a higher price.

    Harness News

    Northfield Park will increase its Pick-4 guaranteed pools to $15,000 starting Feb. 1. The track’s Pick 3s, 4s and 5s offer a reduced takeout rate of 14 percent. That is the lowest takeout for such exotics in the sport. It is part of the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program which has been a resounding success across America and which includes this writer as a handicapper.

    The famous Prix d’Amerique took place in Paris on Jan. 29 at Vincennes.

    The seven-year-old French trotter Ready Cash, driven by Franck Nivard, won Europe’s biggest trotting race for the second-consecutive year. Ready Cash went to post as even-money favorite.

    Roxanne Grif was second and The Best Madrick was third. Ready Cash goes again in two weeks in the Prix de France as the European Grand Circuit ensues.

    The Miss Versatility series has become a highlight in the thin menu of major events for trotting mares. The good news is the light becomes brighter in 2012 as the event will be bigger and richer. The purses for the series legs have been raised from $25,000 to $40,000 ($30,000 div.) and the number of legs has been increased from three to four.

    For the first time, Woodbine and Mohawk will participate, hosting the first two legs at Mohawk on May 20 and Woodbine on July 1. The Meadowlands will present leg three on Aug. 17 with Tioga Downs has the fourth leg on Aug. 26. The $100,000 (est.) final will again be raced on Little Brown Jug day, Thursday, Sept. 20) at the Delaware County fairgrounds.

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)
  • TwinSpires.com qualifier Beychok wins $1-million as NHC champion

    POSTED Jan 28, 2012
    Michael Beychok of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, parlayed a third-place finish in the TwinSpires.com Online Handicapping Championship into a $1-million first prize as the winner of the National Handicapping Championship January 27-28 at Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas.

    Beychok, who uses TwinSpires.com for both his contest and horse-playing endeavors needed $11 to reach the top of the NHC standings on the last race of the two-day tournament, and he achieved that goal by a nose and $1 when Glorious Dancer rallied top nip Greeley’s Agenda to pay $8.20 to win and $3.80 to place.


    Beychok entered the final stages of the tournament within striking range of TwinSpires.com member Dave Flanzbaum, who led throughout most of day two but did not make up the necessary ground until the final race.

    “After the last mandatory race, I still had four options left to play,” Beychok said. “I started thinking about likely winners in the 2-to-1 and 5-to-2 range, which isn’t my normal strategy, but I knew I could win this thing.

    “When I went up to bet [Glorious Dancer] he was 7-to-2, but afterword he clicked down to 5-to-2. Everyone was excited when he won, but I knew I’d need 3-to-1. When they flashed those odds up there I was feeling pretty good.”

    video

    In addition to being involved in Thoroughbred racing as a horseplayer via TwinSpires.com, Beychok is managing partner of That’s Me Stable, a racing partnership that campaigns horses in Louisiana.

    “I definitely plan to invest this back into racing,” Beychok said. “I own a few horses and would like to own a few more.”

    Before winning $1-million at the NHC, Beychok’s biggest score was a six-figure Pick 6 score in January 2011 at Santa Anita Park.

    Beychok's favorite team is the LSU Tigers, so here's a spirited version of "Calling Baton Rouge" in honor of his big win.

  • How much fun is this

    POSTED Jan 27, 2012
    This race at Gulfstream was one of seven mandatory races on Friday for NHC participants, so everyone in the room had some skin in this outcome.
    video
    Currently Lori Hoskins, who finished second in the Twin Spires Online Handicapping Series final, is the NHC's leader. Good luck to her and all from the TwinSpires/Brisnet team!
  • Generations X, Y well represented at NHC

    POSTED Jan 26, 2012
    Between the Chinese New Year hangover and the calm before the Super Bowl storm, it's relatively quiet in Las Vegas this week.

    A din will surely rise, however, on Friday-Saturday at Treasure Island where the 13th annual National Handicapping Championship will award a $1-million first prize and handicapper of the year to one skillful bettor.

    I've never been to the NHC. Maybe one day I'll qualify, but for now I'm content to make sure those who have qualified have the information they need to put their best foot forward.

    The face time with customers has been great, though, and even more encouraging is that many of the players I'm meeting are of my generation (late 20s-early 40s).

