Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

31 January 2010

This Would Be Dreamy~Play Of The Day

Gulfstream Park Race 9

Liam' Dream won for fun twice in a row at Philly and now ships down to Florida to take on graded stakes company at Gulfstream. This looks like a filly that is up to the task in a race that is very bettable. The things that make Liam's Dream stand out is that she was bet first out and has won for fun in both of her races. The filly she beat last out -Age Of Humor- returned to dominate the Busanda at Aqueduct. Liam's dream is well bred and I especially like that she races in the same silks as her late sire St. Liam. The workouts for Liam's Dream at Palm Meadows have been exceptional. The favorite for the race -returning champion She Be Wild- is first time dirt; so a vulnerable favorite adds to the appeal of betting this race.

W#13 Liam's Dream

22 January 2010

Consistent Value At The Big-A

If you follow the Big-A there are some great wagering opportunities. Many of these favorable situations are based on the masses betting the usual suspect connections when they have no shot. In my development and socialization as a horseplayer I have learned to respect the game. However I do not have the same level of respect for the masses that play the game against me. The masses are lazy, they move in herds and do the same things over and over again. Their favorite shortcuts are betting on names they associate with winning. This is called "jockey capping". While I concede that some of these connections are superior to their competition; the fact remains that they lose 75-80% of the time. It is in this area -separating horses from the connections- were the public fails. Betting the overlays is where the winning horseplayer should make a home; using the public tendencies to your benefit.

To help chop the horseracing world down to size I focus on NYRA racing. This gives me the home court edge almost all the time, I know the trainers, the horses, the jockeys. Most importantly I know the tendencies of my parimutuel competition. The people in the OTBs of New York love to bet connections. When something or someone is in fashion they bet them every time. Jjust like when Pavlov's dogs would salivate when old Pavlov would ring a bell these connections salivate every time they see Dominguez listed as the jockey.

Among the jockeys racing in New York Ramon Dominguez has monopolized the affections of the contingent of "jockey cappers". He is a family man that I respect, a great jockey but he is not god. He is not going to make a an uncompetitive horse win a race. He rides well, is supported by trainers with live horses and he wins many races. However he is overbet by the public even when he should not be bet.

Consider this example. In today's first race Dominguez had the mount on "Fuzzy's Story". This horse was 1 for 8, just got thumped last out at Philly for 15K N2L. Furthermore the race at Philly was won by a 38-1 longshot that emerged out of a weak 12K maiden claimer at Philly. The place and show spots where also claimed by longshots that would have been 50-1 today. He should have been 10-1 in this 14K claimer for three year old horses instead 5-2. "Fuzzy's Story" was sure to have a sad ending today; this horse was emerging out of a very weak race. Rather than the 10-1 he should have been the public bet him down to 5-2. The only expaination is that the public has a betting Dominguez fetish.

The winner of today's race "Irving Rules" broke his maiden for 35K in a strong race. The race that Irving Rules emerged from yielded five horses that returned to break their maiden. This powerful winner -who scored by six lengths- was sent to the post at nearly 7-2. Why was the price so generous? The public has a history of cashing tickets on Ramon Dominguez and they backed him instead of the best horse.

The title of "king of the overbet trainers" goes to Rick Dutrow of the Dutrow training dynasty. The one truth we can all agree on with Mr. Dutrow is that he sends his horses to the post ready to run. His stable is a betting stable. When his horses are live money floods in early; his horses routinely open up at 1-9 on the parimutuel tote. The kicker with Rick Dutrow is that so many people that like to bet on him. Even when his first team of supporters do not show up there is a cache of reinforcements-presumably dumb OTB money- betting on him even when his horses are not live. These people show up in droves with late money to bet his horses. Sometimes he gets bet when he has no shot by this late money.

