• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jun 29, 2014
    The big news in the sport was not our repeat of a Sebastian K-to-Modern Family exacta ($7.20) but the fact that Sebastian K raced the fastest trotting mile in the history of the sport (1:49) on the Pocono five-eighths oval.

    Veteran horseman and our official harness-blog cartoonist Thom Pye said, “I have lived to see the face of The Deliverer” and that is how many of us felt as we witnessed the monster mile. Amazingly enough, Sebastian K, appeared to record the trip easily and looked tremendous drawing away from Modern Family down the stretch.

    The exacta did not match the one we had with the same two horses at the Meadowlands ($38) since Modern Family ($2.10, $2.10 ok) was only 6-1 and most other monies wagered across the board were on Sebastian K, who went off at 1-5 ($2.40, $2.10, $2.10 ok).

    Since we are not proponents of the speed factor, the biggest news about our efforts on the Sun Stakes program were the prices for some of the winners we supported. Doo Wop Hanover’s “Hempt” consolation payoff was outrageous ($7, $4, $3). He was clearly an overlay, as was Dancin Yankee ($6.60, $4.40, $3) in the pace Invitational. As well, we watched a muscled Sweet Lou ($3.20, $2.20, $2.10) pay more than expected.

    The freshman sires stakes at the Meadowlands on Friday, June 27, yielded two winners, one that was moved in a redraw for the frosh-colt pacing fields. Dealt A Winner ($8.20, $4.20, $3.20) won after being reassigned to division one. We scored, as did most bettors, in the first split for the filly pacers with Stacia Hanover ($3.20, $2.10, $2.10 ok). In the second division we were third with Smart Zone ($2.10). The single split for filly trotters gave us a hefty show price with Southwind Cartier ($9.20).

    We share the results of our soph-trot analysis’ here with our weekly update. The Hambletonian Trail comes to you in cooperation with TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society. You can read the recap race stories and data on the history of the August classics at the society’s archives.

    The week’s results from the Hambletonian Trail blog covered the big soph-colt trot event on the Pocono program and here, too, was a surprise price for the magnificent Father Patrick ($3, $2.20, $2.10). On Sunday, June 29 at Pocono, we scored with the fillies Lifetime Pursuit ($4.80, $3.60, $3) and Shake It Cerry ($2.80, $2.20, $2.20 ok).

    At Buffalo there were two splits for the colts and we only had one third with Flyhawk El Durado ($2.40).

    TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

    In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.


    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 in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta).


    Some Like It Hot, $24.20, $9.80, $5.90, Yonkers
    What About Brian, $9.20, $5, $4.40, Tioga
    Milliondollardad, $6.50, $2.50, $2.60 ok (Exacta $17.80), Buffalo
    Geronimo Fame, $3.40, $3, $2.70, Tioga
    Sling Shot Shooter, $3, $2.20, $2.20 ok, Hoosier


    Rocky Regal, $7.70, $5.40 (Exacta $21.80), Saratoga
    Sassy Sarah, $2.80, $2.80 ok, Scarborough


    Insane In Spane, $7.80, Yonkers
    Fresh Dream, $5.60, Pocono
    Diamond Gambler, $4.60, Ocean
    Lex Lugar, $3.60, Saratoga
    Light N Shadow, $2.20, Meadows
    Eagle Now, $2.10, Yonkers

    News And Notes

    Baby races at the Meadowlands on June 28 presented some fine progeny to watch as the frosh season ensues. The program began with a Cantab Hall colt, Musical Rhythm, heading to the front for a gate to wire 1:59.1 win for trainer Tony Alagna. Buzzy Sholty scored a double on the day with a nice pair of Donato Hanover fillies he trains—Donatos Babe, a 2:00.1 winner, and HS Carry On in 2:00.3

    Explosive Matter-filly Shafina Hanover was a winner for Noel Daley in 2:01.1. Ake Svanstedt won the next couple. He brought a Yankee Glide filly named Thats So Ironic in 1:59.3. Lima Pride impressed for Svanstedt in 2:01.2. He’s from the first crop of Muscle Massive. Trond Smedshammer. had a winner in Buen Camino in 1:59. This is a good sized home-bred by Cash Hall

    Shes Heavenly opened the pacing races with a handy 1:55.4 score. She’s another winner from the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven. Casie Coleman sent out Oneisalonelynumber to win the tenth in 1:57. He is a Bettors Delight colt. Bedroomconfessions got a perfect trip to win convincingly in 1:55.2. She is by American Ideal and goes for trainer Tony Alagna. The day’s final race was the fastest with the Well Said colt Paparazzi Hanover winning.

