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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Jet Lagged

Back from beautiful (if occasionally actually rainy!) southern California; still recovering from not being able to sleep on the redeye home. Don't know how you people sleep on planes without serious medication.

Sorry for not posting while we were there, but I tried something really novel instead: handicapping. Instead of coming back from the track and writing a post about how and why I lost, I spent the time doing some serious work on the next day's card. I've often pondered out loud here about the question of what is better - preparing in advance, which leads to greater insight and knowledge, but which, for me, can discourage spontaneity and concentration, and sometimes clutter the mind with too much information; or picking up the Form at the track and going with first impressions based on the time-honored basics of class, speed, and form (plus the tote board). When I'm away, I usually lean towards the latter, if nothing else due to time constraints. But this time, I made the time and did the work; probably the most I've done in advance in quite some time.

It didn't really help the bottom line, in this case. But I felt pretty good, and had several really live horses who ran quite well at very fair prices. I also achieved some small moral triumphs along the way - correctly opposed some favorites, had three out of the late pick four on Sunday, and occasionally sounded smart on my Twitter feed, stuff like that. And an actual profitable day on Monday with an actual live winner with City to City - $13.60 and a BIG $46 pick three in the Palomar Handicap. Even if they don't necessarily pay off, I figure that if your selections are live and the prices are fair, you're doing a lot right and will be rewarded (at some point) in the long run. One needs to take heart, not get discouraged, and forge on, knowing (hoping?) that the racing gods will take care of you for your strong efforts at some point in time.

Have to say also that I really, really enjoyed the racing at Del Mar. You can surely quibble about the quality of the racing compared to Saratoga. But the fields were full and the races were deep, competitive, and every bit as challenging and stimulating as those back east. And I just love the racetrack. A different scene from the backyard lounging at Saratoga to be sure. But the paddock area, which more than at any other track I know, serves as its pulse and center of its universe, is surely one of the most vibrant racetrack spots I know.

So, with all that in mind (and with a warning that you're not off the hook as far as seeing photos from the trip is concerned.....need something to amuse myself with during tonight's Republican debate) (as if that won't be amusing enough in itself), one more chance to get even on closing day. In the 7th, yet another superb betting affair, Anniversary Girl (7-2) makes her third start of the form cycle for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. This three-year old daughter of the Irish stallion Aragorn (Giant's Causeway) returned from a layoff in good spirits and improved form, with two sparkling efforts over this course thus far, including a seemless move up to the optional claiming allowance ranks in her last. Well, almost seemless - her late rally just failed to overtake Butterfly Beach, a nice looking Mike Puype filly who is three-for-three on the turf. Switches to Garrett Gomez (who rode the aforementioned City to City for this barn), and the extra sixteenth of a mile would seem to be helpful as she faces older horses here.

Ruffled Feathers (5-1) has been racing evenly in state-bred stakes company which I believe is uniformly stronger than this level (based on examining the past performances of her opponents thanks to the magic of Formulator). A duplication of her winning effort, against better, over this course last summer should be enough in this spot. Will use on top of the top selection to save. Hard to Resist (3-1) returns off a layoff after a couple of even efforts in three-year old graded stakes company in the spring; not sure just how strong those races were at that point in time, so will stand against as the favorite here. Best of luck and have a great day.


Johnnie said...

If I bet this pick and lose, will you reimburse me?

alan said...

>>If I bet this pick and lose, will you reimburse me?

I'll send you a Left at the Gate t-shirt. If i ever make them.

If you fade my picks and you win, will you reimburse me? :-)

Do I need to include a disclaimer? :-/

Johnnie said...

I've already lost plenty with some of your previous selections, so I'll be withholding any type of reimbursement until your handicapping improves.

Thanks for the t-shirt.

alan said...

>>I've already lost plenty with some of your previous selections...

Not as much as me. Sorry...

wmcorrow said...

You have broached a subject that all 'cappers have anguished over for decades: to study the past performances all night, or to wait until post time to peruse the past performances and make a selection(s).

Based on decades of exposure, experience, and losses, the advantage is with the guy/gal who gets a good night's sleep.

How many times have we all gone to a racetrack with a friend, who doesn't know which end the horse eats, yet manages to turn a profit for the day? While selections made at midnight run up the track!

I, a bettor for many years, am no better at picking winners today than fifty years ago. How can that be? After learning the basics, there are simply to many variables remaining to be totally confident of a selection. Not like craps, black jack, ect. where the parameters are well established, a horses that looks like a winner on paper usually does not run the same on the track. The variables get in the way: stumbled, blocked, taken wide, poor ride, rushed, et cetera.

So why do I still gamble on the ponies? Cause, when I do have a horse in contention turning for home, the enjoyment surpasses all other forms of gambling, and the losses incurred to date are forgotten.


As Thoroughbred racing declines, it is a damn shame that the people sitting comatose in front of slot machines are totally unaware of what exists next door in the racebook; a place where for 50 cent to a buck huge scores can be made. So much for promoting Thoroughbred racing as a gambling entity. Instead we get an occasional stake race in the news that few identify with as a gambling source, an alternative to casino gambling.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell would ever listen to Alan anyhow when it comes to picking races? It's your fault, Johnnie. Quit scapegoating, brau. -jp

Johnnie said...

I guess I just figured Alan knew what he was talking about jp.

El Angelo said...

To me, the best way to handicap is to look at the form beforehand and talk about it with friends before the day's races start. Makes you articulate why exactly you like a horse.

Anonymous said...

Talking with friends can often lead to confusion.

Horseracing is like any other endeavor. It takes hard work or inside information. The best horseplayers devote dozens of hours a week analyzing the crap out of stats and looking for an angle that they can apply to a race. For someone like me who has a myriad of other interests and only plays on big race days, this is pointless, and thus I accept that I'm going to have my occasional good scores, but probably come out on the losing end, due to the take-out and my lack of self-discipline.

A friend of mine put it nicely -- you need to approach the race like a scientist, not a detective. A detective analyzes the pps and treats it like a murder mystery and tries to uncover what might happen. A scientist comes into a race with a preconcieved set of notions. He/She is looking for something specific. Either he has been following a single horse closely, the way Discreet Picks seems to operate, or he believe that horses who run fast third quarters and then fade in routes offer great betting value in their subsequent start. Whatever the science he is using, he has shown a longterm profit with this angle and understands what constitutes value. There's usually no Rosetta Stone. You have to work your ass off. The vig is tough to overcome over the long haul. And yes, you'll have a dumb schmuck who doesn't know what he is doing win at the races from time to time. This is called random luck. It happens. -jp

Figless said...

I've performed a retro analysis of my plays a few times in my long undistinguished career in handicapping and came to the conclusion that historically I perform best on straight win bets.

Unfortunately as a mostly weekend warrior this just does not provide the thrill I want during one of my all too infrequent visits to the track.

I do believe one can gain a competitive advantage against the takeout by playing DD's which pay more than the parlay in 95% of the cases thereby reducing takeout to almost zero in some cases. And this is much easier to do nowadays with rolling DD's.

While the same can be achieved in multi race wagers of three races or more, I find the random result more likely to jump up and bite you when you get greedy and try to win more than two races in a row.

So if I were to quit my job and go pro I would make only win and DD wages, but I totally lack the discipline to actually stick to this plan so I will keep the day job.