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Today's HandiGambling 116 exercise is the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, a 'n2x' optional claimer for older runners going a one-turn mile on the main track. Past performances are available on the previous blog entry. Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan" (a $136.95 value).
Let's start off with the scratches. Take out #1A - Alaazo, #3 - Song Shan, and #9 - Whos Crying Now.
In my opinion, the key to this race is Zayat Stables' Z Humor (#1). Winless since dead-heating for first in the 2007 Delta Jackpot, Z Humor may be overlooked by the wiseguys despite racing exclusively in stakes competition during the interim. It's hard to make reasonable excuses for most of his races as the Delta Jackpot was a major negative key race, he failed to make a dent despite a good trip when third in the Illinois Derby, and probably shouldn't have blown an easy lead after setting moderate fractions last time out. The main track at the Big A on November 16 seemed to favor outside paths, however, and Z Humor was forced down to the deeper footing near the inner rail for the stretch drive. Perhaps that made the head difference between first and third. Trainer Todd Pletcher removes blinkers for this afternoon's assignment, but the scratch of Song Shan leaves this race without much pace, and jockey Eibar Coa should have Z Humor up close from the opening bell. Although trying older runners for the first time, Z Humor has run races fast enough to win at this level, and should give a good account of himself.
Morning Line favorite Forest Command (#10) may end up on the lead despite breaking from the far outside post. The pacesetter of the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs, Forest Command ran a decent race two back against straight 3-year-olds in the Super Derby. On a track where inside speed was king, Forest Command raced three wide around both turns, and still was only beaten 4 1/2 lengths by rail-skimming My Pal Charlie. My major issue with Forest Command is that he has an annoying tendency to drift out during the stretch drives of his races, and I wonder if that is a lingering effect of the hock injury that delayed his career debut until June of his sophomore season. Still, he's never been off the board, shows a quick recent workout, and should be relaxed near the front in this spot.
Dream Maestro (#7) has run quickly in his last few starts at Calder. In fact, any of his last three Beyers are faster than the last-race Beyer of all his opponents in this race. Those starts were around two turns, however, and Dream Maestro still must prove that he can succeed around one bend. He has good tactical speed, won his maiden over this track last year, and goes out for a barn with excellent stats (22%, $3.04 ROI) off 31-60 day layoffs. He wouldn't be a surprise, and may be the best price of the top three.
In multi-race wagers, I'd play Z Humor, Forest Command, and Dream Maestro, but HandiGambling rewards the single-race bettor. Anyone else strike my fancy?
Bernulli (#5) responded positively to the addition of blinkers, and although being bred stoutly for turf, he was able to handle the switch to dirt for the first time without much fuss. He's another runner with decent tactical speed that doesn't have to be so far out of it during the first quarter-mile or so. Still, with a best Beyer of 85 on his page, he'll need another move forward to win this.
Golden Age (#2) handles a one-turn mile nicely, but he's been away since November, and only shows three half-mile published drills in the interim. While I'm usually not thrilled with the rail post coming out of the Gulfstream mile chute, Golden Age seems like a professional type, and Cornelio Velasquez may attempt an in-out pace-tracking trip. He shouldn't be counted out completely, but is another that needs to run faster (90 Beyer top)
Beautifully-bred Cosmic (#4) prefers to come from off the pace, and that may work against him in this spot. Both of his wins came around two turns, and one has to wonder if Shug McGaughey is using this as a prep for something longer down the road. Cosmic hasn't raced since late July when he was overmatched against Mambo in Seattle in a restricted nine-furlong stakes race that went faster than the Jim Dandy (run on the same day) at Saratoga. With this pedigree, one shouldn't be surprised if he explodes one day and runs a career-best race, but I'll hope it isn't this time.
Izanagi (#6) makes his first start with Lasix, his first start for Bobby Frankel, and his first start in the United States. He showed a fondness for synthetic racing in France, but Gulfstream dirt is the real stuff, and Izanagi may be more comfortable at longer distances to boot.
Inti (#8) carries the colors of Shadwell Stable for his first North American start, but recent South American invaders for Kiaran McLaughlin have bombed at Gulfstream. Shadwell-owned Rock in Bage, a shipper from Argentina trained by McLaughlin, finished sixth in a 'n1x' allowance here on January 10. Like Inti, Rock in Bage worked a half-mile in 50.40 at Palm Meadows on December 10.
