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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


An interesting and diverse group in the Belmont Park summer finale even with a field of six signed on. It figures to be reduced to five since Just Whistle opted to run at Delaware on Saturday.

Two of the remaining five will vie for the favorite’s role; Chad Brown-trained Backyard Heaven (9-5) and hard-hitter Sunny Ridge, the 5-2 Shore Shipper who won the G3 Salvator Mile for Jason Servis recently.

But we will take any value offered on Todd Pletcher trainee Prince Lucky (7-2). On their ‘A’ efforts, ‘Heaven’, coming off a lengthy layup, and ‘Lucky’ are fastest on the Thoro-Graph scale. ‘Ridge’ is very close behind, but is much more consistent.

The best career race run by Prince Lucky was his Gulfstream Park season’s debut, winning the G3 Hal’s Hope at a similar distance off a 259-day break. Following that, he was a repeat winner of the G2 GP Mile.

Then the wheels came off for his next two starts. But rather than surmise that the issues necessitating his long layup are back, I plead guilty to the lean, with an explanation.

In his return to Belmont, where he won his only start there, taking the Easy Goer at 3, he caught a sloppy track not to his liking then suffered through a wide-throughout trip in the G1 Met Mile against a much tougher group than he meets here.

But he has more than class relief going for him. The pace will be a lot more reasonable, and presuming an honest surface, won’t have to fight a strong inside bias like he encountered Belmont Stakes day.

In this spot I will not take less than 5-2 ante post–as if any bettor has control over the computer’s final arbitraged estimate. Thinking about a win-place wager, since I’m willing to bet that either favorite won’t deliver.

YESTERDAY: Code of Honor ran great in his return, paying a value laden $4.20. In the Belmont Derby, a few things. Our choice didn’t have the easiest trip but finished in a way suggesting a better trip wasn’t going to get it done anyway. We hope Demarchelier, who pulled up lame, is relatively OK and makes it back to the races.

The longer O’Brien, Blenheim Palace ran better than his more favored mate despite spot action while he chased the pace throughout before tiring. Winning Henley’s Joy, an overlay, got the kind of trip you dream about. We were right about the Pennine Ridge prep but picked the wrong two to concentrate on. Third finisher Rockemperor finished with a flourish, looking like a potentially very good marathoner.

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15 Responses

  1. As written on twitter, Sunday morning, peaceful and serene, the best time for handicapping. As my life winds down, find myself letting my horses do more and more of the talking, but it seems my ego gets the better of me, and am forced to blurt out my opinions, or “chime in,” if you will. 6-Sunny Ridge is my kind of horse; lightly-raced 6-year old; 25 races lifetime and winner of $1,338,577. Check the class box. 76% in-the-money record. Check the consistency box. Not going to let the absence since May bother me, Jason Servis seems to know what he is doing. Check the “Sneaky Dude” box. Right off the bat, with only 5 horses, have a 20% chance of winning, if you add my convoluted mathematical analysis, and throw in my wit and charm, this horse just can’t lose. Going to use the 4-Multiplier for the exacta; don’t ask me why, I’ve spewed enough for a Sunday morning. Luv ya babe.

  2. Remember when you lived in New York, and were at Belmont on the last day, when those thugs would come around and remove the betting machine to take to Saratoga while you were making a bet? Bet early and often today!

    1. RR,

      That’s pretty funny, Roger, and now that you mention.

      I did bet early–often remains to be seen.

      Happy Spa

  3. JP, I can’t speak for you, but if I was a betting man, would bet quite a lot that you would not bet Honor Code to win at the anticipated odds, thus, you gave the masses an exacta for their pleasure. I have always enjoyed your writing, your selections, and your website, which is why I always seem to return. Bet Sunny Ridge; the winner.

  4. Very nice. That is the way I like them to win; my horse was the fraudulent one today. I’ve been called worse.

    Ted of the Turf

  5. Not true Teddy. I project win prices when I start handicapping. When I finished, thought Code of Honor would be somewhere around 3-5. Even money? It was value and I took. Interpret however you wish, but I said could not beat him on paper and wouldn’t be playing at 3-5. At even money, I bet and keyed him in DD going forward.

