• How to Determine the Pace of Today's Race

    POSTED Feb 28, 2013
    One of the toughest tasks that handicappers face today, especially in light of all the turf and synthetic races carded on a daily basis, is estimating what the pace of a race is likely to be. Will the frontrunners rush to the front in an all-out sprint for early supremacy or hold back like kids in line for a flu shot?

    In last Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes, the former approach was on display, as Majestic Hussar rocketed to the front and recorded a -13 early speed ration, carving out an opening half-mile in 45-2/5 seconds.

    Of course, after the race, when it was discovered that the 3-5 favorite Violence had fractured his right front medial sesamoid and is no longer on the Kentucky Derby trail, many theorized that the swift Fountain of Youth pace contributed to his demise.

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    Yet, it is my contention that the -13 Fountain of Youth ESR was not only a non-surprise, it was predictable. In fact, I’m going to show you an easy and reasonably accurate (hey, you can’t expect easy and infallible, can you?) method for determining the probable pace of a race.

    Now, as you probably guessed, I’m going to use my proprietary speed rations to do it… but don’t be discouraged by that fact. I am only using my numbers to draw measurable conclusions. From a handicapping standpoint, the important thing is discerning whether the pace figures to be fast, normal or slow — which is something my ESRs can readily tell us.

    In fact, the crux of this method lies in a different set of digits altogether — the Quirin speed points found in Brisnet’s Ultimate and Premium Plus past performances or detailed by the man himself in “Winning At the Races.” The concept is simple: Just total up all the Quirin speed points in a given race and divide by the number of horses that earned them (first-time starters or horses with zero points should be ignored). Then use the equations derived from my database studies (below) to forecast today’s ESR. Because the ESRs are relative, i.e. they are not speed figures, one can instantly get a grasp of how the race is likely to be run once they have been obtained.

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    Let’s go back to last weekend’s Fountain of Youth Stakes and put this simple pace method to the test.

    Eight horses (Joshua’s Compromise wasn’t considered — see above) combined to earn 42 Quirin speed points, good for a race rating of 5.3 (42/8= 5.3).

    The ESR equation for dirt routes is as follows:

    ESR(y)= -0.5877 * 5.3(x) – 7.0519, or -10.

    A -10 ESR, as noted above, constitutes a “brisk” pace. Yeah, in real life, the Fountain of Youth pace turned out to be a little faster than that (almost “demanding”), but we’re in the ballpark. And that’s all this method is attempting to do — give us a general idea as to how fast, relatively speaking, the pace will be.

    With this knowledge, we might have concluded that horses able to rate off the early fractions — horses like Orb, Joshua’s Compromise, Violence and, to a lesser degree, He’s Had Enough and Sr. Quisqueyano — would have an advantage in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park feature.

    And we’d have been right.

    Orb rallied from eight lengths off the pace to catch a leg-weary Violence in the final strides, while Speak Logistics, a frontrunner that has been attempting to rate in recent races, rallied to finish third.

    Try this method on other races and see what you think. Hopefully, it will help you more accurately assess the pace picture of the races you bet on, which should help your ROI… and your peace of mind.

    FREE Weekend Win Factor Reports

    Coming soon.
  • Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 & weekend preview

    The second (of three) Kentucky Derby Future Wager is this weekend, and unlike the first pool, some of the horses involved in this pool are running this weekend, so that changes the approach a little bit since what Overanalyze and Vyjack do in the Gotham at Aqueduct (free Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs) and what Titletown Five does in the Gazebo at Oaklawn will absolutely affect how they're bet in the final 24 hours the pool is open.

    For free Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs of Kentucky Derby Future Wager 2, click here, and of course wager on the pools (and keep an eye on odds) via TwinSpires.com.
    I already have 13 horses covered in Kentucky Derby futures (see ALL BETS tab) with Verrazano and Orb being the two horses I'm most concerned with having $0 on. The former is scheduled to run next week in the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs while the latter just ran last weekend, winning the Fountain of Youth. That means I'm more likely to bet Verrazano in this spot and pass on Orb until the final pool since he won't run between now and then. I.e., why take 12-to-1 now (based on morning line) when I'll probably get that same price in a few weeks when other horses emerge?

