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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Win today and build for tomorrow. Racetracks, ADWs? Feel free to adopt this tagline, it’s been a personal mantra for years.

On occasion, some of us have been desperate enough to substitute the word build with survive. Actually did that for a while, the first year I was married, 1969. It’s not for everybody.

But that’s why we always suggest wagers come in the smallest units possible; R-E-S-P-E-C-T the bankroll. Dollars are a means to an end for gamblers, liquidity the difference between life and death, hopefully figuratively.

Three tracks on the wagering radar today, with short trips to the shore, the bluegrass, but mostly Long Island, the base of today’s Breeders’ Cup ‘win-and-in’ headquarters.

Readers and fans often ask how do I bet these? First, as it was once said by NYC-OTB, and the bettor’s buy-word: Bet with your head, not over it.

Second, if the horse you bet to win succeeds, it should–at the very least–cover multiple pool losses; no excuses.

The point of exotics for us is most often a substitute for place and show wagers. At over 10-1 ante post, however, viability-of- favorites-dependent, I will go WP, WPS or WS.

Case in point: Had a Horse to Watch at Belmont yesterday off at 23-1; I bet WPS. After a virtually impossible wide trip on grass, managed to finish third, paying $7.70 show. Stuff happens.


Grade 1 Champagne [Race 4]

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Jackie’s Warrior (3-5)

THE BET: Reinvestment Risk(8-5) to win

EXOTICA: Exacta box Jackie’s Warrior and Reinvestment Risk; Trifecta wheel of these two with Midnight Bourbon (6-1) second and third. Double wheel Reinvestment Risk with Vequist and Dayoutoftheoffice.

GRADE 1 Frizette


THE BET: Vequist to win (if not alive) and exacta box with Dayoutoftheoffice (3-1)

EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta wheel, both fillies first and second with Cantata second and third.

Grade 1 Flower Bowl

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Cambier Parc (5-2)

THE BET: Civil Union (3-1) at early line odds or greater

EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box ‘Cambier’, ‘Civil’ and La Signare (8-1). Trifecta wheel using exacta fillies in all positions with Nay Lady Nay (7-2) third only.

Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup


THE BET: Exacta key-box Tacitus with Happy Saver (3-1) and Mystic Guide (4-1)

EXOTICA: Trifecta wheel Tacitus over both three-year-olds second and third, adding Name Changer (20-1) third only.

G2 Sands Point

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Selflessly (2-1)

THE BET: Miss J McKay (7-2) to win at 3-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta key-box Miss J McKay with Selflessly and Tamahere (5-2) Trifecta wheel Miss J McKay with exacta fillies second and third, adding Giacosa (15-1)third only.


G3 Monmouth Stakes


THE BET: Serve the King (7-2) to win at 3-1 or greater.

EXOTICA: Exacta key-box Serve the King with Mr. Alec (5-2) and Almanaar. Trifecta key-wheel Serve the King first and second with both exacta horses and Megacity (10-1) third only.


G2 Hagyard-Fayette


THE BET: Mr. Freeze to win at 5-2 or greater [saver win wager Title Ready (10-1) at 8-1 or greater]

EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box Mr. Freeze, Title Ready and Coastal Defense (6-1). Dime Super wheel the three exacta horses first and second, adding Aurelius Maximus (10-1), Captivating Moon (5-1) and Crafty Daddy (5-1) third and fourth.

Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Cup

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Magic Attitude (5-2)

THE BET: Harvey’s Lil Goil (3-1) to win at 5-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta key-box Harvey’s Lil Goil with Sweet Melania (7-2), Magic Attitude and Micheline (6-1). Dime Super wheel keying Harvey’s Lil Goil first and second with the three exacta free citation generator horses, adding Hendy Woods (10-1) and Red Lark (10-1) third and fourth.

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19 Responses

  1. Last big weekend before the Breeders Cup. I offer up these picks at Belmont.

    4th race — Short field with a stand out. Still these are lightly raced 2 year olds and one has to wonder how fast is too fast?
    I’m going to take Reinvestment Risk to turn the tables on Jackie’s Warrior and if Jackie’s Warrior happens to implode I’ll put
    Midnight Bourbon the other Asmussen entry underneath.

    5th race — Seven horse field with a few contenders in the fillies version of the Champagne. Timothy Hamm has never shipped to Belmont. He took this horse to Saratoga and one so one could surmise that he thinks he has a special horse. Dayoutoftheoffice has number power in a wide open race. The 2 year old undefeated daughter of Into Mischief won last out without squeezing the lemon dry. Get’s Junior.

    8th race — In this race La Signare is fast and has been unlucky in his last few races. I would box him with the 1 and 6. He should offer value at 8-1 or more so a win bet is deserving under these circumstances.

    9th race — If it isn’t Tacitus then Happy Saver could wire the field. Question is how short of price are you willing to take? I am boxing the 1,3,4 and hope Name Changer can split my top 2.

