• Kentucky Derby EXACTA morning line

    POSTED Apr 30, 2012
    Anyone can make a morning line for win odds, but what will the exactas pay (for a dollar)?

    Don't worry, I didn't put as much thought into this as it looks like. I basically took the approach that certain groups of horses are going to be similarly bet and then made tweaks based on running style. E.g., I have Hansen and I'll Have Another as similar price in the win slot of the exacta but favored the latter slightly in the place spot because some might consider Hansen more a win threat based on running style.

    I also didn't take a stand on whether Bodemeister or Union Rags will be favored. It's possible that one could take more money in the win pool but not in exotics. The big question I tried to answer with them is, How low will the chalk-chalk exacta pay? I'm pretty comfortable with the $30-$35 range and went with $30.

    Not surprisingly, I figure Trinniberg to be the longest shot in both the win and exacta pools. With the largest exacta payout of $9,500 projected to occur if he defeats either Prospective or Rousing Sermon in 2nd.

    Speaking of the projected payouts, to make the formula work that spits out the percetage of the pool and odds, I input $9,999 for the combo that would include the same horse in first and second, which of course can't really happen.

  • Kentucky Derby 138 playlist

    POSTED Apr 28, 2012
    The Kentucky Derby is all about tradition, and one of my favorite Derby traditions is that fans of the race create their own, and one of mine is to do a Kentucky Derby play list for the about-70-minute drive from my garage to Louisville.

    Catching up on all the final preparations via social media and watching and wagering on opening night at Churchill Downs this weekend certainly helps get me in the Derby mood, but nothing stirs emotions like setting a course for west on Interstate 64 and driving among the Thoroughbred farms toward a destination nearly everyone in this industry dreams about.

    In that way, I try to have elements of celebration in each year's mix. Getting to be a part of this each year is a dream come true for me. As Craig Finn says in "Constructive Summer": "Let this be my annual reminder that we can all be something bigger."

    This year's mix.
    1. "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team
    2. "Blow" by Ke$sha
    3. "The Jump Off" by Lil' Kim
    4. "Ignition (remix)" by R. Kelly
    5. "Some Nights" by fun.
    6. "From Blown Speakers" by the New Pornographers
    7. "Constructive Summer" by The Hold Steady
    8. "Daylight" by Matt & Kim
    9. "MMMBop" by Hanson
    10. "Good Life" by OneRepublic
    11. "Off to the Races" by Lana Del Rey
    12. "Sometime Around Midnight" by Airborne Toxic Event
    13. "Tell 'Em" by Sleight Bells
    14. "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo
    15. "Bottle Rocket" by The Go! Team
    16. "Mental Cabaret" by Polyphonic Spree
    17. "Cornflake Girl" by Tori Amos
    18. "Us" by Regina Spektor
    19. "Thrice All American" by Neko Case
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes


    There more double-digit winners tweeted @RayCotolo this week. Let’s start reviewing winners from that point. 

    Chester, April 22: Beware Of Darkness, $21.40.
    Harrington, April 22: Tampa Bay Escape, $22.20
    Pocono, April 27: Political Pace, $15.80; Ace Of Pace, $10.40
    Freehold, April 28, June’s Sunny Boy, $16.40 
    Including what losers were tweeted, the five winners produced a profit if all horses tweeted were played.

    If you are not already, connect to Twitter and follow Frank and Ray Cotolo for late suggestions on plays. Then, wager from TwinSpires. Get onto our mailing list to learn how to get upcoming horses to watch by clicking here.
    At Yonkers on Saturday night, we nailed the Matchmaker Final, defying the prohibitive favorite See You At Peelers with a win by Rocklamation. She paid $12 and See You At Peelers finished last, burned out from fast early fractions and a duel with Anndrovette. That is the scenario that we counted upon and this time we were right.

    We won the George Morton Levy Pacing Series Final with Razzle Dazzle, though when we chose him we did not expect the humungous support he would get from the public. The winner paid a mere $3.10.

    At Cal Expo, the favorites were soaring in the no-takeout Pick 4 on April 27, unless you used our single in leg two. RW Island Spirit turned out to be the favorite in Race 12, which we did not forecast, and he lost. A 2-1 shot won the first two legs and another favorite won leg three.

    Our fourth-leg choice, Village Benjamin, won, paying $8.20. We had three horses in that leg and along with the winner our other two (Devilish Donnie and Hey Scoob) completed the triple, worth $104.60.

    The Hambletonian Trail began on April 28 with a Dexter Cup elim at Freehold. For the results of that and to read the results of all the stakes we follow leading to the August classic, go to the Hambletonian Society site. The “Trail” blog features wagering suggestions for the stakes, race previews and event news, in league with the society and TwinSpires.

    News And Notes

    As of April 29, Harrah’s Chester becomes Harrah’s Philadelphia. The marketing move changes the reference to the Pennsylvania track in past performances (PPs) from “Chst” to “Phl.” All races in PPs prior to April 29 will remain Chst.

