So far, everyone I’ve read has mentioned how hard it was to handicap and pick winners… between having all the top horses from each category actually racing against each other, the weather and the track changing how it was playing between the two days, calling it tough might be an understatement.
The weather will most certainly be used to explain why chalk didn’t fare well or long shots hit the board, it’s even being blamed for the lower handle! I wish I could blame the weather for being in the red, but I have only my choices to blame.
Over the past month or so I’ve changed my strategy to include and focus on multi-race wagers. This has actually helped my single race analysis too. I also tried to understand what the probable pace scenario would be, something I never put much effort into until now.
For the most part I’m pleased with my actual handicapping and analysis. I have a few more areas that I want to work on, but overall I feel that I’m a fairly solid and improving handicapper. That being said, I really need to work on turning that into more frequent winning wagers. Something I’m happy to practice!
As for money management, I did really well. I stayed within my bankroll and with planning was able to stretch it out for the entire time. I usually like to use it all, which so far has meant losing it all, but if I’m willing to use it I’m willing to lose it. I spent all but $7 of my bankroll… and since Swifty had a really nice score in the Classic with the Curlin/Hard Spun exacta, dinner was on him!
Here’s what I did over the two days… each race, my picks, how I bet it and my notes on the winners that I didn’t pick.
F & M Sprint
I had already mentioned that my pick, like many others, was Miss Macy Sue. I also liked Maryfield. The pace scenario was clear and it unfolded as expected, for the most part. I thought La Traviata would hold up a little better but she did put early pressure on Dream Rush, who set wicked fractions and tired in the stretch.
My bets going into it were:
Miss Macy Sue exacta boxed with La Traviata & Dream Rush
Maryfield exacta boxed with La Traviata & Dream Rush
Miss Macy Sue to Win
Maryfield to Win
At the last minute I thought Dream Rush’s odds were a gift and I swapped my win bet on Maryfield to a win bet on Dream Rush.
My notes on Maryfield: Needs a fast pace and will get it, all wins were from outside post position, 3/4 on wet surface. This is one of the few races I handicapped with the Advanced PPs and my note from that was “if she throws another fast bullet as her prep work out, consider her”. Her work out prior to her last win was a 47.1 Hg 1/36, her work prior to this race was 46 Hg 1/34. A full second faster and an impressive time. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot with that last minute decision.
I didn’t handicap this race or any of the Juvenile races so I had a dime superfecta box of Cannonball, The Leopard, Cherokee Triangle and Prussian and a small win bet on Cannonball. No notes here, just good old fashioned guessing!
I also had previously mentioned that I liked Wanderin’ Boy, Gotcha Gold and thought Discreet Cat would improve. I had Corinthian and Xchanger on my possibility list but wasn’t interested in going deep in this race so I kept it simple.
Wanderin’ Boy/Gotcha Gold exacta box
Wanderin’ Boy/Gotcha GoldDiscreet Cat trifecta box
My notes on Corinthian: Can come from on or off the pace, on is better; last cut back produced a win, was training on the Belmont Training track, which for the mile is almost identical to the mile at Monmouth. I also wrote “due for a win?”. Yes.
Swifty and I joined forces (and money) to do the Ultra Pick 6 and the late Pick 4. Here’s how we played them, notes on each of the selections with the specific race.
6th: Honey Rider, Argentina
7th: Midnight Lute, Greg’s Gold
8th: Jeremy, Excellent Art
9th: Unbridled Belle, Lear’s Princess
10th: English Channel, Dylan Thomas
11th: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense, AGS, Curlin
For the Pick 4 we did a series of 16 tickets using the following A/B selections.
A: Jeremy, Excellent Art
B: Trippi’s Storm, Purim
A: Unbridled Belle, Lear’s Princess
B: Indian Vale, Ginger Punch
A: English Channel, Dylan Thomas
B: Shamdinan, Better Talk Now
A: Curlin, AGS
B: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense
On our A/A/A/A ticket, which was double the amount of the rest of the tickets, we also included the B picks for the Classic.
My friend Joan called me on Thursday because she wanted to discuss the juvenile fillies… I told her I was gonna take a pass because it was gonna be hard enough to get through the other races and I didn’t want to squander my bankroll. We still talked about them and she asked me what I thought about Zee Zee. I looked her over and liked what I saw but didn’t understand why she would be running on dirt… I asked Joan, who is very into pedigrees, if the pedigree indicated anything. She couldn’t come up with anything but did have an ah ha moment about Cigar. Bill Mott, Zee Zee’s trainer, also trained Cigar, and Cigar was quickly moved to turf after not fairing well on the dirt. As turfer, Cigar was ok, but he didn’t blossom until Bill Mott moved him back to the dirt… the rest is history. Given this, I was willing to take shot on Zee Zee, particulary given that she went off at 19-1. I put a little win bet on her and had her boxed with Smarty Deb.
I took a pass on the Juvenile males but thought that War Pass and Pyro both looked great in the Champagne. I was really impressed with both of their runs and am looking forward to seeing them in the Derby Preps!
My long shot pick of the day was Argentina… both of her efforts this year have been good and she had come back from a year off and placed in the Diana! It was a cut back to a distance that she was 3 1-2-0… she had also lost by a head on yielding turf in last year’s Diana. Honey Rider and Passage of Time of my two A picks… I liked Passage of Time slightly better than Honey Rider given her last win was the distance (same for Honey Rider) and that the win prior to that was against colts. She had also won of soft turf. I liked Lahudood as well, but didn’t think she would win.
