Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

29 April 2008

Churchill Over/Under Bet

Churchill has a new over/under bet. The wager is whether the sum of the program numbers of the first three finishers will be over or under a certain number.

Judging by the charts the bet is off to a horrendous start. The total pool for Monday's first race was $222. Perhaps Churchill was trying to appeal to the crowd that does not like racing. Maybe the first timers who want to bet something really easy and simple. The same people that like to sit at slots like zombies, pushing buttons till their bankroll is tapped. Appealing to this crowd is very difficult at a racetrack and multiple attempts by different tracks have led to failure after failure.

Handicappers like action and with a slew of big paying exotic bets on every race, the over/under has little appeal. If this bet was a dirty magazine it would be the J.C. Penney womens underwear catalog, not much appeal there for the hardcore player.

New Pick 3's At Belmont

A new surprise for the Belmont meet is that pick 3's will roll in all races. The daily double and late pick 4 are no long shielded from the pick 3. The wagering menu at Belmont indicates that two new pick 3's will be available. There will now be pick 3's in the first and sixth races where there never was pick 3's before.

Dutrow So Confident In Big Brown

The racing game disdains the kind of confidence that Dutrow is dealing when he speaks about Big Brown. While I admire his confidence, Dutrow is double dog daring the looming hand of racing luck to smack him and his horse down.

"Until somebody shows me the beast, this is not a tough horse race," Dutrow said in a typical recent interview. "I'm training this horse for a horse race; I don't care what the name of it is. I feel he's the best horse in the race - I feel he's going to win the race. Anything else is going to be extremely disappointing to me.

"I know there's no one going into this race as good as he is right now. If he breaks clean, it's a mismatch to me on paper."

Usually one can get away with this attitude for only so long before the game gives out a maximum dose of bad racing luck. Try going to the track with this attitude and making wagers, talk about a humbling experience. This type of talk is very polarizing, I see that Big Brown can go one of two ways. He is either going to run a fricken' hole in the wind and drop jaws or the horse is going to be up the track. If this horse does not win, he will not hit the board in the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown's performance is going to be something extraordinary or something commonly dull. When this horse gets beat it is going to be ugly.

Curlin Connections Eying The Turf

It looks like the turf may just be in Curlins future after all. A recent interview with Steve Asmussen on Capitol OTB TV hints that a trip to Paris is under consideration.

Is the Arc in Curlin's future?... Interviewed this weekend by host Mark Cusano on Capital OTB-TV's 'Down the Stretch', Steve Asmussen indicated that a trip to France this fall is possible for the reigning HOTY.
Cusano: "Have you mapped out any tentative plans for [Curlin]?"
Asmussen: "I think the debate needs to be with where the Breeders' Cup's run this year -- what kind of track they decide to put down at Santa Anita, and then if that's acceptable, if we want to move towards that or have an alternative goal for the rest of the his year. I believe that he physically can do about anything we ask of him so another trip out of the country is not impossible."
... Cusano: "A race out of the country -- I guess the first thing that would come to mind is something like the Arc d'Triomphe. Is that under any consideration? Are you looking to possibly test him on turf?"
Asmussen: "That is a race that Mr Jackson has mentioned."
Perhaps the original post about Curlin on the turf was a pipe dream but it looks like the connections are considering a very interesting yet sound line of thinking. A trip to Paris for the Arc may just be better than a trip to Los Angeles to run on a questionable surface in burning hot Arcadia California. Curlin's first run on the Turf should be in the Arlington Million.

Belmont Closing the Third Floor Grandstand Most Days

While I know that it is important for NYRA to cut
costs closing off the entire third floor grandstand
at Belmont is a horrible mistake that marginalizes
one of Belmonts best attributes.
The 3rd floor
grandstand seats provide some of the best views in
all of sports and that area is one of the most
popular sections of the plant during the Belmont
meet. The great view from those seats are one of the
best parts of going racing at Belmont and it is
unique to all tracks. A few sections of the third
floor grandstand near the finish line should remain
open for all racing days. I hope I misunderstood the
website or NYRA re-thinks this decision. E-mail NYRA
and let them know what you think.


