• Morning Musings

    POSTED Jul 31, 2014
    A Perfect Storm

    On Aug. 1, 1922, a seven-year-old gelding by the name of Exterminator finished last, beaten 10 ¼ lengths by Grey Lag, in the Saratoga Handicap. Grey Lag was the 3-5 favorite that day, while Exterminator was 5-1 in the betting.

    For Grey Lag, the win atoned for an earlier head loss to Exterminator in the Brooklyn Handicap at Aqueduct, where the chestnut colt was once again the 3-5 public choice. In fact, in 1922, Grey Lag was favored in every race he ran. After winning nine of 13 starts and being named Horse of the Year in 1921, the four-year-old son of Star Shoot was victorious in five of six trips to post in 1922.

    However, it was Exterminator, a horse that lost six of 17 races — three by double-digit margins — who was voted top older horse that year. Because, in 1922, winning mattered; losing was just a step on the path to success.

    Fast forward to 2014 when 17 starts would be viewed as a gut-wrenching campaign and losing even a single race is considered a badge of shame.

    When Untapable, a magnificent three-year-old filly, who drew comparisons to Rachel Alexandra by longtime turf writer Jennie Rees, finished a well-beaten fifth in the Haskell Invitational last Sunday one would have thought that Zippy Chippy had raced in her stead judging by the reaction on social media.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    I witnessed Untapable called “a fraud,” “overrated” and “counterfeit.” Untapable’s jockey, Rosie Napravnik, who, earlier this year, was being touted as one of the best female jockeys ever, received even more abuse. According to the social media crowd, it’s a wonder Napravnik can even dress herself, much less ride a horse.   

    Yet, lost in all the hyperbole, is the fact that the Haskell was one race… one stumble… one fall in an otherwise stellar campaign for a filly that may not be Rachel Alexandra (which is like saying that a great basketball player is not Michael Jordan), but is still pretty darn good.

    What’s more, as I stated on my podcast two weeks before the race, Monmouth Park is not exactly a neutral playing field. In 2013, 42 percent of all dirt sprints and 31 percent of all dirt routes were won in wire-to-wire fashion at the New Jersey track. At 1 1/16 miles or greater, 39 percent of the winners led from flag fall to finish.

    With Bayern as the controlling speed — Social Inclusion’s best-ever early speed ration (ESR) wasn’t as good as Bayern’s -6 figure in the Woody Stephens — the result was hardly unpredictable.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Medicinal Grass for Social Inclusion?

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    So I had a thought: With Social Inclusion now in the care of Chad Brown, why not try the son of Pioneerof the Nile on the grass?

    First of all, Brown is an outstanding turf trainer, having won 25.2 percent of his 1,390 starts on the lawn since 2008. Better still, he shows a positive ROI (albeit a slight one) with horses making their turf debuts.

    Secondly, although Social Inclusion’s mama (Saint Bernadette) never raced on the green stuff, nor foaled a turf winner, his papa (Pioneerof the Nile) broke his maiden on the grass and, in fact, never won on the dirt (his four other wins came on synthetic surfaces). What’s more, Pioneerof the Nile’s progeny have won eight (of 61) turf races and earned an average Brisnet speed figure of 72.6 — three points higher than their average BSF on dirt (69.6).

    Lastly, Social Inclusion’s running style makes me think he could a Sidney’s Candy type. On the dirt, Sidney’s Candy had only moderate early foot; but on the turf, he was a front-running dynamo and it propelled him to two graded wins and a course record in his turf debut, the La Jolla Handicap.

    Say it Ain’t So Allen

    For the first time in over 65 years, H. Allen Jerkens, the legendary trainer who beat Secretariat twice, is not at Saratoga for that track’s 40-day meet. Instead, the 85-year-old trainer is in Hallandale, Florida, preparing a small stable of horses to race at Gulfstream Park.

    Unlike Mark Sanchez, Jerkens is greatly missed.

    “His not being here just feels wrong,” former jockey and current NYRA racing analyst Richard Migliore told timesunion.com.

