Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

31 July 2009

The Future Is Today; Play Of The Day

Saratoga Race 7 High Rock Springs Stakes

After two days of watching the races and largely sitting on my hands I am anxious to make a move. In the High Rock Springs Stakes I feel #6 Future Prospect should be all speed and take this field wire to wire. Going to key The Prospect in all the late bets from doubles to pick 4's. Will have a win bet going if the price is right and the paddock/parade impression is acceptable. Two nice works since his last race confirm that his sharp form remains in tact for this race. Last race was huge in defeat as the horse he lost to Wishful Tomcat is sure to move on to bigger and better things in the graded stakes ranks. After grudgingly giving up the lead to Tomcat the horses could not even get close to him. Track figures to be a sloppy mess and this should help the frontrunning gambit of Future Prospect.

Race 7 Win #6 Future Prospect

Pre-Saratoga Play Of The Day Stats 2009

31 13-3-1
strike rate 42%
cumulative return 99.30
$2 ROI $3.20

30 July 2009

No Program Numbers

A few years ago I was out in Vegas on one of these frequent excursions I go on. As much as I like playing horses I am also a card player going back to 1981. When I was 5 years old I played gin rummy just about everyday with Rose Casini and her elderly friends who used to babysit me.

For years I have been making money playing blackjack using my own personal martingale system, while the house had come close, they had not busted me out in years. As my winning streak grew year after year my confidence did not identify the danger of a big bust out while using my Martingale system. This was the day things went haywire for me in blackjack for the first time in a long time.

I had a large bet down after winning a bunch of hands in a row just a few minutes after arriving from the airport. I got dealt a pair of 6's which I split because the dealer had showed a bust card. Then unbelievably I got dealt another 6 and then yet another. So I was split four ways to the dealers bust card. The way things worked out I ended up doubling two of the hands and had a significant portion of my bankroll on the table. Long story short but the horror of defeat rushed over me and the dealer pulls a twenty one from out of nowhere. So now I was down and out. I went on tilt and lost the rest of the bankroll shortly after this bizarre hand just thirty minutes after arriving from New York. Dejected and rejected I moseyed over to the sports book to play my last $5 before I turned this gambling trip into a hike to Red Rock Canyon. With the bankroll brutalized I needed to walk off the pain/kill time. As I last ditch effort I sit down in the sports book to look at the racing form and try to make something out of nothing.

It was a Tuesday and 5 MTP to a race at Colonial downs. On Tuesday the Vegas racing form does not have program numbers only names. Quickly looking at the form the third horse down looked tremendous on paper. Form, class, speed and nice works. I look up and the horse is 75-1! What a great price! I run up there to the tellers and bet my last $5. Then I go back to the seat and notice my huge mistake. There was an entry and the 3 that I thought was 75-1 was actually the 4 horse One Genius who was returning from a 7 month layoff and was first time turf coming off horrible races while stepping up in class.

The horse I thought I was betting at 75-1 was actually the 6-5 chalk. As we move to post time the number 4 horse I am now stuck with clicks up to 99-1. Not only did I lose my ass at blackjack with uncharacteristic liberal play but now I am betting my last $5 like a moron on the wrong horses in the sportsbook.

They break from the gate and I have my head in my hands as I am mumbling some gibberish to myself. The 6-5 chalk takes the lead with the 4 horse One Genius tracking the pace in the pocket. They stay that way around the clubhouse turn and along the backside.

As they turn for home One Genius is still in the race. One Genius switches out and I switch out from the seat to the aisle of the sports book. I drop to my knees and start pounding the floor with both fists as I am yelling as loud as I could for One Genius to get up. This was championship caliber rooting drawn from my days at a dirty OTB in Queens, you know the kind of rooting that offends people. It was a nip and tuck duel for the entire length of the stretch with the chalk and One Genius head bobbing for what seemed like forever.