Third floor & portions of second floor closed most day to cut expenses, electrical use, security costs and to facilitate better customer service (closed areas will be reopened on Belmont Stakes Day and other major days)Expanded picnic amenities, West End, Grandstand apron

23 April 2008

TVG Giving NYRA The Shaft

Ever since TVG lost exclusive rights to NYRA, the races from Aqueduct have been given a very low priority. In fact Aqueduct has been given a lower priority than Bay Meadows and other Harness tracks.

TVG Priority List
1) So-Cal TB racing (Hollywood or Santa Anita)
2) Keeneland (They love this track and send people there to host, very close to So-Cal)
3)Los Alamitios ( Gets great coverage from them complete with hosts and top billing)
4) Meadowlands Harness- This track has its own hosts and its own show. Nothing will trump MED harness when it is running)
5) Bay Meadows- (This track gets top billing and even has its own on site reporter)
6)NYRA- (They will usually show NYRA races live as long as the one of the 4 tracks of higher priority are not running. However NYRA does not have its own hosts on site)

7)C Type tracks like Suffolk Downs or Tampa Bay ( These tracks get only Stretch Calls and are often shown 30 mins after the race is run)

Fifteen minute delay on showing Aqueduct race eight today. The Aqueduct race went off at about the same time as a 3 furlong Hollywood two year old race but the Hollywood race was shown live. Then they chatted about the excitement of the Hollywood two year old dash and showed repeated replays from all angles. Then instead of showing the now completed Aqueduct race TVG elected to show Keeneland Race 8, then they showed a Bay meadows 3K claimer. With the Aqueduct race now official TVG then chatted about Keeneland results. Then they went to a commercial. When they returned the Aqueduct race was long over but they went right to the Hollywood prices. Then they showed a stretch call from Tampa. At this point I thought I missed the Aqueduct race as the hosts began to talk about the next Hollywood race. After setting up the next Hollywood race, they showed the prices from Keeneland and Bay Meadows. Finally after all that they showed the Aqueduct Race 8. New York is getting the shaft from TVG

23APR Play Of The Day

Race 6 at Aqueduct
#4 Wild Vicar fits the condition to a tee winning last on 17OCT. The only one who has not been running in restricted company lately. The clear play here on the cutback.


20 3-3-1
strike rate 15%
cumulative return $37.00
ROI $1.85

16 April 2008

Breeders Cup Trials In The UK

The Breeders Cup and a new UK track are forging a partnership. They will run a Breeders Cup trial card at Great Leighs where they will race over polytrack. The winners will be part of the win and you are in promotion. This is excellent news as the Breeders Cup has seen sagging European participation in the last few years. With the dollar crashing in value and the races at far flung and sultry Santa Anita the next two tears, the breeders cup needed to do something to ensure international participation.

Ascot is also getting into the breeders cup act and three new races have been designated win and you are in. The three new races, all run at one mile on the turf, will be held at the Ascot Festival are: the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1), sponsored by Sony, for 3-year-olds and up; the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile (G1) for 2-year-old fillies and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge (G2) for colts and geldings.

Racing Besmirched By The Ignorants

Commenters on NPR bash racing. A small response is in order.

Horse racing is one of the most exciting, emotion filled spectacles in western culture. There are very few places in western culture where the highs and lows of life are in such close juxtaposition like the racetrack. It is a thrilling juxtaposition. This is the place in sport where the working classes and upper classes meet. The sport can be elegant as a designer hat on Derby day yet as repugnant as a degenerate yelling obscenities after another losing wager. In between these two polar opposites lies the most complex, greatest games known to man.

Racing is not a safe middle of the road endeavor, while the horses are treated well they are pushed hard to perform. The sport certainly has its seedy side. However racing is not alone in having a seedy side as does coffee, energy production, illegal restaurant dishwasher help and the illegal alien nighttime cleaners at wholefoods where you dispense your brie and chablis. However the other side of the coin is that the vast majority of the horses receive the best care in the domestic animal world. These horse lead of life of luxury complete with daily sponge bathes and comprehensive medical care.

The sport is enjoying a modest revival. Those looking for something truly real are finding racing is the only truly real sport. Like the multitudes of hipsters that move to New York to find something real, people are identifying racing as something real. Racing is not the prepackaged, master planned entertainment so typical of modern sports today. Racing is a chaotic endeavor that is left to its own devices sometimes producing extraordinarily exciting or disappointing results. Racing is like New York before it was touched by corporate America. Racing is the New York of sports. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere. It is gritty, edgy, elegant, brutal yet cultured and filled with raw life enriching energy.