    At Cal-Expo, the Friday-and-Saturday late Pick 4s’ guarantees increase to a $20,000 gross pool. With the exception of the TwinSpires no-takeout Pick 4 on Friday, which we always cover here, the Pick 4s’ takeout is 15 percent.

    Vernon Downs opened with a bang on April 27. The New York track and its sister venue, Tioga Downs, will contribute greatly to the Trail this year, including May’s Excelsior Series for soph filly-and-colt trotters beginning May 18 and a number of New York Sires Stakes for those divisions.

    The Raceway at The Western Fair District will be the host again for the $300,000 Molson Pace. The race for older pacers highlights the closing night program on Friday, May 25. This year’s event has a special post time of 6:50 p.m.

    The Pick 4 will offer a guaranteed pool of $15,000. The Pick 5 will feature a guarantee yet to be determined that night as well. Both wagers offer a 15-percent takeout.

    Defending champion Foiled Again headlines the list of this year’s nominees, which also include We Will See, Betterthancheddar, Up The Credit, Aracache Hanover, Atochia and Strand Hanover.

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)
  • TCI hot topics w/ Ed & Ray

    POSTED Apr 27, 2012
    The TCI boys take a week off from making picks and bring in special guests me and Ray Paulick for a rectangle table discussion about some of the hot topics related to this year's Kentucky Derby.

    The so-called hot topic I'm most interested in is the likely entry of Trinniberg, who will be a longshot to take the field gate to wire, but regardless of his perceived chances to win, he is an imposing presence for anyone handicapping the Derby from a pace perspective.

    The big question: Does he go right to the lead, and if so, how long will he stay there? If he doesn't make the lead in the first quarter mile will he ever?

    I do think he makes the lead early and likely gets on the rail because of it. The two questions then are: How does this effect the pace, and if you think he starts backing out of the race by the half-mile pole (i.e., six furlongs into the race) then how does that affect the run into the far turn?

    To the question of pace, I think Trinniberg actually helps horses like Bodemeister, Hansen, Take Charge Indy, and Union Rags (assuming he stays closer than in the Florida Derby). A faster pace means deep closers have to work harder to stay in touch with the field.

    If you think Trinniberg has no hope to last the 1 1/4 miles regardless of pace (even if it's 1:15) then if you're on a horse who can press that pace why not let him lope along and then take charge on the far turn? Trinniberg sets up a dynamic where maybe a horse like Hansen or Take Charge Indy or Bodemeister can be "alone" or relaxed on the second tier and run away from the field turning for home.

    To the question of Trinniberg's action in the final half-mile of the race, if he is in fact on the rail entering the far turn then horses making a move at that point will either have to go way wide for clear run or hope a hole opens up at some point. The rail is the place to save ground for sure, but you also don't want to run into a backing up horse.

    So obviously I don't love Trinniberg's chances to win, but please don't mistake that for thinking he doesn't belong. That's a topic for a future blog.
  • Post One Poppycock

    POSTED Apr 26, 2012
    Start of the 2010 Kentucky Derby
    We hear it every year: Post position one is the kiss of death in the Kentucky Derby — the equivalent of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's albatross, Edgar Alan Poe’s raven or a movie that includes “directed by Michael Bay” in the opening credits.

    When Lookin At Lucky drew the rail in the 2010 Run for the Roses, trainer Bob Baffert looked like he’d been punched in the stomach… and then kicked in the groin.

    “I just don't remember a horse of this caliber being in the one hole since I've come here,” the three-time Derby-winning trainer said. “I'd rather be outside, less things going on. You can get caught down there and hit the brakes.”

    The post one pity party continued in 2011.

    “Not a good place to be,” noted trainer William “Jinks” Fires after his horse (Archarcharch) was assigned the first spot in the Derby starting gate last year. “I’ve never liked the one hole, but you got to do what you got to do.

    “We’d like to lay just off the pace and with the one hole if you don’t go with them a ways you’ll get shuffled way back,” said Fires, whose colt had rallied from ninth — of 13 — at the first call in its final Kentucky Derby prep, the Arkansas Derby.

    If you ask me (and if you didn’t, please just pretend you did) all this railing about the rail is silly.

    Simply put, there is no such thing as a post-one bias in the Kentucky Derby — it’s the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and a thought-provoking episode of the “Maury Show” all rolled into one.

    Here’s what racing analyst Randy Moss says about this modern day myth:

    “First off, the No. 1 post position in the Kentucky Derby is not a death sentence, no matter what you read,” Moss wrote in a 2010 blog post entitled “Is he finally lookin' at lucky?

    “If you have the time, consult YouTube to watch the video of Derby runnings from 2003-2009, and you won't see meaningful early trouble for any of those rail-drawn horses,” Moss continued. “As a matter of fact, in each of those years, the horses breaking from the inside post outran their projected finishes based on final odds (average odds ranking 15th, average finish 9.5).”

