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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Win or lose, today’s five stakes events from all-turf-all-the-time Kentucky Downs promise to be an entertaining show. But making there is a familiar grind for players who can negotiate the form.

Perhaps more than at any another American venues, gambling there certainly has it ups and downs (rim shot, here).

Let’s plow-in straightaway:

RACE 7 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Regal Glory (6-5) has been carefully pointed here, fresh and consistently fastest.

THE BET: Regal Glory at early line odds or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta key-box Regal Glory with Secret Passage (4-1) and Tapit Today (5-1). Trifecta key Regal Glory over the two rivals listed here, including English Affair.

Ladies Turf Sprint

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Got Stormy (2-1) looked like she was back to the 2019 model in Fourstardave; turn-back trip could be perfect for her style.

THE BET: Cariba (8-1) to win at 9-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta key-box Got Stormy with Cariba and Kimari (4-1). Cold trifecta keying Got Stormy over the two above, adding price shot Quebec (30-1) to the mix.

Juvenile Turf Sprint

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Outadore (2-1) visually impressed taking debut at Spa

THE BET: Fauci (5-2) to win at early line odds or greater, and the Wesley Ward exacta box

EXOTICA: Keying the Ward fillies on top and filling the super-exotics with County Final (9-2), Boss Bear (20-1), Bodenheimer (6-1) and Cowan (8-1)

Kentucky Downs Turf Cup

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Zulu Alpha (7-5), the most accomplished

THE BET: Arklow (9-2) to win at 4-1 or greater, an exacta box with ‘Zulu’, and a trifecta key using ‘Zulu’ first and second with Arklow, Red Knight (12-1) and Hierarchy (10-1)

EXOTICA: Key Zulu Alpha in super-exotics over Arklow (9-2) and Red Knight (12-1), filling below that, preferentially, with Hierarchy (10-1), Enos (20-1), Standard Deviation (12-1), Grand Journey (15-1) and He’s No Lemon (10-1)

Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Imprimis (8-1) off good comeback and good troubled try over course last year behind Totally Boss

THE BET: Imprimis to win at 4-1 or greater and key-boxing Imprimis in exactas with Totally Boss, Bound for Nowhere (5-1) and Stubbins (6-1)

EXOTICA: As the vertical play above, adding to the super-exotics mix Richiesinthehouse (15-1) Archidust (12-1), Front Run the Fed (5-1) and Kanthaka (5-1)

For those so inclined, Kentucky Downs offers a late Pick 5 and subsequent late Pick 4 with a 14% takeout

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17 Responses

  1. Wendell, Today’s recap on my Kentucky Downs wagers. I screwed up on the SF wager on race 10 big time. Had a $2.40 ticket that would have paid $30 plus on the dime, but I could not type fast enough. Next time 😷 I’ll allow more time. Damn lawn thatching screwed me up.
    On the other hand, if I wasn’t doing the yard work, I’d probably be six feet the other side of the lawn. Back at it again in the morning. Maybe back to Kentucky in the afternoon. Riders Up.


    Number of Bets
    Win Percentage

  2. When you have time, McD, you can share how this might have been better because, frankly, it should have been.

    Might be better for all concerned for me to suggest just straight wagers only. The current format requires that the bettor does some interpreting of his/her own.

    But given that three of five straight BETS won returning $4.80, $13.60 and 8.00, and the other two races were won by MOST PROBABLES, the ROI should have been a bit better.

    Interesting to see if there’s more feedback on this, from McD and/or other horseplayers…

    Here’s an approach I normally use. I play all exotics as suggested early, adding or deleting after significant program scratche, and leave straight plays or any horizontals to pre-post time for each. Works pretty well–when personal form holds.

    However, I have yet to figure a way to make money when the key horse doesn’t at least make the top three.

  3. John excellent handicapping yesterday’s card at KD. Pretty sure Cariba did not like the soft turf. Probably was not going to beat Got Stormy anyway on her best.

    Outadore was very impressive.

  4. Agreed, and Imprimis was pretty damn good, too, T, coming from that far back when the course was at it’s boggiest. And thanks for the props…

  5. Time is running out, Mr. Pricci. One should think that by now you would have realized that win wagers are the only wager. I shake my head in bewilderment when I read that you are keying and boxing bets and then complain about takeout; and, of course how geeks are making bets after the race is off; followed by suggested pick five et cetera plodders. Brrrrr!