    In a related news story, the temperature in Hell reached a record low yesterday and flying swine were spotted over parts of the northeast.
  • Stakes Parade, Solid Action On Hambletonian Day

    POSTED Jul 30, 2014
    For the umpteenth year, we will be reporting live from the Meadowlands for the super-stakes-filled program on the first Saturday in August, Hambletonian day. This time, of course, we have our digs in the new facility—the state-of-the-art Meadowlands Press Box in the structure located on the opposite side of the historic track’s original area in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Exclusively for TwinSpires, we will be reporting on line via @harnessraycer, @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires, with updates, quick news items, quotes and anything else worthy for our contingent of harness bettors.

    On this page we will cover all of the stakes action for Aug. 2 except the Hambletonian events, which this year are single race (no elimination heats are necessary based on the number of horses dropping into the boxes). Our spin-off blog, the Hambletonian Trail, features the jackpot-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow events, The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks.

    Friday, Aug. 1 at the Meadowlands, a slew of Kindergarten stakes legs for two-year-old filly trotters adorn the program. See our horses-to-watch (H2W) list below, under the Meadowlands heading, for horses that have impressed us in these categories.

    All H2W through North America –our suggested contenders—are valuable additions to your win, place and show bets and exotics. See our weekly list of “lookouts” below. 

    Weekdays, 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.

    Townsend Ackermans

    Colts staying away from the Hambletonian will contest in the $100,000 Townsend Ackerman. Two divisions, compiled of 23 trotters, will segue the race card into the major events.

    The opening split features no standouts and is a wide-open affair. Our hopes lay with Scacco Matto, a colt who has shown promise against similar amid his breaking issue. Adding hopples in his last start, he traveled three wide for nearly the whole mile, with his 20-length loss slightly exaggerated by Trixton’s 9-length romp. Given the right trip in this class drop, he could come sweeping into contention.

    Class is what will separate the winners from the losers in the other edition. Starting from the rail, Sumatra might get his first victory since the Dexter Cup. When competing in the New Jersey Sires Stakes he was always in contention behind Trixton, the eventual series winner. He’ll likely be given a patient drive, which, if allowed in the stretch, will make him able to close well. In the exotics, Well Built might offer a price as he drops in class, too.

    Peter Haughton

    Trotting guru Ake Svanstedt returns with a talented freshman trotter in the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial. Centurion Atm brushed to command towards the top of the stretch and drew away by 3 lengths to win the “Haughton” elimination as our choice last week. He seems to be getting sharp at the right time, so trying to beat him may result in failure.

    Ima Lula Ladies

    The $52,000 Ima Lula final, features four-year-old mare trotters. The last two editions have featured the winner of the Hambo Oaks, with Bee A Magician looking to become the first to win this event.

    After her impressive uprising over Bee A Magician, Classic Martine has likely swayed favoritism onto her. Yet, her victory in the final prelim last week does not necessarily make her better than Bee A Magician. She has constantly raced well in the top level and should have saved enough in the tank for a victorious afternoon. In the exotics, also watch out for Nf Happenstance, who will likely be stalking the pace setter and have enough to hit the board.

    Big Boys’ Best

    The U.S. Pacing Championship features stalwart older pacers but is not truly a championship. That is, winning the $257,700 event bears no resemblance to a divisional crown and neither does it hold any more reverence than any of the older-pacing stakes. This season, all entries attempt to do what they have been trying to do for a few months—defeat Sweet Lou.

    Though he has been great, Captaintreacherous has been better than most of these, who are over four (Sunfire Blue Chip is the other four-year-old). Here is the difference in this event compared to the others: Daylight. But could that mean so much? Could an “off track” be a detriment to “Lou”? We doubt it; few scenarios put him behind any of these. Bettor’s Edge has done well chasing Lou and may once again race with odds better than his chances (10-1 and 18-1 respectively, when second to Lou in their most recent two meetings. And there may be the exacta and trifecta, keying Lou with the two mentioned in both exotics.

    Classic Jerseyites

    New Jersey-bred colts make up the $225,000 New Jersey Classic, a race that may unfold with a bargain or two. It’s difficult to predict a favorite or an underlay here but our hope is that Western Vintage may get less attention than he deserves. He has had a rougher time than we forecast as a soph but he is still lightly raced and has been rested with two prep qualifiers on his side coming into this battle. However he tries, from the front or with some cover close to the pacesetter, he is a big danger that the public may not support enough.

