12/26/2011 12:41AM

Take nothing for granted


As handicappers in the racing world we have plenty of variables to decipher: weather, trips, intent, and much more. Along the way we are left with no choice but to place our faith in certain constants, though. One of those is charted past performance lines. We take for granted that the information contained in each past performance line is accurate. What happens when it is imprecise?

Anyone wagering on a horse that raced on Thursday, December 22 at Harrah’s Chester should take a few moments to watch the replay of the previous race before treating that horse’s past performance line as fact. A good handful of horses, perhaps more, were charted incorrectly on that day.

The Thursday card at Chester was carried over from Tuesday due to an incident where a horse dropped onto the track and passed away. I’m guessing the normal charter (who does a fine job) had prior plans and a substitute needed to be found at the last minute.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more glaring errors

Race 1 - #1 Diamondonthebeach was charted sitting the cones in fourth through the first three calls when it fact he pulled at the three-eighths and raced uncovered for the rest of the mile. #8 Lover Boy was charted eighth at the half and three-quarters when he was actually fifth at the half and fourth at the three-quarters.

Race 7 – At the three-quarter call, the chart shows #5 Master Of Wars up by a neck over #3 Silver Sunset, who is listed up by 1 ¼ over #4 King Me. In actuality, #4 King Me was three-wide and up by a length over #5, who was a nose ahead of #3.

Official Chart Order at Three Quarters: 5, 3, 4
Correct Chart order at Three Quarters: 4, 5, 3

At the head of the stretch, #2 Beach Fighter A was up by 1 ½ over #4 King Me while on the outside; #7 Swinging Grin was a bit more than a length back in third while wide. The official chart reads: #4 first by 1 length; #2 second by 1 length; #5 third by a nose over #3; #7 fifth, a neck behind #3.

Official Chart Order at Stretch: 4, 2, 5, 3, 7
Correct Chart order at Stretch: 2, 4, 7

Race 10 - #6 Trust My Heart is missing an “out” call at the half-mile marker. #3 Nite Games was clearly racing wide approaching and past the three-quarter call. He was given just one ”out.”

Mistakes happen. When I charted, from time to time I would confuse a horse. For whatever reason, the #1 and #6 often caused me trouble. But as I typed the calls into the computer, I always double checked to ensure that the positions seemed “kosher.”

The bottom line is that if an inexperienced person is going to chart the races at a major track (or any track, really), someone needs to check their work. You simply can’t publish obviously erroneous information.

My year in numbers

As a public handicapper my goal is to give out as many winners as possible and show a profit. It is never an easy task to pick every race and come out ahead. That said, I am proud to announce my final statistics for tracks that I handicapped regularly in 2011.

Yonkers Raceway - 86 - 270 / $574.90 (32%); R.O.I = $2.06
Tioga Downs - 82 - 224 / $472.50 (36%); R.O.I = $2.05
Meadowlands Championship Meet - 167 - 483 / $940.40 (34%); R.O.I = $1.98
Harrah’s Chester - 71 - 228 /$384.80 (31%); R.O.I = $1.85
Meadowlands Winter Meet - 106 - 362 / $530.40 (29%); R.O.I = $1.74
Total All Tracks – 512-1567 / $2,903 (32%); R.O.I = $1.93

The statistics reflect the results of a $2 win wager on my top selection in each race. Although I did not show a profit overall, there is something to be said for showing a profit at all when picking every race. I’m proud of my overall 32% win rate in over 1,500 races while showing only a small loss. Keep in mind this was done while handicapping four diverse tracks, over three different sized ovals (half-mile, five-eighths, one-mile).

My one regret is the $1.74 Return on Investment during the Meadowlands’ winter meet. My New Year’s resolution will be to endeavor to improve upon that number in 2012.

Happy Everything!