By the slimmest of margins one Genius scores by a zop in a very dirty photo. The feeling came over me when I knew I won like the feeling you get when you ride the Cyclone in Coney Island for the first time. It was a huge thrill almost like the adrenaline rush you feel when you get away from someone that is trying to kill you if you have ever experienced that. I was out of my mind in the sports book and the whole room was looking at the spectacle I had made of myself. When they post the prices I could not believe it. One Genius paid $217 to win. I have hit much bigger tickets and have done so with thought, handicapping, shrewdness and logic but this mistake hit was the biggest thrill I have ever had in horseplaying.

When someone who watched my hysterics stopped me to ask; how did I pick this crazy 99-1 horse? I paused for a nanosecond and was going to tell him about the program numbers/mistake. But them off the cuff I told him the horse was bred for grass and I knew he would run on grass and he was worth a shot at that price. Dumb luck is highly underrated.

29 July 2009

Derby Winner Up Against It Down In West Virginia

Looks like the West Virgina Derby is going to be a tough spot for Mine That Bird. This short field with little pace should have Big Drama loose on the lead and alone at the wire the first and second time. Hard to imagine Mine That Bird scoring in this type of situation. Big Drama returns from a big win and sports 4 nice workouts while receiving 11 lbs from Mine That Bird. Big drama's lone speed set-up is a huge tactical advantage. Mine That Bird will earn further respect if he can muster the rally to run down the drama colt.

28 July 2009

Saratoga Primer

With Saratoga just hours away it is time for handicappers to shift gears. Saratoga offers three basic things. First it offers large competitive fields which are not avsai see downstate or at other tracks. Second Saratoga offers access to value and amateur money. At the downstate racing venues there is very little dumb money in the pools; the wagering is strictly shark on shark. Saratoga’s charm is enough to introduce some chum into the water. More people play their wife’s age at Saratoga in one race than wives ages are played all winter at Aqueduct. The final thing Saratoga offers is racing as an event. If drinking Cisco out of a brown paper bag is Aqueduct; Saratoga is a sipping a fine vintage of Dom Perignon. There are storylines that pique the interest between the lines of the racing form. Horses are pointed here and everyone wants to be in the winners circle.

As the meet begins I am trimming my wagering strategy away from “power plays” and towards spreading for value. As the meet commences there is an element of chaos. Every field is packed (the opening day card has over 130 horses entered) with entries and unlikely tote busting results are likely. Horses are converging from all points and sometimes form is turned on its side. Do not be afraid to make chaos your friend. As the meet moves forward the chaos will settle down and the surprises will subside.

The bet that will anchor my strategy is the rolling daily double. The double pool typically offers value and with a relatively low take-out I am not afraid to spread on doubles 5 X 3 to try to catch a nice return on a race where there is a vulnerable favorite with several contenders. Other times I may play the wager cold for $20. With the $1 min everyone can afford to vary the bet denomination up and down to express their opinion. With the double a horseplayer is not relegated to the “caveman” spread ticket that most people play in the pick 4. The key for Saratoga handicappers is not to scour the card for winners but for losers. Your first pass over the racing form should be to look for likely losers at a short price. Races with vulnerable chalk are the races to wager on.

Saratoga is an vacation destination. Tourists go there. Tourists do not go to Aqueduct and the tourists that go to Belmont are usually hardcore horseplayers from out of town. These people at Saratoga are there to have fun and they have no idea what they are doing. They play numbers, names, colors and birthdays. As a horseplayer you do not want to be behind these people in line at the windows but these are the people you want to bet against for your entire career as a horseplayer. Saratoga is the last New York meet that provides pari-mutuel access to unsophisticated bankroll.

Uniquely in New York racing, Saratoga is an event. This might be the only meet where the connections of five different horses have their charge sitting on a winning race. At any other meet four of them are going to scratch to find an easier spot. Horses are pointed towards this meet and primed to run a peak effort. For the horseplayer this is the time to pick your spots and use patience. Find the vulnerable favorite on that card and wait for it. While you are waiting learn to watch and enjoy the competition. In the past I have burned myself out playing every day at this meet. Six weeks may be a relatively short meet but it could be a long six weeks if you are playing six days a week ten races a day. Play it cool as the racing heats up. Appreciate the beauty of a venue that still respects the history of racing. If you have not visited I urge you to make the trip up to Saratoga racecourse. Here's to a great meet at Saratoga.

