03/07/2012 11:51AM

Watching Races, Qualifiers, Facebook


There is no handicapping tool more powerful than watching the races. You can pour over past performances and charts all day long, but when it is all said and done, I feel naked if I haven’t seen the races from the previous week, especially at the Meadowlands.

Of course, I handicap many races while blind to the visual track occurrences from the previous week. On half-mile tracks where trip handicapping is more prevalent and hidden form doesn’t play such a large role, this is an easy enough task. But on larger ovals where more movement occurs during the race, it pays to see every race.

My DVR is set to record every replay show at the Meadowlands. I actually have every card from 2012 stored and from time to time I go back to take a second or third look at a race and how it unfolded.

While I look at the obvious (horses locked in or facing traffic), that is far from my main objective. I’m watching the more subtle nuances: How well did horses finish their miles? Were any horses just coasting along at the back with no chance for a check but perhaps something left in the tank?

In this information-rich age where any everyday Joe can go online and view the replays, it is harder and harder to find an edge. One longtime insider recently told me, “There is no edge anymore.” I agree that it is harder to find horses to play the following week, but I have a secret for you. The edge is at the back of the pack!

More often than not I focus on the horses which finished sixth through tenth at the Meadowlands. I’m looking for that one horse each week which appeared to have little in the past performance lines and at first glance was dull on the track, but in reality he was reserved or just in too tough and waiting to drop in class the following week.

The best example of this is Stonebridge Master, a horse I listed on my Horses to Watch list and gave out in my weekly Saturday video. My comments were, "Was making his first start in 16 months and saved ground along the cones. He finished up with sneaky pace while basically never asked for speed. Former 1:51 1/5 pacer gets to drop next week and could bring a much different effort.”

Now these horses do not always come back the following week, leave strong and go wire to wire, but in this case he did, and the price was a sweet $13.60.

The key is to avoid blindly betting a horse because you saw something the previous week. Make sure that this week’s spot is a good one, preferably an easier race than the previous time out.


Like the pari-mutuel races, access to video from the qualifiers has increased over the years. Those diamond in the rough horses that my predecessors would salivate over for a week or two waiting to bet with both hands are long gone. There are, however, some interesting nuggets of information in the morning trials. In addition to tabbing a sneaky good horse, I always enjoy getting the opportunity to see the big stars from the previous year tuning up for a return to action.

Well, starting next week I’ll be on hand each Friday for the AM action at the Meadowlands. I’ll post a detailed report and hopefully hand out a few future winners.


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