    Much has been written about racing and its (lack of) appeal to a younger audience, and I just don't get it. Yeah, Tuesdays at Beulah Park in January aren't brimming with the glitterati of Central Ohio, and that's OK. Movie theaters on the same day in the same town generally aren't either, and that doesn't make the red carpet outside the Academy Awards any less glamorous.

    That handle is down is a concern, but interest in other ways hasn't decreased nearly as much as the MAINSTREAM MEDIA and other downers would have you believe.
    • *Santa Anita routinely draws large crowds for its marquee events--opening day, Big Cap, and Santa Anita Derby
    • *I've been going to Keeneland for what will be ten years this year, and the crowd is seemingly more vibrant with each meeting with the best crowds on Friday and Saturday.
    • *The Kentucky Derby is more popular than ever as a sporting, gambling, and entertainment spectacle.
    • *Del Mar is more popular than ever. If any track is a cultural phenomenon, it's Del Mar.
    • *Saratoga has become THE meeting for horseplayers to play from start to finish, and all trainers on East Coast point to this event.
    • *The Arlington Million is a class event at one of America's most underrated racing facilities. It routinely draws an international cast of competitors and a spirited crowd.
    • *The Breeders' Cup has become an institution in a relatively short time with gamblers chasing huge payoffs, a $10k buy-in tournament, and many championships on the line.
    If American Thoroughbred racing were ONLY these events, it would be more popular, but racing is not just a sport, it's a billion-dollar agri-biz and gambling enterprise that goes 366 days this year.

    The minor leagues in most sports exist because there is demand, but in some ways the so-called minor leagues in horse racing exist because there is NOT a demand for certain animals where there was before. The hot shot prospect in double-A baseball is trying to make the Major Leagues. The horses and people competing at double-A racing venues are doing so because that is where they are competitive.

    But I digress. Major league racing IS a big deal. The above events are profitable and everyone in racing wants to be a part of them, including generations X & Y despite the conventional wisdom to the contrary.

    The NHC is no exception. This is a big event with $1.5-million on the line, including $1-million to the winner. TwinSpires.com & Brisnet.com are both proud to be involved with 34 of our players looking to win Handicapper of the Year.

    Winning $1-million is cool, but so is racing.
  • Super Favorites

    POSTED
    For the last couple of weeks, I’ve revisited and revamped the work of one of my early handicapping heroes, William L. Scott. And the results have been… well, awful. However, that should not lead one to conclude that Scott’s work is useless or that reexamining it is a complete waste of time.

    In today’s column, I will show you how the application of one of Scott’s basic tenants coupled with my pace figures — or any pace figures, really — can produce great betting profits. But, first, some background...
    In the winter of 1996, I quit my job as a bank teller to become a professional gambler. I had $674 to my name, rent to pay and a baby on the way… OK, OK, I’m kidding about the baby, but you get the picture. On the surface, things looked bleak. Yet, I’d never been happier in my life, because, for the first time, I had decided to pursue a career I was passionate about.

    And for three glorious weeks I beat the game like the Patriots beat my beloved Broncos a couple of weeks ago. By restricting my wagering to horses with superior relative turn times that were going to post at odds of less than 3-1 (a concept I stole from Scott), I turned Gulfstream Park into my own personal ATM machine.

    After cashing on a horse named Fuzzy Risque (for the second time) in the third race on February 22, 1996, my record at the Hallandale, Florida track stood at 15 winners from 20 races, an astounding 75 percent success rate.
    I won’t bore you with the details of my professional gambling demise — suffice it to say it involved a lost wagering voucher and an unplanned expense — what's important is what I learned from the experience. For example: How pace figures can be used to identify strong and/or phony favorites.

    To demonstrate this, let’s take a look at the Breeders’ Cup.

    Of course, when most people reflect on the BC races, they think of the full fields and massive longshots that seem to dominate the two-day event. Yet, overall, betting favorites have performed OK (one of the great strengths of using final odds as a wagering criterion is the consistency they provide).