    After working in the breeding shed, seven-year-old trotter Wishing Stone made his 2014 racing debut in a conditioned handicap at the Meadowlands, winning at 9-1. Wishing Stone stood as a stallion at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. He fulfilled breeding contracts for 331 doses of frozen semen overseas and bred to 30 mares in North America. He follows the racing-stallion-racing pattern as have some successes abroad, including Ready Cash, France’s richest trotter and a popular sire, Coktail Jet and Mack Lobell, who both won the prestigious Elitloppet after stud duties. Wishing Stone is well known in Europe, having competed there at four and five. In 2011 he won the French trotting race Grand Prix du Sud Ouest at 1-5/16 mile and also the King’s Trophy in Sweden. He was second in the Gran Premio Continentale in Italy. A year later he won the Copenhagen Cup in Denmark. He returned to the U.S. in August 2012 to continue his career in North America.

    Dresden Raceway opens the 2014 season on July 1. After the 10-race opening card, racing will be conducted at Dresden on Sunday afternoons through Labor Day, the exception being the two holiday weekends. Dresden will race on the Aug. 4 Canadian holiday Monday and on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 1. Post time for all 11 cards of racing will be 1 p.m.

    To honor one of the greatest driver careers in the history of harness racing, the Meadowlands will present an evening that will celebrate the career of Cat Manzi. On Friday, July 25, the “Cat-Man” will return to the Meadowlands, not to drive but to take part in an evening that will pay tribute to his storied career. Manzi, a winner of 14,812 races, currently third all time among North American drivers, spent many of his best years driving in the tri-state area and came to the Meadowlands during the track’s opening seasons where he finished in the top five in the driver’s standings 12 times. Manzi’s greatest win at the New Jersey oval was undoubtedly the 2006 Meadowlands Pace with Artistic Fella. After two unprecedented race accidents that came in untimely succession, Manzi decided to end his career.

    Running Aces is running programs and in this week’s blog we will be adding entries to our H2W list. Again this season, we warn you to keep your eyes on horses trained by California veterans Tim Maier and Gerald Longo. The stalwart horsemen from the heydays of the West Coast harness circuit handle competitive stock at the Minnesota raceway; these pacers and trotters are often ignored by bettors on site and through the simulcast network.

    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
    Learn more about Pye harness art and cartoons, click here
  • FREE Pace Profile Reports

    POSTED Jun 27, 2014
    To celebrate the re-launch of my Web site (SimonSpeedRations.com) and some of the great races taking place this weekend — the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita and a trio of Grade III events at Prairie Meadows just to name a few — I decided to provide some free Pace Profile Reports for Saturday (see links below)

    In addition, to help readers make better use of those Reports, I’m going to highlight one of their more prominent features: the rankings section.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The rankings section is where each horse’s speed figures, early speed rations (ESRs) and late speed rations (LSRs) are compared to others in the field, providing a quick and convenient way to assess its merits.

    Of course, this but begs the question: What do the rankings really mean?

    Sure, one can surmise that lower rankings — a series of 1’s, for example — are probably better than higher rankings, but what exactly does “better” mean? Can one make money simply by betting on the lowest-ranked, i.e. best, horse in every race?

    Sorry, but no.

    My database studies reveal that the sole lowest-ranked horse in a field (ties were ignored) does, in fact, win far more often than random chance would suggest (1.91 impact value), but, alas, such stalwart steeds are bet accordingly and produce a negative 17.12 percent return on investment (ROI).

