Thursday, March 11, 2010

Snow and Rain

The last few weeks can be characterized as – Snow and Rain and no contests. Snow cancelled the east coast racing for a week while rain and track problems halted Santa Anita. Laurel Park held on-site contest, but other than that one, no contests at the tracks or online.

However, all that changes this Saturday as the Beat the Host finals are held and the first NHC Online event begins. The tourney seasons kicks off in force which coincides with both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta taking back to the track.

I finished “Last Mountain Dancer” which was a two thumbs up read, and the author says a good ending is true to the story. A great ending he goes on to add stays true to the story but surprises the reader and a perfect ending surprises even the author. As the NHC seasons begins to build as spring arrives, I wonder what surprises will unfold as this journal rolls into December.

A nice blend of prediction and surprise seem to be at the heart of the best art. ~ Wendy Carlos

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fountain of Youth

The name says it all; it is a big day for young horses looking to prove themselves on the 3 year old trail. Derby fever kicks in today.

There is a barn down the road, a very long barn, and today I couldn’t hit it broadside. Below is the summary for 3 events: The NHC Fountain of Youth, Xpressbet’s Beat the Host, and Twinspires Streak to the Derby.

FOY: These picks have to be entered 5 minutes prior to post, so odds can get whipsawed in this competition.

Race 1: The heavy favorite jumps in the air at the start and is left at the gate, so a good price will hit in the first race. Storm on the Track trots around in a consistent 5th. Sweetlandofliberty runs well and closes from 6th to win easily at 11-1.

Race 2: First timer Station Hill by A.P. Indy is sent off at 6-1 but doesn’t show much lugging home in 5th. Streaker at 5-1 wins easily by two lengths.

Race 3: Diamond Dina is a 4-1, but goes off at 7/2 and catches the 6/5 favorite 34 strides before the wire. It’s not a big score, but I’m on the board now.

Race 4: At even money, I have to move off Star Player. Instead I’ll take a shot on a class dropper, shipper, 48 days off runner, so lots could go wrong, but 8-1 looks better than 1-1. Thisonesforruthie breaks well and vies for the lead but a 22 opening quarter is too too much and he fades to 5th. Star player can’t get up in time and loses to another 10-1 shot hitting the board.

Race 5: Dreaming Blue – nice name for a KY bred – is never a factor as 20-1 Westshore wins by a nose over the 2-1 favorite. This race sets the bar, so in 5 races a 10-1, 11-1, and 20-1 have won making it very tough to catch anyone having two of these winners.

Race 6: Roman Racecar is another non-factor. Unbridled Fury opens at 4-1 of a 10-1 morning line, goes off at 9/2 and wins handily.

Race 7: Needing a price, I look for a pick to beat 1-1 D’funnybone. Ibboyee runs well and places, but D’funnybone is not going to be beat in the Hutchison.

Race 8: Star plus continues the day’s theme which is – non-factor – and finishes well back of the winner and favorite 4-5 Courageous Cat.

Race 9: Aikenite runs a game 3rd, ½ length behind Jackson’s Bend in 2nd, but nobody had an answer for Eskendereya today as he romps home by 8 lengths.

Race 10: Romacaca stalked and faded to 4th as Wasted Tears goes wire to wire at 9-1.

Beat the Host:
Three winners, but not enough to win the contest. One week left until the finals.

Streak to the Derby:
There are 3 races today in this contest: Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth, Fairground’s Risen Star, and Golden Gate’s El Camino Real. Since this only requires having a $10 bet on the winner, multiple picks are allowed, so until I can see how many streaks may be live, I’ll start out fairly conservative.

Fountain of Youth: Aikenite, Jackson Bend
Risen Star: Discreetly Mine, Worldly
El Camino: Thomas Baines, Fog Alert, Ranger Heartley, Connemara

Wins in the Risen Star (Discreetly Mine) and El Camino (Connemara) gives a streak of 2 going into next week.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Chase Begins

The NHC tour begins in earnest this weekend with the Fountain of Youth tournament. This is the first qualifying tourney of the year awarding 3 spots to the 2011 finals, excepting Red Rocks post Final tournament, and after a slow January and February almost every week through September will have a qualifying tournament. The Beat the Host has been an amusing pre-qualifying tournament over the past six weeks, but now real tour points are in play.

