• Lunar Handicapping

    POSTED Dec 31, 2013

    Many moons ago (you’ll get the reference in a second), I wrote an article about lunar handicapping, or the notion that the phases of Earth’s moon can affect pari-mutuel results.

    I know, I know — on the surface, such a topic seems… well, loony. But I try to be open-minded and, the fact is, many prominent people have put great faith in the stars.

    Steel magnate and financier J. P. Morgan once said, “Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do.”

    Johannes Kepler, the man who used math to derive the laws of planetary motion — much to the chagrin of Galileo Galilei — termed himself a “Lutheran astrologer.”

    “I throw away the nonsense and keep the hard kernel,” Kepler said.

    And let us not forget Firenze, the omniscient centaur from the “Harry Potter” series of books and movies. Firenze noted that wizards and muggles alike should “watch the skies for great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there.”

    OK, maybe that last example was not as compelling as the first two, but the point is that even men — and centaurs — of great distinction have turned to the heavens for guidance. What’s more, the impact of lunar cycles is something that many believe is real and present in our everyday lives.

    While preparing to re-visit this issue, I read an article by Dr. Jeffrey Katz, entitled “Lunar Cycles And Trading” that appeared in Stocks & Commodities in 1997. In this fascinating piece, Dr. Katz created a trading system based on the phases of the moon.

    Concentrating on wheat and silver futures, holding both long and short positions, Katz’ system returned overall profits of 242 percent and 190 percent from Jan. 2, 1990 to Feb. 21, 1997 respectively, leading him to conclude the following:

    The lunar cycle is an apparently relevant phenomenon that seems to influence the markets. The results of this study also suggest it might be worthwhile to look at the influences of other kinds of cosmic phenomena (for example, sunspot activity, which has approximately an 11-year cycle; eclipses; the alignment of planets and so on). In short, an examination of the astrology of the market is not as far-fetched as it might sound at first. If we were to “boldly go” where no trader has gone before, we may just find a little more of that edge we are all seeking.

    Then there’s my own experience.

    Expecting to find the phases of the moon to have exactly zero impact on the results of thoroughbred horse races, my initial research on the subject left me with some troubling data. In a study of over 6,000 races run from 2004 to 2010, I found that post-time favorites running on a day or night of a new moon did shockingly well:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Hence, I have decided to once again test the notion that favorites — forgive me — pay at the moon.

    Using an entirely different database, this one comprised of more than 27,000 races run from Febuary 2012 to November 2013, I first checked to see how sole favorites (favored entries were ignored) performed:

    Number: 27,364
    Winners: 10,154
    Rate: 37.1%
    Return: $45,953.00
    Net: $1.68
    ROI: -16.03%

    Next, I gathered the digits on sole favorites running on the day or night of a new moon:

    Number: 1,046
    Winners: 402
    Rate: 38.4%
    Return: $1,870.90
    Net: $1.79
    ROI: -10.57%

    Once again, the new moon numbers are superior (although we’re still dealing with a relatively small sample size). As much as it pains me, if this were the show “Mythbusters,” I’d have to rule the myth that favorites perform better on the day/night of a new moon “plausible.”

    I suspect it’s all Stephanie Meyer ’s fault.

    New Moon Dates in 2014

    January 1
    January 30
    March 1
    March 30
    April 29
    May 28
    June 27
    July 26
    August 25
    September 24
    October 23
    November 22
    December 22
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Dec 29, 2013

    We open with a score at an overnight that endorses our plays on non-stakes events during the waning of the year and we present our Players’ Horse of the Year, as promised, below.
    Our two overnight feature races were highlighted by a win at Balmoral in which also resulted a mighty exacta. On Saturday, Dec. 28, our blog’s second of two overnight features for the week took place in Race 9 at Balmoral Park. Our top choice, Firstclassallthway won and paid $15.40, $8.20 and $6.20. We offered a second choice, Justa Cowboy. He went off at 23-1 and finished second, paying $22.20 and $10.40. The cold exacta came back $262.60.

    Saturday’s feature for the TwinSpires harness blog was at Cal Expo, where Articulate went off a 3-2 choice and finished second, paying $3.80 and $2.40.

    We will continue to offer prime plays from overnight races into early 2014, so keep your account in shape and follow these hot choices in which we focus. Speaking of hot choices, our horses-to-watch (H2W) list offered some strong wins and across-the-board returns even though some tracks were still under the duress of weather. Sports Creek cancelled for the second-straight weekend and Flamboro could not complete one of its cards which included some H2W horses.

    The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed as the winner in the same race (*asterisks note the particular races along with track name). This holds true, also, for trifectas if three H2W horses finish win, place and show.