    Doo Wop Hanover, on the other hand, won’t be ignored; he may be the choice of the crowd, since his state affairs have been sterling and he has faced far stronger than this group. His Meadowlands Pace failure was no surprise, having no change to make up ground with a slow start from post 10 and fractions that steamed by the stretch, allowing Hes Watching to glide off of a near-perfect trip.

    The $100,000 Miss New Jersey, restricted to New Jersey-sired filly pacers, seems to be a toss-up when it comes to talent. Off a victory against older mares, Gettingreadytoroll appears to be the one to beat if her gait is truly no longer an issue. Yet, Cut A Deal, who comes from an average company for this group, could be eyeing an upset. Traveling first over and sustaining third in her last start, she appears to be sharp enough to gain victory given the right trip.

    On Their ‘Merrie’ Way

    Frosh-filly trotters engage in a $352,050 event, the Merrie Annabelle Final, and for many of the 10 involved (five are still maidens) it may be the last time they partake in such a wealthy race. The elim winners, Lock Down Lindy and Mission Brief will take most of the money, with the latter dazzling bettors with her green speed, so to speak.

    In the fastest elim, Jolene Jolene was second at 27-1 (we had her) and the race before that she was 30-1 against Lock Down Lindy. Her 9 post here may cause a problem but it will just help her to go off again at a bargain price. Any improvement for her is a major challenge to the obvious top contenders.

    Top Trotters Truckin’

    The $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial finds older trotting hero Sebastian K on the rail with the usual suspects raring to bring him down. The latest gunner is Archangel, who last week knocked a super mile into place in an elim (“K” was in the other elim). Also, Uncle Peter goes for his second mile since returning from abroad and he was good last week, just behind Mister Herbie, who took second the week after we called for him to upset K in Canada (it was Intimidate that got the nose victory and he is here, too). Then there is Market Share, always a threat but recently subservient to K. And there is Servruga, our huge upset last year in this race, who this year is far from showing his best.

    Where does this leave us but with it being K’s race to lose? We can make cases for the others but only Uncle Peter gets a nod as the least experienced falling to K. In an upset scenario, he is the culprit, especially on a day when team Takter can rule on so many levels. 

    Ladies Of Liberty

    The $177,750 Lady Liberty hosts the pacing mares, all of which have had their days and all of whom come into this affair with modest credentials. You could make good cases for most of them so you have to look outside of the obvious to find value. In that order, opportunity may shine upon Jerseylicious, who has been doing well while racing at odds far more than she deserves (11-1 and 70-1) against similar at this top level.

    Tough trips have found better horses—Shebestingin and Somwherovrarainbow—recently losing largely and this fray may also be too demanding for them. Charisma Hanover may be a great exotic participant under these circumstances, too, and prices may blind the toteboard while flashing the top three.


    Open-level trotters will get their shot to compete on Hambo day with the Vincennes Invitational. Takter’s newest acquisition, Master Of Law, comes in off a 1:52 effort against the top level two weeks ago. Yet, his bad draw could allow for a bigger price to be victorious.

    Sweet Justice draws into the Vincennes due to his narrow disqualification in the “Cashman” eliminations last week. He’s always had a knack for this level and draws well to win in his usual fashion. 

    While she is competing against the boys, D’orsay is also the queen of upsets. Doing so last year in the Ima Lula final (where we capitalized on her $36 return in the 2013 TwinSpires Players’ Pool) and in the Armbro Flight elimination (where we profited by her 50-1 win from our blog). She has a similar racing style to Sweet Justice and was super impressive when grinding the mile last week, coming a nose short of victory.

    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.


