07/13/2009 4:35PM

The Highs and Lows (mostly lows) of Horseplaying


I can honestly say that my tickets from this past weekend were all perfectly constructed.  All of the 'A,' 'B' and 'C' horses were in their correct slots, and the dollar amounts wagered were weighted brilliantly. 

Unfortunately, the handicapping stunk.

Don't believe me?  I'm sure you do, but I'll still give you a few examples of my miserable reasoning.

On Rail Trip:  "He won't go a step over a mile."
Result:  Rail Trip wins by a million with a 111 Beyer Speed Figure.

On Game Face:  "I think she may be done."
Result:  Game Face wins by a million with a 109 Beyer Speed Figure.

On Giant Oak:  "He seems like the most likely winner of the weekend."
Result:  Giant Oak is off the board as the heavy favorite.

Heck, even Olivia Katherine Duckworth got in on the fun.  After placing the tot on my lap to watch the Carry Back, I playfully said, "C'mon, number one!" 

She responded with "C'mon, number fah-vuh."

You do know what saddle-cloth Not for Silver carried, don't you?

After the financial beating, I did what any self-respecting horseplayer would do...I went to the Meadowlands!  There was the Haughton Final as well as a couple of Meadowlands Pace Eliminations to look at, and the harness crowd wouldn't notice an embarrassed public handicapper slinking around the corridors, would they?

"Illman, you're a bum!  You can't pick a winner," boomed a voice from the grandstand.

Now, most of the time, I'd tell a heckler to go soak his pinky, but hey, this one was right! My picks did stink.  Instead I calmly told dad that I'd meet up with him and mother for lunch the following afternoon.

Handicappers are drawn to the challenge of picking winners, and while the strain on the wallet is huge when the opinions are awful, it's the mental beating that is harder to erase.  All that work compiling pace and speed figures, watching race replays, and poring over pedigrees for nothing!!!
In no other sport does a fan run through the gamut of emotions over and over again.  Hope.  Anticipation. Fear.  Worry.  Elation.  Disappointment.  After a win, we can't get too cocky for another race is sure to humble us.  More importantly, we can't beat ourselves up too much after a loss.  There's always another chance to cash tickets.  To be right.

I usually wear my heart on my sleeve.  After a win, I'm pumped up and quietly confident in my abilities.  After an extended losing streak, I'm ready to walk away for good.

And so that's how I felt at Club Med on Saturday night.  Ready to give it up. All of a sudden, I realized that I wasn't the only one in this boat.  It happens to all horseplayers, of all shapes and sizes. 
A rotund gentleman sitting behind me was screaming for Tinys Million in the ninth race.  Under Yannick Gingras, Tinys Million slingshotted three wide off the perfect second over trip, and scored at a fat 11-1. 
"Good for him," I thought as he roared his approval.  "At least somebody can pick a winner."  The excited bettor began to pontificate on his handicapping approach to anyone who would listen.  With his back turned to the track, he yelled out that he was the greatest.  I smiled.  I love the track.  Where else can you meet so many colorful and interesting characters?  And all they want is to be right! 
Then, it happened.  Tinys Million's number started to blink.  The pear-shaped fan started to quiet down.  After an interminable wait, Tinys Million was taken down.  What a game!  The "Greatest" had been kayoed.  You had to feel for him.
The next race is just around the corner.  The past is the past.  A bad weekend can't be relived over and over again. 
In this game, redemption is just around the corner.  And who doesn't love a story about redemption?

As Slew, one of our esteemed bloggers, likes to say, "Onward and upward."  I can't guarantee upward, but I'm continuing onward.


Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Hollywood Gold Cup (Hol):  Rail Trip(R. Ellis/J. Valdivia Jr.) - 111

*Princess Rooney (Crc):  Game Face(T. Pletcher/E. Prado) - 109
*Man o'War (Bel):  Gio Ponti (C. Clement/R. Dominguez) - 105
*Battlefield (Mth):  Get Serious(J. Forbes/P. Fragoso) - 103
*Azalea (Crc):  First Passage(M. Wolfson/J. Bridgmohan) - 101
*Smile Sprint (Crc):  Eaton's Gift(D. Romans/J. Lezcano) - 100
*Dance Smartly (WO):  Points of Grace (M. Pierce/L. Contreras) - 100

*Dr. James Penny Memorial (Pha):  Carribean Sunset - Ire (C. Clement/R. Dominguez) - 98
*Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Championship (Crc):  Little Nick (W. White/M. Cruz) - 98
*Ligature (Pen):  Miss Blue Tye Dye (R. Reid Jr./F. Pennington) - 98
*Arlington Sprint (AP):  Yankee Injunuity(J. McMullen/E. Baird) - 98
*Arlington (AP):  Just as Well (J. Sheppard/E. Baird) - 97
*Repercussion (WO):  Lady Attack (J. Carroll/P. Husbands) - 97
*Royal Heroine Mile (Hol):  Tuscan Evening - Ire(J. Hollendorfer/R. Bejarano) - 97
*Long Branch (Mth):  Atomic Rain(K. Breen/J. Bravo) - 96
*John McSorley (Mth):  In Summation (C. Clement/J. Bravo) - 95
*Promonroe (Bel):  Law Enforcement(M. Hennig/K. Desormeaux) - 95
*Modesty (AP):  Pure Clan(R. Holthus/J. Leparoux) - 95
*Do It Fast (Bel):  Hangingbyathread(C. Martin/J. Lezcano) - 94
*Pearl Necklace (Bel):  Sea Chanter(T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) - 93
*Valor Farm (LS):  Taptam (W. Calhoun/M. Berry) - 93
*Carry Back (Crc):  Not for Silver(M. Trombetta/J. Lezcano) - 92
*Ernie Samuel Memorial (FE):  Bent Attorney(D. MacRae/S. Elliott)-  91
*Lottsa Talc (Bel):  Canadian Ballet (L. Rice/A. Garcia) - 91
*Spruce Fir (Mth):  Way With Words(M. Eppler/E. Castro) - 91