kram More than 1 year ago
Curt you crafty old dog. Ross Hayter? What a blast from the past. Here's a Yonkers blast from the past. The first trifecta I ever hit was at Yonkers and I still remember the drivers; John Chapman, Lucien Fontaine and Jim Tallman. How can I remember that? What guys forgets his first- LOL! John Z- You bring up S. Dancer. I remember when he used to open his farm in New Egypt to the public every summer for the fair races. What a great time. I got to talk with him once. What a gentleman. Also have to share this story with fellow harness fans. When the great Niatross (still the greatest harness horse I ever saw) was standing stud in NJ, my friend and I went to the farm to see him. My friend had some contacts there so when we arrived they brought him out of the stall for us to see. What a magnificent animal! He was one of the biggest (especially across the chest) horses I've ever been around. I still go to you tube every once in a while to be reminded of what true greatness looks like.
Richard Gere More than 1 year ago
what year(s) did Niatross stand stud in NJ?
John Z More than 1 year ago
living about 40 miles from brandywine and liberty bell i was there 3 or 4 times a week. for a harness racing fan being at brandywine in the middle of summer watching the races, the geese flyin in over the odds board was just perfect, the most beautiful track on the east coast. about 10 or 15 years ago i decided to make a trip down rt 100, to the sacred ground i spent alot of time to find in my opinion an ugly mall. just a few memories; james larente always a powerful stable ( HT NAVY , SEA LORD, DOCTOR ROBERTS) always looked forward to the BATTLE OF BRANDYWINE, great drivers, billy h. stanly d. and joe 0'brien. nobody could take a horse from the back of the pack to the front and win like joe obrien with 1 thing (HANDS). does anybody remember the DANCERS VS FILIONS , family fued races. i do remember roy s. making a special anouncement HERVE has just won 5 races in 1 night , all under 2:00 minutes. GREAT MEMORIES
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
You two guys are killing me.....LoL...How 'bout Joe Greene, along w/Eddie Davis..Back then, one really had to know who was doing what..Vern Crank..? I worked w/his nephew I think... Oh man.....& Ross Hayter ? He died around 1990 I think at 49...I saw him @Brandywine when he broke the world record on Meadow Blue Chip for F&M's in a 1:55 something on a 5/8 track, late '70's..That was like seconds faster.. I mean breaking 2:00 was an accomplishment.. Big..If I'm not mistaken, I believe it was the Ross Hayter who came under scrutiny, for inventing some new kind of sulky, as he was winning everything & on anything & breaking records left & right..some type of aerodymanic Gizmo Bike..?? Maybe you can help me out w/that one DG ? Many a Dollar's won on that guy...until of course the know-it's got involved.......
Kram More than 1 year ago
Curt My Friend Right on with the Kram/Mark. Liberty Bell brings back great memories for me. Used to go on Sunday nights prior to NJ allowing Sunday racing. Had some great times. Someday I'll tell you some Liberty Bell/Freehold/Brandywine stories. Had a good friend who trained and drove his own trotters and pacers. Think I'll jump over to the "unbreakable records" blog and throw in my 2 cents re: the great Secretariat. P.s> Enjoy the Cannolis and I wonder what the Zen sniffers think of Rapid Redux?
JLB More than 1 year ago
To Curt V.- If I may break into your conversation with Kram, your mention of Miss Conna Adios (reined by Tom Lewis, I believe) brings back Delaware Valley memories of Bye Bye Max (Jack Bailey), Town Drunk (Vern Crank), and the tandem of Eddie Davis and Ross Hayter. Always a mystery (to this uninformed bettor) as to who was alive and who was dead, race after race. Add in Bobby Myers, and I was completely mystified. Ah, the good ol' days.
melman More than 1 year ago
Derick you didn't mention them but your "Horses to Watch" listings have done a great job. VERY nice flat bet profit on Monticello races. Now with Chester closed maybe you could offer some "Watch" horses for Dover. You and your staff are doing a great job at harnesscharts tks for the work.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Kram, My man Kram..I've been meaning to ask you, Is Kram a take-off for Mark ???? Anyway, have a Happy New Year & don't drink..I'm also glad you spelled "Cannoli" right....This time anyway.. Speaking of Cannoli's. My better half just went to NYC w/o me obviously...Guess what I mandated ? That's right, no Vegas Faux Cannoli's...World famous Veniero's on 11th Street.. The real deal.......Mangia..Uhm........ A box full.....Ricotta thru & thru..... Here's a blast from the past.....I always bet this girl @the finest Harness Track on the Planet.... The Old Liberty Bell Park.....A roll & butter & world famous Manhattan Clam Chowder & a Libation for about a Deuce........"Miss Conna Adios"..........Man, she could run.......That's when racing was racing..& the patron always got the best of things......Unlike today, you'd be hard pressed to get anything worthy for $50, let alone a Deuce....
kram More than 1 year ago
Once again words of wisdom from that old cannoli, CurtV. Happy New Year my friend! P.S. Unfortunately I've bet many a cockroach with a saddle.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
& if the purses come from the handle, then praytell, where does the handle come from ? I'll tell you what..If they keep upping the take-out, instead of actually lowering it, where it is proven to raise the handle, then you go ahead & find a way to fit a saddle on a cockroach. The salvation is in the Bettors, not the owners.......
Bill More than 1 year ago
Not sure how many people would be satisfied with a net loss, except for those who clearly wager for the fun of it....Pretty clear that you did a fantastic job of hdcp the races; would be interested to know whether you set your own odds and whether you would have had a net profit if only playing the OL's????? [I do not set my own odds. I typically make my selections a few hours after the races are drawn using the program proofs and make minor adjustments, if necessary, for driver changes. While I do not mark up my proof with odds, I have a pretty good memory for what price I would want on a horse should I decide to actually make a wager. I am a firm believer that if you pick your spots and do your homework, you can show a profit at almost any track. - DG]