    8/1/14, Sanskrit R6
    8/2/14, +King William R1; +Larrys Dream R3; Sbm Innocentoutlaw R4; Whipmeintospape R12

    8/2/14, Oaklea Winfrey R3; +Got What It Takes R8

    Grand River
    8/1/14, Cons Legacy R9

    7/31/14, Wilfully Scootereva R6

    8/1/14, Christine Sixteen R2; +Sweet Thing R2; Josies Joy R3; Saturday Mornings R4; Cathys Princess R13

    8/1/14, Sawbuck Hanover R7; +Mattacardle R7

    7/31/14, +Best Risque R12

    8/3/14, +Ok Amelia R4

    7/31/14, +Baximum R4
    8/1/14, Real Legacy R4
    8/3/14, +Corky Duke R14

    7/26/14, Somerset Minibob R1

    8/2/14, +Luck Be Withyou R12

    8/1/14, Still Electric R12
    8/2/14, +All Powerful R8; I’m The Real Major R10

    8/2/14, +Bullseye R4

    8/2/14, QB Killa R1

    8/2/14, KJ Brenda R2

    8/2/14, Curlys Son R1; Guilty Man R5; Royal Deceptor R6; Deadhead Royalty R11

    7/31/14, +Mystical Pacer R8; +Sir Lehigh Z Tam R12
    8/1/14, Putnams Attack R7

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

    POSTED Jul 27, 2014
    The Hambletonian Trail reaches its destination next weekend, with the Cotolos on hand, live on site at the “new” Meadowlands. Our Thursday blog at TwinSpires and at the Hambletonian Trail page will cover all of the action on the strong stakes program for Saturday, Aug. 2. Remember you can read the archives of the “Trail” races for the colts and the fillies and enjoy other related features at the Hambletonian Society site.

    There were no Hambletonian Oaks elims, just a prep that took place Saturday, July 26 at the Meadowlands and once again our choice won and delivered a fair price as the public dismissed her again (as the did in the Del Miller Memorial) for Designed To Be. Shake It Cerry ($6.80, $2.60, $2.60) won over the favorite for a $13.80 exacta.

    Friday, July 25, we nailed the Peter Haughton Memorial elim with Centurion ATM ($8.40, $2.40, ns) with a $10.40 exacta. We were second in one Merrie Annabelle elim with Jolene Jolene ($11.60, $7) with a $25 exacta.

    Back to Saturday, the “Cashman” elims found everyone on our side again, as Sebastian K ($2.20, $2.10, ns) won his split (we were fourth in the first elim).

    It was Adios weekend at the Meadows and we were online live offering tweets during the stakes portion of the program and redirecting viewers to the blog analysis for the major Adios events. The Adios Final went to the dead-on favorite McWicked, with one of the three contenders we suggested could upset, Somewhere In LA ($4.40, $3.60) getting second for a $9.60 exacta. In the Adioo Volo, our choice Marathon Day ($6.60) was third. We failed to hit the board in the consolation. Our tweets for the Arden Downs resulted in only one second, Chaxiraxi Hanover ($3.40, $2.60), with an exacta worth $13.60. Those races were very chalky.

    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).


    O’Sundland, $7.40, $4.60, $3.20 (Exacta $22), Hoosier
    Request For Parole, $4.80, $3, $2.30, Mohawk


    Malak Uswaad N, $3.40, $2.40, Harrington
    Bunkerhill Bill, $3, $2.80, Running Aces
    Nefertiti Bluechip, $2.80, $2.50, Mohawk


    Oaklea Winfrey, $6, Georgian
    Amigo Ranger, $5.20, Saratoga

    News And Notes

    Qualifiers at the Meadowlands on July 26 began with Hambletonian favorite Father Patrick, his mile the only prep before next week’s Hambletonian. His performance was as sterling as expected, with driver Yannick Gingras steering him around the two turns in 1:52.

    The return of 2013’s champion three-year-old filly pacer, I Luv The Nitelife, was another feature of the Saturday qualifiers, winning after being nursed back from injury by trainer Chris Ryder with a smooth 1:53.2 mile.

    A pair of Meadowlands Pace finalists also sparred and Lyonssomewhere got the best of JK Endofanera in a 1:51.1 mile. Trainer Jimmy Takter put the speedy colt on the lead and stayed there to rebuff JK Endofanera’s closing move.

    The last of the season’s frosh divisions made up the rest of the events. Among the notables were Trond Smedshammer’s Yankee Glide colt Finish Line in 1:58.1 and his Andover Hall filly Chezando in 2:00.4. Jimmy Takter’s French Laundry, a Muscles Yankee colt, won in 2:00.1, holding off the impressive closing rush of the $175,000 Cantab Hall colt Colbert, making his very first start for Ake Svanstedt.