For those intelligent enough to understand the game, it is a great joy to follow these animals. To know them and to know them well is to peer into natures blueprint. The form of the thoroughbred is the most divine expression of molecular harnessed ATP energy. The horses are efficient vessels of unbridled power, dealers of speed and adrenalin. It is disappointing to read the words of horse racing ignorant people besmirching a game that is complex with a long history as simple animal abuse. This is like writing off New York as a dirty, smelly, crime filled hole after making a cursory visit to the Port Authority bus terminal.

14 April 2008

Arkansas Derby Thoughts

There was five speed horses in the ARK Derby and Gayego won the big speed battle and the war. Not only did Gayego run a helluva race but also consider that he was first time shipping, first time dirt and had to outrun his sprint pedigree. Nice performance by Gayego, I like that he repelled Z Fortune late when it looked like he was about to be overhauled. . However this was a huge move forward at one time. The trainer is also a nice guy and I was happy for him. However could he hold that form after all that momentum in the the form cycle? This is like trying to control a kite in a hurricane, his form is too volatile and likely to crash in the next race. Rather see a slow progression rather than a huge race all at once.

One trend I have noticed is that, War Pass, RecapturetheGlory, Big Brown, Gayego are all speed horses. You gonna have all the horses under 10-1 dueling out front like maniacs, tiring themselves out and testing their sprint pedigrees to the max. Right now I am on a closer hunt looking for my final derby horse.

If this race was today my wager would be on Court Vision. This horse just keeps on coming and can run all fricken day. The horse already is a GII winner over the Churchill Strip and will be third off the layoff for the master Mott. Looks like his progression is slow and deliberate. Mott is doing the crackdown now as we speak and we should get more than 20-1 if not 30-1 on derby day.

13 April 2008

Bluegrass thoughts

The 2008 Bluegrass was the equivalent of a red herring when trying to solve a difficult equation. As fans and handicappers we already allocate many of our idle moments to answering difficult questions with hopeful answers grasping for favorable results. The Bluegrass complicated the problem, so be prepared to increase your allocation of idle moments trying to figure out the derby equation.

Pyro scorched the Fairgrounds dirt course but could not even spark his flint at Keeneland. Visionaire saw his way through the fog so clearly in the Gotham but was blinded by the challenge of a foreign surface in the Bluegrass. Cool Coal Man did not report for duty and left us to shovel for ourselves. Faithfully was are supposed to draw a line through the non-efforts of these horses. Can we just assume it was the surface that caused the form downturn or was it the horse? Can we be sure?

The spotlight was shared by two Pletcher horses who wielded good turf form. Can that turf form translate to derby success on the dirt? I do not think so, and we draw on the same faith that we used to draw a line through Pyro's race to draw a line through Monba's and Cowboy Cal's Bluegrass. If these two turf runners show up in Louisville make sure to toss them out of your wagers like chum over the rail of a flounder boat. Keep these two in mind for the Colonial Cup or Virginia Derby on the turf later this year but they are not Kentucky Derby material. Welcome to the Polytrack era.

11 April 2008

11APR Play of the day

Race 9 Keeneland Makers Mark Mile- My favorite Bourbon is Woodford Reserve but today my favorite is in the Makers Mark. #2 Einstein is a brilliant racehorse. Fast, game and able to stay on for up to 11.5 furlongs. There is little doubt that Einstein is the fastest horse in this race but the key today is that Einstein is cutting back off a 1 mile 3/8th win and will be stout, strong and long in the lane. These horses will not be able to get to Einstein early or late. He looks so good in here.

19 3-2-1
strike rate 16%
cumulative return $37.00
ROI $1.95

12APR Weekend Derby Prep Action

This week brings us the Arkansas Derby and the Bluegrass. Both top shelf preps and I suspect the derby winner is in one of these two races.