    Still, there is something to be said for the rankings, as they clearly do point out the strongest — and weakest — contenders, as the data below confirms:

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    Note: To be considered, a horse had to be ranked in all three categories — speed, ESRs and LSRs. What's more, at least half the field needed to be ranked in all of those categories as well.

    Notice that horses with a rankings sum of less than 15 win approximately 2/3 of the races. Of course some of this is due to the effect of field size — it’s obviously easier to achieve better (lower) rankings in a six-horse field than it is in a 12-horse field — but the impact values (IV) and odds-based impact values (OBIV) speak for themselves.

    To show how this type of quick and painless analysis can pay dividends, consider the opening daily double at Santa Anita on June 26, 2014:

    1st Race

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    2nd Race

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    In the first race, the sum of rankings is as follows:
    1. 9 ½
    2. 15
    3. 5
    4. 11
    5. 5 ½
    6. 17

    Clearly, the top two contenders appear to be 3-TWO IS TO MANY, with 5 points and a dominant speed edge (noted by his “1+” ranking in that category), and 5-DR WILLIAMS, with 5 ½ points. 1-COOK INLET (9 ½ points) ranks a distant third.

    The result couldn’t have been more perfect.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    On to the second race, where the sum of rankings looks like this:

    1. 5
    2. 7
    3. 13
    4. 11
    5. 9
    6. N/A

    Here, we have a clearer choice in 1-YARD LINE who, like Two Is to Many in the preceding race, also has 5 points and a dominant speed edge. 2-SING WITH BLING is next with 7 points, but his relatively low LSR ranking of 4 makes me think he could get chewed up and spit out in a pace battle with Yard Line. 5-MISSING GROOM checks in third with 9 points and also boasts the best last-race LSR (-8) in the field, which should come in handy if the top two go at it early.

    Again, the results were right in line with the rankings:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Anyway, I hope this helps a little. Obviously, it's not always this easy, but at least the rankings provide a starting point to one's handicapping journey.

    FREE Pace Profile Reports (6/28/14)

  • Stakes shine in the mountains

    POSTED Jun 25, 2014
    Once again we head to the Pocono Mountains this Saturday for the sport’s features. On the chromatic dirt surface of the five-eighths mile spread of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs will ride the best of last week’s elim performers for the Max Hempt, James Lynch, Earl Beal, Jr. and Ben Franklin. Covering five divisions, there will also be a a $75,000 “Hempt” Consolation and a $50,000 “Lynch” Consolation, as well as a pair of $100,000 Invitationals.

    The Earl Beal, Jr. Final soph stakes are handled on our sister blog, the Hambletonian Trail. Don’t miss our exclusive coverage; click the link after you read this blog and check out the extensive analysis on that page.

    On Friday, the Meadowlands presents a cavalcade of New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) freshmen, elaborating the stakes season with the youngest divisions of fillies and pacers on both gaits.

    Weekdays are harness plentiful, too, check out the TwinSpires-Hoosier perks for players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

    Follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get any and all late-breaking information on racing events and betting challenges that transpire between the publications of the two TwinSpires harness racing blogs.

    Pacers To The ‘Max’

    Mcwicked is the standout in the $500,000 Max Hempt Final off of a 1:48 victory as the 1-5 public choice in his elimination. This race features two horses who proved they can race according to the opportunist bias present at Pocono: Cammikey and At Press Time.

    There is no way this race will be given to Mcwicked like what happened in his elimination. With All Bets Off, who loves to stalk the pace, drawing post 8, this will be an all-out war on the front. Cammikey came into contention from third at the pylons and managed to finish second. At Press Time won his elim after sitting a pocket trip. These two will have a scolding pace set in front of them and are equal when it comes to their chances of winning. However, which is higher in value will be out of our hands. At this point, it seems Cammikey will be higher in price.

    Lynch Ladies

    The $300,000 James Lynch Final will be Uffizi Hanover’s race to win or lose, as she draws the rail off a brutal trip in the elimination. When it comes to these finals she has always been patient, from her victory in the Breeders Crown at two to a pocket trip in the Fan Hanover two weeks ago. Yet, one filly showed tremendous improvement in her elimination despite finishing second, Gallie Bythe Beach.