*Texas Stallion (colts) (LS):  Big Texas Daddy(S. Asmussen/J. Shepherd) - 89
*Indiana Downs Distaff (Ind): Keertana(T. Proctor/J. Castanon) - 89
*Hollywood Juvenile Championship (Hol):  Necessary Evil (D. O'Neill/J. Rosario) - 89
*Pink Ribbon (AP):  Dee's Rose (D. Bennett/J. Graham) - 88
*American Derby (AP):  Reb(G. Arnold II/J. Leparoux) - 88
*J J'sdream (Crc):  Dashing Debby(G. Procino/D. Coa) - 87
*Frank Gomez Memorial (Crc):  Jackson Bend (S. Gold/J. Sanchez) - 87
*Landaluce (Hol):  Repo(D. O'Neill/C. Nakatani) - 87
*Diamond Ring (AP):  Romacaca (D. Miller/E. Baird) - 87
*Toronto Cup (WO):  Crown Isle(J. Charalambous/E. Wilson) - 86
*Prince of Wales (FE):  Gallant(M. Casse/C. Fraser) - 86
*Alameda County (Pln):  Christmas Ship(J. Hollendorfer/F. Alvarado) - 85
*Oliver (Ind):  Driving Snow - GB(D. Miller/M. Mena) - 85
*Assault (LS):  Goosey Moose(D. Pish/M. Berry) - 85
*American Dreamer (Crc):  Grand Cash (D. Vivian/E. Prado) - 85
*New York Derby (FL):  Pocket Cowboys (S. Schwartz/P. Nicol Jr.) - 85
*Texas Stallion (fillies) (LS):  Camille's Appeal(S. Asmussen/J. Shepherd) - 84
*Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial (FE):  Drunken Love(N. McKnight/G. Olguin) - 84
*A. J. Foyt (Ind):  Heza Wild Guy(B. Rhone/T. Pompell) - 83
*Frances Genter (Cby):  Chick Fight (M. Robertson/D. Butler) - 82
*Shady Well (WO):  Maritime Passion(M. DePaulo/C. Sutherland) - 82
*Wheat City (AsD):  Monsoon Rain(C. Torevell/C. Marquez) - 82
*Fern Sawyer (Rui):  Petition the Lady(T. Sedillo/A. Juarez Jr.) - 82
*Runaway Marcie (Crc):  Bob's Jawbreaker (D. Potter/W. Henry) - 81

*George Lewis Memorial (Tdn):  Catlaunch (I. Vazquez/H. Rosario Jr.) - 79
*Victor S. Myers Jr. (Cby): Nomorewineforeddie(B. Riecken/D. Butler) -78
*Punch Line (Cnl):  Jake Rattle N Roll(M. Pino/H. Karamanos) - 77
*Route 66 (FMT):  Steal Your Face(K. Craddock/F. Wethey Jr.) - 77
*Ky Alta (NP):  Robo Willie(G. Tracy/R. Walcott) - 75
*Florence Henderson (Ind):  Dr. Powers(D. Cluley/G. Lagunes) - 72
*River Rock Resort (Hst):  Huitzilopochtli(J. Olmos/F. Perez) - 72
*Harry Jeffrey (AsD):  Hilton's Cherokee(E. Corbel/A. Cuthbertson) - 71
*Northwest Stallion Knights Choice (EmD):  Knight Raider(D. Harwood/R. Frazier) - 70

*Hoover (RD):  Drummond Island(W. Cowans/R. Prescott) - 64
*Juan Gonzalez Memorial (Pln):  Izzy Rules(J. Bonde/O. Figueroa) - 60

*Edmonton Juvenile (NP):  Dixie Chip(D. Saunders/Q. Welch) - 59
*Sale's (MD):  J C's Action (R. Gardipy/S. Rodrigo) - 54
*Boulevard Casino (Hst):  Emerald City (T. Clyde/R. Skelly) - 52
*Princess Margaret (NP):  Sheyenne Girl(G. Tracy/R. Walcott) - 52
*CTBA Lassie (ArP):  Vanasee(K. Gleason/J. Rochabrun) - 52

*CTBA Futurity (ArP):  E F Five(K. Gleason/V. Scantling) - 49
*Capital City Futurity (Lnn): Lou Lou Larue(D. Andseron/D. Leeds) - 47

Here are the lifetime past performances for the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download RailLaRue


One final thing on Calder. Does anyone know what the compostion of the surface is? The race times are always odd down there.

I found this site concerning composition breakdowns for different tracks:



Congrats to CHAAZZ for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  His selection for this week's race is the third at Belmont on Wednesday. 

Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling142

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."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


Talk to you soon,