• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jun 30, 2013

    Captaintreacherous, again denied by many, this time due to his outside post position in the Max Hempt Final at Pocono on June 29, paid a remarkable $4.80 by winning the race with defiance toward every harness-handicapping notion available.  
    The ever-so-great sophomore pacer, with Tim Tetrick aboard again, left from post 9 and raced on the outside for all three turns of the mile, sometimes three wide, and got up by a neck to defeat Vegas Vacation in 1:49.2. And he did it on the surface that was pelted by rain an hour before the event, turning the condition of the surface to “sloppy.” 
    Raised eyebrows are yet to fall back into place; the “Captain” is going every bit as perfectly as we predicted from the start of his soph career. It could be that we have seen the last time he will win at anywhere near 7-5. Twice now we have urged readers to wager on him over even money and twice the Captain came through. This is indeed a special pacer, a racer of greatness, able to avert adversity for the sake of winning. 
    We were also correct about the Ben Franklin Final, as Bolt The Duer received the trip needed to win, paying $6.80. 
    Our speculation into the onslaught of freshman races over the weekend produced only one winner and it was very obvious to all. He’s Watching won at Saratoga Harness and paid a paltry $2.90. The remainder of our ventures into the frosh world were all failures from 8-5 to 51-1. 
    For result stories and our winners on soph-colt-and-filly trotters’ stakes, visit the Hambletonian Society’s special archive page for the Hambletonian Trail stories. 
    $9.40 Cheyenne Cam, Buffalo
    $6.80 Columbia Art, Northfield
    $3.60 Hillbilly, Pompano
    $2.40 Vodka Is Terror, Saratoga 
    The following are the horses that finished second or third along with their post-time odds. Special notes on those finishes follow. 
    The Riddler (8-5), Maywood 
    Guts N Glory (2-1), Maywood; Misty’s Dignity (6-1), Northfield; MJ’s Victory (3-1), Northfield; Lislea Bonita (7-1), Scarborough; Parthenon (3-1), Running Aces; Twentyone Guns (5-1), Running Aces 
    All adjustments for returnees to the list and additions will be in the Thursday blog. 

    News And Notes

    Also at Pocono on June 29, Foiled Again’s win in the Ben Franklin Final put the stalwart pacer’s earnings over the $5-million mark, putting him third to Varenne and Moni Maker on the list of standardbred’s highest earners. Much like Captaintreacherous did in his win on the same program, Foiled Again took an overland journey to win, catching Pet Rock and Razzle Dazzle at the wire. Now a nine-year-old, Foiled Again joined the Ron Burke stable in 2008. 
    With Arch Madness cutting the fractions in Pocono’s opening race on June 29, Uncle Peter got the perfect trip right behind him to come out in the stretch and win in 1:50.3. That is the fastest mile won by a trotter on a five-eighths track. Arch Madness fired major fractions of :26.2, :55 and 1:22.1 to allow Uncle Peter the speed badge. 
    Though we offered an alternative to the mighty I Luv The Nitelife in the June 29 James Lynch Final at Pocono, we also warned of this filly’s dominance over her soph division. When she won the “Lynch” she became the sport’s newest millionaire. This is rare so early in the season but she could be as special for her sex as the Captain is for his division. It was her fourth-straight win this year, having taken the Fan Hanover in Canada and winning her Lynch elim last week. 
    More baby races at the Meadowlands over the weekend offered some tips on youngsters looking in fine fettle to battle as the frosh season ensues. Trotting colts Flacco and Trixton, both trained by Jimmy Takter were impressive in wins. Trixton was the most expensive trotting yearling sold at auction last year, bringing a final bid of $360,000. He won for the second time in baby events.
    Dottie Major won at first asking for trainer Nick Surick; Put On A Display, a $175,000 Somebeachsomewhere filly led all way to win; colt pacers Murder He Wrote and Winds Of Change looked strong in victory. Two-year-old colts Stay Up Late and Avalanche Hanover also made good impressions.
    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. 
    Recent Balmoral winners in tickets include:
    TE's Zenyatta, $32.40; Bring It All, $20.00; Galactic Star, $8.40; Shiswell's Delight, $8.40; Dontbeachatme, $8.00; Make Me Fly, $4.60; Mister Virgin, $4.00; Justlivinthedream, $2.80, $2.20.
    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
  • Wise Dan Looks Vulnerable in the Firecracker

    POSTED Jun 29, 2013
    First of all, I wish to make it clear that I am not among those who believe that Wise Dan is — in any way — a faux champion. The first time I computed his pace figures, I knew he was something special.