Consider Aqueduct's seventh race on 18JAN10. This was a showdown between two stakes placed sprinters; Out Of Respect and Dahlgren Chapel had this field dominated as both have been competitive with the cream of the New York Bred sprinter crop. Shockingly neither went to the post as the favorite. The Rick Dutrow trained Cajun Jet returning from a lengthy June layoff was bet all the way down to 8-5. Cajun Jet was emerging out of a very weak race; not one horse from that race has ever gone on to break it's maiden. The long layoff was surely prompted by an injury. When the winner-Out Of Respect- hit the wire Cajun Jet was in a holding pattern 12 lengths behind second place finisher Dahlgren Chapel. Cajun Jet had little to no shot of winning the race but was made the favorite on the good name of his trainer Rick Dutrow.

There are surely others that seem to take too much money. Then there are surely times when I bet on these guys as sometimes they have horses that absolutely dominate their races. The best bets are when I like a horse ridden by a jockey that is not so much in fashion, trained by a second tier trainer and the competition has no shot but is trained ridden by one of the masses favorite connections. In these situations you are sure to receive a generous price; really it is a gift from masses and their foolish ways.

21 January 2010

Horse Racing Italian Style

Here is a film of a different style of of horse racing that we are used to looking at in the Anglo world. This is the Il Palio di Siena. A tradition that has continued since 1590. This is not a gambling race or part of an industry but an event of the people. The horses represent one of 10 of the 17 Contrade (wards)of the city. The celebration after the race is touching; the emotions and passions are very real.

20 January 2010

New Years Resolutions For The Horseplayer

Each New Year provides a fresh impetus to take a look at ourselves and make a fresh start. If anyone knows about the power of fresh form it is the horseplayer. This is the time of year where we can make the changes that can propel a marginal player into the ranks of the winning players. Power capping is for people that love the game and love to play it with panache. If you are not here to win there is no point in playing this game. There is much easier stimulation/entertainment options offered elsewhere but there is nothing like horseracing as it combines the ultimate puzzle with the beauty and grace of the natural form.

The number one most neglected thing that horseplayers could do but don't do is record keeping. How do you know what you are going if you didn't know what you've been? Record keeping more than just accounting; it provides financial situational awareness. A good spreadsheet is like a navigational tracking system for the bankroll. Without record keeping a player can not be sure if they are winning or what is winning and how do the numbers stack up. It defers the power to the emotions; a horseplayer should be grounded in reason.

The real power of record keeping is that it is like the rabbit in a greyhound race. For the horseplayer the rabbit is profitability. Too many people do not know where the rabbit is and how to get to it. Record keeping places that rabbit right in front of your face and forces you to focus on it rather than drift like a rudderless ship. If you just closed out another losing year or are not sure what kind of year you had it is time to make a change. My suggestion is build a spreadsheet in excel and consult it on a regular basis to update your statistics. This was the turning point that ended my days as a parimutuel mamaluke and made me into a person with a profitable hobby.

Another thing horseplayers can do is square away their account situation. There are horseplayer friends in New Jersey that have been unnecessarily blocked from prime tracks such as Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Gulfstream because of political infighting. There are ways and means around all of these annoyances that could stand in the way of cashing tickets and peace of mind. Don't let industry idiocy impact or political corruption impact your profitability. How about those still patronizing an OTB branch and paying government taxes on winnings, not only are they dwelling in a negative environment but they are funding political corruption. An easy New Years resolution is to change to a superior vendor and upgrade to a first-class online horse racing experience. The vendor you choose should bend over backwards to accommodate your needs. When you have a play of the day ready to go roll you should have the confidence that the wager will be paid off without the online interface crashing or the track not being available.

We could go one and on with with resolutions but I would rather have people focus on what is important. Record keeping is at the heart of reason and directs the horseplayer towards profitability. Record keeping has the potential to turn a negative gambling vice into a profitable hobby. Help with excel and building a spreadsheet is available, please inquire within.

17 January 2010

Another Trip To Aqueduct

Completed yet another trip to Aqueduct. My first thoughts walking into the joint is that I know all the faces. It is smart that NYRA does not market this joint because they can't seem to lose the customers they have nor have they gained any customers in the last 8 years. It is just the same faces; the skin gets older and the heads get balder. It is almost like a neighborhood bar, but a neighborhood where everyone has a tough of gambling vice or loves ponies.