    Pocono is known to have a bias for opportunists, it was seen nearly all night in the eliminations. Gallie Bythe Beach cut the mile in her elimination, a drastic improvement from her two other efforts of 2014. This will be a race where strategy will prevail and if John Campbell tries to stalk the leader rather than be the leader, she’ll have a chance to defeat Uffizi Hanover.

    Consolations And Invitationals

    The $75,000 Hempt consolation offers a cast of second-tier colts from the division, with one exception: Doo Wop Hanover. How this guy didn’t make the final remains to be explained, since he is yet to show us he is a chump. All around him in this field are plodders compared to those in the Hempt final, so launching from the 8 hole should not be a problem. It is difficult to predict a favorite here except to say that “Doo Wop” won’t be on top, giving the bettor an edge on a price because he appears to be that good.

    Nine fillies that didn’t make the Lynch final have a shot at some major bucks in the Lynch consolation, worth $50,000. At 61-1 we never had a chance to witness an attempt by Katie Said, who was our second choice in her Lynch elim. Interference and a break ruined chances of seeing the final field up close. Here, the three-for-eight sophomore will be a good price because last week’s miscue may help. All in all, this is a poor group that can spawn an upset considering it may overbet a few into favoritism.

    The $100,000 USTA Invitational for older pacers is wide open unless you focus upon Dancin Yankee. It is difficult to believe an 8-1-morning line on this guy, who recently won a mile on this surface in 1:47.2. He is in his best shape, though that record mile was four races back, and he is simple the best of this group and may prove it with a sweeping early move and another boiling finish but this time at a better price (he was odds on when he won his speed badge).

    The Sun Invitation for trotters, also worth $100,000, will once again anoint Sebastian K and the Swedish stallion deserves it, dominating this division in three-straight wins against its toughest foes. In the “Cutler” final, we gave you the exacta with Sebastian K winning and Modern Family completing the couple. At $38 it was a steal. This could be the same situation, with Modern Family soaring to the top and cutting the quarters until Sebastian K pours on the speed inside or outside. Still, we would take “Family” to win because a nose or a whisker at Pocono can mean the difference between a whole bunch of dollars in a cashing experience. Box the exacta, though, especially if Family is, as we expect, displaying a large price to win.

    Big ‘Ben’

    Top, classy elders in the pacing ranks will be featured in the Ben Franklin Final. Here is an event that has soared to the top of the division’s big events with a purse of a half-million dollars. The cast this year is a compendium of talent that spans many seasons and leaves many race scenarios in play. Though these guys change crowns through the season, right now Sweet Lou is the ruler of the herd. His most recent three races have been scorching trounces of the likes of these, with the exception of Captaintreacherous.

    The only pacer not on Lasix, Captaintreacherous will not race as the favorite here, as he did when he was nosed out of a win in the elim by Domethatagain (here in post 5). That one, in fact, is the least of his problems in this mile. In fact, Captaintreacherous has little to worry about when it comes to the four-year-olds in this group; his main target is Sweet Lou.

    Getting a good price on Captaintreacherous will be a wonderful site but it may not be a spot for a large wager but a good spot for an exotic or two with his main nemesis. Burke is the conditioner of the first four lining up and aside from “Lou” the others can provide some traffic problems (thank goodness they are not coupled). Foiled Again, whose on-again-off-again form has no pattern, could present a lot of trouble anywhere during the mile.

    Freshmen Fire At Meadowlands

    First, we will evaluate the field of NJSS frosh-colt trotters in the only mile for this division; it’s worth $39,000. There are only two sires represented, as so many stallions in the state have moved and some farms have closed. Muscles Yankee is still producing Ihe has moved to New York) and now his champion son, Muscle Hill is, too (now in Pennsylvania). Five represents “Yankee” and three are from “Hill.”

    Other than some baby races, these are the first frosh products to hit the track this season from either sire. There are only qualifiers and baby races to use for past-performances, which is the case for all of the frosh events on the program.