26 July 2009

OTB Corruption Continues

Here we have a rep from Nassau OTB whining about their lack of access to the Saratoga feed on TV for their Long Island customers. If OTB is so concerned with the horseplayers of New York State being able to watch New York racing, why do they block NYRA from streaming the NYRA feed to their customers on the internet? It was none other than OTB that lobbied Albany to block the internet feed of NYRA racing to New York residents. Seems like some sort of desperate ploy to herd horseplayers into betting at OTB parlors rather than playing at home with a NYRA rewards account. While NYRA was blocked from streaming the signal OTB, went ahead and secretly streamed the signal without NYRA's consent.

Yet another example of how too much government and too much regulation completely kills everything it touches. NYRA is blocked from broadcasting their own in-house signal to protect OTB. OTB is forced to pay money from bets taken on dark days to NYRA, the tangled web of misguided laws leads to a completely dysfunctional operation. If a government can not manage something simple like horserace marketing how can the Fed take to take on healthcare? Downsize this bloated government and get that signal on the internet for New York residents.

25 July 2009

Top Ten Track Slogans

Who can forget famous commercial slogans like "Where's The Beef?" or Nike's "Just Do It". These slogans helped Wendy's crawl out from McDonalds shadow and made Nike the most successful footwear company in the world. It seems like tracks have missed out on the marketing potential of having a slogan that is easy to remember and really catchy. If done right a slogan can embed itself into the minds of the masses. It can take a place that is rarely thought about and make it a place that everyone knows about. Let's get started on bringing a few tracks out of the background and into the public's eye.

10 - Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack - A Totally New Way To Play The Double!

9 - Monmouth Park - Really Really Far From Any Toxic Waste!

8- Keeneland - Our Polytrack Will Amuse You And Confuse You!

7- Aqueduct - Where Snow And Ice Meets Gambling Vice!

6 - Belmont - The Big Empty

photo credit Johnny Evil

5 - Saratoga - We're Not Like Aqueduct At All We're For White People

4 - Suffolk Downs - Home Of The Mass Cap (when we feel like it)

3- Hollywood Park - We Put The Track In Track Housing

2- Mountaineer - Better Than Cockroach Races....You Betcha!!!

1- Del Mar - Where The Sea Foam Meets The Styrofoam

Extra Zip Play Of The Day

Belmont Race 8
No 12-1 morning line risk taking today. We are going to do this the Smith Barney way, the old fashioned way, earn it on some chalk. Extra Zip drops in class, returns from a big win, has the leading jockey and is lone speed on the inner turf. This horse has more going for him than a handsome 21 year old kid with a rich dad and a drunk Gisele Bundchen on his arm. This horse is either going to win easy or is the most effective capper trap since Secretariat in the 1973 Whitney. I put down the form, looked into Extra Zips eyes and I don't think he is bluffing, he is going to win race 8 handily. Extra Zip is the the single in the late pick 4 and our play of the day.

Win #7 Extra Zip


30 12-3-1
strike rate 40%
cumulative return 96.20
$2 ROI $3.21

23 July 2009

Today's Bomb Bet & One For The Future

Phone Jazz with Jockey Salmon(per ESPN) runs back today and has a good chance to go wire to wire in a pace-less race. This unknown maiden became famous when ESPN did a feature on him earlier this year when he dumped old master Jean-Luc Samyn and went wire to wire riderless.

Look for Southside Babe when she races back. This mare was full of run today but was the victim of turf traffic in today's Belmont race 8. She surely would have been a winner if she has half a trip.

22 July 2009

Wild Play Of The Day

Belmont Race 2

With 0 for 12 2-1 morning line favorite Upper Gulch being lead to the paddock with cold as ice connections we are likely to find value in the win slot here. Upper Gulch will likely hit the board but she is vulnerable in the win slot. Looking for lone speed Wild Poppy to control the pace here and hang on for the win. The breeding on Wild Poppy is all class as is her connections. The start at Philly park is enough to discourage many but for us that ensures a fair price. Wild Poppy wins.