    Since 2007, Breeders’ Cup betting favorites have produced the following results:

    Number: 65
    Won (rate): 18 (27.7%)
    Return: $106.60
    ROI: -18.00%

    Minus the foreign favorites, for which pace figures are unavailable, the numbers stand at:

    Number: 43
    Won (rate): 13 (30.2%)
    Return: $81.00
    ROI: -5.81%

    Now, look at what happens when we insist that a horse’s last-race late speed ration (LSR) is greater than its last-race early speed ration (ESR):


    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Obviously, the number of betting opportunities is reduced significantly, but notice that every category — win, place, show — produced a positive ROI. Notice too that the higher slopes (indicating a greater degree of late as opposed to early energy expenditure) performed best of all.

    We can use these energy slopes to ferret out false favorites as well.

    Below is a summary of all the BC favorites since 2007 that posted a negative last-race LSR and a last-race slope of -80 degrees or worse:


    (Click on image to enlarge)

    What all this tells us, of course, is how important a horse’s finishing kick in its last race can be, particularly if the horse is getting bet on the basis of its most recent effort (which is often the case in high-class events).

    It’s one of the reasons I always harp on horses that won impressively, but recorded poor pace figures in the process, e.g. Turbulent Descent in her final BC prep, the Test Stakes. That Grade I affair at Saratoga earned the three-year-old filly a -3 ESR and -13 LSR.

    Turbulent Descent was off the board as the 7-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint 90 days later (the layoff probably didn’t help either).

    Below are some interesting (potential) favorites to watch tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 27, 2012):

    Gulfstream Park (race 4)

    BOYS AT TOSCONOVA (6/5 on the morning line) earned a -10 ESR and -9 LSR in his latest start, a win versus optional claiming company. Although the “energy slope” in that race was just 42 degrees, it’s considerably better than the minus 72-degree slope his main rival, the filly GROUPIE DOLL (2/1), earned last time.

    Oaklawn Park (race 7)

    Despite the fact that she is 7-5 on the morning line, AMAZING SAINT looks vulnerable in this spot in light of the negative 81-degree energy slope she recorded in her last race at Delta Downs.

    Turfway Park (race 5)

    I’m a bit concerned that OPERATIVE ASSETS recorded such a huge ESR (-16) in his last race, but he did finish OK and is a threat here with a similar trip.

    Note: For an explanation of my pace figures, check out this video I made.

    Weekend Handicapping Reports

    In addition to various other reports I will be posting soon, I have prepared a special Win Factor Report for Friday’s mandatory races in the $1.5 million DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

    WIN FACTOR REPORTS

    NHC XIII Mandatory Races (01/27/12)
  • Meadowlands Miles Featured

    POSTED Jan 25, 2012
    The focus on events this weekend is once again at Meadowlands presenting the Presidential, Complex and Clyde Hirt series finals on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

    At Woodbine, TwinSpires players once again get the big 10X TSC Elite Points through out the program with $10 win bets. Read below about the features and the players’ bonus for this Saturday series this winter.   

    At Cal-Expo the mission is to strike hard and direct in the no-takeout Pick 4, with a small ticket that destroys the pool. Once again, last week, the payout was meager ($176) and we came close to making that price big with three longshot seconds.   

    The Commander Of The Chiefs


    The Presidential Final for 2012 is worth $110,500 and it launches the first star of the older pacers on the busy schedule for this division. After two speedy wins in both legs, Golden Receiver will be the dead-on choice over his nine rivals. He will attempt to control the pace and steal the race.  

    Last week Silent Spring made a sharp early move for the lead when it may have been best for him to find a pocket, save some ground and flash his stuff in the stretch. In that race, Vintage Master was strong closing off of an overland journey, almost the same one that knocked out River Shark in his elim against “Receiver.” Coming from post 9, “Master” will have to negotiate a better trip to win here but that could open up the race to a ground-saving “Spring” at a price.   

    Complex Marks The Spot


    The Complex Final, worth $74,000, is adorned with four Ron Burke students, one which has dominated this condition so far this month. Itrustyou goes to post a giant favorite and one can only conjure an upset scenario. You will have to use Joltin Colt, whose mark this year on a five-eighths track is impressive and something to build upon for an improved mark on the two-turn mile. With the Burke entry, there is no other way to find a decent price here, so one has to look to a horse showing enough promise to pay well if he paces to expectations. 