    Let me quit clapping for a moment and add that a host of other data I’ve gathered backs up Moss’ contention that the one hole is not instant Derby death.

    Let’s start by looking at the post position stats as a whole (from 1900 to 2011):

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Notice that, not only does the number one post position have a positive impact value — a ratio popularized by Dr. William Quirin that measures actual wins in relation to expected wins (in this case, the success rate divided by the par) — but  the ROI is better than average as well.

    I know what some of you are thinking: Well, sure Derek, that’s overall. The real problem with breaking from the rail is when there are a lot of Derby entrants and the auxiliary gate is used. In those cases, the horse stuck in the one hole needs to veer right at the start in order to avoid hitting the inner rail, which inevitably leads to bumping and herding… and a rotten trip.

    Alrighty then! Let’s take a gander at the Derby post position stats when the auxiliary gate has been utilized (fields of 15 or more horses):

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Talk about things that make you go hmm: check out that impact value. Far from being a disadvantage, the numbers indicate that breaking from the rail when the auxiliary gate is used is actually a major plus.

    Aah, but once again I hear the cries of dissent.

    “Yeah, but that’s the past,” the critics wail. “Nowadays, it’s impossible to win from the rail.”

    Why winning the Derby from post one — on the same track (Churchill Downs has changed little over the years), under the same circumstances (the race conditions, distance and starting point have remained consistent for decades) — would be a Herculean feat now when it wasn’t in the recent past eludes me, but I’ll play along.

    Here’s a look at Derbies with 15 horses or more run within the past 30 years:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Here for the first time we see a subpar impact value, yet the ROI is still very strong, comparatively speaking. What's more, 27 test cases is hardly enough data on which to base a solid conclusion, especially since the expected win rate for each post is only about five percent.

    So, after next week’s Derby draw, when the inevitable crying and moaning about the one hole begins in earnest, remember these statistics.

    The truth shall set you free.

    2012 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide Now Available!

    I’m pleased to announce that "Derek Simon's 2012 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide" is now available for purchase through Brisnet.com.

    For just $10, one receives:  
    * Pro-and-con analysis of all the likely Derby entrants.

    * A look at the breeding of the major contenders, including a unique pedigree angle that tabbed Mine That Bird ($103.20) in 2009.

    * A surprising answer as to what kind of prep races produce the best Derby ROI.

    * Statistics and betting tidbits galore, including this gem: Since 1992, Derby entrants that recorded a “poor” LSR (-15 or less) in their final prep are 1-for-86 with a -40.0 percent ROI on the first Saturday in May (this year’s qualifiers are identified in the Guide).

    * Betting angles, including one that has produced an ROI of 87% since 1992 and another that has a 62% ROI since ’92.
    Click HERE to get your Guide today… or tomorrow… or any time prior to the Derby.
  • Amazing Aged Animals At War In Finals

    The George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series Final gathers some of the fastest elder stalwarts in its field in a long time. In this year’s legs there have been a few domineering males and although they may have met two at a time in certain divisions, not all of the best were showcased until the April 28 final, worth $445,000 at Yonkers Raceway

    Also that night is the $297,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker.  

    At Cal-Expo, TwinSpires-Cal-Expo’s exclusive no-takeout Pick 4 gets another massage on April 27. And there are more poised profits on our horses-to-watch list (H2W). 

    Levy’s Last Stand

    The April 21 “Levy”final has drawn with what could be serious consequences for some of the heavier contenders.  

    Real Nice and Foiled Again drew post positions 7 and 8, respectively. These are rugged posts on the New York half mile, especially for two of the series’ best performers. 

    The complete lineup, with declared drivers, is:

    1-Blatantly Good (George Brennan)
    2-Art Z (Brett Miller)
    3-Atochia (Ron Pierce)
    4-Fitz's Z Tam (Brian Sears)
    5-Strand Hanover (Luc Ouellette)
    6-Nob Hill High (Jordan Stratton)
    7-Real Nice (Jason Bartlett)
    8-Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras).
    (Atochia and Foiled Again race as a common-ownership entry.)

    There is also a $100,000 Levy consolation and a $50,000 Levy-eligible event on the program.  

    Gingras and Foiled Again will have work to do to from post 8. Foiled Again, twice a series champion (2009 and 2010) and finished third to Real Nice in last season's renewal. Now they are one post behind the defending champion. 

    Gingras said, “It's my job to get him the best trip I can” while discussing the matter with Yonkers publicity whiz Frank Drucker. 

    Foiled Again, an eight-year-old gelding co-owned by Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables, began his season with a second-place finish to Real Nice in the opening round of this series.  

    He then reeled off three consecutive scores. He took one week off (April 15) and in the final goes after his 62nd win in his 150th start. He is coupled in the wagering with millionaire Atochia and is the 6-5 morning-line choice.  

