04/10/2014 12:34PM

Carson makes good use of handicapping tools


Scott Carson, who founded PublicHandicapper.com, is an excellent contest player in his own right. He qualified for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship for an impressive seventh time with a win in the March 30 DRF Bets live-bankroll contest.

Live bankroll is the format where he’s had the most success. In fact, five of his seven NHC qualifications have come via live-bankroll events.

“They’re my specialty,” Carson said. “You can capitalize on your strongest opinions. If there’s a 2-1 you love, you can hammer it. In an NHC format, a 2-1 is never going to help you unless it’s the last race.”

There’s another aspect of the live bankroll format Carson finds appealing. “If there are tris and exactas, one major score can be all you need to put you over the top. You just have to be right in one race.”

For the March 30 contest, Carson used his experience with the Ragozin Sheets to find his best bet of the day. “If I see a Sheet where a horse looks like either incredible value or a hammerlock, I zero in on it,” Carson said. “Then I use Formulator to confirm it by looking at running style, trainer patterns, things like that.”

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In the DRF Bets contest, Carson’s strongest opinion was in Santa Anita’s fourth race, a maiden race on turf.

“Life’s Journey had matched his 2-year-old top on the Sheets, and he had matched his top two races ago, which is even better,” he said. “When they match their top and then throw in a bad race, that’s one of the most powerful Sheet angles there is. But sometimes the Sheets are wrong. You see a number and you bet it, and the horse doesn’t do anything.”

Carson uses Formulator, which he calls “essential” to his handicapping, to look for confirmation. “In the DRF, the horse looked even better. He had exceeded his 2-year-old Beyer top and even moved forward again Beyer-wise in his last race,” he said. “I looked up the trainer in Formulator, and while she had no wins in the last five years, I noticed that this trainer and jockey together had teamed up for their best efforts with this particular horse.”

Carson looks at his DRF past performances with the workouts integrated into the running line, and this helped him notice something else. “His last two workouts made him seem like a horse on the improve,” Carson said. “Before his last race, he ran four furlongs in 49 and 3, and before this race, he ran a 48. That gave me the confidence to really send it in.”

Carson bet $100 to win on Life’s Journey at 6-1. He also played $10 exacta boxes with three other contenders. The bet that really won the contest, though, was a $10 trifecta key using Life’s Journey over three other horses, one of whom was 22-1. When the 22-1 got third, the tri paid $307.50 for $1, and Carson collected more than $3,000 on the tri alone. Contest over. “I didn’t even have to make a bet after that race,” Carson said.

◗ Speaking of Carson, it’s almost time for PublicHandicapper.com to start its main contest for 2014: the Public Handicapper Challenge. You can sign up today. Here’s how it works. The contest lasts six months and consists of four races per weekend – usually the best graded stakes. NHC seats go to the top two players – if they are eligible. To make sure you are eligible, sign up for the NHC Tour at www.ntra.com. Membership costs $50 and allows you to play in the free NTRA contests where seats are also awarded (in fact, there’s one Sunday). First place also gets a cash prize of $1,500 and a one-year subscription to DRF Formulator. Sign up for your NHC Tour membership and the Public Handicapper Challenge today.

◗ Saturday’s races for the NHCQualify contest have been announced. It’s a great lineup with nine graded stakes races. The last couple of races might be chalky, so players might have to get creative early on, where all the big fields are.

3:40 Keeneland 7 (Commonwealth G3)
4:11 Keeneland 8 (Shakertown G3)
4:42 Keeneland 9 (Madison G1)
5:10 Oaklawn 8
5:13 Keeneland 10 (Jenny Wiley G1)
5:30 Santa Anita 5 (La Cienegas G3)
5:45 Keeneland 11 (Blue Grass G1)
6:00 Santa Anita 6
6:17 Keeneland 12
6:27 Oaklawn 10 (Oaklawn Handicap G2)
7:00 Santa Anita 8 (Potrero Grande G2)
7:07 Oaklawn 11 (Arkansas Derby G1)