01/16/2013 1:41PM

Jerardi: Analysis after the fact can be a handicapper's helper


I have not made a single bet since the Breeders’ Cup, where it turned out I should not have made a single bet. It was bad enough that I had to miss my first BC since the first BC at Hollywood Park. Apparently, Hurricane Sandy not only left my house powerless, it also left my brain in a similar state.

Since the BC, I have been chasing basketballs about the country, including a recent pilgrimage to Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kan. If you ever get a chance to see a game there, do not miss it. It is one of the great atmospheres in sports. And when Kansas was rallying to catch and pass Temple, the noise was reminiscent of something I remembered, but could not quite place. Then, it hit me – the Santa Anita grandstand when Zenyatta started to pass horses in the 2009 BC Classic.

But my time back at the track is coming soon enough, so I decided on an exercise I have been doing since I first cracked open a Daily Racing Form .

When I am not playing regularly, I try to pick a race randomly, stare at the past performances for 15 minutes, and try to predict what happened.

Which is how I came to pull the Parx past performances for Jan. 15, a few hours after the races had been run. I went through all the races and found the one that looked like it presented the greatest challenge.

I settled on the eighth race, an optional claimer for older horses going a mile and 70 yards on what turned out to be a muddy track. Horses could be entered under allowance conditions or for a $25,000 claiming price. There were seven in the field with a purse of $50,000.

After I went through the lines once, I went to the charts to see how the first seven races had been run. Five of them had been won wire to wire, but the prices on those winners were 3-5, 2-1, 1-1, 2-1 and 5-2. So was it speed-favoring or the best horses happened to have speed, just one of the many conflicts that make this game so challenging and fascinating.

I did not peek at the eighth-race chart. I did decide, even though there appeared to be some solid early speed in the race, that I was not picking any deep closers on the surface.

So I tossed Deacon Furr and Speeding Train even though they had some decent lines.

I kept staring at Lubango. His last four Beyers were 80, 84, 80, and 83. His trainer, Pat Farro, had a terrific 2012, winning 102 races. In her first 18 starts of 2013, she had seven wins and four seconds. The 6-year-old gelding had started 27 times with 6 wins, 5 seconds and 4 thirds. He was 2-3-2 in 8 starts at Parx. He was entered to be claimed, which made sense as the trainer had claimed him for the same price on Nov. 18 and he won like a good thing right off the claim.

The horse had speed, and his best races were when he cleared the field. He was on the rail and would certainly be sent. But he was a two-way horse who certainly was not eliminated if he was chasing, got pace pressure, or both.

I was a bit concerned with the speed of Bear’s Future in the 2 post. He had run the race of his life on Dec. 31 when he showed surprising speed, so you figured he had to be sent again.

Lucky Lewis was the mystery horse. The Pennsylvania bred was stabled at Aqueduct, but had shipped to Parx many times to take advantage of the statebred bonuses and the large purses. The horse had done so well that he had won more than $200,000 in 10 races at Parx. And it would have been more if he had not been disqualified from a win in the Lyman Handicap in April. He had the best Beyer Figures and had gone 89, 93, and 85 in his last three. But the horse had not run since May and was running against a pretty solid group.

I settled on Lubango, wire to wire. I was almost right. The chart told the story.

The fans settled on Lucky Lewis, betting him down to 1-1. Perhaps, they remembered those spring races. No doubt, they liked those Beyers. It could have been they wanted to pay tribute to “The Babe,” if Rick Dutrow is, indeed, on his way out the door. If he did not get a stay on his suspension, this could be his final race at Parx, where he rarely comes without live horses and never comes without getting bet.

Lucky Lewis showed speed, but faded, finishing fifth, perhaps a bad omen for The Babe.

Lubango, sent off at 2-1, ran great. He was in front at the start, but under pressure from Bear’s Future to his outside. Then he dropped back as Moon Eclipse, who was three wide the entire trip, took over. Lubango ran back at Moon Eclipse, a horse I had not considered, and it came down to those two. Moon Eclipse got his nose down at the wire.

Like all of us, I went back to see what I missed. The winner’s last two Beyers had been 74 and 58. He did have some back numbers that were good enough. Then, I noted something that I had definitely missed. He had drawn the rail in five of his nine lifetime starts. Perhaps, he just wanted to be outside. He had broken slowly several times from the inside.

I also noted the horse was trained by Rick’s brother Tony and owned by Dan Ryan, one of my good friend Mark Reid’s clients.

If this had been something other than a mental exercise, I would have called Reid to see what he knew. He is right about once a year. This could have been the once. More likely, I would have called Tony Dutrow, who just tells you about his horse and lets you figure it out.

The Pennsylvania-bred winner got a 40 percent bonus, so the winning purse was $42,000. Lubango got claimed for $25,000. I got one day closer to my first real bet of 2013.