    Verrazano, on the other hand, is 10-to-1 here and figures to be half that price if he wins the Tampa Bay Derby in impressive fashion, which I expect. Still, 10-to-1 is light too. I think this is a pretty good group of horses, so even if Verrazano wins out he still might only be 3- or 4-to-1 on Derby day. That price then appeals to me more than 10-to-1 now given the projected record.

    Two other horses in similar positions to Orb are Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby. Neither is likely to run before the Kentucky Derby Future Wager closes pool 3, so again, why take the projected prices now when you can get three weeks closer to the Derby and about the same price then?

    I ended up not pulling the trigger on the field last time, and no regrets yet at 8-to-5 considering the only horses I missed out then that I can't get now are I've Struck A Nerve, Orb, Palace Malice, Shakin It Up, Titletown Five, and Treasury Bill. I didn't like the San Vicente at all, so SIU & TB are nonfactors to me. The Risen Star was OK, but I don't see either ISAN or PM as major enough threats at this point (& their price should still be OK three weeks from now). Titletown Five is precarious because if he runs well in the Gazebo he'll be an underlay, and if he doesn't run well then he's a nonfactor anyway. I might play him if he's a troubled second and then overlooked because you know Lukas will take his shot regardless.

    The only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager is this weekend (click here for free Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs), and I'm not as bullish on that pool because there's no other opportunity besides race day to protect your position. That said, the Martha Washington horses might be OK at big prices, and So Many Ways at 30-to-1 is intriguing on a sort of "out of sight-out of mind-overlooked" angle.

    I don't get involved in exacta wagering much, but an Oaks-Derby future double could be fun down the road. Good luck for those getting involved this weekend!
  • The Rides Of March

    POSTED Feb 27, 2013

    It’s that time of the year when the very atmosphere is uncertain whether to be one season or another and the air can be thick with fog or blinding with snow. Either way, the months are taking dead aim at the coming of new star pacers and trotters, juvenile wonders and sophomore heroes.

    Such is the nature of March, when a horseplayer does not shun the present but still looks forward to the future, with all of its glamour. Still, the color of the money won during this undefined time that is famous only for the death of Julius Caesar (who did not pay attention to March 15 as well as it was suggested) can stock the bankroll for the highlighted, headlined events of the months ahead.

    So, as the bandit said to his band, “We ride!” And in March our path is laden with horses to watch from all over the continent in events that will be shamefully overlooked once the gleaming of stars and six-digit purses adorn the marquee. Never ones to dismiss great wagering opportunities, we uphold our expectations for the horses-to-watch list (H2W, which has been very kind to all aspects of pari-mutuel wagering available.

    There is still more, since TwinSpires’ 10-percent bonuses on winning Pick 4s at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday nights (this past Wednesday the track was closed due to bad track conditions but has returned to action) and Woodbine on Saturday nights continues into March.

    Check out the details for Woodbine here.

    Check out the details for Buffalo here.

    Looking for a big score, we add our suggestions for Saturday’s Woodbine Pick-4 events, tagged with a TwinSpires bonus, and hope to help you build a ticket with other than the obvious dead-on public choices. Check back later if that information is not printed below, as we have to add it after press time.

    March Mildness

    It doesn’t qualify as “madness,” in the college basketball sense, so we are calling the next round of winter series at the New Meadowlands mild.  

    This weekend begins a new round of top-class action and the finale of another. On Friday, March 1, the Horse & Groom series for three-year-old-and up trotters will hold its first preliminary. Saturday, March 2 starts round one of the Aquarius series for four-year-old Open mare pacers and the final of the Junior Trendsetter for sophomore pacers.  

    In the first division of the Horse & Groom, on paper, the field is wide-open. We’ll take our chances with a horse we had last week, Volare De Vie. He trotted a pocket trip in the “Singer” last week chasing Real Babe into the final eighth. He goes against a weaker field here, so he should race better and be towards the top early.  