    But upon looking at the past performances for Saturday’s Firecracker Handicap, I can’t help but wonder if, purely by accident, the ultra-conservative approach of owner Morton Fink and/or trainer Charles Lopresti is going to bite them in the… uh, rear.

    Look, it’s no secret that Wise Dan hasn’t been ambitiously spotted over the latter part of his career — many thought he should have contested last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf and many more believe his aim this year should be the BC Classic — but, so far, Fink’s and Lopresti’s “low-hanging fruit strategy” has worked.

    Wise Dan has continued to win races that have suited him — mainly, those contested at a mile to a mile and an eighth on synthetic and turf surfaces, where he is a combined 10-of-11 lifetime. And, although he didn’t exactly back into the 2012 Horse of the Year award, there’s no doubt that by concentrating on what he does best while others ventured into uncharted waters (witness Game on Dude in the 2012 Dubai World Cup), Wise Dan put himself in a great position to be everybody’s default choice when those waters inevitably drowned his competition (again, I refer to Game On Dude, who finished second-to-last on the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai).

    Mind you, this cherry-picking is not Wise Dan’s fault. Just like another recent champion (can you guess?), he can only do what he is asked to do — and one would have to be more cynical than Louis C.K. to assert that Wise Dan’s 2012-13 performances have been anything less than brilliant.

    However, this strategy is dependent on one thing: The would-be-champ must, as Al Davis used to say, “win, baby, win” (unless said champion has a bad start that, in the opinion of racing fans who’ve been around the game for 10 years months, resulted in a narrow loss).

    And that puts Wise Dan in an interesting situation on Saturday… because I think he’s vulnerable — and not in the good “I’m-looking-for-a-sensitive-guy/girl-who’s-not-afraid-to-show-vulnerability” kind of way (I’ve faked that often enough to know).

    Two things concern me about Wise Dan in the Grade II Firecracker:

    1) The -6 late speed ration, or LSR (see below), he earned in his most recent race, the Grade I Turf Classic, was the worst such figure he’s earned in his entire career on grass (which tells you how good this horse is). 

    2) Lea.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Let’s start with the former: Whenever I see horses, especially older horses, record an unusually poor LSR (“poor” being relative, of course) it gives me pause. Rachel Alexandra, Blind Luck, Havre de Grace… all of them earned lousy LSRs that signaled the end of their racetrack dominance. Obviously, I don’t think that Wise Dan is at that point (a -6 is still a very good number), but I do think it reveals an emerging chink in his armor.

    My second concern is more tangible. Simply put, Lea looks like an up-and-coming star.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The son of First Samurai is improving by leaps and bounds and makes his second start off of a layoff after what was arguably the best race of his career (albeit against inferior competition). What’s more, he gets 11 pounds from the defending horse of the year and, most importantly for bettors, should offer a square price.

    He also has connections that know a thing or two about toppling a champion… but that’s another story.

    FREE Weekend Handicapping Reports

    Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know that I have a new love in my life — and it’s not a pet, automobile or Justin Bieber (I’ve been a “Belieber” for years… not really).

    No, my new love is my Pace Profile Reports, which I’ve been gushing about for days now, primarily because they save me so much handicapping time — time that I can now use to post messages on various Justin Bieber fan pages… not really.

    Well, because I’m such a great guy (not really), I’ve provided links to some of those reports, as well as links to my Win Factor Report below. As I plan on selling one or both of these reports soon, feedback that doesn’t end in “and the horse you rode in on” is welcome.