    Pacers featured ASAP Hanover by Somebeachsomewhere, winning for the third time in morning trials, this one in 1:52.4. Linda Toscano trains the colt. Trainer Tony Alagna had a good day beginning with a pair of his pacing fillies that went to the wire together. They were Martinique and Cashaway in 1:54.1. New Jersey Sires Stakes champion Artspeak won in 1:53.2 for Alagna and A Plus completed an Alagna hat trick by winning in 1:54.1. She’s an American Ideal filly. Ed Hart’s Cam’s Card Shark colt Dealt A Winner won over Alegna’s Rock On The Hill in 1:54.2.

    Last year’s Hambletonian champ, Royalty For Life, has been retired. While the four-year-old was getting ready to race in the “Cashman” he suffered a serious suspensory injury. Trainer George Duchame conferred with the owners and the decision was made that he should probably not race again. Since taking the Hambo crown, “Royalty” has had some problem or another.

    He missed the Breeders Crown Final last year with a health issue, took his hiatus, turned four and came back in the Hambletonian Maturity a few weeks back, racing poorly during traffic in the crowded field. That excuse being noted, he came back to finish third in an overnight and was going into the Cashman looking for his first win of the season against some of the toughest competition he had yet to face in his short career.

    With the passing of founder Bill Perretti this year, the future of one of harness racing’s most successful breeding farms is uncertain, according to USTA’s Ken Weingartner. Most of the farm’s mares and yearlings have been sold and 29-year-old Matt’s Scooter died in June. However, all farm properties are being maintained with the high standards set by Mr. Perretti and visitors are welcomed and expected during Hambletonian week to the Cream Ridge, N.J. spread.

    You can stroll the grounds visit the stalls of Rocknroll Hanover, Muscles Yankee, Matt’s Scooter, Windsong’s Legacy and others. You may take a guided tour, get an update on our active stallions Lucky Chucky and Muscles Yankee, enjoy a snack and view a collection of Hambletonian and stakes race memorabilia recording the legacy of Perretti Farms. Visitors can take home a Perretti Farms hat as a memento of their visit. Visitors are welcome from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, Thursday, July 31 and Friday, Aug. 1. Please contact the farm to arrange a visit. You can call 609-259-7555 or email nicolaa@perretti.com.

    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 ~ For more Thom Pye cartoons and products, click here

  • Money Management & Bet Optimization

    POSTED Jul 26, 2014
    On my latest podcast, Dave Schwartz and I had a spirited debate about betting strategies and/or money management (depending on one’s perspective).

    Dave made the argument that, while a betting strategy can alter one’s ROI, it cannot turn a positive expectancy into a negative one — or vice-versa. To prove the former, he used the example of a 30 percent win bettor who averages an $8 mutuel.

    “Let’s say you are a positive expectancy player — that is, you have the best of it,” The Horse Handicapping Authority said on my July 23 show. “And your records indicate that you get a 30 percent hit rate and your average mutuel is $8. … $2.40 is your average return ($8 x 0.3 = $2.40) for a $2 bet.

    “So, suppose you parlay that? Every time it hits you parlay back. Your hit rate becomes 30 percent of 30 percent — nine percent. … Now, what do you get back? … You bet $2 you get back $8 — four times what you started with. So, if you bet it back again, you get back $32. So, if we multiply nine percent times $32 what we get is $2.88 for a [$2] net.

    “So, by parlaying we’ve actually changed the advantage,” Dave concluded.

    Well, kinda-sorta… but more on that later.

    While the esteemed Mr. Schwartz was talking betting strategy, I was opining that a horseplayer can — and often does — eliminate his advantage by wagering outside of his core competencies. In other words, if a player has an established Kelly edge of, say, five percent betting to win, it cannot be assumed that he will retain that edge betting an exacta or a trifecta or some other type of non-win wager.

    “My take on folks who are trying to increase their advantage is that they’re not going to [try to] increase it using their area of expertise,” I argued.

    Referring to Dave’s example of the 30 percent win bettor with the 20 percent ROI, I said: “The average player, in my mind, is not going to look at that and think, ‘well, I’m going to parlay this.’

    “… They’re going to bet a pick-3. And betting a pick-3 and betting a parlay — even though they’re often compared to show you what a great deal a pick-3 is — is not the same thing, because you start betting multiple horses.