    “(Foiled Again) has come back great, Gingras said., “There's a long season on his schedule, and the Levy is an important race. He's had to overcome bad posts and bad trips before, so why wouldn't I be confident?”  

    Gingras, who won his 4,000th race this past Sunday afternoon at Harrah's Chester, admitted he was hoping to draw the rail for the final.  

    “I don't know what's going to happen [Saturday] but I wouldn't trade my horse for anyone in the race.” 

    An upset here is no guarantee but since you can make a case for all in the field there could be a good price on hand. We like Blatently Good from the rail. Once this guy gets the lead it will be hard for him to lose it. With the two probable favorites drawing the outside, he could control the quarters. Certainly driver Brennan is no stranger to pulling off a trip like that.   

    Strand Hanover has been the closest competitor to Real Nice this entire series. Since he draws inside of his foe this week, he has an advantage which could turn into a major knockout punch.   

    In the Levy consolation, Razzle Dazzle returns from a serious win, having gone first over from post 7 to control the stretch drive very easily. He should have another simple time of it here. 

    Sea Venture raced well from post 8 and returns to the inside. He may be overlooked in the betting and could upset at a price.  

    In the event for Levy-eligibles, Reibercrombie gets another shot at winning with a decent price. He raced very well last time but was parked on the outside of Strand Hanover and quit badly. With post 3 in this group, he should be in the top three. 

    Foreign Officer is on the outside but was productive last week from post 8 and went a decent first-over mile. As long as he attempts to close here, he could upset. 

    The ‘Match’ Game

     The Blue Chip Matchmaker final drew as follows: 

    1-See You at Peelers (Sears)
    2-Rocklamation (Gingras)
    3-Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick)
    4-Fox Valley Sage (Cat Manzi)
    5-Ginger And Fred (Bartlett)
    6-Billmar Scooter (Eric Goodell)
    7-Chancey Lady (Andy Miller)
    8-Western Silk (Brennan).
    (Rocklamation and Ginger And Fred race as a common-ownership entry, while Anndrovette and Chancey Lady go uncoupled due to bona fide separate ownership.) 

    Rocklamation may once again hurl a big mile from off of a blistering pace. Although she has been strong in the series, Western Silk, See You At Peelers and Anndrovette will likely take heavy money, leaving out Ron Burke’s late-speeding gal.  

    In the consolation, Symphony In Motion, the Cape & Cutter champ, has had some problems since that victory. She should be acclimated to the half-mile action now and may be prepped to upset if she gets the trip.

    Cal Exotic

    The April 27 no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal-Expo is the last four races of the program,  from 11 through 14. Last week turned out to be a puzzler, with what we figured were easy toss-outs winning over our highly competitive but failing contenders. That’s behind us now, so here are, with comments, our choices this week for your consideration.

    Leg 1
    (1) Doit By The Clock won closing well last week and could get a good price to repeat considering there are some in here that the public should give more chances than they deserve. (5) Arch Nemesis broke last week while supported well enough and he came back to cash a minor check. With straight steering he could upset.

    Leg 2
    (6) RW Island Spirit has been sitting on a big mile and this group is poor enough to give him a shot at getting that victory. It is a tough single but this is a race we would gladly pass were it not in the mix, so let’s go with him. . 

    Leg 3
    (2) Jeano took the show spot last time at 32-1 and a comfortable ground-saving ride here could be cause for major improvement. The rest are so poor that we cannot even tell you which one will get favorite status. The 4 maybe, even though she tanked as the choice last week?

    Leg 4
    (1) Village Benjamin suffered some broken gear along the route and was hampered greatly as a 2-1 shot, finishing seventh. (4) Hey Scoob could not keep up the pace he set and was caught but may ration that speed to make more out of it in this group. (5) Devilish Donnie was the public choice and finished third; he more enjoys winning when he isn’t so favored.

    On the H2W list this Friday, April 27:

    Lebanon Raceway
    Riley Bow, Race 1
    Miss Bikini Beach, Race 11

    On the H2W list this Saturday, April 28:

    Dreamsofgrandeur, Race 6
    Jessalilpeace, Race 11
    Komoda’s Fantasy, Race 11
    Taxi Dancer, Race 10

    Here is another part of the H2W list that does not identify the next races for these horses. Use your TwinSpires database to alert you when they go.

    Balmoral Park
    Alabama Howard
    Dragon Fantasy
    Edita Hanover
    Judy’s Jet
    KB’s Taylor
    Star City Hero

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.
  • TCI is on to Louisville

    It was the blurst of times for the four horses who needed a Coolmore Lexington Stakes win to enter the Kentucky Derby picture as none even placed in the $200,000 Grade 3 event, and my pick "on top"--Morgan's Guerilla--finished last.