    Pace Profile Reports

    Win Factor Reports


    Pace Profile Reports

    Win Factor Reports

  • Winning underlay or losing overlay? The Players Pool conundrum

    POSTED Jun 27, 2013
    You are offered two games of chance with fixed odds. In the first game, you flip a coin and get 4-to-5 odds on your choice (heads or tails). In the second game, you roll a standard six-sided die and get 6-to-1 odds on your choice (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6).

    Which game do you choose if...

    A) You get one chance and must bet 100% of your bankroll?
    B) You get 100 chances but can only bet 1% of your bankroll on each chance?

    The coin offers underlaid odds but a much higher chance of success. The die offers better value, but you fail 83.3% of the time.

    So if I only get one chance for all of my bankroll I'm flipping the coin. My expected value is lower, but so is my risk of ruin. Sort of a one in the hand is worth two in the bush situation. Under the "B" scenario I'm rolling the die. I'll win less often, but getting 6-to-1 instead of the fair value 5-to-1 on each successful roll makes it far more likely that I will profit.

    Balancing these probabilities is at the heart of multi-race wagering for me. Giving yourself a chance not only at success from a "hitting it" standpoint but also financially rewarded for the risk taken.

    The Pick 6 on Wednesday at Belmont featured a $248,140 carryover and a coin flip paying 1-to-2 in the form of Crackerjack Jones in race 5 (leg 2). 3-to-5 on the morning line, Crackerjack Jones paid $2.90 after winning by 4 3/4 lengths. He was never threatened, and in retrospect  was probably fair odds to win considering it's tough to see him losing that race more than a third of the time.

    The Players Pool took a stand against him, however, using him on "only" 42.82% of our tickets, which indicates odds of about 4-to-3. The thinking was that there was far more value in beating him than trying to hit it multiple times at the expense of not using longshots we liked later in the sequence. As it turns out, Crackerjack Jones won and none of the potential $20+ horses we liked ran a step.

    We correctly leaned on Strapping Groom, who won race eight (leg five) at odds of 23-to-5. We used him on 22.7% of our tickets (17-to-5), but made our biggest mistake in the first leg where Cay To Pomeroy faltered as the 1.55-to-1 second choice but as the top choice on our tickets with 48.9% (nearly even money) of our action.

    All that adds up to we backed the wrong side of the coin and was wrong about the die. We took the calculated risk to play the ticket to give us the best chance at a $500,000 score. We don't always play it that way. Sometimes I agree with the public that a horse like Crackerhead Jones can't lose, and we ask, "what can we do to hit this thing 10 times?"

    Even with all the dead money in the pool from the two-day carryover, a horse like Crackerhead Jones winning is never going to produce the watershed payoff, and that's OK. If you choose to flip the coin then make the most of the opportunity. But having $48,315 to put into the Pick 6 and not loving a 1-to-2 favorite put us in a unique position to make a really nice score otherwise.

    Here's to next time.
  • Young Guns, Glamour Groups, Fire

    POSTED Jun 26, 2013

    Even though Pocono Downs gets the week’s top headlines with Saturday, June 29’s finals at the Pennsylvania oval next week, including another appearance by Captaintreacherous, the weekend agenda launches herds of freshmen onto the 2013 scene.

    Frosh-colt-and-filly trotters and pacers star in state-bred action on the East Coast and include many of the two-year-olds we have been reporting on in baby races. Saratoga hosts New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) frosh events on June 28 and the Meadowlands brings out the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) youngsters on both gaits that night and the following night, June 29. Freshmen show up for their initial battles of the season all around the U.S.A., including at Bangor, Scioto and Running Aces.

    The soph-colt-and-filly trotting events on the Hambletonian Trail are analyzed on the exclusive blog. This includes the Earl Beale, Jr. final, trotters in sires stakes and Yonkers’ Hudson Filly Trot eliminations.

    Our exclusive harness horses to watch (H2W) list from tracks around North America is short but sweet, presenting horses you need to take seriously at tracks around North America.

    TwinSpires offers special bonuses for Hoosier Park throughout the harness meet. Check out the Hoosier details here.

    Sun Stakes Sunday

    Pocono Downs' big program on June 29 features stakes finals and consolations.

