Tuesday, October 18, 2016
A Maryland Million, a New York Showcase and Fillies in the Bluegrass
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 21, 2016—Finally, Fall appears to be catching up with South Florida and Saturday morning lows are expected to be in the high 60s but with sunny skies.
Wish that were the case in New York and Maryland where the predictions are for varying degrees of moisture.
And that’s too bad, what with the best Maryland-breds on display on Laurel’s Maryland Million program and Empire-breds on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park.
Unlike some of the elites I know, I happen to love these state-bred race cards where the littler guys and gals get to race for a good payday that has the added benefit of reserving green space and jobs wherever Thoroughbreds thrive.
It would have been better had New York ad Maryland talked to each other and avoided parimutuel conflict as neither will be a successful if they hadn’t shared Saturday’s simulcast stage.
It appears that in New York, officials looked at last year’s NY Showcase card and kept it around the same weekend. Not that far back in the day, the Showcase program was always one week before Breeders’ Cup.
But since the 2015 Breeders’ Cup fell on the last weekend in October of 2015, and not its customary first weekend in November, the status quo was maintained resulting in Saturday’s simulcast stalemate.
That’s bad enough, but with sunshine in store for Keeneland’s penultimate Saturday, much of the emphasis will go there. So many races, so little intellectual bandwidth.
The linchpin of the Showcase card is the Empire Classic at 9 furlongs around one sandy turn. Without deep investigation, four horses caught my eye on the overnight: win machine Royal Posse (3-1) and 2016 TC classics hopeful Governor Malibu (2-1) are the likely favorites.
The streaking, newly constituted Wake Up in Malibu (4-1) will bring his speed into the fray and Pa Derby no-chance, wide-tripping Hit It Once More (5-1) has rebound written all over him.
The Maryland Million Classic, also at nine furlongs but a once-around-the-park adventure drew a stacked field of 11—126 horses were entered overnight on the 11-race program—but looks are deceiving here.
Seven horses are in the race because there have been made eligible to the Md. Million program via a series of nomination fees. The other four are also-eligibles: registered Maryland-breds but not by Maryland sires.
Those horses can draw into the body of the race if the field is reduced to less than six runners after late scratches. Well… alrighty then.
Of those seven, the most likely to succeed are Just Jack (9-5), a late developing gelded 3YO that’s 2-for-2 at Laurel, Admiral’s War Chest (9-2), the 2015 Maryland Classic winner and Bullheaded Boy (6-1), shipping in from New York for David Jacobson.
In the bluegrass, the always entertaining G2 Raven Run for 3YO fillies at seven furlongs is its usual competitive self with 12 entered overnight.
It’s the kind of matchup whereby if you land on the winner, even one of the early line choices, value seems assured—such is the competitive nature of the graded sprint restricted to three year olds.
The four that pop off the overnight are, from the outside in: Lightstream (3-1) who showed her brilliance right from Jump Street and Sophia’s Song (5-1) who raised her game with a very fast placing at Saratoga in her second start for Todd Pletcher.
Curlin’s Approval (8-1) 3-for-4 in South Florida and shipping northwest for Team Wolfson/Gaffalione may prove worthy and Lucy N Ethel (9-2), a 22-1 G2 Saratoga surprise September 4 who makes her first start for new trainer Tom Amoss.
You’ll have 17 minutes to bet all three with post times scheduled for 5:13 pm, 5:19, and 5:30 pm at Laurel, Belmont and Keeneland, respectively. Check Saturday’s HRI Feature Race Analysis for on-the-record selections.
Read ye, Read Ye!
I’ve got a product I’m offering for sale. I’ve never done this before; selling something on my own and not in partnership with another entity. It’s about quality control and cost-- not production cost but price at the retail level.
WHAT WILL I GET AND WHEN WILL I GET IT?
The example below from Belmont Park’s Oct. 15 Pebbles Stakes, originally posted at HRI last Saturday, is an abbreviated sample of what to expect from a Breeders’ Cup handicapping horse-profile product, called Tote Busters.
Its creation, and name, is an upshot of something that Cary Fotias and I had planned to unearth before his untimely passing several years ago. I have not forgotten its genesis and core principles, just as I will never forget my dear friend.
Regulars at HorseRaceInsider.com are already familiar with the concept, but heretofore will be enhanced and improved starting with the 2016 Breeders’ Cup.
If it is well received, Tote Busters will be available every weekend and on big-event days starting Dec. 5 with Gulfstream Park’s Claiming Crown program that jumpstarts the track's Championship season.