    Clyde Hirt Final


     Four-year-old stallions and geldings, with conditions, go for $73,000 in the Clyde Hirt Final. Ron Burke has a big presence here, too. Last week’s leg-winner, Thebestofjoel, looks to make Burke the event’s winning trainer for two years in a row. 

    Burke says the horse won last week even though he was used hard leaving. “He has raced way better than I thought he would.” 

    Burke thinks the “Hirt is going to “be a great race because you’ve got horses outside of [‘joel’] that are going to try to be in it and I’m sure everybody from the inside is going to protect their position. Sonic Dancer looked like he wasn’t totally rigged. Give Kevin McDermott another week to get him to steer better and look out.” 

    Sonic Dancer is in a tough spot on the outside and as Burke suggests, may need this race to launch a win next time. We feel Special T Rocks can be in the picture and is certainly a good companion for joel in a decent paying exotic.  

    Saturday’s ‘Elite’


    Saturday, Jan. 28, Woodbine players at TwinSpires once again get 10X TSC Elite Points every time they cash a $10-win ticket on any race. And watch our Twitter account for contenders at great prices on the bonus-point evening. Last week two of our choices resulted in exactors with the favorites that paid $100-plus and $200-plus. We got your back and will let you in on any horse we have in mind in enough time for you to consider the contender.

    Cal Exotic

    Jan. 28’s no-takeout Pick 4 is on target at Cal-Expo as our campaign to take down the big number ensues. Here are our suggested contenders with comments:

    Leg 1
    (1) Cladstownimpression was a monster at 58-1 last week, dueling early and still holding on to take the place spot. He has been ignored once too often of late and could be again, though from the inside he may look more appetizing to bettors. (5) Freedons Art had a similar trip, hung early, though second, and held on for the place at 6-1. The others in this field are not showing promise from recent adventures.

    Leg 2
    (2) Hollywood Lenny could come right back after a giant winning effort, though hardly at a good price. Still, you cannot leave him out, for with the others here the ticket can still balloon. Certainly adding (8) Asgoodasitoncewas is important because his early foot last out sustained to the half after a duel for the top. This was a sign of life which cannot be ignored at 19-1.

    Leg 3
    (4) Komodas Fantasy was on the engine but quit as the choice. He could rebound and go the distance at a better price in this field.

    Leg 4
    (5) Jane The Brain keeps racing better than her odds. She got the third check in a mile last week at 8-1 and is poised to push out a winning mile. This is the kind of field that may turn it over for her.
  • Hot to Trotter

    POSTED
    Congratulations to A.C., J.F., and J.M. for being the inaugural inductees into the Jay Trotter Hall of Fame!

    Unfortunately Jennifer Tilly wasn't waiting at the end of the Let 8 Ride rainbow, but in addition to their enshrinement into sacred space, the trailblazing trio turned $8 into $911.20, a 37.8% premium from the $661.20 the Trots earned on their win betting. The $250 extra came from them being one of four players to select winners on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The fourth person not inducted (C.K.) lost his $8 win bet on Saturday but still collected $250, which is pretty great considering he started with an $8 win bet and lost a parlay wager.

    LSS--that's long story short--you can win even when you lose with Let 8 Ride... provided you've already won on Wednesday and Thursday, of course.

    Speaking of winning on Wednesday, a new game starts with race 8 tonight (and every Wednesday) at Delta Downs! Check the link for free Ultimate PPs w/ comments from Brisnet.com.

    Tonight's race is all about speed. It's an entry-level allowance race for older females, and each of the eight entrants have either an "E" or "E/P" pace designation. That's just an indication of running style, though, based on the pars for the race only a few of these are likely to actually make the lead.

    My top pick is #3 Phone Marybe, whose bad races came when marooned on the outside but is inside for this. I like that he's rated and won, which should do the trick against this bunch.