    The second division is a two-horse race. There are two contenders, Quick Deal and Modern Family. Quick Deal is the likely favorite, due to his remarkable miles in the last few weeks against the A-1 and A-2 trotters. But we will go with the other contender, Modern Family. Since turning four, the horse has improved greatly, coming off of three-straight wins at Dover, two of which were in the Open. He is a sharp colt and could do much better on the mile track, versus the five-eighths.  

    The Aquarius draws in a top-notch that look to be very competitive. We have two horses in here, Warrawee Needy and Escape The News. Warrawee Needy is coming off a great qualifier off a three-month layoff. He should improve greatly tonight and is a menace in the field but may be a short price. Escape The News is also sharp. He is coming off three-straight wins, one in 1:50.2 in the A-1/A-2 pace in January. He recently qualified in 1:53 and should be the main rival to Warrawee Needy and will likely sit near the top and stalk the leader.  

    The Trendsetter became a little harder to handicap, since most of the favorites drew the outside posts. This gives an opportunity for an upset. We have two contenders here, Humility and Terror High. Humility is always close to the pace and will likely get a pocket trip but the likely leader, Resistance Futile, will likely drop out due to having to negotiate his path from post 10. From there, Humility can slingshot into the stretch and win the final as he won in the first leg. Terror High is also a threat. He is always close to the lead and challenges the tempo. His driver should ration his speed for half of the mile and may make his move late, so then he doesn’t burn out early in the mile.

    H2W Legend

    Always review the H2W legend, published weekly, to authenticate the choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track to decide how you will use the information.

    Before the horses’ names is the track, followed on the next paragraph by a date it (or they) will be racing, with the race in which they are entered (R and race number). If a + is in front of a horse’s name, it means that horse is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” means the horse is on the also-eligible list and needs a scratch to get into the race. Sometimes up to three horses are listed in the same race; it is up to you how to deal with the situation (note that in the past this situation has resulted in exacta and triples).   

    If a horse that has appeared on the list but was scratched or is not racing its second week consecutively, you will see a N/R after its name and will appear on a separate line from dated entries. And if a horse shows up at another track in its second week of being listed, it will display the plus sign as indicated above.    

    There is a margin of error, of course, so we encourage you to keep your own list along with our list to be sure our H2W is free of mistakes.   

    All members of the list need to be considered serious contenders in the races noted. Wagering on any of them is based on your own judgment of value, as well as if you wager to win, place, show or in exotics. If you have any questions about the H2W list, send them to us through the TwinSpires blog channel.  


    3/2/13, +Gram Legend R1; Shipps Con R5; Star City Hero R6; Fashion Delight R6; Dave’s Bid R6; Camgrandest R7; Mcmantle R7; Whistle Pig R8; Zall Good R9; Lennox Blue Chip R10; Fox Valley Yukon R11; Look Ma No Hands R13; Bucks Luck R13; Ohyouateonetoo ae R13  

    3/1/13, Allamerican Danube ae R3; +Lutetium R4; +Dartmouth Hall ae R4; +Mighty Looker R4; +Premier Cami Cane R5; +MS Heather M Linnea P R6; +Sharp Lady R6; Pick Up Point R12; +Little Haus R12Wyndridge Bliss R13
    3/2/13, +Card Dealer R6; +Mr Terror R7; +Brave Call R7; Auditorial R9; Allamerican Dice; R10+Answer The Bell R12; Palmer’s Z Tam ae R12
    Shoe In N/R; Donegal Jim N/R; Mattador D N/R; Monsier DeVie N/R; Marvelthisbliss N/R; In Good Hands N/R; Dudley Doright N/R 

    Cal Expo
    3/1/13, Vantage R1; Eternal Overdrive R2; +Paradise Ragtime R4; Ginnysdoodledandy R4; Sleigh Bell R7; Bubba Mcgee R10; Schemes R11; +Poorlittlerichgirl R15
    3/2/13, Forever My Love R1; Andynicol Tomridge R2; Windy City Paige R4; Coal Younger R6; +Red Star Popeye R8; +Go Go Fast R9; Style Element ae R9; Lucky Asset R10; +Larry Horse R10; +Terror Time R11; Glad To Be Here R15
    Comeshomeearly N/R; Matty Rose N/R; Notable Intension N/R; Mighty Fine Hi Ho N/R; Asgoodasioncewas N/R; Smiling Major N/R; Wildcats Major N/R; Barona Destiny N/R; Skyway Major N/R; Blue Boy Yankee N/R  