    Alcars Britefriday, $23.70, $8.20, $5.10, Northlands
    Iza Bin Freezin, $15.60, $6.50, $5.10, Fraser (Exacta, $60.10)
    Hi Ho Disguise, $7.80, $2.80, $2.40, Cal Expo
    Classic Sakuri, $4.80, $2.60, $2.40, Northfield
    American Fly, $4.40, $2.60, $2.20, Flamboro
    Libertys Best Star, $4.10, $2.70, $2.30, Flamboro
    Strawberry On Top, $3.60, $2.60, $2.40 (*Exacta, $19.80), Northfield


    Friskie Pants, $9, $5.40, Northfield
    KG Explorer, $7, $4.60, (Exacta, $16.10), Northlands
    Milano Grande, $5.80, $3.20 (*Exacta, $19.80), Northfield
    Cyndalianne, $5.50, $3.50, Flamboro
    Our Miss Kristi, $5.20, $4, Maywood
    Hammers Wild Rose, $5, $2.90
    Thieving Magpie, $4.80, $3.70
    Careless Love, $3.80, $3.20 (Exacta, $16.80), Northfield


    Beach Hero, $13.60, Western Fair
    Pippi, $10.80, Maywood
    Watch And Pray, $7, Northlands
    American Passion, $4.40, Northlands
    Dancing Barry, $4.20, Cal Expo
    Giant Sculpture, $3.60, Cal Expo
    Sunny Bee, $2.70, Northlands
    Metajka Road, $2.60, Northlands

    Players’ Horse of the Year, 2013
    For harness bettors everywhere that are not involved in the day-to-day industry of standardbreds and wager on all classes of harness racing throughout the year, we are proud to announce the TwinSpires Players’ Horse of the Year.

    The single qualification to earn our title is not speed nor class nor money earned, it’s the one element that is the primary concern of bettors—what did the horse pay? Over the past dozen months, through stakes and overnights, from coast to coast in North America, this blog has supported many winners but the ones paying the highest win mutuels have been the stars, those we will always remember, those that pump our TwinSpires accounts up and provide us with profitable overall play. That is why the highest paying horse given by this blog throughout the year becomes our champ.

    The Players Horse of the Year for 2013:

    In our H2W list for March 8, 2013, Do You Wanna Rumba was the horse to watch in a conditioned pace (non-winners of $250 per start, fillies and mares, purse $1,800)) at Lebanon Raceway. Do You Wanna Rumba followed the outer flow and won by ½ length.

    She paid $109.40 to win.

    The bay six-year-old mare is a daughter of George Scooter (Matt’s Scooter)-Tyler’s Melody (Tyler’s Mark) and was bred in Ohio by her owner Kevin S. MCQuinn of Lebanon, Ohio.
    Thanks to USTA Pathway for the data and details on the 2013 Players Horse of the Year.

    During the year, other winners we presented on this blog paid a gamut of prices to win. Here is a list of the runners-up for Players Horse of the Year, that is, winners other than Do You Wanna Rumba that we encouraged you to play, which paid $20 or more to win (in descending order).

    Puretown Athena, $56; Diditagain Hanover, $52.50; Bubba McGee, $51; Rocknroll Band, $50;
    Loco For Cocoa, $45.80;
    Southwind Sydney, $39.20; Catmando, $37.20; Sign Of The Moment, $36.80; D’orsay, $36.60; JJ’s Current, $34.20; TE’s Zenyatta, $32.40; Red Star Cashflow, $31.70; Our Dragon King, $31; My Tryin Ryan, $30;
    Dukeofhazard, $27.60; Fancy Foxy, $26.40; Casimir Jitterbug, $26; Blue Boy Yankee, $25.60; Super Railee, $25.60; Incredible Gambler, $25; Lindy’s Tru Grit, $25; CCs Lover N, $24.20; Native Roots, $23.20; Ballykeel, $23; Pro Perfect, $22.80; She Shell Cruise, $22.80; Indian Creek Kate, $22.20; Sun On The Rocks, $22.20; Bagel Man, $22; Martini Hanover, $22; Ms Heather M, $22; Economy Terror, $21.80; Gee Up, $21.60; Grin-n-scoot, $21.60; Rocknroll Band, $21.60; Servuga, $21.60; Candy’s Pool, $21.20; Garland Becky, $21; Dabestleaderever, $20.60; Super Manning, $20.40; Wizkey Road, $20.20; Bring It All, $20

    There were 44 others that paid $10 up to $20 and many more up to $10. The winners came from an array of raceways across North America over 12 months.

    Some of you involved with the Hambletonian-TwinSpires Winners Pool in August of 2013 will recognize horses above as winners from that highly successful day, certainly the most successful for harness in the history of TwinSpires.
    Extraordinary Extras

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

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog.

    Cartoons by Thom Pye