    I've advocated dutching in the first round of this game because the value comes from making it to Friday when losers split $500 and winners player for an added $1,000 on Saturday. I like Phone Marybe so much in this race, I'm not willing to give up value by betting others. I'll add the caveat that since #s 4 & 7 look to be underlays based on their morning line, I might take a flyer on #s 1, 2, or 5 if any are big bombs, but with only 8 horses signed on and lots of speed, I expect a compact odds board and thus the trey is the play.
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Jan 22, 2012
    Our choices and suggestions this weekend extended from our weekly blog as we tweeted for every race at Woodbine on Jan. 21. TwinSpires’ special points-bonus Saturdays at Woodbine launched Saturday. For all successful $10 win bets, players get 10X TwinSpires Club Points. 

    The Willowdale Final was one of our blog suggestions that we echoed in our tweets at Woodbine. We were elated to see Audreys Dream go off near 15-1 but deflated when Westwardho Hanover, the dead-on choice, won.  

    The undercard feature, the Snowshoe, was almost a giant upset. Our choice, Warrawee Nonsuch, was second at 50-1. The place price was $28.80. With the favorite winning, the exactor paid $111.70.  

    In the race before the Snowshoe, we tweeted Selfish Princess. She was 35-1 and finished second to the favorite. She paid $28 to place and the exactor paid $243.20. 

    We tweeted two winners, though they were nothing to scream about: Grin For Money paid $5.60 and Reibercrombie paid $4.40. Three others finished third and four were out of the money. 

    At the Meadowlands, our Presidential gimmick just proved that history does not necessarily repeat itself. The favorite, Golden Receiver, soared to win another leg with no real challenge. Artist’s View was nowhere. The first leg found Annieswesterncard finishing second again. 

    In the Complex legs, Nathan Feelsgood was no factor and our pass in the other leg, due to the giant favoritism of Itrustyou was a good move, with that one winning at a prohibitive price of $2.60.   

    At Cal Expo, the no-takeout Pick 4  paid $176.70 without the use of our choices. The first leg was a race riddled with trouble and our two choices were affected. We were second with Muzhik Hanover in leg two, second with KR Rowdy One in leg three and second with Hes Country in leg four. Our choices were alive and certainly would have brought a better Pick-4 price. So we continue next week with the same aim. 

    At Pompano, from our H2W list, Spring Goal won, paying $7.20. At Northfield we had two winners, Getrichordietrying ($5.40) and Longlegacy ($3).

    Harness News

    It’s time to preview some 2012 harness meets. Write this stuff down on your calendar. 

    The 2012 fall harness racing dates at Colonial Downs will extend six weeks, beginning Sept. 5 and continuing through Oct. 14. Racing will take place Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sunday at 1 p.m. The annual $300,000 (est.) Virginia Harness Day of Champions on Oct. 14 showcases two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters of both sexes in eight divisional championship races. 

    Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have finalized 2012 schedules. Tioga will hold 61 live racing days beginning on May 5 (Kentucky Derby day). Tioga will once again host the Cane Pace, with eliminations on Sunday, Aug. 26 with the final on Sept. 3. The Empire Breeder’s Classic for soph New York-bred pacers has eliminations on Aug. 5 and the $250,000 (est.) finals are on Aug. 12. Other marquee events include: Tompkins-Geers, a leg of the Miss Versatility, Shady Daisy, and Historic Stakes. 

    Vernon Downs will kick off its 2012 race season April 27 opening a 90-day race meet through Nov. 3. Vernon hosts the newly organized $700,000 (est.) Zweig Memorial Trot on Aug. 26. The $500,000 (est.) Empire Breeder's Classic for New York-bred trotters has eliminations on June 1st and $250,000 (est.) finals on June 8. 

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)


  • Hit Me Baby One More Time

    POSTED
    Last week, I revisited the work of one of my favorite old-time handicapping authors, William L. Scott. I re-tooled his famous method presented in “Investing at the Racetrack” and used it to handicap an entire card at Aqueduct.

    Not surprisingly (at least to me), the method lost money.

    In the interest of fairness, however, I’ve decided to give Mr. Scott’s system (or at least my contemporary spin on it) another try. After all, one of Scott’s claims was that he had never experienced three consecutive losing days at any one track.

    So far, we’re 0-1 at Aqueduct.

    Now, because I don’t have the final odds — a crucial component of Scott’s technique — at my disposal as I’m writing this, I’ve decided that, like last time, we’ll use the morning line odds instead. Frankly, based on some testing I did, this is really not such a huge disadvantage.