    The Ben Franklin Consolation has five heading to the gate, with favoritism probably in the court of Sweet Lou. Favored in his elimination, Sweet Lou had no chance past the quarter, making a bad break. He’ll likely go to the front this week from the rail as will another horse, who will likely get a pocket trip. 
    On countless occasions, Bolt The Duer has shown his prowess only when he sits a pocket mile; such occasions include the Dan Patch and last year’s Adios. He’s poised to get away in the two-hole with his draw and with fractions that will come nowhere close to extreme, he will fly up the passing lane providing an upset. 
    Lonewolf Currier, a horse that received plenty of buzz heading into the “Hempt” eliminations, will be the likely choice in the event’s consolation. Good Day Mate sat a pocket mile in his elimn. He had no chance to move out of the pocket, seeing the fractions that were being posted. He showed he can keep up and will likely be placed well and have enough for the stretch drive. 
    Speed is the word to define the James Lynch Final. Ms Caila J Fra, Charisma Hanover, Shebestingin, Somwherovrarainbow and I Luv The Nitelife all have the ability to leave the gate quickly but getting the lead is the trick. With speed developing in the race, it provides us an opportunity for an upset. 
    Somwherovrarainbow will likely get a pocket trip in this cavalcade of speed. In the elim, she led the mile, while I Luv The Nitelife sat the pocket trip. Since I Luv The Nitelife drew to the outside here, it’s likely she’ll leave faster than Somwherovrarainbow. She races very well from a pocket trip and a slight Pocono bias has presented itself often enough to give the pocket sitter the greatest benefit. She’ll provide bettors with value and a good race. 
    The Max Hempt Memorial has become a major tango for the glamour-boy pacers over the last few years and 2012’s edition was won by A Rocknroll Dance, who proved to become one of the best in the division. This year’s edition has the already division-leading wonder boy, Captaintreacherous. A touch of drama for the “Captain” here is overcoming post 9. It will be a challenge but the Captain has shown how well he adjusts to the Pocono surface, as well as how cogently he meets all challenges. With many trying to beat him yet again, the Captain may offer great value (anything over even money). For more bang for your buck, there are two horses that will provide a big exacta, Emeritus Maximus and Johny Rock. 
    Emeritus Maximus (our choice that paid $19.20) won his elim with a pocket ride through monstrous fractions. He showed great fight heading to the wire and will be in the mix at some point nearing the wire here. As for Johny Rock, he was the one that set the monstrous fractions. Pacing his third quarter in :25.4, he came home in :27.3. He can race either on the lead or in the pocket, either way he’ll be big odds and near the top late. 
    Another race displays a giant speed scenario, the $500,000 Ben Franklin final. Razzle Dazzle, Up The Credit, Foiled Again, Pet Rock, Betterthancheddar and Dynamic Youth are the names that will likely launch off the wings of the starting gate. This race will likely set up for a pace stalker rather than a deep closer. No other horse’s resume fits this position other than Modern Legend. He has been flying late in his last three miles, two of them being world records. He drew a good post to close from and will likely have cover to ride into the stretch and he’ll do his thing from there. 

    Freshman Frenzy

    On Friday, frosh colt pacers go around four turns in $45,000-plus divisions of the NYSS at Saratoga plus the Excelisor Series features froshes. These are tough races to handicap, as most performance lines consist of qualifier miles. Let’s go through each race with brief comments.

    R2 Excelisor Series—Bettor On Top; Ontario gelding has raced with winners.
    R4 NYSS—American Tower; should improve and close on this fresh speed.
    R5 Excelisor Series—Southwind Scorpion; has the practice to win at first kick.
    R6 NYSS—He’s Watching; great style, late kick could out-maneuver these.
    R7 NYSS—Great American; prepped great at farm with long journeys, ready.
    R8 Excelisor Series—Miracle Jjabe; big overlay with great early form.
    R11 NYSS—I’m All Heart; Schnittker student is in top shape.

    The Meadowlands’ NJSS presents frosh colt-and-filly trotters on June 28. Let’s go through these races with brief comments.

