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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


If you know and believe the answer to that question, I’ve got a Pick 3 for you, and the first the line of a few song parodies that have become so popular in the Covid-19 Era.

“It’s my horse race and I’ll cry if I want to…cry if a want to…cry if I want you to…you should cry too ’cause it happened to you…”

We live at a time when, as race caller Tom Durkin once described as being “muzzled and suppressed,”an esteemed American scientist can be prevented by the White House from educating our elected representatives about what to do next.

We’re already living in a Third World dictatorship, which calls to mind not Abraham, Martin and John, but Peter, Paul and Mary. Sing after me:

“Where have all the brave men gone, long time passing… ,where have all the brave men gone, long time ago? Where have all the brave men gone… into hiding every one, when will we ever learn, when will we ever spurn?

Never mind. Today’s Pick 3 at Oaklawn Park sequence begins with the first division of two Arkansas Derbies, which makes a nice Oaklawn Handicap sandwich.

Ready brothers and sisters? Turn your hymnals to Hot Springs, Race 11:

The first division, as the racing world knows, is Bob Baffert’s to lose. If the brilliant Charlatan (1-1) breaks, he wins–if nine furlongs is within his scope. And if the Oaklawn’s surface is like it was Friday, it will carry him home. He’s a single, but I’ll be betting against him straight, more on that later:

Like Gaul , the Pick 3 is divided into three parts, with a single in each leg:

50-Cent P3: 1 // // = $8

The Oaklawn Handicap is a wide open beauty. Most of you know the horses, those who don’t are hooked on Netflix. Briefly: If Mr. Freeze (6-1) doesn’t bounce he wins; much improved with maturity; Combatant (4-1) on a great T-G line, improved for Sadler in SoCal and has won here; Tacitus (9-2) is extremely well suited by the dynamics…finally wins one; Improbable (8-1) ran all-time top, co-highest figure here, making him eligible to bounce, but he loves Oaklawn Park.

50-Cent P3: 1.4.11 // 9 // = $6

Arkansas Derby ll: Storm the Court (6-1) is ready for best in third start of the year; suited by dynamics; Nadal (5-2) is a beast, won over the track, been training so sit off rivals if need be, game as they come; Silver Prospector (10-1) will appreciate fast track and won’t be intimidated by the company and the world knows that kind of trip Farmington Road (12-1) endured in last; early line a pipe dream.

50-Cent P3: 1.4.11 // // 5 = $6

Either take your pick or play all three. If all singles win, you will have three 50-Cent winners, but it will be flank steak tonight, not filet mignon.

Oh Happy Day … oh Happy Day … when form held sway … when form held away … and washed roses blues away … oh Happy Day”

Straight Plays: Gouverneur Morris at 4-1 or better; Tacitus at 3-1 or more and Nadal if 8-5 is available. Use others outlined above, defensively or offensibly.

Happy Kinda’ Derby Day!

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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.

17 Responses

  1. Improbably drawing his second consecutive outside post at the meet, Improbable’s narrow loss in the first seemed more a function of his disposition than his post position. He might have held off the favored Tom’s d’ Etat in the ungraded Oaklawn Mile had he gone less than four-wide around the first turn.

    Today he gets an additional furlong to that turn along with the services of alert-breaking Martin Garcia now back in Bob Baffert’s good graces. They will be trying to avoid the horse’s 4th consecutive 2nd place finish at Oaklawn Park.

    “Tom” might have been favored again had he been entered, but last-out stakes winners abound with Combatant (G1), Mr. Freeze (G2), By My Standards (G2), Warrior’s Charge (G3), Identifier (G3), Trophy Chaser (G3), Night Ops, and Sky Promise.

    Combatant beat a less than G1 quality Santa Anita Handicap field after his more highly regarded stablemate, Gift Box, was scratched. He did, however, turn the tables on favored Midcourt in his second start off a 3-month layoff.