    Jimmy Takter has his band of freshmen raring to go, including French Laundry in this group. The colt is coming off of two Meadowlands baby-race wins and will attract a scad of money based on that and his trainer’s brand.

    Off of a single appearance, Guess Whos Back showed a wonderful attempt to finish second but that won’t get by bettors, especially with Brian Sears up for the drive. It’s Muscle Blues that captures our attention, with a marked improvement in his third baby race. Debuting with a break and coming back from it with a smooth fourth against “Laundry,” Muscle Blues showed speed and leadership next out, just nipped at the wire after leading the mile. He could be bargain even if he is the third public choice here.

    The NJSS filly trot is a $38,500 affair with all seven gals by Muscle Hill. None of these come from team Takter, so the wagering may be scattered between a few, including Ron Burke’s Mission Brief and Joe Holloway’s Saturday Mornings. Still, we are going to take the outside gal, Southwind Cartier for a few reasons.

    This Muscle Hill is by a Chocolatier mare and that is a combination we want to follow closely as the frosh season ensues. Both of the filly’s baby races were at Pocono and trainer D.R. Ackerman will be at the helm. Trouble on a Pocono “good” surface was solved too late in the mile to win, settling for fourth. But her debut was a very strong wire-to-wire win. It is doubtful the public handicappers or the crowd will be investing in this gal, leaving us with a fine price for a strong contender.

    An octet comprise the first pacing colt split, which features a half-brother to Western Vintage, who won this race last year, Western Pioneer. Managing to drop four seconds off of his qualifier times, he’ll likely take a majority of the wagering. Yet, a few posts down from him resides Original Zin, who ships in from Philadelphia. He raced twice in qualifiers there, with his first an unappealing 2:02 effort. Returning from two weeks of rest, he paced a 1:55.2 mile, riding the pocket the whole way. His unknown connections should only inflate his price greater.

    The latter split is headlined by Bruce’s Magic, who paced a 1:55.4 qualifier in wire-to-wire fashion off of a break in his first outing. Coming in off of 13 days off is Sid Rock. He’s an unusual colt in this field, since he displayed two different racing styles in his qualifiers. In his first, he came first over at three-quarters and was less than a length from victory. In his second, he came from the middle of the pack and closed to be a length off the winner. Coming back rested, he should be ready to go. Dealt A Winner should also not be discounted, since he possesses a fierce closing kick as he begins his career.

    The premier division for the fillies consists of six, with one being a full sister to world-champion Put On A Show: The Show Returns. She comes off of a three-second improvement in a qualifier where she tried to go gate to wire but faltered to second. Residing at the rail is Stacia Hanover, who ships in after two strong qualifiers at Gaitway, both in wire-to-wire fashion; her most recent a 1:57 mile with a :26.4 kicker. With a filly whose pedigree has already shone in the spotlight contesting in this division, it will hopefully influence the odds to make our contender a slightly higher price.

    Our eyes in the other division are on Smart Zone, who will start on the outside of her foes from post 6. She has three qualifiers under her belt, two at Pocono, and has improved in every one. Her most recent was at the Meadowlands, a 1:57.1 time with a :26.2 kicker off of a pocket trip. She is a stalking type who can keep up with the leader and then leave them in her dust. She’s dangerous and can only get better with each start.

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are 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 it 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 on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


    6/28/14, +Zampano R1; +Milliondollardad R12

    6/28/14, +Slingshot Shooter R8

    6/27/14, So Reserved R6; +Pretty Place R12; +Colefederate R13

    6/27/14,+Little Mans Magic R4; Percevt Change R8; Light N Shadow R12 +Hedges Lane R13

    6/26/14, Yacht Party R3
    6/27/14, +Whitesville Ted R2
    6/29/14, +Diamond Gambler R1; Starlets Toy R4; +CJ Crystal R10