    R2 NJSS—Fortunes Of Fables; Muscle Hill babies should excell, especially on the Meadowlands mile.
    R4 NJSS—Before I Die; bettors may overlook this youngster whose sire sends out lots of young winners.
    R11 NJSS—Chocolate Day; ditto on R4 comments about sire, though this one is bound to be a short price.

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track to decide how you will use the information. The list has shortened as the stakes season ensues but still offers the best possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races.

    The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. 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” signals the horse is entered but on the also-eligible list (so it might not get into the race). Multi-horses may be listed in the same race.  Horses from previous lists that are not racing this week will no longer appear until they are confirmed in a race.

    Wagering on any of the H2W listed horses is based on your own judgment. Your handicapping skills should include decisions to 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. 

    6/29/13, +Cheyenne Cam R4; + Gerald N Sam R12

    6/27/13, Innovation R4
    6/28/13, +Too Tall Tamarac ae R2; Guts N Glory R11; The Riddler R12; Really Lucky R12

    6/29/13, +Timer R1; +Lost Photo R4; +Misty’s Dignity R7; +Majestic Duke R10; +Mj’s Victory R11; Columbia Art R13; +His Eminence R13
    6/29/13,Hillbilly R3; +Victory Connection R4; Diamond Amber R8

    Running Aces
    6/29/13, + Parthenon R1; + Furious Five R2; Twentyone Guns R9

    6/29/13, +Vodkas Terror R3; +Daydreamin Lynx R6; +They Call Me Brice R6; +Mighty Art R7; Prince Argental R12

    6/28/13, +Keystone Howie R3 
    6/29/13, +Lislea Bonita R1; Fourth Page R7
    6/28/13, Ee Bay 8
    6/29/13, +Dontstiffthevet R10
    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.
  • Contest Races for Thursday and Friday



    1) Belmont 7 – OCL, 1M, Dirt – 4:13
    2) Churchill 8 – AOC, 1 1/16M, Dirt – 4:29
    3) Belmont 8 – OCL, 6F, Dirt – 4:45
    4) Churchill 9 – CLM, 1M, Dirt – 4:59
    5) Belmont 9 – CLM, 7F, Turf – 5:17
    6) Hollywood 4 – MSW, 6F, Turf – 5:32
    7) Hollywood 5 – CLM, 1 1/16M, All Weather – 6:04
    8. Hollywood 6 – CLM, 6 1/2F, All Weather – 6:35

    1)      Churchill 6 – ALW, 1M, Turf – 5:22
    2)      Arlington 6 – CLM, 7F, All Weather – 6:30
    3)      Belmont 8 – AOC, 7F, Turf – 6:36
    4)      Churchill 9 – CLM, 6F, Dirt – 6:54
    5)      Arlington 7 – MCL, 6F, All Weather – 7:00
    6)      Belmont 9 – MCL, 7F, Dirt – 7:08
    7)      Churchill 10 – AOC, 1 1/16M, Dirt – 7:24
    8)      Arlington 8 – CLM, 1 1/18M, Turf – 7:33
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jun 22, 2013

    Captaintreacherous did it again this weekend, winning on Pocono’s five-eighths track in one of three elims for next week’s Max Hempt stakes. The champion glamour boy pacer paid $2.40 but our best pick was in the first “Hempt” elim, where we nailed Emeritus Maximus, which paid $19.20.  
    Our only other winner of the big Pocono program was the obvious I Luv The Nightlife, paying $2.20. We were nowhere near the board in the Ben Franklin elims.  
    Listeners of North American Harness Update were handed a Pick-4 on June 21 as Ray Cotolo handed them the winning combo at the Meadowlands. The $36 ticket for the Pick 4 in races seven through 10 featured Raring To Go S ($24.20) and Crown Lady ($15) on the high prices. The ticket paid $777.10. 
    For result stories and our winners on soph-colt-and-filly trotters’ stakes, visit the Hambletonian Society’s special archive page for the Hambletonian Trail stories. 
    $11.00 Lucky Lime, Scioto
    $4.40 High Bet Hanover, Running Aces
    $2.90 Up Front Lady Gray, Buffalo
    The following are the horses that finished second or third along with their post-time odds. Special notes on those finishes follow.  
    Dolly Howard (4-1), Running Aces; Place At The Beach (5-2), Running Aces; Mystical Walter (4-1), Maywood; Lislea Bonita (9-1), Scarborough; Hazel Nut (5-2), Saratoga; Vodka Is Terror (5-1), Saratoga; Daydreamin Lynx (156-1), Saratoga; Show Topper (5-2), Scioto; MJ’s Victory (8-5), Northfield 
    Parthenon (2-1), Running Aces; Bolero Topgun (9-2), Pompano; Cheyenne Cam (5-1), Buffalo; Gerald N Sam (19-1), Buffalo; His Eminence (10-1), Northfield 
    Daydreamin Lynx finished second to the favorite at 156-1 and the exacta came back $273.00. He paid $38.60 to place. 
    All adjustments for returnees to the list and additions will be in the Thursday blog. 
    News And Notes

