The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Without question, the best part of flipping a calendar to January for horseplayers is the way the game renews itself, from yearling to precocious juvenile, from juvenile to classic hopeful and from talented sophomore to mature handicapper at four and beyond.

It’s what makes today and Saturday a little special as three major winter venues, Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita, kick off the baby steps on the road to Louisville come May, or whenever Derby Day comes.

For us, this is the best part of Derby, deciphering the promise and the pitfalls along the way.

In begins in New York with today’s listed Jerome Stakes which features the largest three-year-old purse of the weekend, $150,000, but hardly one that excites today or in the tomorrows that follow, at least not on paper.

Saturday’s Mucho Macho Man, which has a 20% chance of being affect by wet track conditions as of this posting, is the most interesting of the three in terms of bet-ability and potential.

Ten sophomores at a flat mile with a graded stakes winner trying to transition from turf to dirt, and several others to see if they belong in prime time or give an indication that the answer and key to their future lies when a second turn is added.

But, per usual, it will be a graded three-year-old stakes in Southern California that features, of course, a small field and a 2-5 Bob Baffert trained favorite, and will grab the headlines.

After all, it was in the 2019 Grade 3 Sham when Baffert introduced future Derby-winning and future BC Classic conqueror, the aptly named Authentic.

On Saturday, all will know whether a colt who broke maiden on debut by 9-1/2 lengths in 1:15 2/5 is as authentic as his older mate. Given that on DEC 27 he worked six furlongs in 1:10 2/5 for this is an indication he will handle the assignment. For Baffert, Life Is Good.


THE BET: My Boy Tate (2-1) loves trip, needs perfectly timed late run for minor upset

EXOTICA: Exacta box with Dubb/Rudy-off-claim speedster Pete’s Play Call (5-2)


THE BET: BIG THORN (5-1) impress at “Calder” taking state-bred stakes, training well at GP, value at early odds

EXOTICA: Exacta box with classy Mutasaabeq (5-2) training lights out at PBD for hot Toddy

TOTEBUSTER: Jirafales (15-1) lacks experience but can finish, very capable barn.


THE BET: Lucifer’s Lair (5-2) Saratoga Horse to Watch, drops, training strongly

EXOTICA: Exacta box with Hit the Woah (3-1) key race maiden winner last out.


THE BET: Count Again (2-1) to win; cold double with Life Is Good

EXOTICA: SAN GABRIEL exacta and trifecta key-box Count Again 1-2- with Bowies Hero (6-1) and Bob and Jackie (4-1).

SHAM Keys: exacta and trifecta Life Is Good on top with Medina Saint (6-1) and Parnelli (5-2) beneath


Race 9: Jungle Cat (8-1) to win, exacta box with Saranya (5-1)


Race 6: No Mo Temper (4-1) to win, exacta box with Repatriated Gen (5-1)

(Suggested plays ratio minimums: $2 win, $1 exacta, 50-Cent trifecta, Dime superfecta)

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

13 Responses

  1. JP,
    Your play in the San Gabriel intrigued me. Very hard for me to separate the returnees from the Twilight Derby–especially with all going off Lasix–so I’ll play your Tri Box over ALL in the Super and save with Next Shares over the top three.

  2. Not a good day would be an understatement, but bless the Tampa turf trip for saving the day…

    Only second guess–kicking myself–is ‘Play Call’ should have been the win play at Big A instead of Tate. Didn’t matter in exacta but never dreamed the Gravesend winner would go 4-1 ante post. Ouch!

  3. Tough game, isn’t it? ‘Should ah, could ah, would ah’ – a horseplayer’s lament uttered after most races are run.

    Eight stake races were run yesterday at Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Santa Anita and only three were won by the favorite paying to win $2.40, $4.20, and $5.80. The favorite in the 4th and 5th at Gulfstream were odds-on meaning they would have paid $3.00 or less if they won, but they didn’t win (where’s the money in betting on stake races, Alice?)!

    I imagine I will now have to endure the ink Baffert and the blue blood he trains, Life Is Good, will generate until the Derby.

    On 12/30 you wrote, Mr. Pricci, ‘Facts based on empirical data are not facts they are opinion’; that comment caused me to spill my Foster’s and has been sparking in my head ever since. So today I clear my head by going to the dictionary: Empirical – dependent on experience and observation. Fact – a truth known by experience or observation. Seems to me that empirical is the forerunner to fact.

    1. wmc,
      I admit to having abandoned my original assessment of Anothertwistadate who could have been expected to improve on his first trip on the turf under his new trainer, Peter Miller, and ridden by the scorching Joel Rosario. Interestingly, Miller is an advocate of continued Lasix use, the absence of which in this race, was not detrimental to his horse.

      Anybody have any thoughts about handicapping horses going off Lasix for the first time?

      Re: truth, fact, belief, and opinion, which is now the most reliable much less trustworthy? Which of these best applies to statistical summaries?

  4. Mr Corrow: It is a FACT that horseplayers bet more on stake races than any other class level. That is a hard fact backed by evidential data. Numbers don’t lie.

