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Highlights from The Wizard's Saratoga preview chat
Michael Kipness, AKA The Wizard, joined DRF.com users for a Saratoga chat on Thursday night. Here are the chat highlights:
On the Schuylerville Stakes scheduled for Friday
WIZARD: I like a price horse who was my pick of the day last time out: Five Star Momma -- who is 8-1 on the Morning Line. I lost a big bet at 9-2 on June 25 in the Debutante at Churchill. Five Star Momma's rider made a premature middle move into a blistering second quarter. Looked a sure winner at the eighth pole but got run down late. with a more patient ride tomorrow, she can run a very good race. The other important factor is that Five Star Momma is only one of two horse in the field that has run at 6 furlongs and she ran the best race of those three. Also the trainer Charles Dickey won the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont with Flat Out, he's having a career year. I will be betting Five Star Momma.
On the James Marvin Stakes
WIZARD: It's such a competitive race and the main negative on Hamazing Destiny is he's never won at 7 furlongs, which is a very tricky distance. Hamazing is facing several horses that are 7 furlong specialists with multiple wins. And also Hamazing is coming off a layoff which is going to be very difficult for him to outperform other contenders that have a fitness edge. I understand from the stable manager, Rick Mettee, that Godolphin Stable doesn't have great stock like in the past to be a major force in upcoming graded stakes races. Gayego is similar to Hamazing Destiny, who hasn't won at 7 furlongs and that's a major negative off a layoff and shipping back from Dubai
On the Coaching Club American Oaks scheduled for Saturday
WIZARD: The Coaching Club is the Race of the Day here at DRF. Plum Pretty will go to the lead and It's Tricky will stalk. Buster's Ready and Joyful Victory will sit up close in a perfect stalking position on the far turn. It's Tricky will attack the frontrunner. Sitting last will be Royal Delta, whose jockey Jose Lezcano can wait to see what develops as the midpack runners Joyful Victory and Buster's Ready make their move as well. I feel the last move could be the winning move and that points to Royal Delta
On the 7th race at Saratoga on Friday
WIZARD: Kibosh has decent pedigree but Kimmel does not do very well winning with first-time starters. This is a NY-bred race and in these type of races a horse like this could win, but the board will tell the tale. You have to believe Kibosh is well meant with John Velazquez aboard but I want to see the money down first
On keeping up with so many tracks at once
WIZARD: I follow every major track with several monitors in my office. I tape the races and watch replays. I focus in on the tracks that I bet but I still have input with my staff on every track that I cover. All my crystal ball best bets are 100 percent my own handicapping. Saratoga is the meet that I've specialized in throughout my 23-year career as a pro handicapper. The Pick of the Day and DRF Race of the Day is always done by me and written by me.
On Saratoga vs. other meets
WIZARD: The biggest difference at the Spa is the money and the pools, which are so large and there's so much uninformed money, that allows horses to go off on bigger odds. Also, everyone wants to win at Saratoga. Every day packed with quality horses, bigger fields than Belmont or Aqueduct
On teaching handicapping
WIZARD: On every sheet of mine, every issue is a handicapping lesson. I feel my responsibility in this game is not only to give good selections. Anyone can write the name of a horse down, but I want to give valuable insights based on 40-plus years of watching races so that you can learn the truths of the game and be more prepared to understand why you're wagering on that horse we need so much more fan education to attract younger people because without them the game will slowly die.
On Saratoga vs. Southern California racing
WIZARD: The difference between racing in SoCal and a track like Saratoga is you have so many more shippers from neighboring states and because it's such a prestigious meet, owners/trainers want to win there. They come from all over. In my opinion, Saratoga offers a better handicapping puzzle than Del Mar.
On 7 furlongs being a tough distance at Saratoga
WIZARD: Seven furlongs is tricky because you have to pace yourself, it's a longer run, out of a chute at Saratoga it's not difficult to be pushed to the inside as riders jockey for position. it's the one distance a jockey has to time his move perfectly when they swing off the far turn at Saratoga into the stretch, like Del Mar, the horses tend to fan out wide losing momentum. It's just a very quirky distance. The quirky 7 furlong race does favor an outside post. If you have tactical speed and you draw toward middle it's very advantageous. The first three posts at 7 furlongs is very tough because of the chute in large fields, of 10 or more, you want to have a horse that could relax early and make one run whether its from mid-pack or further off the pace because the rider has time to work his way into a better position not to be hung out extremely wide into the turn. Also, if you have speed and you break from an inside post, if you break slow and have to rush up, you're dead if there's other speed to the outside, the pressure that the horse would face from inside post is diff. to overcome track bias plays a major role as well at 7 furlongs.
On first-time starters
WIZARD: I like to see a first-time starter open up very short, take some money with about 10 minutes to go and then pretty much stay at that price higher than the open but not fluctuating. They win a high percentage that occurred the last two days at Del Mar with horses that fit this profile, both won.
On watching the "smart money"
WIZARD: I only watch 'smart money' if I know who the owners/trainers are, because I know those outfits that like to bet. If you pay close attention to the board and look at the past performances and take note of the owner/trainer of that horse, you will learn who the betting outfits are.it only matters if the money that bet is correct. Those are the people who are reliable.
