Sep 24 2018

Collaborative Handicapping – A Travers Stakes Story

Nancy Meyers

Introduction (by Neal Benoit): The following is a story about a 2018 Travers Stakes score by our guest author, Nancy Meyers. FYI, the order of finish was Catholic Boy (7-1), Mendelssohn (13-1), Bravazo (10-1), King Zachary (28-1). The $1 exacta paid $145, 50-cent triple paid $744, and 10-cent Superfecta paid $1,796.

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Neal has asked that I take on the topic of “collaborative handicapping”, in response to my recent success wagering on the 2018 Travers.

My definition of “collaborative handicapping” means that you draw information from multiple sources and other people’s opinions which exceed personal review of the PPs and other statistical data. When I look back at my process I found I initially used a lot of the techniques listed in my prior article, The Casual Handicapper.

First, I got the PPs from Equibase and spent some time Friday evening perusing the card and trying to plan wagers over the course of about 10 races so that I was sure to have some cash available to wager on the Travers.

In my initial review, I identified 3 horses of interest: Tenfold, Mendelssohn and Catholic Boy.

Tenfold was intriguing because of the effort he displayed in the Preakness. Asmussen and Santana have had a pretty strong Saratoga meet and I hated to have them knock me out of a big score.

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Sep 6 2018

Know Your Trainers – Todd Pletcher

A frequent question asked by new fans trying to learn more about horse racing is, “Where do I begin?” My immediate response is generally, “Get to know your trainers.” While learning about topics like distance, class, and pace are important … in my opinion, none are as important as learning about the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of trainers. With that thought in mind, we continue our series of articles called “Know Your Trainers.”  In this series we will dig into the statistics of some head trainers and try to make sense of the numbers we find.

So let’s continue with a big name in the business presently, Todd Pletcher. Our focus will be on two main areas; Graded Stakes and 2-Year old horses.  Statistics for this article were gathered on September 4, 2018.

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Aug 28 2018

The Casual Handicapper

Nancy Meyers

Introduction (by Neal Benoit): In one of my very first articles (Horseplayer Styles), I commented how horseplayers come in all shapes and sizes and have their own styles.  Nancy offered to share her “style” with my readers and I’m glad she did.  She reminds me a lot of my wife; learning the basics, gaining confidence over time, doing her own thing, and ultimately becoming a horseplayer in her own right.  And, I believe her methodologies are very adaptable to fans who are new to the game.  So, without further ado, here is the “Casual Handicapper.”

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

I have enjoyed reading a lot of Neal’s columns because they give me new and interesting things to think about when wagering on the races. I offered to write a column from the perspective of someone who only wagers on races when my husband and I attend the races in person (about 7 race days per year) or at home during big racing days such as the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup. Otherwise, I remain on the bench, keeping up with what’s going on in racing through discussions with my husband, glancing at the The Blood-Horse magazine and of course, reading Getting Out of the Gate.com.

I consider myself a casual handicapper with which some readers may or may not agree. While I sometimes play a “hunch” wager, I never wager solely on “the grey horse”, “the number 4 horse” or a favorite combination of numbers. If that was how I wagered, then I would find other forms of gambling interesting, which I do not. For me it’s about the horses. I admire their beauty, tenacity and the excitement of seeing them racing down the stretch. Over the years I have learned to read the track program and DRF PP’s with enough detail that I rarely have to ask my husband what a particular column or symbol may mean. Although I may not understand how a speed figure for a race at Finger Lakes is different than a speed figure for a Belmont race of the same distance on the same day, I understand that knowing how to read the basics of the program allows me to make informed decisions. I can say I haven’t invested the amount of time and effort that serious handicappers have to understanding all the nuances of the various past performances, sheets and clocker’s reports out there, but for me at least being able to read the past performances most readily available at the track has provided enough information to allow me to have many enjoyable days at the track. So here is the general method I employ when wagering on the races.

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Aug 20 2018

20 Places to Eat and Drink in Saratoga

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Part 1 of this series gave some tips on things to think about when selecting a location to stay in Saratoga. Click here to read that article.

Part 2 of this series offered some “Must See and Do’s” while you are visiting the Saratoga Springs area. Click here to read that article.

So now that you have found a place to stay, and have outlined a plan of things to see while traveling around Saratoga, where will you enjoy a meal with family or friends? In full disclosure, my husband and I do not have children, so if it’s family friendly places you are interested in, we can’t be of much help, except to acknowledge restaurants that appeared to have a lot of families in them. In addition, I am only offering commentary about restaurants or bars or lounges in which we have enjoyed a cocktail or eaten a meal. Reports from other friends about their experiences are not included. Finally, we usually rent a place within walking distance of downtown, so there are few restaurants that require a drive out of town.

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Aug 11 2018

Saratoga Turf Primer

Saratoga is a Race Track that has two turf courses located inside of the Main Dirt track. The outer turf course is officially known as the Mellon Turf Course, in honor of the Mellon family (whose members were prominent owners and breeders in the Thoroughbred industry). The inner turf course is located directly inside of the Mellon Turf Course. As far as turf courses go, it is pretty straight-forward with no chutes or extensions like turf courses at some other race tracks.