Win #8 Wild Poppy


29 12-3-1
strike rate 41%
cumulative return 96.20
$2 ROI $3.32

21 July 2009

Donor Stakes 1 1/4 miles Inner Turf

Wednesday Race 8 Donor Stakes

This looked like a lone speed dream trip for Sunshine For Life. Not sure what happened last time when she rated for the first time in a long time but this mare likes to control things on the front end. She should have a dream trip out there on the front end as every other filly or mare entered is a closer. She is a huge danger to steal this race especially if the turf is rated firm.

The big X factor for the masses will be fresh import Bubbly Jane. This filly is a two time group I winner in Brazil. I located her last two race replays and have provided them for the readers of power cap. For us she will be a known quantity. Bubbly Jane looked sharp in both wins while rallying from off the pace. She looks like a classy, game and gritty filly. I will be using her in conjunction with Sunshine for Life.

Grande Premio Henrique de Toledo Lara G-I

Grande Premio Diana G-I

19 July 2009

Task Force on the Future of New York Off-Track Betting

Only a gaggle of lawyers could craft the complicated situation that New York horseracing is in. The bad news as it looks like it is only going to get worse. As the various OTBs lose revenue to out of state ADW's defensive legislation will be enacted to protect an OTB on its deathbed. A myriad of laws/committees/boards/task forces are designed to protect harness racing, OTBs and locals tracks. Instead of protecting and promoting growth the entire industry is mired in the muck of too much government. The OTB may poach the NYRA customer but OTB has to pay NYRA money for dark day simulcasts. NYRA may offer out of town simulcast tracks but NYRA pays much more for the signal as OTB gets a volume discount on the signal. The conflicts are endless. As the OTB parlor increasingly becomes an anachronism, no amount of laws can stop the death spiral of OTB revenue.

Rockland County – Have seven branch locations, Nanuet, Pearl River, Nyack,
Haverstraw and three locations in Suffern. Have received the following revenues
from OTB:
2004: $2,758,388
2005 $2,800,651
2006 $2,587,447
2007 $1,941,924
2008 $1,587,195

It is sometimes scary when lawyers get involved in anything beyond a criminal case. When I think about the head lawyer in Washington getting involved in healthcare it makes me want to reach for a double dose of vitamins and fiber supplements. The dysfunction of New York state wagering is enough to make anyone sick to their stomach. In an ideal world the various interests conflicting with each other would bring about an equilibrium, but the lawyers will not let it happen. Instead we suffer under multiple laws that try to account the disparity between strong and weak. When one of the interests start to weaken a task force of beaurocrats with scant bottom up knowledge are assembled to search for the reasons why the filthy, stinky OTB that charges a 6% tax on winnings is losing handle to an internet ADW.

Instead of improving the lot for the masses these endless laws allow the sickness of the weak to impair the strong. Why can't NYRA offer harness racing to their customers? An exacta is an exacta. The only growth market for racing has been the internet ADW's. Now the OTB's are pushing the state to shut down out of state ADW operations in New York. While this may help the OTB it will hurt racing by reducing handle and making the game unappealing for the vital yet rare, young internet savvy racefans within the state .

Niagara Country's Response to Competition;
* Either prohibit out-of-state ADWs from accepting wagers from New York residents or require them to be licensed and regulated like theOTBs including the requirements of statutory distributions that are equal or greater than the ones the NY OTBs are required to make.

Another example of the OTB sway over Albany is on internet video. Under pressure from OTB Albany enacted a law that prohibited video/audio of NYRA races to be broadcast over the internet within the state of New York. NYRA can not even stream their product. NYRA puts up the purse, takes the entries and runs the show, why can't they show it? OTB wants to pressure the race fans of New York to go the OTB parlors if they want to watch what they bet on. While this idea that people will be queuing up outside the branches because they can not view Belmont on youbet.com is absurd it also does nothing for OTB. Limited video access hurts the overall well being of the game. There are plenty of outlets to watch NYRA racing within New York other than a OTB parlor, there is TVG or HRTV which is widely available via cable or dish network. There are rumors that crafty racefans have figured out how to circumvent the OTB blockage of the NYRA signal over the internet as well. It is a very tangled web to navigate if you want to watch/wager on racing in New York.