    I learned (and earned!) more from the race as a handicapper than as a Derby observer, but there were some promising efforts: Summer Front finishing second off the layoff, Hammers Terror holding on for third when the other speed feed, and Gold Megillah closing late on the outside to get up for fourth. The race may have fallen off as a Derby prep, but there were some useful efforts on display nevertheless.

    As Jon Siegel says in this week's Triple Crown Insider recap video, "We'll see what happens with all these horses--see if any of them move forward--because right now connections say they don't know what that next step is going to be."

    TCI will be on location this week to discuss all things Derby with your scribe (Ed DeRosa) and The Paulick's Report Ray Paulick.
  • Anatomy of a 70-to-1 winner

    POSTED Apr 23, 2012
    Publicly picking (or at least tweeting) a 70-to-1 winner of a graded stakes race is a lot like performing a magic trick--some are impressed and others want to know how you did it.

    Unlike a magic trick, however, picking such a winner is difficult to repeat. 70-to-1 shots do not win that often (1.4% if the odds are actually correct), and even when it happens again, it's not like I'll necessarily be on it. If I'm 70-to-1 to pick a 70-to-1 horse who wins then the odds are actually 5,040-to-1 of it happening, but that's still a better chance than I have of making the Statue of Liberty disappear.

    And besides, the important thing is I had this one: All Squared Away to win the Lexington Stakes. And the lesson here for those asking how I landed on this one is not dissimilar from what I took away from Dullahan beating me in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes: The most important element of handicapping a horse race is asking not "Who will win?" but "Who can win?"

    It's a topic I've addressed a few times on Hello Race Fans:
    One of the biggest mistakes people make when handicapping races is asking the question, “Who will win” rather than “Who can win,” and it is the rationalist that [Andy] Beyer speaks of who will look at the numbers and be able to determine who is too slow to contend.
    Three things jumped out at me when reviewing All Squared Away's Ultimate Past Performances on Saturday morning:

    1. His previous two BRIS Speed Ratings were in the low 90s and that was good enough to contend with this group with any kind of improvement for...

    2. first-time trainer Wesley Ward (a 29% win/58% in the money angle according to the aforementioned PPs.

    3. Those two low 90s BRIS Speed Ratings were both earned closing into a slow pace, which I did not think would be in play in the Lexington.

    There were some negatives, too, of course: The outside post was a concern given posts 8 and beyond had won just 4% of the races going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, and finishing sixth and seventh beaten a combined 19 1/2 lengths in two graded stakes tries didn't inspire, but again, how much inspiration do you need at 50-to-1? The three positives above told me the horse could win, and at that price I had to take a shot.

    In the end, 10% of the money I bet on the Lexington Stakes was on All Squared Away, so it's not as if he were my top pick in the race, but successful betting requires the handicapper not to get enamored with who will win.

    It's a great lesson to bring with you to the track--especially on Kentucky Derby day when so much importance is placed on WHO WILL WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY. It's a satisfying question to get right, and I'd love to see I'll Have Another win for that reason but not at the expense of a horse I've bet at 40-to-1 because he can win.

  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Apr 21, 2012
    There were winners aplenty on the Twitter scene, as @RayCotolo plowed through winners last weekend and this past weekend. Let’s start with last weekend’s results, which happened after press time for our blog review and move to the successes the week later. 

    Albert Chief, $25.60
    Poker Shark, $24.80
    Capote, $20.00
    Island Shark, $10.20
    High Pan Tolerance, $7.20  

    Then, on April 20:  

    Celebrity Playboy, $6.20  

    Shes Out Again, $11.30, exactor, $123.50  

    Then, on April 21:

    Maheer Lord, $21.80
    GB’s Misfit, $20.00
    Annual Dues, $17.00  

    Remember to stay connected to Twitter with Frank and Ray Cotolo for late suggestions to play including exotics. Follow and wager from TwinSpires. Get onto our mailing list to learn how to get upcoming horses to watch by clicking here.  

    We split in Saturday’s quartet of “Levy” races. We had the first division with Valentino ($5.50) and the second division with Razzle Dazzle ($7.70). The other two divisions did not offer any surprises, with the highest price of all four Levys at $8.90.  

    From the horses-to-watch list we scored at Buffalo with Golden Terror, paying $33.  

    At Cal Expo, the ticket we loved produced nothing. In fact, the winners were all instant toss-outs for us. Our best suggested contenders finished second, second, third and last due to a bad break.

    News And Notes

    On April 28 the 2012 Grand Circuit gets underway in harness racing (if eliminations are necessary to the first event of the circuit). Otherwise the string of races at 17 stops through the rest of the year begins on the first Saturday in May. That day, of course, the main attraction in horse racing is at Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby. Also that day, Freehold hosts the Dexter Cup (for soph-colt trotters), which launches our exclusive Hambletonian Trail blog.

    The “Trail” goes three monhs, from the Dexter Cup to the Hambletonian (Aug. 5) and during that time we will, in concert with the Hambletonian Society, cover all of the preps for Hambo-eligibles of both sexes, which includes the soph-filly trotters’ Hambletonian Oaks.