The following diagram highlights the Mellon Turf course (in light green) and includes the location of the starting gate (in a box) for each distance from 5f to 9.5f.
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Aug 6 2018

Know Your Trainers – Chad Brown

A frequent question asked by new fans trying to learn more about horse racing is, “Where do I begin?” My immediate response is generally, “Get to know your trainers.” While learning about topics like distance, class, and pace are important … in my opinion, none are as important as learning about the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of trainers. With that thought in mind, we continue our series of articles called “Know Your Trainers.”  In this series we will dig into the statistics of some head trainers and try to make sense of the numbers we find.

So let’s continue with a big name in the business presently, Chad Brown. Our focus will be on two main areas; Graded Stakes and 2-Year old horses, with a couple of extras that we uncovered by surprise.  We limited the data to the past year.  And statistics for this article were gathered on August 3, 2018.

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Jul 31 2018

Uncovering Workout Patterns – TimeformUS Style

In a prior article we discussed the importance of using workouts to evaluate a horse’s current racing “form.”  Workouts were described in detail and Daily Racing Form examples were provided, including the option to “merge” workouts into the running lines with DRF Formulator.  Click here to view “Workouts – A Measure of Racing Form.”

In this article we’re going to feature workouts, as they are presented in TimeformUS.  And specifically, how they help you spot patterns for a horse that is coming back from a layoff. The horse is Come Dancing, and she made her return to racing on July 25, 2018 in the 6th race at Saratoga. Below are her PPs.

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Jul 25 2018

Saratoga Post Positions – On Dirt

Horses in Gate

Post positions in and of themselves are not important. Post positions relative to where the starting gate is located on the track, the running style (e.g. early speed vs. closer) for each horse, and the size of the field are quite important.

For example, an inside post position when the gate is located only a few hops from the first turn is helpful to almost any horse, and greatly advantageous to a horse with fast-breaking early speed. On the other hand, an outside post position in the same situation is a serious disadvantage. Even if the horse has enough speed to run up to the front before the first turn, he must use some energy to get there, which could compromise his chances later.

If he cannot get to the front by the first turn, then he risks losing precious ground to the field going wide around the turn. And if the horse is not in the capable hands of a quality jockey, he might end up going wide around successive turns as well. He could end up running substantially more distance than the other horses located to his inside.

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Jul 19 2018

10 Things To Remember at Saratoga – 2018

 

In no particular order, here are some handicapping tips to remember as we head into the 2018 Saratoga racing meet:

 

  1. Speed is dangerous on the turf, especially on the Inner Turf course.  The tight turns and sun-baked surface seem to favor speed horses.  Also, the combination of speed and inside post position is deadly.
  2. “Horses for Courses” rings true at Saratoga.  In an article a few years ago we provided examples of three such horses in just the first four days of racing.  Click here to read the details, including what to look for when you’re handicapping.
  3. Trainer George Weaver is one of the few trainers with a positive ROI at Saratoga nearly every year. Click here to read an article about Timeform Trainer ratings.  George was featured in this article, in particular his record with 2-year old maidens.
  4. Use the tote board to help when handicapping 2-year old maiden races and pay close attention when a horse is being well bet from a trainer who is not one of the leading trainers.  Be wary of multi-race wagers (e.g. Pick-4,5,6) when a 2-year old race is toward the end of the sequence.  If a 2-year old race is the first or second leg, use the tote board and probable doubles payouts to help.
  5. Outside post positions at 1 1/8 mile (9 furlongs) on the dirt are really bad.  This is due to the location of the starting gate at the finish line, very close to the first turn.  In 2017, horses starting in post position 8 or higher were 0 for 19 in dirt route races at Saratoga.
  6. Jockey Jose Lezcano has the highest ROI of any major jockey over the Saratoga turf courses in the past two years.  In 2016 his ROI was $2.36 and in 2017 it was $2.91.
  7. “Never burn your winners.”  Coined by Jim Mazur, if you like a “single” horse and your bankroll is limited, make a WIN bet before spending a lot of money on “singling” your horse in multi-race wagers.
  8. Know your trainers.  Whether using Jim Mazur products from Progressive Handicapping, DRF Formulator statistics, or some other source, get to know the strengths and weaknesses of trainers and their tendencies at Saratoga.  Click here for a list of “Know Your Trainer” articles.
  9. Always listen to NYRA paddock analyst, Maggie Wolfendale, but especially on 2-year old maiden races and Stakes races – two areas where she seems to excel with her physical analysis of the horses in the paddock.  Click here to learn more about Maggie.
  10. Get the NYRA NOW App on your phone or tablet.  Live coverage is very good and insures you’ll be able to hear Maggie’s comments.  Click here for our detailed review of the NYRA NOW App.

I hope these tips help. Good luck to everyone during the 2018 Saratoga racing meet!


Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

The Article Sponsored By ADIRONDACK BEVERAGES

The Article Sponsored By ADIRONDACK BEVERAGES (A Favorite Cooler Drink Of Racing Fans at Saratoga)

Jun 8 2018

Triple Crown Dreams 2018 (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article we showed a chart of the “disappointed dozen” horses who have failed to win the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since 1978. Included in that article was a more detailed account of the first six of these Triple Crown candidates. In Part 2 we describe the attempts of the remaining six, and offer a comparison of all twelve with this year’s candidate, Justify. We also contrast the Belmont Stakes spoilers from year’s past with the field from the 2018 Belmont Stakes.

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