Tote Busters© at Breeders’ Cup 33 are handicapping profiles of every horse competing in Friday’s and Saturday’s Late Pick 5 races, the sequences concluding with the Distaff and Classic, respectively.
On Monday of Breeders’ Cup week, handicappers will receive an analytical overview of each horse’s strengths and weaknesses, along with those of its trainer and jockey.
Tote Busters will be programmed to flesh out and enhance traditional past performances data, available via Brisnet.com, Daily Racing Form or Equibase platforms. Viewed side-by-side, Tote Busters will provides an insightful look into past performances with no buttons to push nor links to click on.
The handicapping sketches will be made available via email in a PDF format to facilitate easy printing and viewing. But, as the TV cliché goes: Wait, there’s more: Updated information and ratings after the post position draw that will reflect final assignments, latest workout information and medication information.
Thus, on Thursday and Friday, approximately 24 hours in advance of each race day, handicappers will receive critical updates that include adjusted star rankings, bias tendencies, the most recent workout data culled from videos, race shape descriptions based on post positions, late changes re medication and trainer/jockey trends-- in short, evaluation of all predictive variables.
APPROACH TO WAGERING
All wagering depends on an individual’s tolerance for loss and bankroll size. We have found the best use for the categories described below is that in no instance should contenders jump up more than one level.
Depending on circumstances, a *** contender can become ****, but a ** cannot, late scratches notwithstanding. Likewise, a ** can become a *** etc., etc.
Based on the individual rankings, each bettor determines the merit and strength of the play. Two wagering “rules” that are difficult to maintain at a gambling session are a consistent approach within the diversity of possibilities and the character to stay within a comfortable betting zone: Avoid “going on tilt.”
As a daily bettor of my Feature Race Analysis which appears at http://www.HorseRaceInsider.com, I raise the stakes on big-event days--especially the Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown races--when betting volume and value-potential are at their highest. Fierce competition creates chaos; chaos creates overlays.
Additionally, there’s a modicum of “square money” in play on these high-volume days that no longer exists on a daily basis because today’s day-to-day horseplayers are the “sharps”-- and that group grows smaller by the day.
Tote Busters, then, is not a “do-this-and-do-that-and-it-will-make-you-rich." Because of the difficult of this game, a highly nuanced learning curve and understand, and parimutuel takeout, winning at the races is a grind even for the smartest, well-funded player.
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Understand that there will be more losing days than winning ones or as my dear friend, the late, great Cary Fotias always counseled: “most good bets lose.” With that in mind, you must get paid properly when you win.
I expect, indeed sincerely hope, that you will find our Tote-Busters product to be an indispensable guide to your handicapping arsenal, a true value-added enhancement that will have a positive effect at the bottom line regardless of one’s personal approach.
BELMONT PARK, OCT. 15, 2016: PEBBLES STAKES 1 Mile WIDENER TURF
1-Enjoy Yourself (30-1) Showed some promise early in turf career but really hasn’t developed since. Has won at the trip but not over the course and her figures are lacking. Pricci Energy Rating [PER]: 66. Thoro-Graph Top Figure [TGT]: 8.75. A very tall order.
2-Believe in Bertie (10-1) ** Turns back to winning distance [albeit one turn] and is on a bounce-rebound pattern. Appears best on firm footing and has excellent early speed with inside position. Three sharp blowouts following game placing in an Indiana listed stakes. PER: 79. TGT: 6. Exotics price potential. [4th at 4-1]
3-Wild About Harry (15-1)* PERs have been improving incrementally and is (3) 1-1-0 at the trip; (4) 2-1-0 on Belmont turf. Beat state-breds going one mile two back, followed by an open company sprint. Has excellent kick but this spot saltier than she’s used to. PER: 80. TGT: 6.5. Perhaps bottom of supers.
4-Ancient Secret (3-1)** Won Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga then shipped to WO for G3 mile off a short break, but lost all chance with very-wide turn rally. Can easily rebound to form that led to four straight scores; 3-for-3 at Belmont, has Chad-Irad team, but poor value on early line. PER: 78. TGT: 5.25. [3rd at 2-1]
5-Ultra Brat (12-1)*** Seeks third straight win while moving up in class and distance, winning her course and turf debut off a break last out. Motion’s old partner Edgar in for the assignment and barn's white hot. Bullet blowout at Fair Hill base, bred for added ground and three sibs have won on turf. PER: 82. TGT: 8. Excellent value on early line.