    The events involved are mostly on Grand Circuit stops, which include Hoosier, Goshen (no wagering), Pocono, Tioga, the Meadows and the Meadowlands. Other events for the two divisions will appear elsewhere at North America tracks and we will be reporting on them as well.

    There will be prizes and surprises along the way with a lot of stakes and wagering action leading to the giant day of racing on Aug. 4, where we will again report live. Stay with TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society to take in all of the great trotting action and betting opportunities in this exclusive teaming for harness bettors.

    The Meadowlands’ winter meet is over. The track is dark next weekend, April 27-28. Live racing resumes Friday, May 4 for the Championship Meet that takes us to the Hambletonian.

    New Jersey sire Rocknroll Hanover is currently leading all pacing sires in the money-winning category in 2012. His sons and daughters have banked $2,816,035 so far this year with 234 starters from 606 foals. His offspring lead runner-up Camluck ($2,401,342 with 328 starters from 1,694 foals) by more than $400,000, according to Perretti Farms, where “Rocknroll” stands stud.

    Two of his sons are major three-year-old prospects: A Rocknroll Dance and Pet Rock. In the glamour-boy pacer division they are pointing toward the New Jersey Sire Stakes opening leg on May 19 at the Meadowlands.

    (Cartoon by Thom Pye)
  • Win and you're on the bubble: The Lexington Stakes

    A cut in purse for the Lexington Stakes along with an increased premium placed on graded stakes earnings has tarnished some of the luster this race gained as a Grade 2 event that catapulted Charismatic to dual classic wins and a Horse of the Year title in 1999.

    Still, there IS $200,000 up for grabs, and the winner's $120,000 share of that could be enough to get some of these into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. In fact, the winner of last year's Lexington--Derby Kitten--was ranked in the high 20s on the graded stakes earning list with just a week before the draw and got in so certainly the winner of this event would be in with a chance.

    The Jerome is the other graded race for three-year-olds this weekend, but as the TCI boys point out below, the Lexington is far more likely to produce a Derby starter, though the Jerome can obviously have classic implications with the Preakness and Belmont as well.

    I like Morgan's Guerrilla most but no one would completely shock me in this race--including 50-to-1 morning line outsider All Squared Away. Since I like Font so much in the 7th race allowance I'll try to get him home first so I can go deep in the two stakes.

    And of course it wouldn't be a Derby prep weekend without Toga Tout, though he is getting pretty haughty about his record of picking favorites each week! That said, he's against morning line favorite Castaway this week.

  • Beychok buys horse who won him $1-million

    POSTED Apr 20, 2012
    On January 28, 2012, Glorious Dancer's nose helped Michael Beychok win $1-million, and six weeks later Beychok spent $6,250 of that money to claim the Roman Dancer filly.

    Glorious Dancer will run for the first time in Beychok's colors when she goes postward in a conditioned claiming event on Sunday at Golden Gate Fields. Beychok was in Lexington on Friday, April 20, for TwinSpires day at Keeneland and said that he hopes to bring Glorious Dancer to Louisiana--where he lives and runs a direct mail business--to race and breed.

    Beychok has raced horses with partners before, but this is his first time as sole owner. He will not be in Northern California for the race but will certainly be monitoring the action from Baton Rouge via TwinSpires and TwinSpiresTV.

    Beychok qualified for the NHC after finishing third in the TwinSpires Online Handicapping Championship. He went into the final race of the two-day contest needing $11 to catch the leader, and he achieved that goal when Glorious Dancer's glorious schnoz landed him $82.0 to win and $3.80 to win the NHC and the $1-million first prize by $1.

  • TwinSpires player wins $63k on dime bet

    POSTED Apr 19, 2012
    Normally hitting a Pick 6 would be enough big news for one day, but the hits kept coming for Julia Kring after Tricky Causeway completed the must-win Solo 6 sequence Tuesday at Sunland Park.

    Betting through TwinSpires.com, the 72-year-old retiree put in a 3x2x3x2x2x4 ticket for $28.80 that was live going into the last race. Kring, a veteran bettor who says she plays $100/day a few times each week, knew the likely payouts would be robust with three winners already having paid $15 plus a $39,000 carryover into the day with a mandatory payout to fuel the pool, but she was floored when she saw her winning combination return $31,517.04 for a dime.

    So you can really imagine her surprise, then, when her account indicated that she had actually won $63,034.08 ($47,276.08 after taxes) because the scratch of one of her three horses in the first leg coupled with the favorite winning that leg actually gave her the winning combination twice.

    “I was happy when I knew I won the Pick 6, but I almost fainted when I saw what it paid and then again when I saw what I got back,” Kring said from her Frankfort, Kentucky, home on Wednesday between betting races at Keeneland.

    Kring used Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances to handicap the sequence. One element of those PPs she likes is the detailed jockey statistics, which she finds especially useful for circuits she is not as familiar with like New Mexico.