    6/28/14, Vanyar Hanover R2; +Miss Defiance R4

    6/22/14, +Petty Hanover R7; Joltin Colt R8; Fresh Dream R12; Chrome Cruiser R12

    6/28/14, +Forty Carrots R4; +Lex Lugar R10; +Rocky Regal R12
    6/26/14, +Im A Lucky Man ae R2
    6/27/14, +Dr Prescription R3; +Sassy Sarah R6; Winbak Wildfire R8
    6/28/14,  Mary Rose Of Topaz R9; Heaven Touched R10

    6/26/14, Rokingcastle as R13
    6/28/14, Winchester R12

    6/27/14, +Geronimo Fame R4
    6/28/14, +What About Brian R1; Heidi Falls R1

    6/27/14, Choke Hold ae R4
    6/28/14, +Big City Jewel R4; +Team Edward R7; +Stormin Rustler R7

     Lindys Real Deal R4;; +Printing A Place R8; Caidens Colt R9

    6/26/14, Eagle Now R4; Greystone Cash R6; Insane In Spain R9
    6/27/14, Some Like It Hot R5; +Babes I Scoot R10

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.      
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jun 22, 2014
    Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono Downs on Saturday, June 22, was a speed showdown, with elimination miles that were decided after blistering three-quarters, duels for the lead and whiskers.

    The headliner was the first Ben Franklin elim, where we supported Captaintreacherous against four-year-olds and older for the first time in 2014. He was tremendous racing on the outside after being forced to the lead early and burrowing through the stretch, having already put away Foiled Again (10-years-old), Bettor’s Edge (five-years-old) and four-year-olds Sunshine Beach, Sunfire Blue Chip and Beach Memories. At the wire, however, 29-1 Domethatagain nudged a quantum-nose ahead down the passing lane after having an extremely easy trip sitting behind the champ. Captaintreacherous ($3, $2.10) meets “Dome” again in next week’s final.

    The second Ben Franklin elim went to the ever-improving Sweet Lou, now five. Our choice, Allstar Legend made the final by finishing fourth. The final will be a fascinating battle between “Lou” and “Captain,” as opposed to the projected duel between Captain and Foiled Again, as Lou is racing a hole in the wind in this division.

    The week’s results from the Hambletonian Trail blog presented an upset and some easily predicted victories by soph-trotting mainstays. In elims for the Earl Beale, Jr., also at Pocono on Saturday, everyone’s favorite Father Patrick ($2.10, $2.10, $2.10) was an easy winner. So was Nuncio in the second of the two affairs, with our choice Datskyk ($2.10, $2.10) completing the $3.60 exacta.

    We nailed both of the colt winners Saturday at Saratoga on the Hambletonian Trail with Gural Hanover ($5.90, $3.10, $2.10) and Lukas Hall ($3, $2.30, $2.30 ok).

    Wednesday, June 18 in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes for fillies on the “Trail” at Pocono, the stunning defeat of Shake It Cerry ($2.10) was the work of Desgined To Be, who, strangely enough, was an 8-5 second choice. Our other choice, Donella Hanover finished fourth at 7-1.

    We share the successes of soph-trot endeavors here with our weekly update. The Hambletonian Trail comes to you in cooperation with TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society. You can read the recap race stories and data on the history of the August classics at the society’s archives.

    In the Max Hempt elims, also on Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono, our choice and the public’s choice in the first round, Always B Miki, suffered a tough outside trip, finishing third but placed fifth and not earning a berth in the final. Our second choice finished second—Limelight Beach ($3, $3.40 ok)—and our third choice finished third—Allstar Partner ($20.80).

    In the second of three splits, Sometimes Said ($2.20) was third at 4-1, while top-rated Doo Wop Hanover (4-1) was skewered on the lead, finishing seventh (no final for him) and Western Vintage (7-1) put in a terrible effort, finishing eighth; neither, of course, make the final.

    The third elim was taken by North America Cup choice-gone-bad Mcwicked, with our choice, Stratos Hanover seventh at 39-1.

    Soph-filly pacers went in a trio of elims for the James Lynch final’s field. In the first split we were second with our second-choice Gallie Bythe Beach ($5.80, $3.20), with our top choice, Someislandsomwhere, finishing fourth at 5-2. Nothing went well for us in round two, as Allstar Rating (2-1) was paced down badly in the stretch and Katie Said broke from interference at 61-1.

