04/25/2012 8:07AM

Showing a profit

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Clear skies may have been a deciding factor in Derick Giwner's winter success at New Meadowlands | Photo by Lisa Photo

I did it!

As a public handicapper my main goal is to show a profit during each meet. I have done it at Yonkers Raceway multiple times, at Tioga Downs last year, and during the Meadowlands’ championship meet on a couple of occasions. The one meet that has eluded me until 2012 was the winter meet at the Meadowlands.

It may have taken me a while but I finally finished the winter in the black at the Meadowlands. My final totals read: 476 races, 142 winners, $987.20 (based on $2 win wager on each of the 476 horses). Those numbers equate to a 30 percent win rate and a $2.03 ROI for each $2 wager.

Rather than accept the achievement I immediately began asking myself what I did differently or what outside factors played a role in the turnaround. The one dynamic which may have played the biggest role was the extremely warm weather during this winter. The months of January and February are known for some tricky wind conditions which can wreak havoc on any advance selections. Pick a bunch of early speed types on a night when the track bias is favoring closers due to a strong wind and watch your selections do the moonwalk down the stretch.

Other than the elements, I chalk my good fortune up to just that, luck. I hit a couple of big priced horses this year which certainly helped my bottom line. I feel like I was consistent with my selections during the meet and looked for value when it was present and took the favorite when necessary.

Hopefully the winter success will carry over into the Championship meet beginning May 4.

More Levy Thoughts: Last week I touched on some ways to make the Levy series more palatable for bettors. Well, I have one last pearl of wisdom to add. Why not make the Levy a handicap series?

After horses are nominated, the racing office could handicap the eligible horses. If there are 50 horses they would be ranked 1 to 50. Races would then be assembled randomly and horses would be assigned posts using the point system. If you wanted to remove human error or possible bias, the post assignments could be based on the previous year’s earnings. We could even alter the handicaps after the first two legs to be based upon points earned in the series.

Some will argue that horses will not enter if they could be handicapped with an outside post on the half-mile oval at Yonkers Raceway. But is a top horse like Real Nice or Foiled Again going to skip the series when they only need to finish third once to gain back their entry fee and would likely make the final with one win and a quartet of thirds? I think not!

On the backstretch: Although Champion pacing mare Put On A Show was nominated to the Free For All Graduate series at the Meadowlands (eliminations May 5), she will not face the boys in that event.

“We were on the fence but decided against it,” said trainer Chris Ryder. He continued, “She’ll have one more start in Canada and heat to Chester for the Betsy Ross.”

After the race at Chester (which will be renamed Harrah’s Philadelphia starting April 29), he hopes to get her in the Artiscape at Tioga Downs but may have trouble since the race accepts horses based on earnings and she did not start in 2011. Her first stakes event at the Meadowlands is expected to be the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day (August 4).

Meadowlands: The condition sheet was posted for opening weekend of the Meadowlands’ championship meet. In addition to the Graduate and the AJ Cutler Memorial for FFA Trotters, the Simpson series for 3-year-old pacers of both sexes could be interesting. A few of the top sophomores which have been qualifying at the Meadowlands recently should be on hand, including trainer Tony Alagna’s Mel Mara and Major Bombay.

Gaitway Farms: Speaking of qualifying action, we will have a report on some of the top entrants from this Friday’s action at Gaitway. Star filly Handsoffmycookie (Breeders Crown runner-up) and older performer Golden Receiver are some of the more interesting horses that are in-to-go.

Track Openings: Plainridge Racecourse opened on Monday, Vernon Downs opens on Friday, and Tioga Downs begins their meet on May 5. We will feature full card analysis on www.drf.com/harness for each Sunday card at Tioga through the end of their meet. 

Other Sports Too: Sometimes I bash harness racing because a few tracks don’t put enough energy into producing the best product possible. Well, in the NBA on Tuesday Night the Miami Heat played the Boston Celtics while LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen all sat on the bench. You have to feel bad for the 18,624 fans who shelled out good money for a prime Eastern Conference matchup which turned into a battle of backups. Maybe I’m too hard on harness racing?

Yonkers Analysis: Be sure to check out our video analysis for the $297k Blue Chip Matchmaker and $455k George Morton Levy finals at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night. Matt Rose and I will go over each final and consolation event. The videos will be available Thursday evening and can be found at www.drf.com/harness under Yonkers: Saturday 4/28 Analysis.

Joe Labunski More than 1 year ago
Derrick, I like reading your column..some interesting reading and I enjoy it as I like harness racing as much as the other racing...I see that you don't mention Saratoga Raceway in any of your columns...I believe the racing up here is better than that of Vernon or Tioga Downs...The racino up here has greatly improved the caliber of horses that race, and for the longest time, it was the fastest half mile track in harness racing...Anyway, keep up the great info your column provides to us dwindling harness race fans...PS On the night they have the Back To The Track evening, Saratoga offers up some nice prizes such as a ride in the starting gate during a live race..won it last year and what a view...
Derick More than 1 year ago
Riding in the starting gate is fun. I like Saratoga but they do not have any major stakes races. When the NY Night of Champions has been there we always give it coverage. Thanks for reading.