    Stick to yardwork, McD. Spent yesterday dropping a couple trees for firewood. My woodstove is on its 45th year (Tempwood – no longer made). Not interested in Kentucky Downs.

    1. You’re probably right, WMC.

      Now you brought it up, not me, my $4 investment into the P5, a 1x2x2x2x1, returned $258.30.

      If you’re interested, by betting methodology on Saturdays is as state above to McD.

      Different folks, different strokes.

      Live and let live; what’s wrong with that?

  6. John – I only played the pick 4 –
    Hit it using your top 2 in races 8-9-10 & 4 in the 11th.
    $16 bet returned $158.15

  7. Good for you George, truly!

    If I weren’t so frugal with my betting dollars, and doubled the play to $8, looking at $516+. Not complainin’, just sayin’.

    I’m going to enjoy yesterday. Wish I were that prescient everyday. And before any mean-spirited curmudgeon chimes in, if I were that good I “wouldn’t have to work for a living.”

    If you know any successfully professional horseplayers, ask them how many hours they put in. If I did that only, I would work fewer hours.

    I’d fashion my own personal card of about 8-10 races, three from column A, two from column B, etc, and call it an eight-hour day which, indeed, would be less time than I put in now doing what I do–then again there’s a plague outside.

    But I figure roughly three hours of traditional handicapping: Form and figures, plus race and occasionally workout video, and about five hours per gambling session, max five days per week…

  8. Gotta get personal by writing ‘before any mean-spirited curmudgeon chimes in’. Your the person who wrote ‘might be better for all concerned for me to suggest straight wagers only’. Nice score with the P5; now, keep track of the money wagered until you win another.

    Successful gamblers overtime utilize the odds of a wager winning. I don’t bet just numbers, nor do I dream. The win bet is the third best bet via the odds in my opinion to cash a ticket, with show first and place second followed by the double (which cuts takeout) as the fourth best bet.

    You spend hours ‘capping? Me, about five minutes per race. How do you determine if a plater feels like running today; has a headache; won’t stumble out of the gate, get blocked, carried wide, checked, rushed, squeezed, bumped, ………..? And, from first to last crossing the finish line is usually about two seconds – tick tock, tick tock!

    1. Geez, WMC, it’s not always about you, unless you see yourself as a “mean-spirited curmudgeon.” There are many who could fit that description here. I do keep records and do show a small profit for life on horizontals.

      I don’t play them often because I won’t throw money at it, which is often required, so most often I pass. Have not hit any life changers though. I’ve had a few four-figure wins, a couple approaching five, but never got there.

      I once threw too many hundreds at a huge Saratoga carryover back in the $2 P6 day and after being eliminated in the first leg, I’ve never done that again, betting closer to straight-wager territory.

      Wendell, no one can account for luck when the latch is sprung, but often horses can tell you in the paddock or parade what to expect; good or bad, not win or lose.

      Meanwhile, five minutes? I feel like I owe the HRI Faithful more, and admittedly a bit of a handicapping nerd, anyway.

  9. Curmudgeons often provide a sense of balance within all of “the give and take” on the comments board and also on the Tote board. All debate should be acceptable and welcomed so long as the “perceptible lines” between “mischievous and malicious” are not crossed. I can accept the Win Only wager as correct formany, but also recognize that with others simply boxing can also be a valued correct wager. There is indeed room for all of us in this game of ours. I guess that premise is actually the driving factor behind the odds we live by is all.

    John, Race 9 yesterday was where I fell off track yesterday. In my haste to enter my wagers yesterday, I simply scribbled the first letters of your selections. On my Tri and SF tickets, I wagered on “BB” Baytown Bear and when discovering my error tried to correct my tickets to “BB” Boss Bear. Only got the cancel bet entered, and by the time I hit send on the corrected AWD, the window had closed. Payout was only $15.66 on the SF, so no big deal. I thought it would have been $30 or so.

    As to things I could have done better, I should have keyed on the “Most Probable” and “The Bet” runners in the P5. Congrats on your P5 wager John. “Eyes Wide Open”, I simply couldn’t or wouldn’t see. I need to get past the fear of loosing out early on the P4 and P5 and become a bit more aggressive. Most often with wagering, I am pretty much too content at being safe at second. I churn the same dollars in the AWD’s over and over and over. I seldom need to make a deposit, but then again seldom make a major league score.