Northbound Aqueduct/N. Conduit Subway

While I have been mum on here of late I have been following along the inner meet. What I have gleaned is that there was a noticeable speed bias since the return from the Christmas break. At times this bias bordered on a mega-bias. This is a bias that continued for three weeks; it made life easy as all deep closers were easy tosses from handicapping and were at a severe disadvantage. The freeze broke this week and the track has opened up a bit. Closers had a fair shot all week especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A bias scrambling rain event is forecasted for today so things could change again especially if the track is sealed. I will be looking to downgrade all of these wire to wire winners that were logged from 30DEC09 13JAN10 as they return to race again.

A Train As Seen From Aqueduct Manhattan Terrace

There was action in the paddock before race seven yesterday. I had a "play of the day" type bet down on One Tough Belle. She looked like lone speed on paper, had a class edge and this was a field filled with many mediocre mares. She started off looking great but then her approval ratings began to drop like a politician in a recession. The first thing that gave me the skeevies was her lack of a work from mid December to mid January. Then she opened up cold on the board. 7-2 on a Dutrow/Dominguez collaboration that looks great on paper is too good to true; this means there are problems at the barn. The word was out not to bet on One Tough Belle. This is when the greatest seats -the Aqueduct power perch- in all of sports paid dividends. From the Aqueduct power perch we spotted that One Tough Belle refused to move! She just stood there and refused to walk when Dominguez mounted her. They smacked her on the behind, pulled her but she would not move. This carried on for ten minutes and they had to pull out all of the tricks to deliver her to the post. While all of these shenanigans were happening she was clicking down from 7-2 all the way down to 6-5. The money was pouring in on her like a sieve. This was a mare that had no shot whatsoever to win; frankly I am surprised she made it to the post. At about 2 minutes to post me and my friend who also had a large wager on her said enough is enough and we ran to the machines to cancel our wagers.

Post Time for the Evening Attire Stakes

Negative behavior like this is the most useful information one could glean from paddock watching. Predictably One Tough Belle left the gate at 6-5, safely raced mid-pack and crossed the wire at 7-5. Certainly all of those last minute paddock watchers canceling their power wagers drove her price up late. The winner Star Over Malibu was the only other mare with a semblance of speed; she gamely took the field wire to wire winning a 9-1. I hate to redboard but after quickly canceling the bet on One Tough Belle I landed on Star Over Malibu due to her front running profile in a speed parched field. I cashed a modest race 7-8 daily double that secured a modest profit on the day. Next time One Tough Belle runs make sure to check the paddock as she should be on your negative behavior watch list.

Empty paddock at 3 MTP

No real progress at Aqueduct as far as construction. The place is clean as far as the restrooms are cleaned daily and all tickets are collected from the floors. A small section of the grandstand remains open along with the apron but the place is in disrepair. At this point I think that it is very possible that Aqueduct may be in its last years as a viable venue for racing. Like an elderly person the only visitors she receives are the truest and most devoted. For too long she has been neglected and I could see the politicians just moving the whole show over to Belmont for an endless Philadelphia style year round meet save two months upstate. With Aqueducts location right on the Belt Parkway I could see some tired/cliche big box store moving to the property like Wal-Mart. With this in mind I will be sure to enjoy my visits to the Big-A, my favorite racetrack whose days may be numbered.

Evening Attire Stakes past the grandstand the first time

Undertstatement hits the wire first

pressbox/racecallers perch

a few fans in the grandstand before race 8 won by Toulouse Lautrec

lead pony grazes on the bushes

All photos by Joseph Burns

16 January 2010

Indians Look To Scalp Racino Revenue

Looks like Mohegan Sun Casino has launched a new marketing campaign in the New York area. With Mohegan Sun slots revenue down over 9% it was time for Mohegan Sun to take some action. Could it be that the success of Empire City casino at Yonkers raceway was beginning to affect their slots revenue? Of course it was. Empire City is located in one of the most wealthy counties in the country; this county is less than two hours from Mohegan Sun and is surely the core area of their market.