    The babies were at it again at the Meadowlands. Two-year-olds were readying for the big frosh season and two trotting colts were reportedly quite impressive, each winning in 1:57.1, according to Meadowlands reporter Nick Salvi. Nuncio, from the Jim Oscarsson barn, was away close and then shuffled, rolled by under no urging and won easily. The next was Southwind Spirit’s wire-to-wire win. This Muscle Hill product is from the Ron Burke barn. Derby won for Ray Schnittker in 1:59. He is a son of Hambo-winner Deweycheatumnhowe. The highest priced trotting yearling sold last fall, a Muscle Hill colt named Trixton, won in 1:59.2 from the Takter barn. Shake It Cerry won for the third time in a baby race, this one a romp from start to finish in 1:56.4, also for Team Takter.  
    Pacers featured wins by Avalanche Hanover for trainer Linda Toscano and her filly student, JK Molly won in 1:56. Put On A Display charged home from well back to win in 1:58.3 for trainer Chris Ryder. Ideal Magic zipped to an effortless 1:53.3 win for trainer Tony Alagna and Tellitlikeitis was a 1:53.3 winner for Takter.
    Stampede Park, the home to horse racing, including great harness racing, in Alberta for many years, was unreachable after the drastic flooding in Calgary. The city was virtually shut down due to the area’s devastating floods. Photos of the facility show the extend of the flooding through this link. 
    There may or may not be a 49th edition of the historic Frank Ryan Memorial at Rideau-Carleton Raceway this summer and will not be a 32nd edition of the Des Smith Classic. The two events, for open trotter and pacers respectively, were the track's signature events but with the dire conditions of racing in Ontario this year, the track feels it cannot present the events. Racing secretary Benoit Frenette said, “We are trying to get a sponsor for the Frank Ryan and I’m ninety percent sure that it will go forward but as an invitation race. I can’t even say what the purse money would be at this stage.” Last year the race went for $183,500. If the Frank Ryan survives, it will be presented on Sunday, Aug. 18. However, the Des Smith Classic has definitely been cancelled for 2013. Last year’s event went for $176,500.

    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
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love

    POSTED Jun 21, 2013
    Based on a Google search and absolutely no attempt on my part to verify the veracity of the information (I feel like a real journalist now), it was Confucius who said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

    He also said that “it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” — a statement that was taken quite literally by an old lady I was stuck behind merging onto the freeway the other day.

    I think you get my point: Confucius was an idiot.

    Hey, I love horse racing — the color, the excitement, the arguments on various social media outlets over which horse is ducking the competition; and I especially love handicapping — the numbers, the analysis, the arguments on various social media outlets over which horse should have won but didn’t because the jockey/trainer/horse is a moron… I love it all.

    But, there is a fine line between love and obsession — and an even finer line between obsession and bat-(expletive) crazy. Over the past couple of weeks, while working feverishly to complete my new Pace Profile Reports, I have crossed that line.

    I’m not talking about tentatively putting my toe across the line, like one testing the temperature of the pool, mind you. I’m talking about crossing the line like Amanda Bynes on Twitter.