    “[Likewise], somebody that thinks, ‘you know what? $8, a 20 percent ROI — that’s nothing! I don’t want it,” I continued. “… So, they’re gonna play the exacta, they’re gonna play the trifecta … now, you don’t know what your advantage is. … And my argument to you … is that you can take a positive and turn it into a negative. And that’s exactly how you do it, by playing other areas; basically, not using your core competencies in a proper manner.”

    At that point, Dave said I was “wrong” and a bloody battle ensued, killing thousands and literally changing the landscape of Colorado (where I live) and Nevada (where Dave resides)… OK, not really, but we did have a great discussion about wagering strategies and money management techniques, which I want to further expound upon here.

    First of all, it needs to be pointed out that “money management” means different things to different people. I have often noted that many horseplayers seem to confuse it with handicapping. To me, “I knew I should have used that horse” is not a money management issue — it is a handicapping issue. That said I was surprised that, given our combined experience playing the races, Dave and I could not agree on a definition.

    Secondly, there is a lot of subtlety involved in betting strategies, as demonstrated by Dave’s straight win bet vs. parlay example. Dave noted that “by parlaying, we’ve actually changed the advantage,” which, on the surface, is true.

    However, that “truth” rests on the supposition that:

    A) ROI and “advantage” are one and the same (I don’t think they are which I will discuss later).

    B) The parlay is viewed as one bet, which it definitely is not. In fact, a two-horse parlay consists of 1-2 bets — one, if the first horse loses; and two (with a higher stake), if the first horse wins. It is the higher stake, or bet amount, that leads to the higher ROI.

    To demonstrate what I mean, take a peek at the following table:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Notice that when we parlay, we are actually investing more money. Hence, the theoretical 44 percent ROI that Dave alluded to equates to just 5.9 percent in practice. (For the financially savvy among you, this is similar to the difference one sees when comparing a simple interest rate to a compound interest rate.)

    Given this, it should come as no surprise that, using a similar bankroll, a player adept at win betting — which is what the 30 percent wins, 20% ROI tells us — is much better off betting an equal amount to win on all of her selections. Whereas a parlay returns just $576 on $544 bet (a profit of $32), straight win betting yields $652 on that same $544 (a profit of $108).

    Again, I realize the distinction here is subtle. I’m sure many will argue that the parlay is a single bet and, therefore, more profitable. But if we accept that, it’s only fair to look at other staking methods. And, despite its flaws, the Kelly Criterion is still numero uno when it comes to optimizing one’s bankroll:


    Not surprisingly, when we plug in our straight wagering and parlay averages from above, we get decidedly different Kelly advantages:

    Straight Win Bets: 0.30 – 0.70 / 3 (odds) = 6.7 percent.
    Parlay Bets: 0.09 – 0.81 / 15 (odds) = 3.6 percent.

    Once more, these differing percentages point to the delicate balance between risk and reward present in all forms of gambling and the nuance involved in optimizing one’s results.

    And that’s something I know Dave and I can agree on.
  • July’s End Is An August Overture For Harness Season

    POSTED Jul 23, 2014
    The Adios Pace, lacking the glamour-boys’ biggest stars, highlights the conclusion of Grand Circuit week at the Meadows with a band of stakes and anticipation of the first weekend in August when all of the superstars from all of the divisions make up the Meadowlands’ cast of Hambletonian-day fields. But July’s final weekend offers a lot of wagering opportunities that can help inflate our TwinSpires account with a full afternoon program at the Meadows and a full evening program with more stakes at the Meadowlands. 

    The Adios afternoon program on July 26 will feature live tweets on the Arden Downs, Adioo Volo and Adios Pace with all the late-breaking information. Follow @harnessraycer, @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter before betting.

    Our spin-off blog, the Hambletonian Trail features the Hambletonian Oaks prep at the Meadowlands on July 26, with seven wagering interests going for $35,000. There are no eliminations for the “Oaks” this year. The final is next week on the Big M Hambo program, where we will be on site reporting.