    3/1/13, Pureform Athena R1; Call Me Up R2; Jans Rich Girl R2; +Degas Protégé R3; Red Star Vickers R4; Millbanks Sniper R4; +Semper Fortis; Spider M R5; Tahuya Clem C R6; Steal The Diamonds ae R6; +Limit The Risk R7; Beach Boy Toy R7; Midnight Destroyer R10; Segomo ae R10
    3/3/13, +Red Star Bogart R1; Promise To Lynette R2
    Rosie Lookin N/R 

    3/1/13, +Bets Draggin Fly R1; +My Man Ben ae R4; Jarnac R4; Titan Park R7; +Nanette Hall R8
    Blue Monster NR; Bell On Wheels NR  

    3/1/13, Do You Wanna Rumba R1; +Simply Jorgeous R5; My Surfer Girl R6; +Sarahs Ruby R6; +Toucam Sam R9
    3/2/13, +Cruise To Fame R3; +Gunmans Bandit R5; +Super Dream R9
    Machine NR; Bell Valley Indian NR; Roger And Sam NR; Sir Johnny Colt NR  

    3/1/13, +Speed Minister R3+Richard Traci R13; Frostonpumpkin R13

    3/1/13, +Solong Saboo R1; ItsADeal R2; +Grin-n-scoot R7; +Ellisarro Hanover R9; +Desperate Crowds R11; Hayden Abbe N R13; +Pure Defiancy R13; +Church St Boom R14; +Grateful John ae R14
    Anais Kicker N/R; Gambler’s Vacation N/R; They Call Me Moon N/R; Striking Lauren N/R; TK Diva N/R  

    3/1/13, Rockratese R5; Penna Nicole R6; She’sa Town Girl R9; +Real Time Dream 9; Southwind Rah Rah R14; Rhianne R14
    Taylorland Cyprus N/R  

    Rader Detector NR; Allen The Optomist NR; KM Sweet Dreams N/R; Allamerican Major N/R; Premier N/R; Whiteland Will N/R 

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.
  • Pletcher and the Derby: Better than most think

    POSTED Feb 26, 2013
    The only thing more fashionable than Todd Pletcher's charcoal gray suits on race day is bashing the five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer's Kentucky Derby record.

    Admittedly, 1-for-31 isn't the most impressive stat, but it's also an unfair way to couch the opportunities he's had to win America's most famous race because he's only tried 12 times (but with 31 horses).

    Ignoring the improbable chance of a dead heat, the best Pletcher's record could be is 12-for-31 (38.7%), and the chances of that based on off odds of his horses is 8,659,613,123,123-to-1.

    But of course that's ridiculous. No one expects Pletcher to win the race every year, but even multiple wins is a tall order when you consider that no trainer in that period has won the Derby more than once, so in a stat for most Derby wins in the 21st century (whether you count 2000 or not), Pletcher is tied with 11 (or 12) others with one win each.

    And when talking about Pletcher's Derby record the binary nature of what he can accomplish each year is often overlooked in stats such as "He's a 25% trainer overall but has only won the Derby with one starter from 30." He can either win or lose. 

    Pletcher is 1-for-31 (3.2%) in an era when all starters are 13-for-246 (5.3%). That makes all starters not trained by Todd Pletcher 12-for-215 (5.6%). Sure, a trainer of his stature could be expected to perform a little better than all starters, but even winning the race a second time gets him to just 6.45%, and we're about to see winning it twice is no easy task let alone the charming third time that would make him a nearly 10% trainer in one of the most difficult races in the world to win.