    Using my database of over 6,000 races run from 2004 to present and limiting my inquiry to races that produced a single winner (no dead heats or winning entries), I discovered the following:



    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Notice that the morning line favorites were nearly as successful as the actual race favorites — even when I adjusted for the fact that there were more of them (due to ties).

    Hence, without further ado, here are my selections and wagers for both Aqueduct on Friday, Jan. 20 (for the PDF version, please click HERE):



    (Click on image to view clearly)

    Because I’m such a nice guy — or a glutton for punishment, I’m not sure which — I also produced a report for Saturday’s races at Fair Grounds that can be accessed HERE.

    Weekend Handicapping Reports

    Again because I’m a nice guy or a glutton for punishment, I’ve produced a bunch of free handicapping reports for this weekend’s races. Enjoy!

    PACE PROFILE REPORTS

    Aqueduct (01/20/12)
    Aqueduct (01/21/12)
    Fair Grounds (01/21/12)

    WIN FACTOR REPORTS

    Aqueduct (01/20/12)
    Aqueduct (01/21/12)
    Dubai (01/20/12)
    Dubai (01/21/12)
    Fair Grounds (01/21/12)

    REVISED WILLIAM L. SCOTT METHOD REPORTS

    Aqueduct (01/20/12)
    Fair Grounds (01/21/12)

  • Complex Presidential Races Continue

    POSTED Jan 18, 2012
    Speed and class will again be featured at Meadowlands, this weekend with the Presidential and Complex series highlighting the program on Saturday, Jan. 21. 

    Woodbine becomes a TwinSpires player’s dream with all of its trotters and pacers, including features that include the Willowdale and Snowshoe series’ finals. Read below about the features and the players’ bonus for Saturdays in winter.   

    At Cal-Expo, we go at it again, trying to take the biggest chunk out of the no-takeout Pick- 4 pool.   

    Hail To The Chiefs


     It’s Presidential season in a big way again on Jan. 21. As Republican stalwarts duke it out in South Carolina, the Meadowlands sends out fiery older pacers in a pair of divisions of the Presidential’s second leg for 2012. 

    There is a strange angle you may explore in the second of the two divisions. Last week’s pair of winners, Golden Receiver and River Shark, both soaring to wins in 1:48 and 1:48.4, respectively are in this division. So is a horse named Artist’s View. We picked this guy in the Breeders Crown when he was a sophomore colt. He won and paid over $80 (watch that race by clicking here). He won because he was able to sit cold as two of the fastest colts of the season fired at one another and burned each other out. Where? At the Meadowlands.  

    Golden Receiver’s trainer, Mark Harder, said, “Anything can happen. River Shark was good, but it looks like [Golden Receiver] is the horse to beat.”  

    So we know that the speedy duo will be going at one another. That is only good news for Artist’s View and a chance at an upset worth a few bucks. 

    In the first division there might be no money to make on Annieswesterncard, who just lost as the choice last week to one of the speedsters mentioned above. Along with two-for-two Silent Spring, there may be a worthy exacta but you will have to be the judge of the value.  

    Complexities


    Another two divisions for five-year-old-and-under pacers with conditions make up the Complex this week. In division one, as the program begins, we’ll take a shot with Mark Ford’s Nathan Feelsgood. Ford may have this one primed for a good second mile of the year after getting one under his belt. This one’s sire liked the Meadowlands as an older pacer as an added factor. 

    The second Complex mile is a baffling event with about a thousand possible scenarios. I would be happy passing this one, where the favorite, Itrustyou, looks for an obvious second win in two outings this year.  

    Tens By Tens At Woodbine 


    Saturday, Jan. 21, Woodbine offers another look at some recently turned four-year-olds in the $100,000 Willowdale Final for pacers and the $50,000 Snowshoe Final for three- and four-year-old pacers. 

    The 12-race card, however, will launch a Saturday series of specials for TwinSpires bettors at the Ontario oval. TwinSpires and Woodbine offer 10X Club Points every Saturday. Cash a $10-win ticket on any race in the program and start earning points. For details, click here. And watch our Twitter account for late possible contenders at great prices on the bonus-point evening. 