When Nassau OTB was caught pirating the Aqueduct signal over the internet earlier this year, NYRA took action and cut Nassau OTB off from offering the NYRA feed OTB's cable TV customers on Long Island. Why should Nassau OTB be allowed to do what NYRA can not? The fans, the horseman and the game suffer under this mess. It is amazing that the game has persevered under the heavy weight of the legislative parasite. It is the most unlikely of longshots but if a de-regulator with strong bottom up knowledge could neutralize the morass of top down knowledge bureaucrats we could realize the potential of racing in New York.

17 July 2009

Scared Of The Girl

Looks like Asmussen and Jackson are wielding Rachel Alexandra like a poker player wields a pair of aces. He shows his trump hand and everyone folds. It is no surprise that this group of horsemen are not scared to fold a hand with so many games available for three year old colts. The announcement that Rachel is targeting the Haskell has scared off potential pace duelers Papa Clem and Big Drama. This sets the stage for a Rachel showcase where she has everything her own way. Her reputation is beginning to help her as her mere presence is leveling the competition before she even hits the track.

Pocket Cowboys Rolls In The New York Derby

It is almost a year now but I have been waiting for Pocket Cowboys to get back on the turf. This huge son of Wild Event is built for the grass. To my surprise he shipped up to Finger Lakes and took down the New York Derby on dirt returning $14. There is going to be a day when this horse goes back to the turf and when he does bet him. The crowd is going to be skeptical of him as a turf prospect with only one bad turf race on his past performances way back in October 2008 when he was a two year old. This gelding has the class and ability to run on the turf. Maybe Scott Schwartz enters him in a turf race at Saratoga, give him the benefit of the doubt as this horse will improve on the green.

Credit Tom Cooley Photography

16 July 2009

Monmouth Rolls Out The Red Carpet For Rachel

Monmouth is the best track of them all for attracting star three year old horses. This year Monmouth continues the tradition by luring star filly Rachel Alexandra for the Haskell Invitational. Monmouth is not afraid to turn this race into more of a showcase than an actual horserace. It is the closest thing to the Harlem Globetrotters/Washington Generals in horse racing. This year a filly will play the Globetrotters.

The crowd wants horses that were on TV during the triple crown and Monmouth delivers those horses to the New Jersey racing fans. Monmouth has been know to pay appearance fees to connections for bringing their three year olds to the Haskell. Not only do the connections receive an appearance fee but they are treated like gold. It seems like every year there is a dominant performance from a top three year old that competed in the triple crown series.

With appearance fees luring top horses to the Haskell the race has been a showcase for favorites year after year. This is not the race to look for a longshot. The only upset I can recall in the last few years was Peace Rules upsetting Funny Cide in 2003 but was Peace Rules returning $6.00 really an upset? The speed favoring surface played to Peace Rules running style, this is the race to showcase classy front running route three year olds. Rachel Alexandra fits the Haskell to a tee.

This year you can expect Monmouth to jump through every hoop for Rachel Alexandra. Start with an generous appearance fee, then add in the red carpet treatment for the connections and top it off with a speed favoring track for her running style. The NJSEA which runs Monmouth will pull out every stop. This is Rachel's showcase at the shore, she is a dominating presence that will scare away other horses. Look for other speed horses like Big Drama to defect from the race. If Rachel is out there all alone on the speed favoring Monmouth surface deep closers like Summer Bird will have little chance to confront her in the lane. It will not even be close.

Rachel should win this $1million dollar invitational race with ease. This race will be a showcase and you can expect the same type of crowd pleasing performance as she offered in the Mother Goose. It should be a great day to watch a dominating performance by the shore.

12 July 2009

Revenge Play Of The Day

Belmont Park race 9

Here is our chance to try to beat Da' Tara who beat most of us Belmont Stakes 2008. Revenge will be sweet. This race is loaded with front running types from top to bottom. #1 Dubai Gold is a lone closer who will be a price and will have a juicy pace set up. It seems like the entire field except for Dubai Gold can not pass horses, while needing the lead. I wouldn't be surprised to see the advertised paper pace not materializing but the 10-1 morning line on Dubai Gold is enough reward to entice a play with this type of a speed laden field.