Fountain of Youth Preview:
My early selections, but of course they will probably change based on odds and standing in the tournament.

Race #1: Gulfstream Park No. 1:
(Post No. 9) Storm On the Track

Race #2: Gulfstream Park No. 2:
(Post No. 2) Station Hill

Race #3: Gulfstream Park No. 3:
(Post No. 4) Diamond Dina

Race #4: Gulfstream Park No. 4:
(Post No. 10) Star Player

Race #5: Gulfstream Park No. 5:
(Post No. 10) Dreaming Blue

Race #6: Gulfstream Park No. 6:
(Post No. 10) Roman Racecar

Race #7: Gulfstream Park No. 8:
(Post No. 1) Radiohead (GB)

Race #8: Gulfstream Park No. 9:
(Post No. 9) Star Plus (ARG)

Race #9: Gulfstream Park No. 10:
(Post No. 1) Aikenite

Race #10: Gulfstream Park No. 11:
(Post No. 4) Romacaca

Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beat The Host #7

GP #4 [$45k Mdn 4&up 7f]
Siegel Chooses a 2-1 fav Strasbourg who has made only a single start, but it was a strong run while I choose a horse Crack thepat making its 4th start, improving each time, but who has never gone more than 6f and has tried to lead but tired every time. Thus, the stretch to 7f doesn’t look promising, but the 21-1 odds do. Just as advertised, Crack goes to the front, but falters to 4th, while Strasbourg rallies to win by a head at 3/2. A small payout, so still an open contest.

GP #6 [$45k Mdn 3yo 6f]
JS has chalk again with 1-1 Royal Straight who chased Savemyspotimbeting when he posted that eyepopping time. It was his only start and uses Lasix. I go with 1st timer #10 Dark Cove from Medaglia D’oro and his 25-1 payoff. BTW, Eddie Kenneally is on the pre-race show and tabs 1st timer #11 Just Hold On at 6-1 – makes me wonder, but I stay with the #10. Tiznow’s 1st timer Tiz the One wins easily at 7-2. Dark Cove started last and barely improved, while Royal Straight struggles to 3rd, the #11 is 4th.

SA #2 [$20K C 4yo 7f]
JS stays true with favorites with 2-1 Boyoboy. I’ll take Cut the check at 4-1. It’s a 20k claimer at SA, so nobody in this field is too impressive. Boyoboy wires the field to win by 4 lengths as cut the check tries to challenge him for the lead throughout, but can’t handle the pace and floats back to 4th.

GP #7 [$125k F&M 4&up 6.5f] Hurricanne Berrtie Stakes
No fav this time for JS as he takes #9 Turn Away. I take Way with Words returning from 105 days off. She does most all of her running at Monmouth, but twice she’s tackled Aqueduct and done well – of course it is the 15-1 ML that also makes her attractive. Kays and Jays runs well to win at 5/2. Halfway through no big odds have hit, so the window is cracked but closing. It’ll take a good score in the next two races to have any chance to win.

SA #3 [$55K 3yo T 6.5f] Baffle Stakes
JS has 4/5 favorite Macias. With a small 7 horse field, the odds are low, but I’ll go with 5-1 Ace of Aces, an Irish horse. Macias shows his strength to win by 2 lengths over Aces

GP #8 [$48K Alw F&M T 4&up 8f]
Due to the weather, the turf race is moved to dirt. This 12 horse race with 4 also eligible is down to 4 horses. With no scores yet, and only 2 races to go, I shut it down as I know there is no way to win this today.

SA #4 [$250K 3yo F 8f] G1 Las Virgenes Stakes
No Selection

SA #5 [$62K C 3yo F T 6.5f]
No Selection

The qualifiers in this contest are winding down. In a couple of weeks it will be a one day battle in the finals.