    In the Willowdale, our two-time winner Mystician may not offer the prices he has in legs one and two. Also, with Westwardho Hanover getting a better post, we can expect heavy wagering going his way. Thus, the one great contender that could get away from the crowd is Audreys Dream.  

    Although he drew the 9 hole, Warrawee Nonsuch may surprise in the Snowshoe. He raced far better than 8-1 to get into this field and is on target to improve. It’s something he can do in this minor event where a good trip by an outsider can turn the tables on any of the favorites.

    Cal Exotic

    Jan. 21’s no-takeout Pick 4 gets out attention to the tune of a $16 ticket. Here are our suggested contenders with comments:

    Leg 1
    (4) Take No Prisoners was second off of a strenuous trip and may find an easier one the route to the winners’ circle. (6) Gutsy Winds Ahead was a beaten favorite last week and can rebound to win it late.

    Leg 2
    (3) Franco Smoothie N continues to flirt with a longshot win. Last week he showed speed and was short at 10-1. He may go all the way here. (4) Muzhik Hanover is hitting his best stride and picked up the place at 11-1 in his recent outing, a mile warning that he is getting back into winning shape.

    Leg 3
    (3) KD Rowdy One had an easy trip at 7-2 but was not filled with pace late. We cannot let that deter us from using only him in leg three, arguably the weakest of the quartet.
  • Figure 8 is really great

    POSTED
    If "Is it Wednesday yet" isn't the mantra of Delta Downs players everywhere then--barring a lawsuit from ESPN--it should be because nothing can beat the excitement of turning an $8 win bet into more money and bragging rights through the Let 8 Ride promotion.

    Well, OK, many things can, and if you're doing one of those things--e.g. riding a roller coaster, bowling a 300 game, or eating at an In N Out Burger without WiFi access--then you're excused from playing in tonight's contest, but otherwise download those race 8 Ultimates for tonight at Delta Downs and find the winner!

    Through two weeks there has yet to be a player who has successfully let it ride on four consecutive days, which entitles the winner to not only cash but also enshrinement in the Jay Trotter Hall of Fame. I made it through day one last week with a $22 winner but needed two win bets to get there. That luxury isn't available on day two, and I got suckered into a bad favorite. The second choice won and paid a healthy $7, but I was down to squadouche.

    I might go four deep tonight depending on odds. I expect two of my choices to be absolute bombs and the others are logical favorites. If one of the logical horses wins at 2-to-1 then I'll actually lose $8 because I've risked $32 on a $24 return. However, the game is to Let It Ride, so a winning bet on Thursday should put me in the black. This would not be my plan normally if not for the provision that those who surivive into Friday play for a $500 prize pool with $1,000 on the line for those who make it to Saturday. I'm not actually eligible for the added value, but I like to play along to the letter of the rules so that I can offer the best advice possible. Plus all that churn gets me closer to bronze status.

    My top pick in here is #6 Smart Trick, one of only three "E" speed ratings in the ten-horse field, but who, with six Quirin Speed Points, is easily the fastest of that trio. Those with an "E" Speed Rating win one-mile races at Delta at a 35% clip, so he's poised to be in the right spot. I'm not thrilled with an 0/10 trainer in 2011-2012, but the apprentice allowance should help, and this horse has been fast enough to win at this level. There's lots of other stuff to like, too: It's his third-start off the layoff, and he had a decent work between today and his last start. He also moves inside from post ten last week after racing near the lead three wide.

    Speaking of workouts leading up to a third start off a layoff, #3 Lone Renegade also fits that bill, and he also moves inside from making his last start from post ten. His last two starts off the layoff were on a muddy track, and he's 1/12 on off tracks but 7/52 on fast tracks. This one wouldn't be impossible.

    The two favorites, #4 Hitnotiq and #7 Dowhatnow, make perfect sense and wouldn't shock me, but they will be overbet. In the spirit of this game, and I want to use them in the hopes of continuing, but either could have too much work to do late and if both do then this thing pays boxcars.