    10th race — One mile as Woody Stevens once said is still a sprint and a one turn sprint at Belmont. Miss J McKay has run faster then any of these in his last 2 races and is not the favorite. 5 with the 1,3,4.

    Bonus pick, 9th at Keeneland — In a very competitive field with several contenders Magic Attitude has NEVER taken a step back, improving in small increments. Best TG pattern in the field.

    Good luck to all and let’s go get those bad guys. Vin

    1. Yes, Vin, but IMO even if he weren’t green, he hasn’t proven that he’s close in ability to this guy. Two turns is the next test…

    1. She’s very good and Midwestern-based trainee knew what he had, formulated a plan that included Saratoga after which he said he would point to the Frizette going a flat mile at Belmont. She will be easy to root for in Lexington, where she’ll meet better fillies and a second turn. Looking forward to BC pre-entries already.

  2. I thought Civil Union was the best bet of the day at Belmont not counting Jackie’s Warrior. Rosario finished really strong on .civil Union. He is quite a finisher.

  3. Right you are Pete, but the Civil Union observation is arguable, even though we tabbed him as a play today.

    After the race, other players might call this red-boarding, i.e., playing a result.

    Rosario I thought was the difference between defeat and victory, with a very large boost from Shug McGaughey. Improving on Chad Brown turf horses doesn’t happen every day. Hall of Fame patience and skill from both!

  4. Interesting comments you made on betting. Was having a conversation on Facebook with a bettor who insisted only bet to win, never place or show. Stated that the math showed it was the right way to bet. All well and good. I played that way for years. Not cashing on horses over 10-1 who ran second got to me. Much happier mentally with the w/p bet and occasional w/p/s bet. Don’t know if it still holds true, but at one time it was said long shots run 2nd twice as much as they win. Interesting topic.Have known successful players who use the place bet.

  5. I knew a large bettor who bet exclusively place, was very successful.

    Yes, Aaron, the math says that the straight win bet will give you a greater return over time given the difference in payoffs.

    However, those working with finite bankrolls–most do, no matter how large–and regular guys like myself need to stay liquid.

    Want to make scores? That’s what horizontals and verticals are for. It’s all about personal comfort zones. Like most players, I’m my own worst enemy when I go on tilt after making a bonehead bet…

    1. John,
      You would think after all these years, we wouldn’t go off tilt ,but every once in a while we still do. One of the most successful bettors I know made place parlays. In my opinion, the place bet can keep you out of long losing streaks and you can win on days that you don’t have a winner. Comfort level is a key component when betting.

  6. Since we tend to always post about the great bets we make that hit, here is one from belmont’s slop yesterday that didn’t go so well due to outsmarting myself. Played the late P4, singling the best price out of my contenders in the first leg, and using all my contenders in the final 3 legs. Problem was, I excluded the #7 in race 7 due to feeling as if it was going to be an overbet horse, and might even end up favored based on the DD will-pays. But when you’re trying to squeeze through with a price singled up top, you really can’t be taking out the scalpel to get that close to the bone later. If you do, you have to have a win bet on your singled longshot just in case. The #7 won race 7 as the slight 2/1 favorite over the #2.

    I doubt you could have played it worse to end up with $0 from this. but you live and learn

    Winners were
    #5 – 13/1
    #7 – 2/1
    #4 – 2/1
    #4 – 5/1
    The P4 paid $1,018
    To add insult to injury, the 4/7/8 trifecta in Race 9 paid $439 for $0.50.
    I cashed $0.00 between the 13/1, the P4, and the Race 9 tri.

    Tried to post the ticket but I couldn’t figure out how to post a photo (i hate when people pretend to have a play they don’t, so if you can tell me how to post it I will!) – ticket was:

    Leg 1: 5
    Leg 2: 1,2,5
    Leg 3: 2,4,5
    Leg 4: 4,5,7,8,9,12
    Bets (54) Amount $0.50 Total: $27

  7. First of all, Doc, you and HRI have a great relationship. When we disagree, we do it like gentleman.

    Having said that, you never have to show me a ticket to believe your story. And, of course, the 7 won because I needed the 2 as well.

    One smart man–not a successful bettor–and my late, great friend Cary Fotias taught me, the worst mistake any horseplayer can make are bets of omission, not commission.

    1. When the 2 ranged up outside the 7 and inched in front but didn’t really open up distance, I couldn’t help but think of how the 2 broke a bit slow. It is the type of thing that costs you in a neck and neck stretch battle. sigh

  8. My “omission” is I had one race down to three, made it a single, ran third, the other two finished 1-2, winner paying $12.

    The answer is NO. I did not box the exacta or Tri. Instead, I key-boxed the horse that finished third. I’m laughing as I write this, but did have one extra cocktail Saturday night.

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