I bet sizable amounts of money, and I need to know and see with my own eyes where the money is going and if it's smart money or dumb money.
The board tells the tale: It could be owners who tell people that they love their horse and info like that spreads like wildfire and that is why they will see a lot of money being put down by a lot of people but then you'll see money come in at certain points of the race, like for instance, you'll see with like 1 minute to go a horse takes a pop in the Win pool. But what I look for is not so much the win bet but I'm charting the exactas and that is where the real money shows up. In addition you take a day like Travers last year where a horse shipped in, a first-time starter shipped in from Philly Park for sharp trainer named Butch Reid, he was 20-1 on the morning line and he opened up at 4-5 and if you had bet Pick 3s or Pick 4 and you didn't include him, and you saw a horse like that open at 4-5 you could pretty much rip up your ticket, because that is what is called "inside money." When that type of horse will also show up being bet strong in exactas. I chart the exactas more than the win pool the exacta pool is where you see the money coming in.
On horses having experience at Saratoga
WIZARD: I place some emphasis on Spa experience but I really like horses stabled at Saratoga before the meet starts and have worked well on the Oklahoma Training Track and the reason a 4 furlongs work in 0:48s on the main track is not as good as 0:49s on the Oklahoma track because it's so much deeper on the Oklahoma and it legs up a horse very well. A BIG angle early in the meet: Horses training on the Oklahoma and then within a week-to-10 days before first Spa start they work on the main track once.
On preferring to bet on classic/stakes races or claimers
WIZARD: I don't care about the class of the race. I'm just looking for a horse I have reason to bet that could be a 5,000 claimer or the Breeders' Cup Classic. I loved Animal Kingdom in the Derby as much as I've liked any horse in a long time, and that was the Derby but two days ago I loved an 8,000 claimer at Presque Isle and my feeling was the same which just points out that it doesn't matter the class of the race, it's where the strength of your opinion lies.
On the most overrated thing bettors look for
WIZARD: Most overrated thing is a horse that took advantage of track bias or great pace setup when, for instance, when horses wire the field in fast time and they benefited from a bias they will be grossly overbet next time out. Also, the weight that horses run with is a overrated, except the ridiculous rule that recent Maiden winners have to spot weight facing winners for first time. It's absurd.
On paying attention to the morning line
WIZARD: I pay attention to the Morning Line only when I look at the picks I have made and if I have it very close to what the morning line says, I will gravitate to the horse with the higher odds on the morning line. The linesmaker in NY does a very good job. When horses open up alot higher than their morning line in more cases than not I would consider them dead on the board.
On what to look for at the paddock and gate
WIZARD: You don't want to see horses washed out in the paddock. Sometimes if you've seen these horses before and they show a tendency to wash out as part of their makeup, like Shackleford in the Preakness where if he doesn't wash out a little he won't run well. But in general you don't want to see horses soaking wet tomorrow in Saratoga because of how hot it is, it's almost impossible for horses to not wash out but some of what looks like sweat might just be water to cool them off. Days like Friday are extremely tricky so no matter how strong your opinions are, cut your wagers in half. Another paddock thing: The demeanor of the sprinter vs. the router. With sprinters you want them on their toes you want to see their head bucking up and down With routers you want to see them relaxed and just walking effortlessly in a very calm manner. You want to follow them if you can, and it's hard to do it on TV, because they can look good in paddock and then fall apart in the warmup. but that is why being at the track has its great benefits.
On handicapping vs. wagering
WIZARD: You can pick the winner of the race, but if you don't know how to construct wagers, you will never take advantage of that rare opportunity to make a score. I have been betting since I was 8. I'm 53 and I still make mistakes betting, but I make a lot less now. My betting strategies are given out with several of my products because picking winners is one thing, but knowing how to bet them is more important
On correctly picking Animal Kingdom to win the Kentucky Derby and hitting the exacta
WIZARD: I loved his race in the Spiral at Turfway, where he was able to relax so well covered up behind horses, getting throwback into his face and still was able to move with fluid strides to get into striking position at the top of the stretch and win easily. I knew that despite having never run on the dirt, I could care less and knew I was gonna get a bigger price just knowing that when he was being trained in Ocala before ever running, he had worked on dirt impressively. Very few people knew that. All I needed to see was his tremendous workout at Churchill on dirt about a week before he also had tremendous stamina pedigree on his dam side, which was all long-distance german breeding when the linesmaker put up 30-1 on him, I licked my chops. I watched the Kentucky Derby with my family. I needed this win bigger than any win in my life, not for the money but that I had just moved to the Daily Racing Form and needed to have customers know my products were there. I was so confident he was going to win that when they turned for home, and my family didn't know where the heck he was, I said to them, 'Watch him on the outside. The race is over!' They all cried for excitement knowing how important this was for me. A minute later I excused myself to finish up my sheet for Woodbine
For more on The Wizard and how to order his daily handicapping products, go to drf.com/wizard