“Every person has the power to make others happy. Some do it simply by entering a room -- others by leaving the room.” ~ William Ward

Friday, February 12, 2010

Future Wagers

KY Derby future wagers are open this weekend, so I promptly plopped down on Aikenite at 99-1. Of course that may change as this weekend’s races unfold, but at 50-1 or better I’ll stay on him. After the Saturday and Sunday prep races, I’ll revisit the pool and maybe get action on a couple other runners – I’ll be watching Pounced, but right now he is lumped with the ‘Other Contenders’ at approximately 3-1, so no value there. Here are the preview lines: KY Derby Futures.

For those interested in dosage and double qualifiers there is this little tidbit:
Dual Qualifiers for 2010
Horse Exp. Weight Dosage
Lookin At Lucky 126 3.33
Vale of York (IRE) 126 2.08
Noble's Promise 124 3.36
Buddy's Saint 123 1.67
Pounced 122 1.07
Super Saver 122 3.00
Aikenite 119 2.60
D' Funnybone 119 1.77
Bridgetown 118 3.00
Make Music for Me 118 3.31
Awesome Act 117 3.57
Dublin 117 2.33
Homeboykris 117 3.67
Interactif 117 2.83
Discreetly Mine 116 2.76
The Program 116 3.00
Non-qualifiers for 2010
Horse Exp. Weight Dosage
Piscitelli 120 4.14
Jackson Bend 116 6.20

Qualifying fillies for 2010
Horse Exp. Weight Dosage
She Be Wild 123 2.69
Hot Dixie Chick 121 3.00
Beautician 120 2.20
Negligee 120 2.08
Tapitsfly 119 2.33
Biofuel 118 1.86
Mi Sueno 118 3.00
Sassy Image 118 2.25
Always a Princess 116 1.67
Awesome Maria 116 2.23
Devil May Care 116 2.53
Rose Catherine 116 4.00
Tizahit 114 1.75
Ailalea 113 3.27

Beat the Host continues this weekend and here are Jeff Siegel’s Picks:
Saturday, February 13th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick
Gulfstream Park 4 2:42pm #5 Strasbourg
Gulfstream Park 6 3:42pm #5 Royal Straight
Santa Anita 2 4:00pm #2 Boyoboy
Gulfstream Park 7 4:12pm #9 Turn Away
Santa Anita 3 4:31pm #6 Macias
Gulfstream Park 8 4:43pm #3 Americas Dreaming
Santa Anita 4 5:03pm #1 Blind Luck
Santa Anita 5 5:34pm #5 No More Travellin'

My contests this weekend will be:
XpressBet’s Beat the Host
Twinspires’ $25k Streak to the Derby
Santa Anita’s Winvivor and Showvivor

On a final note, I registered today for the NHC Fountain of Youth Tourney 2/20, and got two entries for the 3/13 online event which is limited to 200 entries while qualifying 8.

I don't think a reporter should give advice or make predictions. ~ Peter Jennings

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Registration for the first NTRA run event of 2010 began yesterday for the Fountain of Youth tournament. Also opening for registration on Friday is the March 13th online tourney.

As opposed to the Fountain of Youth which is free to tour members, has unlimited contestants, and qualifies 3 for the NHC Finals, the March 13th event is limited to 200 contestants with a $400 entry fee, but qualifies 8. This is the largest qualifier early in the season and one of the best opportunities to take the pressure off and qualify early. So, I’ll be poised and hovering on Friday to grab one of the entries.

The week has been very slow as the weather has closed almost all eastern tracks, and SA and GP have had their dark days, so not many racing opportunities have been available early this week. I have been in Santa Anita’s ‘Winvivor’ and we are down to only 123 live entries after only two days of this free contest.

Another interesting contest which is beginning to start, but which has no affiliation with the NHC Tour, is Twinspires $25,000 Streak to the Derby. This should be a fun contest for those of us following the Derby prep racing. The contest begins February 20th and runs through the 136th Kentucky Derby, Saturday May 1st.