I don't love the race from a single-race perspective so I'll play this bet, and hope to squeak out a profit:
$16 Exacta Box - Z Humor, Forest Command, Dream Maestro ($96)
$4 for Admission and Parking
I'd like to take a minute to address the perceived snub against Zayat Stables in the Eclipse Award balloting. In my opinion, if an ownership group wins the money title, then they should be in the final three. Unfortunately for Zayat Stables, when the ballots were mailed out to voters in mid-December, they were still $200,000 behind Stronach Stables for the money title. I'm guessing that many voters unwisely sent in their ballots before the final end-of-year tally, and that may have hurt Zayat in 2008. Also, this past year seemed to be inundated by owners that were constantly "in the news." You had the IEAH partnership with Big Brown, Kip Deville, and other top-flight racehorses. You had Jess Jackson being hailed as a "sportsman" for running Curlin at four. Godolphin won nine graded stakes. It's possible the vote was split several ways.
To avoid something like this from happening again, the Eclipse voters probably shouldn't receive their ballots until after January 1. With e-balloting, there wouldn't be a timing issue with the announcements. I completely understand why Team Zayat should be upset. They won the prestigious money title, and still couldn't crack the final three. That's wrong, but I don't think it's a snub as much of a timing issue. It is unfortunate.
Back tomorrow with more.
Steve T Obviously, you are either a synthetic track salesman or District Attorney Nifong. Your rush to judgement in support of polygarbage is eerily similiar to the propaganda that was perpetuated on us back in the late '60's and early 70's for Astoturf. Remember? That junk was touted as being much safer, providing better footing for the athlete, and being practically maintenance free. Those ballparks and stadiums were literally deathtraps for many athletes' careers. At least three to five years of data is needed before anyone can accurately assess the merits of synthetic tracks. The following categories must be thoroughly analyzed: 1) Caastrophic injuries 2) soft-tissue injuries 3) miscellaneous injuries (allergies, lung probems,etc.) 4) maintenance issues 5) durability concerns 6) cost factors And Stevie, you can not use the "well chosen example" to compare tracks. In other words, you can not use the worst case scenario to prove the best case scenario. You must use all of the data-good and bad. If I could just use selected data, then I could use Saratoga (no fatalities), to "prove" that dirt tracks were indeed safer. You implied that Californians approved of synthetic tracks by comparing attendance figures for Santa Anita and Aqueduct. Well golly gee!! Do you think its remotely possible that more people might want to go to the track when its seventy degrees, than when its twenty degrees?(not to mention snow and wind chills). How about comparing attendance figures at Saratoga to those at Turfway Park, or Arlington Park? Using your "logic", that would prove that more people prefer dirt tracks to artificial ones. Personally, I wouldn't mind it if NYRA closed down for the winter months-it might actually create more interest in horse racing, by having shorter, more well-defined seasons.
Peppers Pride, Congrats on your retirement from one NM bred to another. (hey, I was born in Albuquerque). You have given me great pride in following your career and winning streak. Hope they get you a great stallion so we can continue to follow your offspring. Good luck to all your connections that was a great run.
Steve T, Sorry about Point Encounter! Poor guy, he did get his 15 minutes of fame when he was rashly made the early Derby favorite. And, Alan, a setback now for your horse doesn't bode well, especially for a horse that has made only one start. This seems to happen every year, but it seems to be starting awfully early. So, if you guys can find any horse still out there that you would like to root for, just let me know. Annie
Cayman - Thanks so much for the tracking spreadsheet! I agree with you and P Ensign that it's people's explanations of why they're structuring their bets the way they are that makes HG so instructional and fun. I apologize for not doing it this time, but I didn't have time to include any explanations with mine yesterday morning as I was having to run out the door to go to an appointment. (I assume this might be the reason sometimes others don't have explanations either). Being in a situation where you have to bet early and then run is also a reason that sometimes the wagers we make in this exercise are not the same wagers we would have made had we been able to bet just before post-time. Despite really believing that the 10 was the most likely winner, I would never have put a $60 win bet on him at those low odds. (I figured the 1 would end up being the favorite and I might get a price...) Had I been around for post time - I would have spent the entire $100 on exactas, keying the 7 and 9 to the 10 with about two-thirds of the money devoted to the 10 running first and the remaining amount on the 7 and 9 with the 10 running second. I threw the 1 out thinking he'd either win and I'd be out altogether (a risk I was willing to take based on his recent quitting ways)or he'd run worse than second. Also, Bob C suggested a specific format for structuring wagers (with max amounts for different types of wagers). I disagree with this suggestiong for exactly the reason that I love this HG exercise: seeing the many different ways that people structure their wagers in different circumstances is exactly what contributes to my learning. I know I approach different races with different wagers depending on the opportunity I perceive (e.g., how I bet this race without knowing the odds and how I would have actually structured my wagers differently if had known the odds). Just my two cents. I'm also curious how many folks out there keep records of all your wagers (wager types and amounts) so that you can track what types of wagers you're better at? I've been doing that for about a year now and was dismayed to find that although I LOVE trifectas and have continued to chase them more often than not (because of some early big scores that encouraged by my habit), I show a significant loss over the long haul on these types of wagers. And because I have now resolved to stop playing trifectas (no matter tempting) as my new year's resolution, I can't play them in our HG exercise either! (I am allowed to play silly 10c supers though so maybe I'll still have a chance to win one of these weeks! lol) Tina