    One afternoon at the grocery store, groggy from a night of studies, I attempted to compute the speed figure of the checkout lady, but she only stared at me blankly when I blurted out “13!” Another time, at the gym, I tried to figure out my late speed ration (LSR) on the stationary bike… I’m telling you, I’ve been out of my mind.

    But, alas, my toil is over. My new reports are done! And although these nice people in white jackets don’t seem reassured by that news, I can confidently say that my days of going to Wal-Mart wearing nothing but a bathrobe and muttering about a demanding pace are over… well, at least I’ll stop muttering about a demanding pace.

    Now, to celebrate, I’ve produced several full-card Pace Profile Reports for this weekend’s races and I encourage folks to give them a try. At some point (soon), I’ll produce some instructional material — including video (most webcams don’t have any sharp edges, so they should be allowed at the place I’m staying).

    In the meantime, I’ve added my analysis of some of Friday’s races.

    Enjoy! It's time for my meds.

    CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 1: Tough call here, but I’m most impressed by the numbers of SMARTEN DESTINY, a seven-year-old gelding who recorded a race-best -12 ESR last time. The son of Smart Strike shortens up today and should improve in this his second start off an eight-month layoff.

    * WIN on 7 at odds of 5-2 or greater.

    CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 5: With the best overall speed figures and LSRs, ALL IN SLEW is clearly the one to beat, but keep an eye on GRIND (5-1 fair odds) as well.

    * WIN On 4 at odds of 4-5 or greater.
    * EXACTA BOX 3 & 4.
    * PICK THREE 4 with 5 with 1,3,6,8 & 3,4 with 5 with 1,3,6,8 & 4 with 1,2,5 with 1,3,6,8.

    CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 6: FRIENDLY DANCER earned a superior speed rating in his most recent try and also recorded the best early and late last-race pace figures in the field. Other top contenders include COUNTRY GIRL and INCLUDE THE WAHOOS.

    * WIN on 5 at odds of 8-5 or greater.

    CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 7: Both of the Michelle Lovell-trained horses, AT THE PULPIT and BIG LUCKY, intrigue me — especially the latter, who switches back to the grass after a game win over the Churchill Downs main. I’m also interested in RIPINANDATEARIN, who’s improved by leaps and bounds and could be on the engine versus these.

    * WIN on 3 at odds of 6-1 or greater & 6 at odds of 7-2 or greater.
    * TRIFECTA 3,6 with 1,3,5,6,8 with 1,3,5,6,8.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 1: Big speed edge for SQUATER in here. Other top contenders include the first-time starter JUST NAUGHTY and HIGH WIRE DANCER.

    * WIN on 2 at odds of 8-5 or greater.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 2: I really like SAPPHIRE BREEZE’s last turf try on May 24. In that race, the daughter of Eddington earned a 95 speed figure and -3 LSR. I think that effort makes here the one to beat in today’s wide-open affair.

    * WIN on 7 at odds of 5-2 or greater.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 4: PURE DIVINITY has a huge early speed edge and looks best. I’m also keeping my eye on KEVIL KID, as trainer Morris Nicks is especially adept with horses trying turf for the first time.

    * WIN on 3 at odds of 7-5 or greater.
    * EXACTA BOX 1 & 3.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 5: POWER SURGE recorded the best last-race speed figure, ESR and LSR in his most recent race; the one to beat.

    * WIN on 4 at even odds (1-1) or greater.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 7: According to Brisnet, 36 percent of the races carded at one mile and 70 yards (or thereabouts) at Louisiana Downs are won in wire-to-wire fashion. This speaks volumes for PEACH BRANDY, who looks like the quickest of the quick in today’s event. I also like LEESTOWN MARTY, who earned a race-best -5 LSR last time, and AMY MY AMY, who could improve after a decent effort following a nine-month vacation.

    * WIN on 3 at odds of 5-2 or greater & 2 at odds of 9-2 or greater.
    * EXACTA 2,3 with 2,3,7.

    LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE 8: SPOTSYLVANIA’s first — and only — start was a good one, earning a 98 speed figure and a zero (0) LSR. In a race with a vulnerable favorite (CAN’TOUCHTHISGAL) and a lot of ho-hum contenders, that’s good enough for me.

    * WIN on 1.

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