    Indeed, Kring said she most often plays Kentucky and New York racing but decided to take a look at Sunland on Tuesday because of an ad she saw on the TwinSpires.com homepage touting the carryover and mandatory payout.

    “I like to play every day, but if I’m on a losing streak I’ll get mad at it and take a few days off,” Kring said. “Of course, I can’t get mad at it for awhile now.”

    Kring said she will wait for the funds to appear in her bank account before deciding how to spend the money.

    In addition to Kring’s pair of winning tickets, TwinSpires.com also sold a third dime ticket that hit on a $188.40 play, but that bettor did not wish to be identified.
  • Hansen and Bodemeister: Fire & Ice


    Hansen’s Last Hurrah 

    As the field turned for home in last weekend’s Blue Grass Stakes, things were looking good for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Hansen. After breaking sharply, the son of Tapit appeared to be on cruise control as he recorded a moderate, yet respectable, -6 early speed ration (ESR) while building a comfortable advantage entering the homestretch. With a furlong to go, Hansen led by 2 ½ lengths and appeared well on his way to his fifth victory in six career starts. 

    But Dullahan had other plans. 

    Moving like a shot on the outside, the 3-1 second betting choice rushed past trainer Michael Maker’s colt like he was one of the many statues gracing the Keeneland  grounds and won by 1 ¼ lengths. 

    (Click on image to enlarge) 

    1 ¼ lengths… that’s about a fifth of a second, the same amount of time researchers claim it takes for people to fall in love. Yet, in that fifth of a second I fell out of love with Hansen. 

    Look, it’s not like I was writing the colt poems or serenading it with old Luther Vandross tunes in the first place, but I must admit, after the Gotham, I was impressed. The Juvenile champ had rallied from off the pace for the first time ever and earned a career-best 105 Brisnet speed figure that day — how could I not be a little smitten? 

    But facts are facts and history is history — and neither bode well for Hansen. 

    (Click on image to enlarge) 

    Since 1992, there have been 19 horses that lost their final Derby prep after leading at the first call of that race. Of those, only one — that’s right, uno — managed to even hit the board. That was Lion Heart in 2004; all the others finished fourth or worse. 

    Frankly, it’s not hard to understand why such animals have been so unsuccessful in Louisville. The Derby is no place for one-dimensional steeds, much less those that appear hell-bent on getting the early lead. In a previous blog posting, I made it abundantly clear that Hansen would need to forego his freewheeling ways if he was to triumph at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. 

    “He must learn to rate,” I wrote on Feb. 9. “Don’t get me wrong, his early speed is a great commodity, but it needs to be utilized in a sensible fashion.” 

    Sadly, in the Blue Grass, it was not utilized in a sensible fashion… and I fear it won’t be in the Kentucky Derby either.  

    Buzzing About ‘Bode’ 

    No sooner had Bodemeister, a horse named after trainer Bob Baffert’s son Bode, crossed the wire in the Arkansas Derby than the buzz began: Was this a super horse, the animal to break the curse of Apollo and win the Kentucky Derby despite not racing at the age of two? 

    (Click on image to enlarge) 

    Steven Crist sure thinks so. In a column entitled “Bodemeister: Start Of Something Special?” the Daily Racing Form editor claims that the son of Empire Maker is “absolutely the horse to beat in the Derby.” 

    Crist notes that “Bodemeister earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108 winning at Oaklawn Saturday, which is 10 to 14 points higher than the winning figures in this year's four other Grade 1 prep races for the classics: the Blue Grass (98), Wood Memorial (98), Florida Derby (95) and Santa Anita Derby (94). 

    “I don't think there's anything flukey about the figure,” Crist continues. “One race earlier, the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, which drew a G1-quality field of older horses including this year's Donn and Big 'Cap winners, was run in 1:49.94. Bodemeister ran the same distance in 1:48.71, which is 1.23 seconds faster.” 

    Later in the piece, Crist compares Bodemeister to another impressive winner of the Arkansas Derby.

    “At this point in his career, Bodemeister is reminiscent of another Arkansas Derby winner who did not make his racing debut until January: Curlin, who won the 2007 Arkansas Derby by 10 1/2 lengths with a 105 BSF in just his third career start.” 

    OK, I get that, but the fact is Bodemeister has never faced any kind of adversity. Crist compares the colt to Curlin; I compare him to Bellamy Road.

    (Click on image to enlarge) 

    Few could argue that the 2005 Kentucky Derby favorite was any less impressive in his final prep, the Wood Memorial, than “Bode” was in his. Bellamy Road earned a 120 Beyer and a 115 Brisnet speed figure for his performance that spring at Aqueduct — numbers that haven’t been approached before or since. 

    Yet, when trainer Nick Zito's stable star was unable to wrest the lead from a host of early challengers while racing 4-5 wide in the Run for the Roses, he faded. 