    Mr. Freeze succumbed to “Tom” in successive graded stakes prior to finishing 2nd in the Pegasus without Lasix, and subsequently winning the GP Mile with it.

    By My Standards’ only loss in his last 5 starts was in the sloppy Kentucky Derby where he was squeezed at the start and bumped.

    Similarly, Warrior’s Charge’s lone loss in his last 5 starts was the Preakness where he led early and finished 4th of 13. This front runner along with Mr. Freeze should keep Improbable busy in the early stages.

    Looming over the preceding, however, is Tacitus whose failures to beat better than these include seconds in the Belmont and Travers. Last seen finishing 5th of 14 in the Saudi Cup without Lasix, he gets a new rider in John Velazquez whose success in similar switches is statistically significant. His troubled 4th in the Kentucky Derby, just ahead of Improbable’s “covered up” 5th, encourage using them on top in exotics. By My Standards’ 12th, and Tax’s 15th suggest their use somewhere below the other two.

    I’ll play a Superfecta with Tacitus and Improbable in all slots, adding By My Standards and Combatant to the bottom 3, and Warrior’s Charge and Mr. Freeze to the bottom 2; for 72 combinations.
    I’ll save with both Tacitus and Improbable in slots 1 and 2 over both By My Standards and Tax in slots 3 and 4. Similarly I’ll play both By My Standards and Warrior’s Charge in slots 1 and 2 over both Tacitus and Improbable in slots 3 and 4.

    Good luck to all.

    1. Wasn’t going to bring this up but after Improbable scratch, made the same substitution to save the P3 day. And didn’t want to go four deep with Stidham/Bravo coming off a difficult trip. Sometimes, figures do lie…

  2. In recognition of Indulto for stepping in to insist on helping John with increasing our investment balances, I labored intensely in reply to both. In reality, I am merely putting off all the damned weeding to be addressed out in the yard.

    Inasmuch of all of the musical lyrics inscribed by JP to inspire involvement , and the all indicated tickets involved and invoked by Indulto, it is indubitably incongruent and improbable that all this will be ingested insightfully. My wagers may well be initiated incorrectly given all of the inverse intercourse exchanged, but I am imbibing it all and inspired nonetheless. Lol. I will carry both of your intellectual insights in hand as I initiate any AWD investment.

    Thank you both. Riders Up! McD

    As for additional comments, looking ahead towards TJ joining in. HRI takes all players. Even talking horses.

  3. Mr. Ed: What ya got go’in? Eighty-two combinations or something like that amount? How can you lose? What’s the total investment? $8.20? Geez, not even the cost of the Daily Racing Form? Eighty-two combinations: now that is an example of a horseplayer who takes gambling on the ponies seriously. And, eighty-one of those combinations are going to be losers.

    I hope I am wrong, and you are betting $82.00; at least this amount would be about one-fourth of the amount usually bet on-track at NYRA tracks by bettors who already paid for parking/admission/past performances.

    Can’t blame you, though, for chasing the dime super. Since NYRA is dumb enough to offer such a ridiculous bet, they deserve to attract people who provide no financial support for their survival.

    1. Clearly, the DRF is too expensive…

      And to judge someone else’s betting approaching not knowing their financial situation, well, how judgmental of you WMC.

      Question: Why do bettors need to support “NYRA” when they have all that dole you like to talk about. No one gets to have things both ways.

  4. WMC, To each his own. I am content to join John on dollar boxes on exactas and fifty cent tri’s all day long. Same with Indy on his ten cent boxes. We’re only really talking about horses here. Just curious, do they speak to you any differently in the land down under. I very seldom wager a twenty on a horse unless maybe a stakes or maybe unless I have house money I’ll go for it. On earnings day for Google on Tuesday I had a 50K wager on the line, 40K house chips mind you. I’ll keep my major wagers in the stocks and bonds and follow the trends. PP’s much better there once you figure out the fear and fear of missing out ranges. Any hoot, the ten percent payout I cashed on Google on Tuesday will carry my John and Indy wagers to eternity, thank you. All just for fun anyway.