PRIZES: There is a $25,000 total prize pool. Each "Streak" will earn one share in that prize pool. At the completion of the contest, the prize pool ($25,000) will be divided by how many total shares were earned over the course of the contest period. Every time a player wins three consecutive races on their way to a "Streak" they will earn an entry into a drawing for two tickets to the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

HOW TO PLAY: The contest is made up of 18 consecutive Kentucky Derby prep races beginning, Feb 20th, 2010 and concludes with the Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 1st. Players earn one share in the $25,000 prize pool every time they complete a "Streak". To earn a "Streak" players are required to place four consecutive winning $10 (at least) wagers on the races in our "Streak Schedule." Players may begin a new "Streak" at any time.

Youbet also has a ROI tournament in progress, but it is winding down. I’ll have to start checking their site more often to stay abreast of their tournaments. Tomorrow will be a time to once again prepare for the Beat the Host Challenge.

The Day in Wagers: Only played 4 races today - 3 at SA and 1 at GP – and was getting soundly thumped, when Don’t Answer wired the field at 10-1 in a $25k Claimer – SA #2 Charts. With a WPS ticket, the day turned green, and to top it off Big Man Has A Sign cruised home at 1-1 in the 6th to keep the Winvivor ticket alive (129 others are alige going in to Friday).

The Day: ++
Hottie: Big Man Has A Sign 1-1 / 1st
Dream-Maker: Don’t Answer 10-1 / 1st
Heart-Breaker: none
Stable-Baker: none
Bank-Raker: Don’t Answer
Video-Taker: none

“I was planning to go into architecture. But when I arrived, architecture was filled up. Acting was right next to it, so I signed up for acting instead. [On his college registration experience]” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, February 7, 2010

They Call Me ‘Mr. Place’

Weather played havoc with the tracks this weekend. The snow canceled racing all along the eastern seaboard; thus, once again cancelling the Magna 5 before it has a chance to begin. In the West, rain shut down Santa Anita, so no ‘Winvivor,’ and the beat the host competition was shortened to the 4 races from Gulfstream.

I know I’ve been on a - picking the 2nd place horse - roll in this contest, but this weekend was ridiculous. I had the place horse in every race. This week the Host changed, and this week it is HRTV’s Jeff Siegel, here are his picks:

Saturday, February 6th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Gulfstream 5 3:06pm #4 Sea of Sea $0.00 #11 Lonesome Street $34.50
Gulfstream 6 3:35pm #1 Day of Destiny $19.00 #1 Day of Destiny $19.00
Gulfstream 7 4:04pm #4 Sleepless Knight $0.00 #10 Boots Ahead $24.50
Gulfstream 9 5:02pm #3 Court Vision $9.50 #3 Court Vision $9.50
Host's Total: $28.50

GP #5: His Sea of Seas 2-1 breaks sharply and leads to the stretch where he flattens to 4th, while I take 4-1 Beau Choix who rallies from 6th but can’t catch Lonesome Street and finishes 2nd. GP #5 Charts.

GP #6: Jeff’s 3-1 Day of Destiny proves his name, rallying past my 7-1 Chasing Ted at the wire - 2nd again.GP #6 Charts.

GP #7: His Sleepless Knight 2-1 falters while I have a hard charging Sincero 9-1 coming from 4th in the stretch and battling Boots Ahead 4-1 moving from 5th in the stretch. They are 3 lengths clear of the field, but Boots does it at the wire and it’s a place finish for the 3rd time in a row. GP #7 Charts.

GP #9: With no winners, and this being the last race, I pass on this race.

Recall, Twinspires had a Million point bonus on Saturday’s late pick 4 – races 8 thru 11 – so I continue to play. Do you wish to guess the result? Yes, I hit the 1st 3 legs with the $12, 50 cent pick 4 ticket (1+6/4/4+5+8+10/1+4+5), so the 1, 4, and 5 are live on the final race.

#11 Tottie 2-1 stalks the entire race from 2nd and easily moves past a tiring, frontrunner In My Glory. My #5 Cable rushes from 7th at the ¾ pole and stretch to pass Tottie; however, he does it a stride after the wire and I lose out on the pick 4 pool by finishing 2nd in the final leg.

