04/21/2014 11:27AM

Fornatale: Public Handicapper is a unique and fun way to play the races


The 2014 Public Handicapper Challenge begins in just two weeks and will last through the Breeders’ Cup. It’s as unique a handicapping contest as there is. It’s free to play, and the two finishers win a seat to the National Handicapping Championship next January in Las Vegas (as long as they have signed up for a $50 NHC Tour membership in advance of the contest).

The Public Handicapper Challenge is a unique contest in other ways as well. It’s more than just a contest really; it also offers a chance to be part of a racing community where you can share your thoughts about the four races on offer each week, just as if you were a public handicapper yourself.

You don’t have to provide analysis – you can just make picks if you want – but the ability to offer an analysis is fun and will make you a better overall player as well. Writing race analysis is a great way to force oneself to do the work and be accountable, as well as objective. Reading others’ race analyses can be just as valuable. To quote the great pro player Mike Maloney, “You can get good information from almost anyone who has been around this game and survived enough to still be playing in a contest. Even if you don’t agree with what’s being told, it’s good to listen, because part of the money on the tote board is being represented by that line of thought. The more you can understand what makes those lights blink on the toteboard, the more you’ll know about all the different philosophies and what the game is all about.”

Maloney wasn’t talking specifically about Public Handicapper in that quote, but he might as well have been. Let’s take a look at four winning analyses from this past weekend’s Public Handicapper Prep contest (a much shorter version of the big contest that wraps up next week in advance of the big one).

Here’s what Mugateaman had to say about the Ageless in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland: “Love Leparoux taking this ride. She has great success running fresh. It's tough to predict the running style that some of these will choose so can't figure how this race is going to set up but we know that she can win off the pace or be on the lead.”

Ageless paid $18.40.The next race is the contest was the Ben Ali, also from Keeneland. Mugateaman capped his own rolling double ($1, Jason Blewitt) by selecting Frac Daddy: “Frac Daddy started his improvement 3-back at this very track. His next two were very respectable. He returns to this track today where he won impressively in his first and only synth try. Pretty small sample, 1 for 1, but I'm thinking he might just love this surface.”

Frac Daddy ran away and hid in the Ben Ali, getting $13.20 for his backers, looking like a 4/5 shot in the process.

The Sixty Sails at Hawthorne was next. RodrickD nailed this one: “At a mere 117 lb I would be most disappointed if this Flashy American did not turn this grade 3 contest into a romp. Happy to see one of my favorite distaffers return to the races instead of hitting the breeding shed. Veteran rider on board, trainer is as crafty as any and this distance hits her squarely between the eyes. Loves real dirt and if it rains in old Chi Town , it would not faze her one bit. I'm going in.”

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

She paid $7.80, and as we know, sometimes in contests, every bit helps. In many contest formats, you can play a 5/2 shot that you love.

The final contest race this past weekend was The Lexington Stakes from (where else?) Keeneland. Things went from chalky to chalkier as Mr. Speaker did the business at just over 2/1. Giants1 got the $19.80 exacta cold, “Mr. Speaker: Was much the best in the Palm Beach but encountered major traffic. Hopefully he gets a cleaner trip today from the rail. If he handles the Polytrack he should be very tough for Shug. Divine Oath: Not often you seen a horse win his first two starts going 7 and 1/2 on the Turf.”

For contest purposes, Giant1 only gets credit for the $2 win mutuel on Mr. Speaker but this still demonstrates how Public Handicapper is a great resource, especially for newer players. Go ahead and sign up today for the Public Handicapper Challenge. There is simply no easier, better way to sharpen your contest handicapping skills.


A K More than 1 year ago
Just Like to say Hello to all the PHers here..I am excited to join this forum to gather insight. I'll make my first public share. Although I have backed Untapable each time and I love her of course..the post here creates a little concern..not sure if it's enough to cause me concern..as I really have Untapable 6 length the best...I'm seeing Rosalind as the upset here..of course i'll lock the two for some type exotic wager
P Cerv More than 1 year ago
Nobody's talking about the slop there will be at Oaks & Derby 140 ? Weather forecasters say anywhere between 3" & 5" of rain will fall next week Monday thru Thursday? Where are the interviews with the Track Superintendent especially on the speculation that the Super who was at the helm of Gulfstream's Florida Derby was fired and the Superintendent at Breeders Cup had to change the surface after Fridays races? 90% of the horseplayers and racing enthusiasts will utilize OTB style wagering and information research. That is because DRF "Daily Racing Form" once Racings Premier Authority, no longer offers the Public free information! You would think Churchill Downs would step up to the plate, and tell its constituents what's in store for those in attendance as well as the casual bettor of what it is going to do about conditions or will happen? How can anyone keep predicting who will do what and NOT encompass the weather?
Russ Jenkins More than 1 year ago
Peter, as a guy who only started playing online contests last year, i'm interested in this, but really a bit unsure what the format is, how you make your picks, how long the contest is (one day? all year?). Can you give me a bit more information. Thanks again. I'm gonna put your book mentioned below on my to-do list....sounds like something i need to read.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Every player starts with $2. You can bet up to four pre-selected races a week and your total goes up or down along the way. Contest lasts from Derby to BC and the highest $2 ROI at the end wins. here are the official rules, http://www.publichandicapper.com/rules-prizes-chal2013.cfm
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
and here's a full article i wrote awhile back on public handicapper that might help answer questions: http://www.drf.com/blogs/free-contest-rewards-consistency-not-luck
Russ Jenkins More than 1 year ago
Thanks....i'll check those out.
w More than 1 year ago
I agree. I applaud those who win this endurance contest. Each year, I have every intent to play and I make picks on Oaks and Derby day and then forget to do it from there on out. Of course, if I had actually hit something early I may have had more interest... It truly is the grinder's contest and those that win have earned it.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
It is indeed a marathon, not a sprint! I'm hoping to cover the contest pretty thoroughly -- perhaps that will serve as a reminder to get picks in. I'm also hoping this comments section becomes an are where players can interact / discuss the contest races in great detail. I'm happy to moderate. Let's truly make this contest social and interactive.
Russ Jenkins More than 1 year ago
Love the quote from Maloney. Excellent, excellent.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
For sure -- he is a quote machine! Maybe someday he'll write his own book but until then you can settle for his quotes in my books, SIX SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL BETTORS and THE WINNING CONTEST PLAYER.