    Friday at the Meadowlands we have a single elimination for the frosh-colt trotters in the classic Peter Haughton and two Merrie Annabelle elims for the filly square-steppers. As well, another leg of the Ima Lula is on the bill for the mare trotters. Saturday night from the New Jersey oval, two elims for the John Cashman Memorial presents free-for-all trotters on board for a berth in next week’s final.

    Overnight action continues through North America and we have our fingers on the pulse of the action in our exclusive horses-to-watch list (H2W). Our suggested contenders prove to be valuable additions with many exorbitant place and show prices, as well as they support chunky exactas. 

    Weekdays, 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.

    Future Glamour Boys Trot

    Friday at the Meadowlands, the Peter Haughton Memorial enters phase one. A single elimination will be contested for the frosh-colt trotting event, which features 10 horses but only five betting interests. Trainer Jimmy Takter has spared no expense for stake-caliber two-year-olds, as he trains five of the 13 entered for the race (the three that receive byes for the final are Canepa Hanover, Guess Whos Back and Honor And Serve). Uncle Lasse, the only one of the quartet whose gait is not in question, highlights the four-horse entry. He enters in off of a victory in his debut and a third-place effort after attempting to go gate-to-wire, being parked in his move to the quarter.

    The obvious contenders against the entry are Svanstedt’s coupled Centurion Atm, Amicus and Cruzado Dela Noche. Centurion Atm is the leader of this group, making strong first-over moves at first asking. They’ll likely be the second choice but if one looks to beat the Takter quartet, Svanstedt’s colt is the next contender.

    Girlie Steps

    Two Merrie Annabelle elims are on tap Friday at the Meadowlands, also. Ron Burke returns to the freshmen-trotting scene, this time with two strong fillies divided into the two elims. The opening elim has Gatka Hanover, an undefeated daughter of Muscle Massive. Meanwhile, Homer Hochstetler has a Chocolatier filly, a bloodline that has been prominent with gals. Sweet Thing debuted well, winning by 4 lengths in 1:59 against maidens at Vernon. Next out, she was second in a Pennsylvania All-Star split. She followed that race with a victory against sires stakes company in 1:58 at the Meadows. She could be sharpening and her breeding not only has Chocolatier but Kadabra sired her dam. 

    Burke’s New Jersey-bred freak Mission Brief, off a 1:53.3 victory in the New Jersey Sires Stakes final is the obvious choice in round two. Yet, this speedy filly is also very green and might not mind her manners. In the event that she misbehaves, Jolene Jolene can easily sweep by this group. In her debut, she was locked at the pylons, shuffled and closed to finish third. At second asking, she could easily capitalize on Mission Brief’s possible mistake.

    Big Trotter Elims

    For the first time since the Nat Ray was renamed, two eliminations will be held for the John Cashman Memorial for older trotting males. The first elim features something that hasn’t been seen in nearly 40 years: Two Hambletonian winners will compete in the same race—Market Share and Royalty For Life. Yet, neither will likely be value in this event. Fresh off his world record in the Hambletonian Maturity, Your So Vain, a new acquisition for Ake Svanstedt, appears to be the one to beat. A huge three-wide bid in the 1 1/8-mile event at first asking makes the imagination fly as to what he can do with a start under his belt.

    The second elim could make it a Svanstedt sweep, since Sebastian K, coming in off his loss in the Maple Leaf Trot on a “sloppy” surface, returns to a track in which he’s excelled. Since he’s the one to beat, watch for Sweet Justice in the exotics. He has a home-field advantage, having spent the winter and summer at the Meadowlands. He has also shown talent against the top level and may be the underdog in this field.

    Ima Lula Deux

    Leg two of the Ima Lula series (the final is on the Hambletonian program) on July 25 at the Meadowlands should put Bee A Magician (BAM) back into the public-choice seat after two strong efforts following her illness. She was absent from last week’s first leg of this short series, winning the Miss Versatility. Classic Martine also joins the fray from that race, finishing fourth to BAM. She, too, should receive strong support.

    The Jonas Czernyson couple duo, Ma Cherie Hall and Mistery Woman, needs no introduction to the others here but looms dangerous with a price on the entry’s head. Leaving from posts 5 and 6, respectively, both of them are showing signs of being stronger than they were as sophomores, when BAM dominated the division. “Mistery” had a tough trip last week, got the lead, only to lose it to Handover Belle (post 2 in this). But Mistery trotted the better mile. And “Chere” may be over the stumbling stride that hampered her debut at four, posing a definite threat to the favorites.

