07/13/2009 5:35PM

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,


Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
HG 142 Here we go... $25 Ex #5 / 3,4,6,10. = $100 LOL to all.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
HG 142 No Super Wagering
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
HG 142 #1 and #1A are both in. LOL
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
HG 142 #11 Phone jazz Scratched
JP,FL More than 1 year ago
HG 142 I'll start with my top four picks in a $2.00 Super Box 1,5,7,9. Then include the first time starter #8 in a $2.00 Tri Box 1,5,7,8 total $96.00 $4.00 EX-1,8. good luck to all.
BigEasyBigChok More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, Did not even cross my mind that your post was directed at me but thanks for the concern. Yea, tough beat but 1 I probably deserved considering the no thought process I used hitting the all button. What makes it worse is I also did the same bonehead bet with the PK4 which came back about 4 dimes for a buck. BEBC
billg More than 1 year ago
HG 142 Dan, Great post. sometimes this game can make you feel like a fool. Others, like Albert Einstein. Two races made me a profit this weekend. I was horrid @ Calder but Rail Trip, Reb, and the Reb-No Inflation exacta in the Am. Derby made it a profotable Saturday. Hopefully, I can get on the board again in this handi exercise. Two horses I thru out from win consideration were the 5 and 9. both in the same race last time. Don't like the work for the 5 and the 9 can't get out of the gate. I like the 7. The 10 day turnaround, the slight drop, 2nd off a layoff. My pick. The trainer of the 8 is good with 1st timers, the 6 should improve again, and the jockey/trainer combo on the #4 cashed a $95 mutual on Saturday. THE BET: $40 win #7 $15 ex. 7/4,5,6,8 Was going to include a saver with the #5 on top but... I won't. Good luck!
dale tillotson More than 1 year ago
handigamble 142. 1=running back to oct 3 2008 race gets herin the money. 1A= weak part of entry. 2= another beye 0 expected. 3= 0-28 may beat the 2 horse. 4= examine this Garcia leaves for the Dr. my pick. 5= 2nd or 3rd place expected. 6= tough to love persky. 7= gets 2nd money. 8= If she wins it will be a pleasnt exam. the pick. 9= Lake says a lot here, but leaving off my tickets. 10= cant see it. $50.00 win #8. $2.00 exacta box 8-7-5. $2.00 tri box 8-7-5. $12.00 straight super 8-7-5-1. $12.00 straight super 8-5-7-1. $2.00 show on #2 should be 200-1 on the board. Good luck to all, two weeks to the Spa.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
Dan, Excellent post. I have been there myself, except not to the extent that someone is calling me a bum from the crowd. Fame is a quirky thing (or infamy, depending how you look at it. The bottom line is, this past weekend was filled with surprise results (along with a heavy favorite or two backing it up like Pure Clan). But, when you invest the time to break down these races only to see the results get turned on their head can knock the wind out of the best of us. You are one of the main reasons part time players like me keep coming back to Form Blog...Onwards it is! Regarding the 3 year olds and also the Haskell field: The recent injuries of POTN (retired), Musket Man (out 6 months), along with a few recent deaths have really shaken the division up. Of course, RA and MTB stand atop of this field, and Papa Clem looked like the TC was hard on him (and he needed a race), meanwhile Atomic Rain seemed to mature light years since the TC trail. The fact is, as many know, there may yet be a late bloomer poised to challenge those on the top. As for RA and the Hakell, there a numerous horses already pointing to that race, and it would not surprise me at all if the connections of Big Drama stayed in the Haksell and at that distance at that track with anything but the one post (and blinders on, please), and BD may be a huge value (kind of like Rail Trip was this past weekend). Remember his first try at 9 or 10 furlongs was not glorious either... I think 9 panels is probably just within BD's wheelhouse. Look, I am not predicting the horse will beat RA, but let's not forget what BD was up against when the gates opened at the Preakness: He was cast in his stall that AM; he was running without blinders for the first time and loaded first (and once he drew the 1 his trainer tried in vain to get the blinkers put back on). Add to that the 2-3 seconds the starter gave RA once she loaded last to get situated (which was a joke considering BB loaded last in the Derby and the race started the second his gate shut). Well, the fact that BD freaked, threw the rider and had to be reloaded sealed his fate IMHO. Had I been able to hit a window I would have taken him off my ticket. Never a good sign... So, unlike many other, the fact that BD grudingly gave up the lead and fought on through the stretch (he was only passed by 3 horses in that stretch) and held on for 5th on a track he was swimming in says alot about the horse to me. BD has nothing to prove at 7 furlongs. He is a colt. Like Rail Trip he is the son of a miler (Jump Start), who has sired milers (like Cable Boy, etc), who has a grandsire who has sired classic winners (Seattle Slew). Except with BD it's Montbrook, Trust N' Luck and Buckaroo (sire of multiple grade 1 winners Spend-a-Buck, Lite the Fuse and grade 1 winners Roo Art (Surb.) and Another Review (Calif. Hand.)). As Calvin has pointed out (and Dan), BD's full brother OutoftheBox won the grade 1 Super Derby at 10f and finished 2nd at the Fla. Derby. So, while I will not argue with those of you who say BD is a miler or that 9 panels is probably his limit (Dan, Calvin, Tinky, C , etc. who have all said this at one time or another), the Haskell is a 9 furlong race on a speed favoring track. Remember, Curlin could not get past HS in the Haskell stretch even though they both were exhausted from the TC trail. And last year BB was all out to run down the front running miler Coal Play (who won last week on the front end at Monmouth). So, even though BD needs that grade 1 win, the Kings Bishop will be loaded as well. There are several very good 3 year old sprinters this year who are pointing there, including Munnings, and Pletcher said Munnings may try the Haskell even if RA and BD are there. If Munnings runs that could complicate things for RA, because Munnings has an explosive turn of foot and has matured dramatically. He may not "get" 9 furlongs, but who knows? Between BD, Munnings and Papa Clem (if all 3 run) RA will have no picnic in the Haskell. Add the late blooming Atomic Rain and the others... I would be shocked to see her scare away all the boys the way she is scaring away all of the fillies (point taken on your sportsmanship post, C). After all, she has earned the title of best 3 year old male or female- but both MTB and MM had rough Preakness trips and they closed multiple lengths on her in the stretch. RA is very good, but she is beatable if things do not go her way. TBTA, Thanks for that link a few days ago...interesting. And speaking of that; SR Vegas, James Mc was the first to utter here, "let the damn horse run, fool." I and a few others picked up on it and we have used it since. Big Easy, Of course you know that none of what I ranted about regarding lawyers was directed at you or any other lawyer or law student on this Blog. Just the system and incoming 1Ls in general. BTW, I am not surprised associates from Big Firms need guidance on what to do in court. Unlike their bretheren and sisters who work for the DA's Office, PD Office or a small firm, they spend their first few years basically doing research and rarely litigate early on (based on those that I have known or read about in large firms). Maybe that explains why C students turn into better litigators than the A students in law school. The hundreds of hours of courtroom experience they accrue in a sink or swim environment before Mr. or Ms. Summa Cum Laude sees a courtroom. BTW, tough beat from your last post. I know how it feels, but I know that is no consulation.
aparagon4u More than 1 year ago
HG 142 Revised $11 Ex 8/All $1 Win 8 Total = $100 Lenny