    But I thought of a way to eliminate the confusion, and Wendell will be happy. I will take a horse straight, betting win-place at 2-1 or greater. No more betting against myself!

    P.S. lost my exacta play!

  6. Mr. Pricci: You are getting close to how to bet, as I have learned after several decades (a slow and stubborn bettor I was, Alice). Can’t believe you are giving up boxed bets and exotic bets; these bets are enticing and are for the bloke who goes to the track one or so times a year.

    Betting to place is not going to get you a fat bankroll; save the place bet for another win bet. Also get off of the stake races where the favorite either wins at low odds or is ‘up the track’. Far bettor prices are found is other races on the day’s card.w

    Betting a plodder at 2-1 is not worth it! I can’t accept less than 3-1 under any circumstances.

    To all out there, remember that there are two odds in place: the odds of the plug winning and the odds of your bet winning. The best bet is the double as only one takeout applies; the second bet is win. Forget all other bets if you bet on the nags weekly!

    To believe that you can pick a horse to finish second and third is total phantasy. Get smart and bet smart. Only one or two races at a given track usually are worth betting; learn to pass most races, and have patience and do not be in a hurry to lose your money. It’s a grind, but over time you get a pastrami sandwich and a Foster’s paid from winnings (and a steak quite frequently, right Alice?).

    And, for the real bettors, remember there will be several racetracks operating tomorrow.

  7. WMC,

    I wrote two columns today. I also try to have a life when I can.

    I’m prepping for Saratoga–a TV gig I get paid for–at the moment.

    So I’m going to give my best advice, in the dark about 24 hours in advance, and get abuse to deal with? I don’t care about criticism. I’ve been a public figure for close to a half century.

    But I will not spend one extra second reading tripe offered by the kind of small minds that made it a lot easier to divide this country.

    I don’t owe anybody anything. I will make selections five days a week. I need to take a little down time to reboot myself. Besides, you don’t pick winners when you’re sleepy.

    And one final P.S.

    Guess I should have saved my record. When we changed servers, HRI 1 was gone. but I do remember this. The last time I calculated the record, I went from a 13-year positive to negative in a little more than a year. It happens.

    But in terms of place bets? I’m not getting rich unless I nail a good P4, an average P5 or average 20-Cent Rainbow Six for small money.

    Can’t even remember the number of picks. I’ll take a guess at about 2,500. Top selections finished first or second at a 49.8% rate. No apology necessary; need to stay liquid and each-way bets help.

    Enjoy Liberty Bell…

  8. Mr. Pricci: If you like place bets, fine. I prefer to give up place betting to instead put the money on another win bet down the road.
    The only people getting rich on wagering on the plodders are those who go to the track a couple of times a year and manage via number betting to ‘hit’ a big one. You, me, and other blokes who bet daily need to grind it out to achieve a minimal profit.

    For going public and offering selections, not knowing scratches or track conditions, a day or two in advance is commendable but it is unrealistic to think that over time you will lead your followers to the promised land.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, a bettor has to pay attention to the odds of the bet being made being successful. The odds of winning a pick four or pick five are very, very low; and without making multiple bets where you are betting against yourself makes it difficult for me to accept that you will not bet against yourself when chasing the pick four or pick five.


    Aah, Liberty Bell. About 1978 I had finished an assignment in King of Prussia and was heading home on the Penn. Pike. I blew by I think exit 38 when I notice a racetrack to the right. I slammed on the brakes and backed up quite some distance, violating the law, and discovered Liberty Bell. The tire marks of my stopping, I believe, are still noticeable (no Alice, I didn’t win any money).

  9. JP, Is your Saratoga TV-Gig available in the downstate LI Belmont area? If not, maybe on you-tube courtesy of Uncle G? Suspect many HRI followers would have an interest. I know in the past you were able to post a link on a few of your Gulfstream TV-Gigs. Always enjoyed them. Two days and Riders Upstate Up!

  10. Sorry McD, it is not, but it’s not an actual live segment, just my mug and selection on the day’s feature race with they keys to victory– something you get right here so you’re not missing a thing. I am, however, scheduled to be an analyst on the “Travers Special” show on WNYT-Ch. 13, an NBC affiliate. You may be able to see that via Google, YouTube, whatever…

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