  5. Wendell, You might want to look into John’s FRA call today at Tampa Bay Downs where he is wagering on an N2L at the 25K Claiming Level. John had the Win and Ex at TBD with Quality Step ($9.80) and Boss Man 2nd in his FRA column yesterday. I will avoid any “sins of omission” wagering error by boxing today’s three selections in the a fifty cent tri box as well for an extra $3. All a free shot day anyway, as John also had the winning call with the FRA on 12/30. NYRA Bets account also added a free five credit, bet $10 over Friday, Sat, and Sunday, and get five back on the account. (Thanks NYRA, but not a word of this to Alice.)

    In addition to today’s FRA tri box wager based on John’s input of “Action Warrior to win at 6-1 or greater and key-boxing exactas with wet-track pedigreed West Side Warrior and the best late runner, Soaring Bird (5-2) who had little chance when he rallied wide in that contest but will be suited by easier dynamics and the return of blinkers”, I’ll also add wagers on the Big A races 7, 8, and 9. Liking the write up by Phillips Jr. there as well. All about spending a little and having some fun. Life’s too short Wendell. Forget about yesterday’s he said she said. Who do you like today Wendell? P3 #6 #6 #10 works for me. Riders Up

    Big A Race 7:

    1-#6 Twisted Tom*

    2-#1 Jerry The Nipper

    Race 8:

    1-#6 Sharp Starr**

    2-#3 Expresso Shot

    Race 9:

    1-#10 Investment Grade

    2-#4 Stella Mars

    ** Best Bet Sharp Starr was consistent throughout her first nine starts with five different jockeys which says much for her disposition. Beat better in the Grade 3 Go For Wand by a neck and was 2 to 3 wide during the race, indicating she has remarkable staying power. McCarthy reunites with her, aboard for her 15 length win.

    * Best Value Investment Grade sports four solid works since privately purchased by trainer George Weaver. Drops her in for a tag here; expecting improvement and a positive outcome.

    HRI Handicapping contributor Don Phillips has been analyzing horse races and sports contests professionally at myriad publications for over 30 years. He will be providing a Best Bet and Best Value play daily in his At the Races feature from the Big A

  6. Correction: In Race 9 at Big A Investment Grade is #9. (#10 did catch my interest as well. Blesssed Mother Mary.
    Going with two R7 P3’s: 6-6-9 and 6-6-10

  7. Mr. Ed: Empirical evidence/data creates a fact and a fact becomes a truth. Belief and opinion are not empirical evidence. Statistical data is empirical data which becomes ………..

    You already know this.

  8. McD: Tough game, right? What do you think the odds of cashing a pick three, four, five, and six are? These bets require one to bet against himself to increase the chances of cashing, thus further reducing one’s bankroll. What’s the hurry to lose? BTW, use the Beyer Speed Figures to speed up your losses.

  9. WMC, The weekend equine wagers are just for the fun of it is all. Certainly not important enough to get in anyone’s face over. Why so controversial?

    I’ll stay with Benoit Mandelbrot’s Fractal Math Numbers Monday through Friday as my comfort zone, and you can keep the Beyer numbers. Andy’s Math is a small change exercise when compared with the impact of Benoit Mandelbrot. You take Andy Harvard and and his Suffolk Downs system, and I’ll side with fractal math and the world of investment. Horseracing is more exhilerating but Investing is a much easier and more predictable game. With a fractal math approach and diversity I pretty much collect on 8 of 10.

    Try a Hedgeye University search on Google. There you will learn more if you choose.

    “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t …………………..

  10. McD: Please reread my last comment again. You should realize that I am not a fan of ‘Andy Harvard’s’ Beyer Speed Figures. Now, since your have an obvious understanding of math and, no doubt, the law of probability and the odds derived therefrom, I would think, being so educated, that you would shun long-odd horse bets.

  11. Most often I am in just for the fun of it Wendell. I did perceive your angst with Beyer by the way. I just have a completely recreational view of racing, towards Beyer and all. Other than John and the I-Man, the trust factor with racing is a stretch. H of F? Asmussen? Really? No way for me. Baffert ditto. McPeek is one of the few that I have faith in as I consider him a throwback sportsman of old. Can’t get too serious is all with all of the questionable trainers and vet connections. The Overseers don’t enforce much reason, and any runner of greatness is off too the shed in early November, never to see another race at four.

    Loved the game since watching Carry Back on a black & white down in the basement. To this day, if a name catches my eye, I’m good for two bucks. My oldest son thinks I’m crazy. How can anyone read about a race for a half to an hour, and bet only two bucks? So he’ll wash the rims on his car weekly, where I might spray them with a hose, but in my view a neighborhood canine is more than likely going to target them regardless. We’re all wired differently Wendell. Many don’t mind betting against themselves for example, as they might see it as a better shot at cashing a ticket. To each his own. Insisting on only one right way to wager, doesn’t make it in fact the right way. Right for you maybe, but at the same time, wrong for another player.

    In closing, for my take for example, no matter the odds, if I see a “Blessed Mothermary” in the entries, count me in for two bucks. Just for the fun of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *