04/10/2014 1:34PM

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.”

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

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)

Alfred Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
I have never met Scott but have exchanged several emails with him over my half dozen years or so at Public Handicapper. His creation is the foundation of my racing weekends. Thank you Carsoni!
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Sure review and moderate more comments DRF. WHY is the free PPs for race of day expired before the race has run??
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I fully understand what you're saying but I'll look into it.
Raymond Tucker More than 1 year ago
I know Scott, and have always said he is one of the 5 best handicappers in America. His comments and opinions on horses and the horse business is well respected by me, and always to be considered before doing anything in the business.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scott--way to go!--winning on a bet with a maiden Turf---now that's handicapping!--race
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Eventually love to do tourneys just so hard with work and I'm young player. What would make it easy if my local track (Parx) offered a tourney like most other tracks do. I wish all tracks would communicate and maybe do a State thing? For example, do tourneys by States and the winners or top 10 maybe represent their States (PHILA) in my case, NY, CAL, FLA, etc. I think there is so many ideas and this is an area that can really improve for all. Maybe when I take down the 5 mill at Gulf I'll retire and play. LOL I cant do that either though because I want to help horse racing expand with my tax knowledge.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Online contests are the easiest way to get started if you want to dip a toe in the water. My book lists a bunch of places to play inexpensively online or you could do a litlle judicious googling.
jim lefferts More than 1 year ago
It's incomprehensible that "Tournaments" has it's own section in the new DRF layout. Totally nonsensical.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
And yet, you take the time to not only read but also comment -- not sure what that says about you. . . As for contests in general, they are the biggest growth area in the sport and -- selfish reasons aside! -- I'm thrilled they are getting love from DRF. Objectively, having a devoted tournaments section on the site probably should have happened a long time ago.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Yes, very pleased to see a win by a talented player and all-around good guy!
rishooti . More than 1 year ago
Ditto Peter. Scott and a mutual friend introduced me to contest play about 15 years ago. We all owe a little to guys like him who are responsible for the impressive recent growth of the tournament world. Thanks again Scott and congratulations on your latest success.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you make six figures or more a year you can afford to spend a grand or more every weekend playing contests. How about leveling the playing field and cap how much every tour member can spend in contest fees...Perhaps the NTRA should have made this question part of their member survey. I would be willing to wager that the response would be overwhelming... This would put an end to the wealthy buying their way and in the long run make all tour members better handicappers/contest players.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Not a great plan as far as I'm concerned -- what business is going to limit potential revenues like that? To me, using only five scores and making the payout structure less top heavy is a better real world solution to your fears about someone "buying" the tour. But if you think of another possible fix for what bugs you about the current structure -- I don't know anyone who thinks it's perfect -- feel free to post it here.
Steven Simonovic More than 1 year ago
Way to Go Scott!