    You might find racing more fun yourself if you only stopped at taking shots at everyone around you. No one takes shots at your liking the non-stakes angle. Enough with the crusty old man small talk. We get it. We’re all old.

    Try maybe giving a nurse a smile one day. You might find life more enjoyable in that act as well. Maybe you might even consider an apologize to TJ for your caustic dismissive goodbye earlier today.

  5. McD: Curious that you might consider wagering a twenty on a blue blood in a stake race. Do you believe that a stake race vs. a claimer offers a better chance of cashing? Glad that your stock investments will get you through to eternity. Thoroughbred racing is not looking for people like you who bet a buck or two, or dimes a few weekends a year. Racing associations are pleading for horseplayers who do not monopolize racing sites, like HRI, with commentary that is clearly apparent to serious horseplayers as meaningless; Racing associations are seeking GAMBLERS who bet FRANKLINS!

    Being apparently knowledgeable of making money via investments, just what are you doing here at HRI taking up space with dime and dollar bets? Can you visualize just what your contribution to the future of racing is via the amount you bet?

    Puleezze, stop describing me as a crusty old man, a person who could make a nurse smile, one who takes shots at everyone, or that I should apologize to TJ. I will never suggest that you are this or that or whatever and that should do this or that or whatever.

  6. wmc,
    Fortunately for me, your prescient $82 went in the opposite direction. LOL

    Improbable was scratched.
    Tacitus and Mr. Freeze vied for favoritism.

    TRI – Oaklawn – R12 – $1
    1st: 9
    2nd: 11, 12
    3rd: 11, 12
    Bets (2) Amount: $0.5 Total: $1
    Ticket #: ______________
    Placed At: 05-02-2020 3:54 pm

    SPR – Oaklawn – R12 – $2.4
    1st: 9
    2nd: 4, 6, 7, 12
    3rd: 4, 6, 7, 12
    4th: 4, 6, 7, 12
    Bets (24) Amount: $0.1 Total: $2.4
    Ticket #:_______________
    Placed At: 05-02-2020 4:01 pm

    SPR – Oaklawn – R12 – $0.4
    1st: 6, 12
    2nd: 6, 12
    3rd: 4, 9
    4th: 4, 9
    Bets (4) Amount: $0.1 Total: $0.4
    Ticket #: _______________
    Placed At: 05-02-2020 4:06 pm

    TRI – Oaklawn – R12 – $1 -$1.00
    SPR – Oaklawn – R12 – $2.4 -$2.40
    SPR – Oaklawn – R12 – $0.4 +$82.84

  7. I’m tired of the I love John Pricci b-girls on this website. Granted, John Pricci has paid his dues, and has earned the respect he deserves. Stop kissing his ass, and let’s get down to playing horses, and winning money.

    1. TTT,
      Just imagine Ann Margaret singing the following:

      We love you, Teddy
      Oh yes we do
      No one can make us laugh
      As much as you
      Without your numbers
      We’ve no clue
      Oh Teddy we love you

  8. Well, I’ll be damned, the guy/girl above me in comments, using a moniker like Mr. Ed (TTT) to hide their identity, though misguided in the political arena, I guess by the law of averages, has finally written something here at HRI that I agree with: ‘let’s get down to playing horses and winning money’.

    Denny, you met this person at Saratoga a couple or so years ago. What think? He/she a horseplayer or simply a lost soul?

    Yes, it would be nice to eliminate the verbiage of commentators here at HRI who write about their dime bets, their dollar bets, et cetera. This site needs gamblers who bet serious money after actually purchasing the past performances and spending time handicapping a horse race, any horse race, as Thoroughbred racing, from the view point of those who enter a racetrack through the front entrance and not the back stretch, is about winning money, not the grandiose adulation of the same trainers and jockeys year-after-year and the same ole’ stake races year-after-year promoted by the management.