The day was profitable as the Win/Place wages cashed, but there were many ‘oh so close!’

The Day: +
Hottie: Wildcat Frankie 1-1 GP #8 – 1st
Dream-Maker: Sincero 9-1
Heart-Breaker: Sincero 2nd
Stable-Baker: none
Bank-Raker: Sincero
Video-Taker: Sincero

History passes the final judgment. ~ Sidney Poiter

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NHC Calendar

The NTRA released the 2010 NHC Tour calendar including the online events. It starts slow, but April through October is filled with events from coast to coast including racetracks, online, and casinos. Entry fees range from $100 to $3,000 with $300 to $500 being most typical.

Santa Anita announced an interesting handicapping contest in February, and it places the top 3 in the NHC Finals. It is called ‘Battle of the Handicapping Stars.’  I guess if you live in Los Angeles and can't make it vas a movie star you can shoot for this star.  Anyway, it has a hefty $10,000 entry fee with $2,500 going to prize money and $7,500 as live bankroll for two days. It is limited to the first 30 people to pay the entry fee, and the player with the highest bankroll wins $85,000 plus keeps their bankroll as do all contestants.

A scan of some of the tour events shows more tournaments adopting this approach, though at much smaller entry fees. Personally, I like this format as many more strategies come into play.

On a sad note, Winslow Homer was found to have a stress fracture this week.  He ran well winning the Holy Bull at Gulfstream last week, but this will sideline him for about 3 months and end his Derby hopes.

My weekend events include:
Beat the Host
Magna Five
Santa Anita’s ‘Winvivor.’

I was a teen star. That's disgusting enough. ~ John Cusack

Monday, February 1, 2010


News from the Weekend:

Of course the big news as far as this blog is concerned was the 2010 NHC Finals.

From the DRF: “Troop only had one winner and a second-place horse on the day, but it was enough as only four competitors were able to surpass his Day 1 score. Robert Gregory, 53, of Durango, Colo., finished second with a score of $249.80 to collect $150,000. Tim Simmons, 55, of Lexington, Ky., was third at $249.20 to win $100,000 plus another $5,000 for having the top Day 2 score of $181.80. Brian Herrity, 53, of Mankato, Minn., was fourth at $240.80 to take home $40,000 as well as another $1,000 for having Saturday's third-highest score. Elaine Kowaleski, 57, of Farmingdale, N.J., was fifth with $237.80 and earned $25,000 plus $2,500 for having Saturday's second-highest score.

Even though he only scored $33.40 on Saturday, Troop still posted the third-highest winning score in NHC history under the current format - instituted after Steven Walker won NHC I with a score of $305.40 from 40 total plays. Only Steve Wolfson Jr.'s $279.60 in NHC VI and Richard Goodall's $272.30 in NHC IXwere higher than Troop's score this weekend. Troop's Day 1 score was higher than three past champions' two-day scores.

NHC finalists represent the sites where they qualified for the finals. Troop made the field at the Turfway Park tournament on Dec. 6. He finished fourth in the tournament that awarded three spots but was moved up because two of the players ahead of him had already qualified for the NHC. Troop, a member of the NHC Tour that uses qualifying tournaments throughout the year as a circuit, would have still qualified as one of the tour's top point-earners. Three of the top five finishers qualified in online tourneys: Gregory (, Simmons ( and Kowaleski ( Herrity earned his seat by finishing second in the $10,000 buy-in Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita on Nov. 6-7.

In all, the top 30 finishers were paid out of a purse of $947,850.”

As for this blog, after testing various formats throughout January, I’ve settled on a little closing summary format. Some combination of one or all will summarize the day.

The Day: (From 1 to 3 plusses or minuses)
Hottie: (Favorite play of the day)
Dream-Maker: (Longshot/highest odds play of the day)
Heart-Breaker: (The play that didn’t score)
Stable-Baker: (Horses that go into Stable Watch as they just need a bit more time)
Bank-Raker: (Play that cashed the best)
Video-Taker: (Replay worth watching)

The Bon Vivant took a little spill today. We are still thawing out from the weekend of snow and ice, and the ice got her. Nasty little gash/lump on the back of the head with a couple of stitches. Maybe I’ll get her a jockey cap to wear around, that should draw some stares. Maybe I’ll get me a riding crop.