    Pletcher saddled his first Kentucky Derby starter (actually first four Derby starters) in 2000. They had coupled entries for common ownership back then, so Impeachment and Trippi were half of a four-horse entry that also included High Yield and Commendable at 6.2-to-1. With High Yield unquestionably the strongest part of the entry, I estimated that Pletcher's half of the entry had about a 29-to-2 chance of winning. More Than Ready was 11.3-to-1 and Graeme Hall was 46.3-to-1. So the total chance that Pletcher would win in 2000 was 14.6 or about 5.85-to-1.

    I conducted this same exercise for the other 12 Derbys since Pletcher began participating. He did not saddle a horse in 2003, so the probability of a win there is 0. His "best chance" came in 2007 when his five entrants (Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Cowtown Cat, Sam P., and Scat Daddy) were given a 5-to-2 chance in the win pool by the wagering public. He didn't get it done that year but did three years later when Super Saver scored at 8-to-1 on the tote but was part of a quartet the wagering public made 6-to-1 to get Todd his first Derby.

    Given the chances Pletcher had of winning each Kentucky Derby, the most likely outcome is that he would have won the race...


    That's right. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how one of our best trainers "can't win the big one", the most likely result (37.4%) from running these 13 Kentucky Derbys is that he would have won the race one time , and it's only slightly more likely that he would have won it twice (25.7%) versus not at all (23.7%), and things get really difficult when you talk about 3 (8-to-1), 4 (38-to-1), or five or more wins (202-to-1).

    Which is not to say such incredible runs can't happen. In the past 25 years streaks include Baffert's three wins in six years, Lukas's four wins in 12 years, and Zito's two wins in four years, and each of those runs dwarf what Pletcher has accomplished.

    But no one is arguing for Pletcher being among the Derby greats. He's often painted as a goat, and while I'm sure many of his owners would prefer he had a little more success in the race, he's winning at about the rate you would expect.

  • POSTED Feb 24, 2013

    2012 National Handicapping Championship winner and TwinSpires.com VIP Michael Beychok takes Las Vegas by storm (again!) this week as he competes in the Horse Player World Series at the Orleans Casino. Beychok, whose handicapping exploits also include being a part of the TwinSpires.com Players Pool team that scooped the Pick 6 on Dec. 8 at Aqueduct for $271,487, will be blogging about the experience for TwinSpires.com throughout the week.

    The final chapter to the story of my first trip and try at the Horse Player World Series has been written and the ending was not climatic. More of a crash and burn finish, but I’ll get to that later.

    First, I want to congratulate the winners, thank my tablemates, and send out personal congratulations to Eric Wing, the communications director and master of all things ceremonial for the NTRA. Eric finished in 7th place overall by stringing together three incredibly consistent days with masterful handicapping. Eric sat at the table next to me, and he is really missing his calling in life because no one could tell whether he just hit a capper horse or took a tough beat. A tremendous poker face topped only by his intellect, quick wit, and handicapping ability.

    As I’ve written and spoken many times before my strategy for these large field tournaments is to focus on a target number that should put me in contention to win and construct plays to get to that number. For this tournament my target number was reaching 3000 points on Saturday with 5-7plays left to go. Mission Accomplished as I had 3000 points with 7 plays left. I had surmised that this would put me less than 500 points or 50 bucks out of first place. Not a high mountain to climb.

    The reality was that when I had 3000 points with 7 bullets left I was 2000 points out of first place because the leader had run away and hid; I must admit, this took a lot of wind out of my sails and I became the horse player version of the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph: dead in the water.

    I basically whiffed on all 7 remaining plays and ended up in 26th position overall, a top 3% placing and good for some cash, but it will take me a few days to figure out if I just calculated wrongly and this year’s tournament was an aberration or something else. I’m happy with my placing (well I will be happy in a few days but right now I’m a bit miffed). After all I did beat 750 other great handicappers but I’m left wondering if I was doomed to lose from the get go because of the miscalculation on the target number.

    In any case, these tournaments are a great experience, meeting new friends, renewing old friendships, and affirming my strong belief that playing the horses is something to wear as a badge of honor and not as a scarlet letter.

    I encourage everyone to give tournaments a try--whether online at Twinspires--or a local live tournament because these contests are a true, complete test of one’s handicapping ability.