    I really enjoy and am comfortable with your “most probable winner” and “the bet” approach strategy and so hope you retain that format. For me, it also provides an excellent “chip shot” approach process for the tri and sf wagers. For those of us recreational types playing for the fun of it, the road map you provide is spot on. “Play it again Sam.”

    Thanks for all the hours you put into this John. You deserve much better on the exchanges. I hope my thanks only negates a small portion of it.

    In my heart of hearts, I believe that you and I both view our friend Wendell as an enjoyable, “set in his ways”, likable Curmudgeon. Others adversaries, not so much, having too often crossed the line towards malicious.

  10. Agree with all and I understand. Besides, the worst thing a player can do is bet outside his comfort zone; pressure is not the bettor’s friend–just another kind of scared money.

    I stick to a regular routine, too, but do extend myself a little further despite a daily budget that these days that is limited to $250 max for big occasions, maybe a little more for B Cup and TC days. Otherwise, a C-Note is all I can afford to lose on any given Saturday–and not for too many consecutive days, either.

    Yes, I consider WMC a friendly curmudgeon, but you’re right, there are some unfriendly spirits out there…

  11. Yesterday at Kentucky Downs the horse that Mr. Pricci listed (see above) as the ‘Most Probably’ winner (races 7 through 11) were the wagering public favorite! And, four of the five blue bloods won. Now, is the public going to HRI for Mr. Pricci’s selections or was it obvious that these horses appeared to be the best via perusal of PP’s or whatever? I spend at the most five minutes ‘capping a race and invariably I come up with the ‘Most Probably’ winner which most of the time is the DRF consensus selection. No surprise. One should think, then, that all a horseplayer has to do is bet the DRF consensus favorite or the favorite on the tote board nearing post time. However, the ‘game’ ain’t that easy, is it?

    I believe that most of the people commenting here at HRI are not what one would classify as ‘hardcore bettors’; they likely bet on weekends, and not all weekends; casual bettors is probably the apt description. I wager almost every day and accordingly cannot survive wagering on favorites. I lose with about 70% of my win bets, so what do I do? First of all you can’t blame a casual bettor for wagering on exotic bet offerings. Why not? Gotta be a damn fool if you don’t. But, a hardcore bettor cannot chase these enticing bets.

    With a win percentage of 30% over several decades, I must be very selective, have patience, and above all learn to pass races. There’s nothing wrong with using an odds-on in a double if the other plater is at least 3-1. But I have to get at least 3-1 on a win bet; with numerous racetracks operating most days, there are ample opportunities.

    Takeout is brutal. Accordingly a horseplayer simply can’t bet against himself, nor key/box exactas. What’s the hurry to lose your wad?
    To make wagers other than win and doubles defies logic, math, and the law of probability (odds, Alice) if you are a hardcore horseplayer.

  12. JP,
    Good job on Saturday at KD!

    As it now takes me far too long to get through PPs for multiple races for any given day, I’ve started — like McD — to place greater reliance on your rankings rather than using them primarily to confirm my own.

    However, with BC PPs available a week in advance, I hope to be ready for BC Saturday even if we don’t yet know who our next President will be by then.

  13. Wendell, As a casual FRA type daily player, and maybe adding five or six additional race wagers on the weekend, I absolutely respect and understand your position. I like following John Pricci (and Russ Harris as well) as I wanted to do my best to stay clear of the questionable characters and vets within the sport. Still question myself when wagering on Baffert or Asmussen for example. First thing I would do if I were a hardcore player however, would be to demand by writing to my elected officials that a national lockout of any Trainers or Vetenarians currently under suspension must be inforced, if there is a suspension at any U.S. track. (Not the Dutrow case mind you, as his rights were completely eliminated and ignored. No due process whatsoever.)

  14. Mr. Ed: After acquiring the Breeders’ Cup PP’s a week in advance, spending hours (days?) perusing the past performances, I am quite sure that you will find that the DRF consensus has the same ‘figure’ horses listed one, two, three for each race; and confirmed by the morning lines of the blue bloods in each race. Save your eyes, your time, and get the jar of dimes out and use the ‘figure’ entrants, no doubt confirmed by Mr. Pricci’s selections, plus a couple long shots and shoot for your beloved pick four, five, and six. It just might be your day.

    And, if things aren’t going to good by, say, the fifth race switch to another racetrack to get back to even.

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