    The most challenging, exciting, money worth experience in the realm of gambling is betting on the horses; yet this extraordinary gambling venture is being swamped by other gambling venues that, when given serious thought, offer far less thrills for the money wagered.

    1. wmc.
      The problem with your claims of betting “serious money” are your repeated assertions that a
      “big day” for you was winning enough to pay for your “bar tab (Fosters) and a pastrami sandwich.”

      I don’t remember you ever sharing examples of your handicapping or “scores,” though I seem to recall an occasional horse’s name here and there that didn’t warrant further discussion.

      By the way, I used the free BRIS PP’s to handicap the 3 big races at Oaklawn Saturday. Their font is easier for me to read than the DRF PPs. Does that further diminish my commentary?

      When I resumed playing the races after I retired, I couldn’t isolate a winner that wasn’t the favorite and had to adjust to playing low-minimum exotics to stay in the black against rebated players. Thank goodness I still enjoy handicapping and betting on races, but I consider myself lucky when I can find one intriguing enough to justify investing my time and clarity which is worth more than money to me at this stage.

      Even if I were to bet ten or even 100 times as much on a race as I do now, even a lucky streak wouldn’t change my lifestyle. It is only a game that provides an intellectual challenge and, in this case, the satisfaction of being right.

      I still split about $120 with my oldest racing buddy in Trifectas and Exactas on the Kentucky Derby, but that is more a celebration of our amazing friendship being renewed than an attempt at enrichment.

  9. Indulto: I do appreciate your calm explanation of your interest and betting pattern on Thoroughbred races. I think it is fair to write that you, and other commentators at HRI, do not substantially a) support the industry with the amount of your wagers and b) bet against yourself which further decreases your bankroll – even Mr. Pricci loves exotic bets which leaves me nonplussed. As you know, the odds of winning a bet over the long haul is the grail for a serious gambler in the ‘game’ to make money. Most of the commentators at HRI are, I am inclined to conclude, weekend bettors chasing the exotic bets with a few bucks and a bucket of dimes; not horseplayers by any stretch of the imagination, yet they dominate the commentary with their thoughts on the same stake races year-after-year.

    Yes, a ‘big day’ for me is winning enough for a Foster’s and a pastrami sandwich with two pickles; this happening would mean that I didn’t lose for the day. I don’t go around informing others of my winnings or losses. I grind it out day-in and day-out wagering what I consider significant amounts of money. I usually leave the joint in a lousy mood, as I have more losing days than winning days, yet I’m back again the next day with a fist full of bills as I still believe gambling on the ponies is the most challenging an exciting ‘game’ out there.

    As mentioned above, the odds are what dictates my bet and the wager is always win only. Chasing exotic bets and always betting against yourself is foolhardy.

    I really don’t know why I even visit HRI. I guess it’s just something to do. Mr. Pricci wrote once that I probably drive away more readers though I went four or more months a couple of times without commenting over the past years and I didn’t note any reader increase.
    The subject matter is clearly narrow, repeated often, and usually involves a thoroughbred who is a prohibitive favorite (wasn’t the split Arkansas Derby a thriller).

    Well anyway, peace Mr. Anonymous.

  10. Thought computers were supposed to eliminate the use of carbon paper…another fine mess you’ve gotten me into, Stan.

  11. Mr. Ed: I wish to clarify a comment I made above: my favorite bet is the double if I can cobble together two races instead of betting to win on each race; however, finding two consecutive races that figure for me is the exception. Anyway, 215 minutes to post of the first at Fonner Park; the racing there looks the same to me as Gulfstream/Oaklawn/et cetera.

    1. wmc,
      I too have enjoyed our first reasonably rant-free exchange since 2012.

      Good luck at Fonner. I think I’ll wait for Belmont and/or Woodbine (20c TRIs) for weekday play.

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