    Wicked Adios?

    The 48th edition of the Adios Pace for the Orchids ($400,00) is the focus of a great stakes program on July 26 at the Meadows. As mentioned above, we will be tweeting our choices for the Grand Circuit stakes on the program live Saturday afternoon. Here, we will analyze the main event, a consolation and the filly version.

    The Adios this year presents Casie Coleman’s McWicked as a huge favorite with a morning line of 7-5. Because the colt has raced with the best and won his best efforts when the best were not present, as they are not here, the Coleman fans will dig into their pockets for a return of pennies, at best. He could soar to a record mile, sure, but who cares if he cannot reward us for the effort? Besides, three in the Adios field have a right to be claimed threats and at least two of them will be overlays.

    The longest price should me Stevensville, the wire-to-wire, 10-1 winner we gave you on in the “Rooney.” He may try to steal this and if he duels with McWicked could open a path for the lesser-priced offerings from contenders Lets Drink On It and Somewhere In LA. A winner in Canada, where most McWicked fans hail, “LA” should race better than his odds and burning front speed could give this to him. It’s a crafty game of who gets the trip if you don’t put your stock in McWicked going fastest from front to finish.

    Stevensville could be the trip horse and if there is the kind of dueling that drives speedsters outside or causes shuffling, the Ray Schnittker colt could drop a bomb on the tote board. LA and “Drink,” however, could either be worth it as overlays that would merely shake the board.

    The Adios consolation awards percentages of $30,000 to an odd crew of glamour boys in that they have raced a lot but not gotten very far in the division. This adds weight to the argument that the Adios did not attract the top tier of colts. Worth a shot here, then, would be a “now” horse and that appears to be Kingofthejungle. Last week he shot off the gate and dared the favorite, Limelight Beach, who did not make the final, to get the top. “Limelight” worked too hard to do so and wound up fourth at the wire. Kingofthejungle held well until tiring at three-quarters and finished fifth at 27-1 while ground-savers passed him. He may well be the best overlay of the program.

    Adioo Volo

    The soph-filly pacers in the $114,175 Adioo Volo total 11 and are not atop this division’s list for the season. None have tasted victory more than four times and two haven’t had a chance to win at all this season. Casie Coleman’s Also Encouraging is the top earner here and Casie will be looking to take the filly and the colt features by sending her full throttle, along with her other student, Someislansomwhere. Beach Gal is next in earnings and has been off the board only twice for Ron Burke, who also has Allstar Rating and Southwind Silence in the group.

    Bound to be ignored, however, is Gilbert Garcia-Herrera’s Marathon Day. She’s the fourth richest this season by hitting the board 10 times in 11 starts. All the well-known names will bury this filly’s chances on the board and although we doubt if Yannick Gingras would pick her to drive, she is one of four he is listed to drive before decision-making time. Her price will be appetizing and will reward backers handsomely as an outside contender.

    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.


    7/25/14, +Outoftexas R7
    7/26/14, Western Heart R8; Larrys Dream R11

    7/26/14, Oaklea Winfrey R1; Kaboom R1
    7/27/14,  Got What It Takes R8

    Grand River
    7/25/14, Mobro Flirt R6; Cons Legacy ae R6

    7/24/14, +Malak Uswaad N R2; Bob N Tony R6

    7/26/14, O’Sundland R8

    7/25/14, +My QP Doll R5

    7/25/14, +Nefertiti Bluechip R7; +Somethingincredible R9; Bee Full Of Steinam R11
    7/26/14, Request For Parol R4; Undercover Bro R9

    7/25/14, +A Major Impulse R8

    7/27/14, Corky Duke R12

    7/26/14, Somerset Minibob R1

    7/26/14, Black Hat R9

    Running Aces
    7/6/14, +Bunkerhill Bill R1; Cowgirls Rocknroll R3

    7/25/14, +Amigo Ranger R7

    7/z/14, Fox Valley Shannon R1; Eat Your Enemy R5

    7/26/14, Head Of The Barn R11; +Hi Ho Disguise R13

    7/26/14, +McKelvie R6

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.