    Michael Beychok is an award-winning political consultant from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His horse racing site--beychokracing.com--offers picks, wagering strategies, and contest insights. Click here to see video and read a recap of Michael's 2012 NHC win.
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Feb 23, 2013

    The winners from our exclusive H2W series continue to spark our best weekly action. Lebanon Raceway was added this week, delivering two of the 14 winners listed.  

    Feature-wise we were second at the Meadowlands with Yo Cheyenne Rocky and Volare DeVie in two of the series finals on Feb. 23.   

    In the TwinSpires bonus-tagged Woodbine Pick 4 on Saturday we had just one winner, World Away, at $6.20. Our ticket, with two per race, finished 8-win/ 9-2/ 5-Scratch/ 7-4.    


    Here they are from the highest paying to the lowest paying winners from the H2W on our blog last Thursday:   

    $50.00 Rocknroll Band, Buffalo
    $31.70 Red Star Cashflow, Fraser
    $21.00 Gee Up, Cal Expo
    $19.20 Billy Elliot, Cal Expo
    $12.60 Rascan Steve, Buffalo
    $12.40 Angle Of Attack, Pompano
    $10.40 Stoney Interlude, Maywood
    $7.80 Paul The Powerful, Cal Expo
    $6.20 Super Dream, Lebanon
    $5.40 Franky Provolone, Cal Expo
    $5.00 Dawn Of New Money, Lebanon
    $4.80 Bell On Wheels, Freehold
    $4.70 Dartmouth Hall, Buffalo
    $3.70 Gooch’s Bad Boy, Buffalo

    The following are the horses that finished second or third from Thursday’s list along with their post-time odds. Special notes on their affects in those positions follow. Be aware that some of them were second-timers on the list and will not return next week (you may continue following them on your own, using them as you see fit).  

    Quiet Judy (23-1), Buffalo; Palmers Z Tam (8-5), Buffalo; Fox Valley Libero (7-1), Maywood; Master Jeeves (7-1), Maywood; Nanette Hall (3-1), Freehold; Simply Jorgeous (7-2), Lebanon; Roger And Son (8-5), Lebanon; Carmelitas Girl (7-1), Northfield; Style Element (4-1), Cal Expo; Larry Horse (5-1), Cal Expo; Red Star Vicker (5-1), Fraser; Red Star Bogart (5-2), Fraser; Thisoneandonemore (6-1), Meadows; Odin Blue Chip (7-1), Meadowlands   

    King Otra (7-1), Buffalo; My Man Ben (8-5), Freehold; Rader Detector (3-2), Pompano; Degas Protégé (7-2), Fraser; Comeshomeearly (7-1), Cal Expo; Grateful John (13-1), Meadows; Hillcrest Bigdaddy (2-1), Meadows; Solong Saboo (62-1), Meadows; Grin-n-scoot (3-1), Meadows; Mighty Fine Hi Ho (3-1), Cal Expo

    All adjustments for returnees to the list and additions will be in the Thursday blog.


    News And Notes

    Freehold Raceway’s 2013 stakes schedule is official, kicking off with the Grand Circuit three-year-old Dexter Cup trot eliminations on April 27 with a May 4 final estimated at $130,000. The Lady Suffolk, the filly division, estimated at $77,000 is carded on May 3.  

    A spring late closing series named after the late Kenneth Fischer, former owner of Freehold and Gaitway Farms, debuts with a first leg on Saturday, May 4, the second leg on Saturday, May 11, and the final on Saturday, May 18 with an estimated purse of $30,000.    

    The New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) divisions dominate the fall schedule along with the Lou Babic Memorial for frosh pacers. The eliminations for the “Babic” go on Aug. 31 with the two finals coming back on Sept. 7. The finals are estimated at $90,000 for the colt division and $55,000 for the fillies.   
    Also, again, are the Helen Smith for soph-trotting fillies on Aug. 30, the Marion Dancer (frosh filly trotters), the Charles Smith (soph trotters), the Harold Dancer (frosh trotters) and NJ Futurity races.