tencentcielo, OK, an apology, followed by a little sympathetic stroking, followed by a "let's rub it in, again". Lol Anyway, only in Minnesota, on Sat. it's supposed to be 33 degrees ABOVE zero. Like a 60 degree turnaround! We are famous for that. All of us will be removing our parkas, and possibly going out to catch a few rays in shorts and a T-shirt. :) Annie
Congrats to Kyri on your Exacta, but we will have to sign you up for a little math refresher course conducted by Van Savant. When totaling your wagers I came up with a play of $190.00. Hell even I could have hit that exacta with an extra 90 bucks. So many did so well, to many would not acknowledge that unless something catosrophic had to happen to keep Forest Command from demolishing this field I used him on top of about 90% of ny plays, but got a little hard headed with the 2nd place finisher and came up with another goose egg. Those of you who feel they are at a disadvantage because they are only $10 - 20 per race it is simple to adjust by just increasing your bets in porportion to get to the 100 dollar mark. Sometimes you come to a difficult race and spread out even if it $20 and sometime a race comes right in your wheel house and you put the hammer down, treat these races the same and learn from others who are more expierenced, after all that is why Dan started this little experiment, and why it has caught on so well. This thing is so big now I doubt If any of us will ever repeat as a winner, all I hope is later in the season when Woodbine starts up again, someone use one of their Wed. evening races, as they have a very good program up there.
P Ensign- It didn't take you long to stick your chest out in rebutal to Alan's post. Let me again congratulate you on your winning score. In responce to why we try to post early, is to help each other, that is what it is all about. Take Chicago Gerry, he always comes in early with his thought process and continues to update as things evolve, and it proves very helpful. You also gave your opinion early as many others of us did. But some do not have the luxury of waiting till the last moment to put their plays in. And then again others of our new found handigamblers have just joined in because they found out about the prize, and treat it as any other free shot that is offered over the internet. I can almost say without reservation that 60% or more of our new found handigamblers will only be heard from on HG day, and will not be posting or otherwise joining what has come to be a family of sorts, and yes on very few ocassions as disfunctional as any other, but always civil. I will end with the words of one of our most insightful and prolific members, Slewofdamascus, "that is my final word on the subject"
We have a winner in HG 116 and it's p ensign who got in with one minute to post and slammed the super 15 times! His winning total of $1870.50 easily outdistanced second place ktalbany who had a total of $1064. Check your totals at the HG Spreadsheet: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pbWiA1VmZWoVb6aFdAVqfLg&hl=en# Most of the larger scores were made by slamming the exacta multiple times. Alan hit the Tri for $6 and that was the largest tri score. Large win wagers on Forest Command barely netted $100. Lesson learned? When there's not a lot of value in the obvious chalks the exacta is the place to go for a decent score. I found 87 entries this week and 31 hit something in the race. Not a bad percentage. And we managed to eak out a group profit of $242.94. Special prize to Kyri who gets a scholarship to the Van Savant School of Mathematics for going $50 (!) over the $100 cap on her last tickets. that one got dq'd and I went with her earlier one which she did hit. Two weeks into the new year of HG and out of 101 players only six hit both weeks. This is a hard game. Bigeasychok, Thanks for your explanation of your wager. After going thru all the tickets I only found a few that I felt were bomb-surfers. I do not think there's a need to alter the game just yet. Giving a rational to go with one's ticket gives credence to the tickets we play. I personally would like to hear why somebody plays a ticket the way they do. what's the angle? Why are they keying this horse or not the favorite. That's how we'll all learn. PGM, you may have blown the exacta but you did get a P bet on Maestro for a solid $5.40 return, which was exactly $5.40 more than I got.
RobertSd, Nice going on you win! TomD, I saw that Kamboo Man paid pretty decent for having posted a 105 Beyers in a his last out race. I guess everybody was just waiting for the big bounce because of the class level. Alan, You had a nice post regarding the Hg. I am in favor of keeping the $100. Justin and Sohby, Thanks very much for your recent posts.
P ensign, congrats on the score. The reason i post so early is that i have class from 10-4 with a small gap in between from 1:30-2:00. I usually don't have the time to make much more than the smallest adjustments. I DON'T like watching the board because it has a nasty habit of overinfluencing my picks. Since i'm at school i can't watch the feed or see live odds (they blocked it), i usually have to go with what i handicapped. Annie, I'm sorry you hate the way i study in the shade on a hot winter's day, but it makes you fell any better, i'm taking allergy medication just to sit outside. BTW, it will not drop below 80 until at least sunshine millions day. :-) tencentcielo