I wasn’t convinced about Nashoba’s Key… the turf in California is definitely not soft, she’s never shipped and I felt like this field was a tougher bunch for her. She was definitely in my “prove it” category for this race.
Argentina exacta boxed with Honey Rider & Passage of Time
Lahudood exacta boxed with Honey Rider & Passage of Time
This was the highlight of my wagering day! And I feel like Lahudood really proved herself.
I kept it simple in this race with a small win wager on Benny the Bull, I thought he ran strong last time out to Midnight Lute and thought he had the makings of a big race. This was a 3rd off race for him and he’s won on that form cycle before. I was buying into Midnight Lute but thought he might regress off of such a big speed figure and wanted to take a shot with Benny. I also liked Idiot Proof and Greg’s Gold, particularly Greg’s Gold off his last race where he was bottled up and couldn’t get up in time.
Benny the Bull to win
Jeremy and Excellent Art were my two A picks, Excellent Art stood out over Jeremy but I gave the nod the Jeremy because of the post position. In any other weather I would have also like After Market, who was smartly scratched. Trippi’s Storm was also interesting to me given his last race was a cut back to this distance, one he clearly liked, but After Market had spotted him 6lbs. We included Purim in the Pick 4 after After Market scratched, I wasn’t sold that he could reproduce his last race but Swifty liked him and no one else jumped out at me. I also thought Cosmonaut and Kip Deville were interesting but I landed on the other 4.
I’m a huge No Biz fan but felt this really wasn’t his distance… I was routing for him but not wagering on him. All and all I thought he did really well and can’t wait see how he develops. I’m hoping by this time next year he’s a force to be reckoned with on the turf, I think he can do it.
Trifecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art
Exacta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Story, Excellent Art
Icy Atlantic across the board
Dime Superfecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art, Icy Atlantic
Dime Superfecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art, Host
My notes on Kip Deville: horse for the distance, improving, good last effort.
I thought this was one of the toughest races, other than the classic. I could make arguments for almost all of them. In the end I choose Unbridled Belle and Lear’s Princess as my A picks. I felt Unbridled Belle’s running style would do well, even though at this point early speed was holding up AND there was a LOT of speed in this race. Lear’s Princess work pattern was similar, but a touch below her pattern prior to the Alabama but expected her to keep her form.
For some reason, I threw out the Oaks as an indication of Unbridled Belle’s muddy track performance. I was thinking that the bigger field could have played a part in it too, and that she didn’t really blossom until recently so I went with her improving form. It was interesting to note that both she and Indian Vale had almost identical work patterns to their previous races (not to each other)… clearly a Pletcher training style.
Exacta Box of Unbridled Bell and Lear’s Princess
Indian Vale exacta boxed to Unbridled Belle and Lear’s Princess
Prop Me Up exacta wheeled to the field
Dime Superfecta of Prop Me Up, Lear’s Princess, Indian Vale, Unbridled Belle
My notes on Ginger Punch: has won on a muddy track but placed 7 lengths behind on sloppy, might get in a speed duel up front, works not as strong as prior to last time out + had a fast bullet prior to last win.
Here’s one where I really messed up. English Channel was my pick to win but I had both he and Dylan Thomas as my A picks. I liked English Channel better because his last race was monster impressive + the euros weren’t fairing so well. I really also liked Shamdinan because he likes the soft turf… his last win was on soft turf at Arlington. Grand Couturier seemed like the better choice of the two because of his win at the distance but that turf was a hard as a rock and he didn’t fare well on yielding turf.
WPS on Shamdinan
Trifecta Box of Better Talk Now, English Channel, Dylan Thomas
Exacta of Dylan Thomas over Better Talk Now, English Channel, Shamdinan
Why did I put Dylan Thomas over English Channel? Who knows, I was getting tired and I really didn’t think through it… also, Dylan Thomas looked good. I really rushed through my decision because I think I just wanted to get through it. We were also trying to decide when to get our bets in for the Classic and go out to our seats. After a fairly nomadic day of trying to find a place to settle in, the weather had finally broken so we wanted to at the very least watch the Classic at the track. I rushed my decisions on this race so we could move, Swifty could get a good position in the tunnel to shoot some footage and then we could get out to the track to see the race. By being hasty, I cost myself a potential decent score based on my selections… it wasn’t like I didn’t already pick English Channel, I just missed the right combination. If I would have had used English Channel in the same straight exacta I had with Shamdinan that I had with Dylan Thomas, I would have had a 4 digit winning ticket.
I’m gonna do a separate post on the Classic (not tonight!). Curlin was my pick to win and Swifty and I spent at least an hour discussing how to decide between AGS & Street Sense as our other A pick, let alone Lawyer Ron and Hard Spun. I’ll post my thought process and ultimate differentiators I used to my decisions in that post… and would love to hear how y’all decided whatever you decided in such a close, competitive field. The way I imagined in the pace scenario it would come down to Curlin and AGS and that’s how I bet it.
Exacta Box Curlin, AGS
Trifecta Box Curlin, AGS, Lawyer Ron
I have to get over my irrational fear of large win bets, if I would have put the same amount that I wagered as an exacta as a win bet on Curlin, I would have had another 4 digit winning ticket.
Regardless of the sad tragedy (of George Washington, not my wagering missteps), it was an amazing race and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. My beloved Hard Spun ran a spectacular race and Curlin proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s our champion. I’m also really glad that Awesome Gem is a gelding! He had a great race… he’s really been improving and I’m looking to him, and several of the improving 3 year olds (Zanjero, Xchanger, the return of Ravel, Belgravia & Grapelli) to bring a stellar handicap division next year.
More posts to come through the week, but this was my performance in the Breeders’ Cup.