    I can easily imagine a similar fate for Bodemeister, especially since I don’t think Hansen will allow him to catch any breathers in the early going. 

    Trivia Question (answer below): What does Bodemeister have in common with former Kentucky Derby champs Reigh Count (1928), Secretariat (1973), Pleasant Colony (1981) and Sea Hero (1983)? 

    (Click on image to enlarge) 

    Trivia Answer: All five were bred in the state of Virginia.
  • Penultimate Pacing Parades

    POSTED Apr 18, 2012
    The last round, which is the next-to-last featuring of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for the males and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for the mares, highlights one of the last weeks before the Grand Circuit rolls into New Jersey for the start of the 2012 season (more on that and the Hambletonian Trail in our weekly update on Sunday).  

    Next week the “Levy” final figures a field that is the best of the best of this series and that could mean tough competition considering how favorites have dominated this year’s events. Yonkers Raceway hosts all of the events for older pacers, the mares on April 20 and the males on April 21.   

    At Cal-Expo, TwinSpires-Cal-Expo’s exclusive no-takeout Pick 4 looks quite the wager on April 20.   

    Long Live The Levys

    The April 21 “Levy” battles are in four divisions this week and again we analyze them. We must make note, though, as the penultimate fields go for berths In the final, that this year has been uncommon to past seasons, where favorites shared spots in legs and some faltered to situations where we were able to get an edge. The legs this year have been solidly simple, resulting in some terrible prices, where even exactas came back embarrassingly low. Maybe this week will provide an anomaly, which was once no such thing in these miles. 

    Race 5

    Valentino returns to our favor after a weak start this series. Last week he put in a tough first-over trip, which was impressive, but he couldn't get to Real Nice. He will be seeking the points to make the final today. PH Jackpot seems to go the overland route every time. He may finally get the advantage in this if he tucks early.  

    Race 6

    Razzle Dazzle was a favorite last week, got the trip, but needed the race more than his backers thought he did. He should be better this time and perhaps passed up by the public from the awful post 7. 

    Race 7

    Atochia has sparkled  in this series and there is no reason to think he will continue to do so and handle post 6. Sea Venture has surprised a lot of people in this series. George Brennan should arrange a way to race him well from post 8 here.  

    Race 8
    Blatently Good should be racing better but has never totally embraced the half-miler in New York. Here, he will be bet far less as Real Nice, who gets the inside. Don't overlook Blatenly Good here, though, this guy wakes up when the price is right.  

    ‘Match’ Mares

    The Blue Chip Matchmaker begins its penultimate round with Race 4 on April 20. Shacked Up dueled hard for the top last time but couldn't sustain the spot. She should improve.  

    The second division, Race 6, finds us ready to back Billmar Scooter. Last week she went first over and sustained the place spot. She will be tough to beat and a possible outsider.

    Naughtytiltheend has been aggressive every start and here, although she gets post 7, she should get a good trip and possibly upset as we have been feeling she would in previous miles.  

    The third Matchmaker mile brings us back to Arctic Fire N. Although she hasn't won yet, she should seek redemption with fervor in this final division and could be a very good price, as she was when she got in the money two back.  

    The nightcap offers Hula's Z Tam. This week she gets the luck of the draw for the first time in awhile. She should finally win a division. Meanwhile, Summer Snow, who was a huge second last week goes up against a weaker field this week and could finally upset.

    Cal Exotic

    The April 20 no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal-Expo looks so tempting that we offer a larger ticket than usual; not much bigger, just a smidgeon because we feel very good about this week’s combination of races, from Race 11 through Race 14. Here are, with comments, our choices for your consideration.

    Leg 1
    (1) Little Anna Mae was awesome from post 10 among her division last week and finished an honest fourth. (7) Dreamsofgrandeur can come right back and win again after a great victory display. (10) Afinetouchofclass was well supported, fired early but paced out of steam and still needs to be included in this heavy opener. 

    Leg 2
    (1) Taxi Dancer dueled strongly but lost the battle as the choice from the 8 hole, gets the rail here and seems to tower over this group. 

    Leg 3
    (4) Komoda’s Fantasy was wide and still picked up the place at 7-1. (6) Jessalilpeace was in good hands when my friend Joe Faraldo won driving in an amateur event and there is little reason to ignore the pacer in this contest. (9) Wrangler Reward got second, too, but he was on the outside for three calls. 

    Leg 4
    It will all come down to the single, (9) King Carver. He has been poised to toss a knockout punch and even from the outside this looks like the ring where he can do it.

    On the horses-to-watch list this Saturday, April 21:

    Buffalo Raceway

    Launching Tonight, Race 4
    Never Going Away, Race 6
    Golden Terror, Race 7

    Lebanon Raceway

    Miss Bikini Beach, Race 1
    Brother Bud, Race 2
    Yank My Rose, Race 6
    Baby Blue Pajamas, Race 9

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.