    More unpredicted antics served the results of the third split, with huge choice (and our choice) Uffizi Hanover ($2.20, $2.10) nipped at the wire after a scalding first half and our second choice, Also Encouraging ($5.80) getting third.

    TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

    In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.

    A reader/bettor sent us an email when he noticed something odd about our H2W (horses to watch list) this past week. Over the course of a few weeks (we are in week 24 of the list this year) a great number of horses returning for their second and last entries on the list (notated with a “+” before their names) are coincidentally drawing tough, outside posts. It’s unfortunate and sometimes moot but it has resulted in many loses for second-timers. You may want to create a spin-off list of such horses and follow them when they come back for the third time. We will still only keep horses twice on the list, regardless of their posts either time.


    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 in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta).


    Rock Out, $22.20, $7, $2.80 (Exacta $64.80), Meadowlands
    Lindys Real Deal, $18.60, $6, $3.20 (Exacta $51.50), Vernon
    Muscles To Spare, $10.40, $5.80, $4, Tioga
    The Real One, $6.20, $3.80, $2.40, Yonkers
    That Friskie Feeling, $5.40, $4, $3.60, Scioto
    JJs Jet, $4.60, $5 ok, $2.80, Scarborough
    Dune Dude, $4, $2.80, $2.40, Maywood
    H-andharleythejet, $4, $2.20, $2.10 (*Exacta $12.60), Plainridge
    The Maniac, $3.80, $2.20, $2.10, Buffalo


    CJ Crystal, $4.40, $2.80 (Exacta $30), Ocean
    Always Wearable, $4.20, $2.10, Hoosier
    Geronimo Fame, $4.10, $4, Tioga
    Pretty Place, $3.40, $3, Maywood
    Miss Defiance, $2.60, $3.20 ok (*Exacta $12.60), Plainridge


    Clearly Possessed, $10, Buffalo
    Milliondollardad, $5.60, Buffalo
    Nothinbutanallstar, $5, Hoosier
    Milliondollartouch, $4.80, Saratoga
    What About Brian, $4.40, Tioga
    Team Edward, $4, Vernon
    Zampano, $3.40, Buffalo
    Big City Jewel, $3, Yonkers
    Sassy Sarah, $3, Scarborough
    Winbak Wildfire, $3, Scarborough
    Forty Carrots, $2.30, Saratoga

    News And Notes

    Northfield Park has added a $10,000-guaranteed total pool for a Pick-5 bet on Monday, June 23’s racing program. The pool includes a carry-over amount of $1,946.92. The wager begins with Race 3 that evening. Northfield’s Pick 3s, 4s and 5s offer a 14-percent take out rate.

    Batavia Downs’ 68th harness season is poised to begin. The 2014 season features 72 racing programs beginning July 23 and going through Dec.6. The racing days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons in July and August. After Sept. 1, Tuesday nights replace Sunday matinees. The evening post time is 6:35 EST and afternoon post time is 1:15 p.m.

    Some feel it is about time and considering Bee A Magician’s losing season thus far at four it may be a way to show that her connections still have plenty of confidence in her. What this is all about is Bee A Magician racing for the first time against males. Last Saturday at Mohawk, “Bee” finished ninth in the Armbro Flight Final. It was a performance that raised questions since the only time that she ever missed the board in her career was in her second start at two. Trainer Nifty Norman told Trot Insider that she scoped sick after the “Flight” final. Norman said she is “feeling better already.” Bee has lost her first three starts of the 2014 season after never tasting defeat at three in 17 starts (remember, we gave you D’orsay who beat her and paid over $100 to win). Norman said she will race next on July 5 in the $400,000 Hambletonian Futurity for four-year-olds at The Meadowlands. ‎That race is open to all four-year-old trotters and it means she’ll skip the second leg of the Miss Versatility for trotting mares on Monday, June 30 at Mohawk.