The ads which were heard on Westchester's WFAS radio were dismissive of the concept of the racino. Gamblers were urged to go to a "real" casino and not a "racino". The actor in the spot touted Mohegan's real "slots" while mocking Empire City's "video lottery terminals" as not real action. The actors went on to tout Mohegan's full service casino featuring a slew of table games and live poker. The heart of the advertisement was that anyone with a Empire City players club card would receive $100 in slot action if they signed up for a new Mohegan players club card. It looks like Mohegan means business and is looking to re-claim some of it's lost New York business. Mohegan CEO Mitchell Etess admits to poaching Empire City's market
“We realize that Empire City is driving lots of revenue, and there’s no doubt they have created new gamers,” Etess said. “We created this promotion to give them incentive for people who may have begun to enjoy Empire City and are not customers of Mohegan Sun to give them an incentive to drive up and see our property. We’re confident once they get up here they would be inclined to visit us again.”

In an earlier piece in the local press titled "Mohegan sees profits nosedive" Etess admitted that Empire City was affecting Mohegan revenue while being dismissive of the delayed Aqueduct project:

Etess also said the Empire City casino in Yonkers, N. Y., had an impact on revenues.

But Mohegan Sun is planning an aggressive marketing campaign to go after Empire City players card holders. There has been no word yet on the status of the Aqueduct casino project in New York, which Mohegan Sun hopes to operate, but Etess downplayed the impact should the contract go to another operator.

“There is already convenience gaming in Yonkers,” he said, so Empire City would feel the impact of Aqueduct more than Mohegan Sun.

With New York racino operations having a drastic effect on Indian Casino operations in Connecticut would it be hard to imagine that casino interests in Connecticut and New Jersey are the primary forces blocking the Aqueduct racino? The Aqueduct racino is well into it's ninth calender of delays. On it's own nine years of delays are noteworthy, but the manner of hearings, false NYRA scandals and multiple selection processes have rendered the situation a complete farce. It is too bad the local investigative journalists have dropped the ball on this topic. Who are the fixers blocking the Aqueduct construction? How much is being kicked back to whom to keep this project on hold? It seems that blocking the Aqueduct racino has been a cash cow for the local politicians behind the scenes; a golden goose that they have been very reluctant to surrender. Thus the farce continues as casino business nosedives elsewhere.

02 January 2010

Year End Wrap Up

Horse Of The Year- Rachel Alexandra had the best year. The cumulative sum of her campaign outweighs any one particular performance from her rival Zenyatta. One most consider the whole and not just the emotional reaction from one particular amazing performance. It is also right to reward the horse with the long and brilliant campaign rather than the horse that took it easy all year and pulled off one extraordinary win late in the year.

Race Of The Year- Zenyatta's amazing win the Breeders' Cup Classic. In a race she had every right to lose, Zenyatta proved the naysayers wrong and overcame every adversity. With the crowd behind her she obliged with a stirring win. Her performance energized the crowd and minted many new racing fans. An unforgettable performance in the biggest race of the year.

Track Of The Year- Tampa Bay Downs; this facility that was once squarely in the backwater of racing has surpassed Gulfstream in many ways as the best place to enjoy horseracing in Florida. Not only has this facility improved the local bloodstock but they have some of the largest fields in the game. The best part for the horseplayers was that management had the foresight to lower takeout this year.

Horseracing Blogger Of The Year- Brooklyn Backstretch is a blogger that is not just Solo Scriptura; she talks the talk and walks the walk. When it comes to writing about the game her style and choice of topics brings class to the blogopshere. However what separates her from the pack is her work at the Belmont Child Care Association.

Bet Of The Year- Spy In The Sky Aqueduct race 7 05NOV; this grade one winner was 10-1 in a N1X flat race going 11 furlongs. This horse held the dual class/distance edge. This horse should have been a heavy favorite in this race yet he was 15-1 on the morning line. It is so rare to find this kind of value when betting on horseraces. He was the only horse that figured to get the distance and he had that class edge. His edges on paper translated well to the turf; he won with ease. A fair price would have been 2-1; at 10-1 he was the bet of the year.