6-Baciama Piccola (30-1) Figures have improved since adding Lasix but has not shown she’s up to this level of competition since winning a Grade 3 at Tampa last winter. Tyler Gaffalione shipping in to take the call. PER: 69. TGT: 8.25. Very tall order here.
7-Welcoming (10-1) ** Finished well too late vs. weaker in 7-furlong course return, showing affinity for Belmont turf despite (3) 0-0-3 slate. Has competitive figures but this is a tough spot to break turf maiden after three failed attempts. Surging Manny Franco lands here. PER: 82. TGT: 6. Has some price shot potential.
8-Insta Emma (6-1)*** Comes off impressive win over course--her second Belmont score--and now makes suitable stretch-out for Mott-- 21% effective in non-graded stakes and 24% efficient with potential repeaters. Switch to Lezcano augurs well for this barn. PER: 81. TGT: 4.75. Solid contender.
9-Stella Rose (5-1) ** Fast-finish second and narrowly beaten in turf and course debut at this trip despite bobbling at the break. Chased the pace while wide throughout in G3 Commonwealth Oaks and stayed on very well late, now reunites with winning partner Rosario. PER: 79. TGT: 6.75
10-Louisville First (20-1) *** Earned field’s best last-out PER, grinding out a sprint score over state-breds in course return. Both lifetime wins on Belmont turf and talented New Yorker goes well for Cancel. May provide value on class rise into opens. PER: 84. TGT: 5.25. Offers value at early line odds.
11-Thundering Sky (8-1) ** Unlucky to lose Wild Applause under today’s exact dynamics in June [see replay] before racing very wide in Lake George. She then returned with a game third in a Canadian Grade 3 coming off short rest. Right back to NY today with switch to Gallardo. PER: 76. TGT: 8.25. [WON: $33.80]
12-She Doesn’t Mind (7-2) *** Regressed in last following career best when third here to On Leave—who subsequently beat her again. She returns fresh with strong and steady work-line for Chad and Javier sticks. Rebound potential for barn that’s profitable with this spacing. PER: 81. TGT: 9.25.
13-AE-Mom’s On Strike (20-1) Salty spot for winning turf debut. PER: [NA]. TGT: 6. [2ND at 51-1]
14-Mo d’Amour (8-5) MAIN TRACK ONLY PER: [NA]. TGT: 3.75.
LEGEND: Contenders sub-divided into four categories:
**** POTENTIAL SINGLES/BEST BET CONTENDERS are horses that are so strong as to be an extremely probable winner or, in some instances, represents excellent value potential in chaos races, where anything can happen. In chaos races, these “singles” should be viewed as an alternative to the ALL button, an acknowledgment that all bankrolls, whatever their size, are finite. There never will be more than two **** in any one race. In this instance, those two runners should be used exclusively in that sequence.
*** PRIME CONTENDERS are horses that constitute the basic, prime ticket. These can be singles, doubles, or any number of runners in chaos scenarios. Prime contenders, as in all categories, are based on traditionally pertinent handicapping data—speed, pace, class, connections, etc.--or are horses with significant value-potential. Hopefully, both.
** SOLID CONTENDERS are for deeper bankrolls that under different circumstances would be *** contenders. Our method dictates that their use is highly recommended, budgetary considerations notwithstanding, and are “must-include” horses on sub tickets. View them as “must-include” when potential for better-than-odds—true value—is present.
* CONTENDERS do not fit neatly into any one category and are best suited to the deepest bankrolls. They can be price plays that blow up payouts but, conversely, projected underlays. Additionally, they could be horses that send out mixed signals. Preferred plays, based on superior ability and/or value, are those listed above.
VERTICAL and STRAIGHT-POOL PLAYERS NOTE:
**** Best Bets or Best Value plays are must-use keys first and second in some cases
*** Are best win plays and must-use key runners in exotics.
** Are best used in exacta-boxes or as saver wagers in straight pools, W-P-S.
* Are exotics wildcards either as overlays or underlays.
TOTE BUSTERS VALUE GUARANTEE: As an introduction, the cost for each day is $15 complete-- that’s two mailings for each racing day including updates, and a discounted $25 for both Friday and Saturday will be made available. Those who commit early will receive Gulfstream’s Late Pick 5 for the Dec. 5 Claiming Crown program as a free bonus for purchasing the Tote Busters Breeders’ Cup two-day package.
We believe this price point is fair, commensurate with the workload and the quality of information contained therein. For further information or to pledge your commitment, please contact me at my personal email address at HRI. The comments section is reserved for questions re the race example cited above.