    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

  • Breaking Down the Brisnet Prime Power Rating

    POSTED Jun 19, 2014
    It’s no secret that, for many moons now, I have been trying to beat the game with mechanical methods of play. In large part, because I simply don’t have time to handicap like I did 5-6 years ago… nor do I enjoy the process like I used to.

    It is also no secret that I have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. 

    Don’t get me wrong: I’ve found some great systems and angles — ones that, through testing, I am confident will continue to offer solid ROIs for months and years to come. But, alas, they all suffer from “Tony Romo Disease” — they don’t show up often enough to produce consistent, meaningful returns.

    Still, I love the idea of a mechanical method that can, at the very least, help guide one’s wagering decisions. So, with that in mind, I decided to slice and dice the Brisnet Prime Power Rating and see if I could find any helpful wagering angles.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    First, using a database of random races run from July 2012 to February 2013 at racetracks across the country, I examined the horse with the top (highest) Prime Power rating in the field. (In the Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances, the Prime Power rating and field rank is found right before the horse’s lifetime record — see California Chrome above.)

    Number: 11,953
    Winners: 3,972
    Win Rate: 33.2%
    $2 Return:  $1.75
    ROI: -15.09%
    IV: 2.48

    Not bad. These numbers are similar to what one would expect from the post-time favorite, which gives us a good starting point. Now let’s see what happens when the top Prime Power horse goes to post as a morning-line overlay (odds greater than or equal to the morning line) or a morning-line underlay (odds less than the morning line):


    Number: 2,186
    Winners: 428
    Win Rate: 19.6%
    $2 Return:  $1.64
    ROI: -17.81%
    IV: 1.49


    Number: 9,767
    Winners: 3,544
    Win Rate: 36.3%
    $2 Return:  $1.71
    ROI: -14.48%
    IV: 2.70

    While these numbers may surprise some readers, who assume that higher prices naturally mean higher profits, they are, I have found, very indicative of what happens when one looks for overlay opportunities with “obvious” contenders.

    Caveat emptor applies at the racetrack too.

    A horse that looks like a legitimate 2-1 shot does not necessarily offer “value” at 20-1. Rather than rushing to the window to empty one’s 401(k) on such horses, players should ask themselves a simple question: Why? Why is a horse with so many positive attributes (remember, the Prime Power rating is a comprehensive assessment of ability) being dismissed in the wagering? What is the crowd considering that the Prime Power rating is not?

    Granted, some of these horses are, in fact, genuinely overlooked. I’ve witnessed numerous animals that I thought were fairly-priced at 2-1 or less pay double digits — but that is the exception, not the rule.

    With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that horses with the top Prime Power rating in a race actually perform better when that rating is lower, rather than higher:

    * Top prime power rating of 100 or greater.

    Number: 11,294
    Winners: 3,752
    Win Rate: 33.2%
    $2 Return:  $1.69
    ROI: -15.36%
    IV: 2.49

    * Top prime power rating of less than 100.

    Number: 659
    Winners: 220
    Win Rate: 33.4%
    $2 Return:  $1.79
    ROI: -10.55%
    IV: 2.42

    Moreover, horses with the top Prime Power rating that finished poorly last time out (fifth or worse) return a profit — further proof that factors esteemed by the public, i.e. a good last race, are best avoided when looking for overlays:

    * Top prime power rating of less than 100.
    * Finished fifth or worse in last race.

    Number: 225
    Winners: 74
    Win Rate: 32.9%
    $2 Return:  $2.03
    ROI: +1.69%
    IV: 2.36

    Of course, there is nothing to say that these numbers will continue to hold, but I hope they illustrate both the pros and cons of a mechanical approach.

    On the plus side, using the Brisnet Prime Power rating is quick and easy and, in some instances, profitable. On the negative side, all mechanical approaches suffer from one major drawback: they can only measure what was… not what is or what will be.

    Nonetheless, handicappers willing to put in the time to validate or invalidate a mechanical rating might very well profit from the experience.

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    NOTE: Rue Saint Honore had a race-best 95.6 Prime Power rating and finished 7th in her last race on July 29, 2012.