    For those who need some assistance figuring out what $8 to win pays, here's a little help from Schoolhouse Rock.
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Jan 15, 2012
    Our allegiance to Mystician, who we touted as a horse to follow going into his four-year-old season, paid off even more on Jan. 14 than the week before. At Woodbine in the Willowdale Series he had won two-straight legs. This week he paid $10.50, far more than we expected (last week he won and paid $7.50.  

    Our Zeron double in the Lifetime Dream series did not materialize, even with the crowd’s support, as Miss Dangles and Lively both went off at a moderate 4-1 but were no factors in either of the series’ second leg divisions. We are keeping them on our Watch List (H2W). 

    On the left is the award-winning photo by Geri Schwartz.

    Schwarz won in the race category for a photo taken in a torrential downpour at Monticello Raceway. The picture appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Oct. 8, 2011.
    “Extreme weather provides the backdrop for this photo depicting the spirit of driver and horse under harsh conditions of driving rain and water and mud being kicked up during the race,” judge Jerry Millevoi said. “The outside driver’s expression portrays the skill and resolve to control his horse in difficult conditions while driving hard to the finish line.
    “To his inside, the danger of the situation can be seen as a driver tries to regain control of his horse on a break as they splash through the water.”

    At the Meadowlands, favorites were strong but our Presidential favorite, the crowd’s second choice, Annieswesterncard, could only manage finishing second and to a blistering mile. Golden Retriever won in 1:48.  

    That time would not open eyes were the mile not negotiated wire to wire. Pure harness speed is determined by commanding fractions and this pacer conquered each panel. He raced in :25.3, :54, 1:21.3 and finished in 1:48. That last quarter was performed in :26.2, not far from the first quarter’s time. Phew

    The second Presidential debate went to River Shark, the obvious choice. Our 16-1 shot, Western Shore, finished sixth.  

    In the Complex Series’ legs, we picked up the win finishing second in an entry as the crowd-choice, Risk Management, was beaten by stablemate Itrustyou, paying $3. The other split saw our choice, Lizard King, get decent action around 5-2 but finish off the board.  

    At Cal Expo, we did not hit the no-takeout Pick 4, though we began with a strike, Funny Guy, paying $7.20. The winning combo paid only $175.20. Though a bit more than last week’s pale payout of $36.20, we are not daunted, since a winning ticket with our choices will always be expected to pay far more than the average Pick 4. Last season, one Pick-4 hit, worth nearly $800, covered all of the plays that season and left us with a profit. We continue to aim at a similar outcome, hoping to take down a lot more of the pool next time.

    Harness News

    Harness racing is booming in Crete, Illinois, as Balmoral Park reports its handle soaring this year. The reasons are being listed as 10-horse fields, guaranteed pools, low takeout, good weather and generally large payouts.

    Speaking of large payouts, a harness bettor in Sweden struck the country’s popular V75 wager and scored for $8 million at the Aby Racetrack. After the sixth leg of the exotic, there were 15 tickets alive but only one had the remaining winner, a 22-1 shot driven by Jimmy Takter’s brother Johnny. That winning ticket had 800 combinations in it, costing $60. It was only the penultimate payoff for the wager, which handed out $9.6 million in 2010.

    Nick Salvi, harness insider, reports that the “Zweig” Memorial for soph trotters has undergone changes for the 2012 edition. The conditions for the race have been revised from split divisions to a format that puts the top nine earners for 2012 into the main event with a consolation for the next nine that enter. The same formula will be used for the Zweig filly trot.

    “This allows the purse for the main open event to be estimated at $400,000 and the main filly race at $170,000,” Salvi says. The consolation purses are (est.) $80,000 for the open and (est.) $40,000 for the fillies.

    The 2012 Zweigs have been moved to Vernon Downs, to be featured on a special Sunday, Aug. 26 matinee card that will include the $50,000 annual Driver’s Challenge. The scheduling of the race will allow the top trotters in the division, coming off of the Hambletonian and Colonial, to come to Vernon a week before the Canadian Trotting Classic elims.  

    In the case of trainer Lou Pena getting his horses back on the Meadowlands menu since being banned by the new owners, a judge denied Pena’s request for a preliminary injunction against the track. 

    The judge termed the banning a “business decision” that Pena did not defy with any evidence to support his challenge. Pena, sources, say, may continue to fight the ban.

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)