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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Odds and Ends

 - Maleeh ($13.40) won the Caposella at Aqueduct on Saturday as he ran by the 3-4 favorite Clawback in his first try against winners and his second career start.  Why was this his first start since Jan 6?  He's “a little fragile.”  Join the club.  Maybe we'll see him for the King's Bishop.  Maleeh is by Indian Charlie out of the two-time Princess Rooney Stakes (at six furlongs) winner Gold Mover, by Gold Fever, also a sprint stakes winner.  So he's a sprinter; a fragile sprinter.  Not so trendy, but I'd take him.

 - Hear the Ghost rallied to win the San Felipe at Santa Anita, but he doesn't get the "ran by" description as Maleeh did; let's say he "got past" the leaders (and two favorites) when they just stopped running inside the 1/16th pole, exhausted as they were from the overheated early pace.  But credit where due; he won.  Can't criticize a horse for that; race set up for him but he did what had to do, and refused to let Tiz A Minister, who hardly ran early at all, get by him, in his first try beyond six furlongs.  Hear the Ghost is by Ghostzapper out of a Coronado's Quest mare, and a half-brother to Mani Bhavan, who won two of the 2yo fillies stakes at Saratoga in 2008 and then disappeared shortly thereafter.  This is the distaff family of the champion sprinter Speightstown - the 2nd dam of that one is the 3rd dam of Hear the Ghost.  But Alan Porter wrote of ample distance influence deep in the distaff family when writing about Mani Bhavan here.

 - So would I be going out on a limb by saying that Verrazano won't hit the board in the Derby?  If I said he'll finish behind Hear the Ghost (should both make it there.)  If I said he wouldn't make the Derby at all?

 - Good piece in Harness Racing Update by Dean Towers, who writes that "quality," in the sense of faster horses running for bigger purses, is overrated.  For one thing, there simply aren't enough good horses to support some 80,000 flat and harness races a year. 

Quality in harness racing, or racing in general, should be looked at in only one fashion, and that is how the end user consumes the product. A bettor bets when he or she has a good bet. A good bet comes in various forms, of course, but in general it's formed from three things: Field size, takeout and pool size.
  Well, Dean is one of those takeout guys.  I might substitute 'competitive races.'  But we're generally in agreement.  I also noted where he wrote that "probably three quarters of [races] are unbettable."  I dunno, I follow him on Twitter and he doesn't seem all that picky to me.

He also mentions that the Meadowlands is rockin and rollin with highly competitive races thanks in large part to the letter-number classification system that the track adapted this year; and I've heard that from other people as well.   This is the same system that New York Fan Advisory Council said that bettors did not want at Yonkers.  "Their handle has trended upwards and might end the year up 20% or more."

 - Fort Larned ran really fast on Saturday.  True, he didn't have a jockey and was therefore being spotted around 120 pounds by the rest of the field.  But Trakus timed him, his splits are here, and they include a furlong, following the half mile mark, of 4.98 seconds. 
  After countless hours reviewing data, we cannot recall a time where we saw a horse run a sub five-second sixteenth, as Fort Larned did just before hitting the far turn. Then again, no one had ever seen a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner run rider-less and care free, 25 lengths in front of an accomplished group. [America's Best Racing's Gambling blog]
  Glad that everyone involved seems OK and we can chuckle about it now, though those who bet him at 4-5 are probably still not amused.


wmcorrow said...

What's 'quality' anyway? Apparently quality refers to one horse having the ability to run faster than another. How can a bettor recognize quality when he is unable to determine how fast a horse is running without referring to an electronic timer, his eyes unable to determine how fast a race is being run?

What's a good bet? One that encompasses field size, talent, and pool size? Methinks a good bet is one where the bettor believes a horse can win a race, and does, regardless of field size, talent, or pool size - all winning tickets are good bets, all losing tickets bad bets.

Anonymous said...

Hey A,

Competitiveness (ie an interesting betting race) is what was alluded later in the article. I think we all agree on that.

The Meadowlands has done an amazing job. It's a real change from many other racetracks. For example, they got 11 entries for a little stakes race last month. Instead of splitting it up into two fields of 5 and 6, with two probable hot faves in each, they simply scrapped the race. They did not want to put on a race, for the sake of putting on a race.

Peter in the race office does this daily: Race by race things are looked at to ensure they're putting out a proper betting product.

I believe all tracks have to work that way. It keeps customers and bettors engaged. That helps the sport.



Figless said...

I've often heard horseplayers argue they made a good bet when they play against a favorite with a pricey horse and lose a close decision. If you made a good bet you should have cashed a ticket in that circumstance, at a minimum.

I love your comment regarding Verazano, the raves about this horse are unwarranted. He is lightly raced, obviously talented, but untested colt with some promise, but until he beats a decent horse he should not be on anyone's top ten contender list.

Every year some horse gets the pundits excited after running a big fig in Tampa, every year that horse does nothing subsequently.

V is a bet against wherever he shows up next.

Figless said...

I believe a classification system similar to Meadowlands would work in the winter at the Big A, in place of claimers.

All they need to do is advertise it in advance, with the high purse structure, and the horsemen will come, and as a side benefit a lot of the cheaters will depart.

Charlie Davis said...

wmcorrow said: all winning tickets are good bets, all losing tickets bad bets.

I completely disagree. This is one of those fallacies that many gamblers believe, and it leads them to go broke. I've never met a single professional player that felt that way.

If you sit down at a slot machine, push the button, and win, was that a good bet? It certainly wasn't because you're guaranteed to lose. Sure, you had a positive ROI, but you're playing a negative expectation game.

If you bet a 3/5 horse that should be 2-1, and it wins, was it a good bet? Definitely not, because you're going to go broke playing those horses. Positive ROI on the bet, but it was a bad bet because you got fair odds.

On the other side, if you bet a 3/5 horse that should be 1/9, and it loses, it was a good bet. You're going to make money over time.

The big question is what odds "should" the horse be. And that's why thousands of handicappers end up on different horses.

Figless said...

But who determines what odds a horse "should be"? I believe its the general public, with fair odds in any race(with a significant pool) being the final odds, end of story.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, only winning is relevant.

You and I can look at the same even money horse, with me believing it should be 3-5 and you believing fair odds are 8-5. If I play and it wins it was a great wager, you play another horse and lose.

Who made the better bet? I did.

But so many times I hear the loser claiming they made a good bet.

Our overall handicapping skill will determine who, if either of us, wins in the long run, and if I win on this horse on this particular day I was better than you. Your opinion of the horses fair odds is irrelevant to my wager.

When wagering seriously, I rarely if ever shop for odds, because if I am letting the odds board determine my wager it means I don't have a strong opinion. I either like a horse or I don't.

As a non-professional gambler there are races I play casually where I don't have a strong opinion, if I am at the track with friends just having a good time for instance, and in those races I will shop a bit for odds, but that means I don't have a strong opinion and a disciplined player should pass the race in that situation. I take a shot, but because I bet on a 15-1 shot that I thought could be 5-1 and it runs last doesn't make it a good bet.