Slip Sliding Away, You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away. ~ Paul Simon

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Much Ado About … Something

First, a big snow storm hit the East Coast cancelling Laurel and Aqueduct; thus the first Magna five of the season – Magna’s bad 2009 is carrying over into 2010. These cancellations also played havoc with the 2010 NHC Championship, but more on that later.

Today started like last week, just more of the same ol’ 2nd place.

JW’s pick Angel Cove 3-1 broke smartly, but faded as my pick 10-1 Pretty B made her move to power past Angel Cover. The only problem was 80-1 Dreamed to Dream made her move first and beat Pretty B to the wire. Yes, 2nd place.

Next was Santa Anita’s first race and Jon had Kazroad at 2-1 while my favorite Yodelady O was 7/2. Yodelady stalked, drew away, and was run down by a head by a perfectly timed run from Carnival Queen at 7/2. Uh huh, 2nd again.

The 3rd of 8 races on the Beat the Host card was SA’s #2, and Jon White picking on his home turf took Tamarak Smarty at 6/5 while I felt good with closer Renegade Storm 6-1. I was feeling really good as Renegade was hunting down Tamarak with every bounding stride down the lane; alas, Tamarak was tough and won by ½ length. This is oh so familiar, 3 starts and 3 seconds while Jon While has scored first on a 6/5 favorite.

Bingo Baby – It happens! Next up is the 6th at Gulfstream. Jon takes 2-1 Gothics Peak while I take the third choice of the betting public – First Dude. It is a maiden race, First Dude has two strong starts and Dale Romans is shipping him in from Kentucky after 63 days off – hmm shipping in for a $45K maiden – this horse must be fit and the post parade proves it, he looks ready to fire and does, cruising to a 3 length victory at 3-1.

Here's the action:

GP Race 6 Chart

It is done. I immediately cover JW’s picks in the four remaining races; thus guaranteeing a place in the BTH finals. It takes 5 weeks, sadly, but I now find myself in the strange position of cheering for JW’s remaining picks as it’s a live bankroll tourney.

Also of note, this is the hottest day I’ve ever had wagering – even winning by accident in one race. As well as the BTH contest, I was playing the Sunshine Millions day, and after those 2nds in the first three races, I posted 7 straight wins. That’s 7 wins and 3 places in 10 races with full 8 to 12 horse fields. I’ve never been close to doing that before.

As I said my sixth win was accidental as I was checking BTH results and played the 5 horse in the wrong race at SA. I was skipping the current SA race and playing the following race, but forgot to change the race number and sure enough the #5 wins at 4-1. Now That’s Hot, to borrow a phrase.

Here are the results:
Saturday, January 30th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Gulfstream Park 3 2:03pm #3 Angel's Cove $0.00 #6 DREAMED TO DREAM $105.00
Santa Anita 1 2:30pm #2 Kazroad $0.00 #1 CARNIVAL QUEEN $29.00
Santa Anita 2 3:00pm #5 Tamarack Smarty $11.50 #5 TAMARACK SMARTY $11.50
Gulfstream Park 6 3:25pm #7 Gothics Peak $0.00 #6 FIRST DUDE $18.50
Santa Anita 4 4:10pm #2 Canonize $0.00 #3 GATO GO WIN $42.00
Gulfstream Park 8 4:33pm #6 This Ones for Phil $10.00 #6 THIS ONES FOR PHIL $10.00
Santa Anita 5 4:43pm #11 Locksley Hall $0.00 #4 KURO $25.50
Gulfstream Park 10 5:43pm #8 Soldier's Dancer $0.00 #11 JET PROPULSION $20.00
Host's Total: $21.50

BTH Results and Standings

The next three Saturdays, I’ll be back looking for high odd scores, but for now, just happy to have a shot in the finals ……. Along with about 600 others.

“You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” ~ Charlie Parker.