The Arkansas Derby should be listed as a grade 1.51 this thing is as close to a grade I you can get without being a grade I. Curiously the race has a mutuel field, something we used to see at Aqueduct in 1988 when I first started looking at horse racing. Lets get down to the matter at hand, I suspect the favorite will be Z Fortune who drew an unfavorable outside post. his form has been tailing off. Anyone worth two cents has to go against him here. There seems to be five speed horses(can you name them?) which have all drawn inside so the pace will be honest here. This bodes well for one of the closers to power up late for the big share of the purse. The two I zeroed in are Liberty Bull and Blackberry road. Liberty Bull is shipping from New Mexico and I can not imagine that to be a pleasurable trip for an equine. Blackberry road finally finds a race with an honest pace and has been running at the Fairgrounds. Blackberry should benefit the most from a hot pace and is the pick to win it all.

The Bluegrass Stakes is a poly prep and last year was a real head scratcher. There was the glacial pace of 27 and 52 for the Jamie Sanders colt (Teuflesberg) who faded after setting the slowest pace this side of turtle racing. Then when they turned for home it sort of looked like a quarter horse race with anchors dragging behind the horses as there were nine horses in a line all plodding for the wire. There is little chance I can effectively handicap this race with these horrid images at the fore of my mind. The favorite will most certainly be Pyro who races first time poly, why take 3-5 on the first time poly donut horse? Medjool has raced exclusively on the all weather surfaces and and has proven that he runs well and can get the distance. Hofmans' is a conservative trainer and if he ships in he has a shot. Medjool is the pick at a profitable price.

04 April 2008

Weekend Derby Prep Action 05APR

This is one of the big weekends with the Illinois Derby, The Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial. We are four weeks out from the First Saturday in May and the most exciting sports event in North America.

Santa Anita Derby Features the rematch of Colonel John and El Gato Malo with a supporting cast of hopefuls. The most viable price looks like Yankee Bravo who ran a credible race in the LA Derby. His deep closing style has been winning over the surface and he should have no issues with being wide.

The Wood Memorial is a good betting race as the 6-5 chalk War Pass looks vulnerable. As a handicapper you have to find reasons to beat chalk and the massive clunker that War Pass ran last out is reason enough to toss him at 4-5. Court Vision looks like a viable candidate to power past late as he is 2nd off the layoff and is proven over the distance and surface. The rain has been much lighter than forecasted over the last 24 hours never increasing in intensity past light rain and it has been mostly mist. Light rain is forecasted to end at 10am with cloudy conditions all day. The track should be good to fast.

Denis Of Cork is favored to Win the Illinois Derby.

What Happened To The NTRA Pick 4?

A few years ago there used to be a NTRA pick 4 on a big racing Saturday like this weekends Wood Memorial/Santa Anita Derby day. It was a interesting wager that combined the best races of the weekend, not only was it a fun wager but it was a wager that offered value. The pick 4 was a great complement to the NTRA TV coverage as usually all four races were on TV. The wager seemed to be popular, why was it vanquished? The demise of this wager is a step in the wrong direction for promoting the sport. With super derby prep Saturday looming next week this bet will be missed.

02 April 2008

Saturday April Fifth Sam Houston Card

On Saturday the fifth of April Sam Houston has an excellent triple stakes card on tap. There is real opportunity here for every handicapper to make money as Sam Houston has 12% takeout on pick 3 and every stakes races has a very vulnerable favorite. This track and their low takeout pick 3 should be supported, I play there when I can. The combination of pool underutilization and low takeout yields many generous pick 3 payouts. This may be there last Saturday of the year for Sam Houston as the racing moves to Lone Star.

Race 5 is a turf stakes for fillies and mares the morning line favorite New Edition is racing off a long layoff and drew a horrendous outside post, with her being first time Asmussen she will take huge amounts of money. This is a good race to kick off a pick three using the logical contenders not named New Edition.

Race 7 is the Grade III Connelly Turf stakes, the probable heavy favorite from the Asmussen barn is Grade I winner Student Council. This horse has never won on turf and is a big bet against at a short price. The pick 3 from race five will end here and just glancing over it there are already two vulnerable chalks bookending the sequence.

Race 9 is a Turf Sprint stakes and features Golden Hare who is a $5K claimer that has rambled off 7 strait wins and 10 out of the last 12, he is a horse to admire and respect. Golden Hare is also from the Asmussen stable. Smitty Sunshine also looms large here.