    The second annual Open Space Pace will be held on Sept. 21 during Open Space Pace Day, recognized as a County Fair and an effort to preserve open space in New Jersey by raising awareness of the standarbred horse and harness racing industry. The complete states schedule along with more information on the spring late closing series can be found at http://www.freeholdraceway.com/.
    The 2013 race dates for Hoosier Park are also in the books. Hoosier will host solely harness racing. Hoosier’s meet begins Tuesday, April 2 and will conclude on Saturday, Nov. 9. The 20th season will offer 160 programs. Following a Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule, the daily post time is 5:30 p.m. The $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational Pace will take place on Saturday, May 25.
    New stakes that will be administered by the Hambletonian Society include the Fall Final Four, which consists of a quartet of races for two-year-olds: The Valley Victory, Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds and Governor's Cup. All four will be raced at The Meadowlands in November.

    The society will also service the Battle of Brandywine, the Colonial and the Valley Forge, which will be raced in 2013 at Pocono Downs.
    The Historic Stakes for two-year-olds are moving to Harrah's Philadelphia (formerly Chester). The Historic Stakes for three-year-olds will remain at Tioga Downs for 2013.
    Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) announced the 2013  racing schedule with the first race card of the season going Thursday, May 23. Harness racing will be offered on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday nights until Monday, Oct. 14 in the total program schedule of 84. First race post time for each card is set for 7:25 p.m. except for the 7:05 p.m. post set for the North America Cup program on Saturday, June 15. Other highlights include the Maple Leaf Trot on Saturday, July 20, the Metro Pace/Canadian Pacing Derby card on Saturday, Aug. 31 and the Canadian Trotting Classic on Saturday, Sept. 14.

    Woodbine’s current harness season will continue on a four night per week schedule (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday nights, post time 7:25 p.m.) until Monday, May 20.

    Northfield Park announced purse increases beginning March 11. The 10-percent increase is expected to be the first in a series of increases as the impact of casino gaming in Ohio, specifically the $265-million gaming and entertainment facility at Northfield Park, is fully realized.

    Dave Bianconi, Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, said, “Our horsemen and fans have supported our racing for years despite a low purse structure compared to tracks in jurisdictions that have additional gaming. The purse increases that will take place here over the next few years will improve our product significantly.”

    Northfield races more than 200 cards per season, with a current live schedule of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights with post time at 6:30 p.m.

    A rash of one-program streaks for harness drivers took place in the last few weeks. At Yonkers Raceway Jason Bartlett picked up where Brian Sears left off. After Sears won 13 of Yonkers’s previous two dozen races (with one dead-heat) over the previous two racing nights, it was Bartlett who streaked with five wins on a program. Also tabbing multiple-win nights was Yannick Gingras at the New Meadowlands and Corey Callahan and Ron Pierce at Dover Downs. Then, at Northville in Michigan, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. won 10 of the 14 races on the program.  

    Trotting champs Workaholic and Armbro Goal have died. The former died at age 31, in France and the later died at age 28, in Denmark. 

    Armbro Goal was raised and bred by Armstrong Brothers and was campaigned by Continental Farms Stable. He won the 1988 Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Beacon Course and World Trotting Derby. He raced 13 times as a sophomore, winning 11 races and finishing second once. He earned $1.31 million that year. 

    Armbro Goal sired two winners of the Hambletonian Oaks, Winky’s Goal and Oolong. He was also the sire of the very popular FFA trotter Fool’s Goal 1:51.3 ($3,057,070) and Legendary Lover K, who in 2002 won the European Grand Circuit and now is at stud in Italy and Denmark. Armbro Goal was sold to Italy, where he was at stud at Orsi Mangelli Stud but since 2009 he has been in Denmark. His last foals were born in 2012 in Denmark.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.   

    Every weekend as part of that blog we offer Balmoral Pick-4-and-win picks at the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program page which includes suggested win bets.  

    Connect to Twitter and follow Frank and Ray Cotolo for up-to-the-minute suggestions on wagers at many harness raceways. Then, wager from your TwinSpires accounts. 

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog.


    Cartoons by Thom Pye