Stats 2009

28 12-3-1
strike rate 43%
cumulative return 96.20
$2 ROI $3.44

10 July 2009

Man O' War Pick 4 Stimulus?

Looks like NYRA is trying something new on Saturday to stimulate the late pick 4 pool or possibly to avoid some expected late afternoon rain. The featured Man O' War is carded as race 7 rather than the traditional penultimate race 9. Is this an experiment to see how race order affects the late pick 4 handle? The race occupying the penultimate slot is uncharacteristically a New York bred maiden, race sequencing has been turned on its head. Maybe the secretary thought it would stimulate the pick 4 to lead off with a intriguing race. Creatures of habit are not going to be happy that their Saturday ritual is being tinkered with.

Horseplayers hate change(that's why they follow a game that peaked in the 1960's) and they are not going to like their racecard being shuffled like a deck a cards. This is like rearranging the silverware at a formal dinner, knives belong on the right and the featured stakes race should be the penultimate race on the card. Look for the handle on the late double to be decimated.

08 July 2009

Wednesday Spotlight On Bestowed

Belmont Race 7
Could Bestowed win a stakes off a year layoff? When you consider that he only had one race in 2008 it really is a 20 month layoff. Before you completely dismiss him consider that he has the backclass to dominate this field. Most people would see those double layoff lines coupled with bad races and just toss this longshot runner. I think that form is old news I suspect something much better today.

There is potential for Bestowed to light up the toteboard and watch the crowd rip ticket after ticket on the favorites. Chad Brown has had a great start to his career and can fire with a fresh one. Bestowed as a tab filled with sharp workouts. His competition has has more holes in it than a pound swiss cheese. The three horses drawn inside all have speed and figure to make life hard on each other. Pennington is coming off a taxing win and Mission Approved had a long trip to Woodbine for a graded stakes, certainly this race today is an afterthought for him. The others seem to be outclassed or win shy. The works say Bestowed is sitting on a big race, I like that the connections were confident enough to opt for the stakes spot off the layoff. (He scratched out of a allowance race on Sunday for this spot)Most are going to take a wait and see approach on Bestowed and see what kind of form he has off the layoff. After a paddock inspection and tote board check this guy might make for a great play. Call him the play of the day.

Stats 2009

27 12-3-1
strike rate 44%
cumulative return 96.20
$2 ROI $3.56

06 July 2009

Fabulous Strike Likes It Light

When the brilliant Fabulous Strike scratched out of yesterdays Tom Fool I thought he might have been injured. The horse is so damn fast he seems like one who could hurt himself. That was not the case, instead it looks like the trainer was sending out the message to not tack on the weight on his horse. Catering to horseman is what racing secretaries have to deal with. With so much racing out there and so many stakes spots racing offices have to market their races to horsemen. Tracks are in serious competition for stakes horses and the horsemen have the upperhand.

Todd Beattie "I have a lot of respect for Munnings and we were giving him 11 pounds today," said Beattie, who trains Fabulous Strike for Walter Downey. "With the difference in weight, drawing the one hole, and going seven furlongs, we just felt there wasn't a lot working in his favor. He ran a monstrous effort four weeks ago. I had a long discussion with Mr. Downey and he felt the same."

In the future you can expect any racing secretary to be very careful when putting weight on Fabulous Strike as not to upset the trainer and end up with an uninteresting short field with limited wagering. This is a win-win for Fabulous Strike, not only will he get more time for his next race but he will likely carry less weight the rest of the year. As Todd Beattie feared Munnings rolled and won impressively with ease. Look for this three year old to take the Amsterdam and Kings Bishop up at the spa. Fabulous Strike is likely for the six furlong Vanderbilt at Saratoga.

01 July 2009

The Power Of Simon Bray

Simon Bray from TVG was on last night and touted two year old first time starter Mettled to the TVG audience as a live firster in Belmont's 4th today. He claimed that the owner Gary Barber personally told him the horse was really live. The filly was 12-1 morning line and opened up at 4-5 so the horse is either live or Simon Bray just swayed a ton of money on a short price loser. The horse was not bet in the double pool anywhere close to the amount of action in the win pool.