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.

Friday, January 29, 2010

1 of 12

The first month of the year is coming to a close this weekend and there a few events worth noting and playing on Saturday. Magna Five resumes Saturday, in 2010 the Magna 5 returns as a $1 minimum Pick Five wager on five races at selected tracks from coast-to-coast. Correctly pick all five winners to win the lion's share of the total pool. If nobody picks all five winners, a portion of the pool will carry over to the following Saturday's pool.

Magna 5 races begin at Laurel Park in Maryland and continue at major tracks around the country; tracks like Gulfstream Park in Florida, Santa Anita Park in Southern California and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California. The goal in a Pick Five is to select five consecutive winners from five specific races. It’s challenging, but the healthy payoffs are worth it.

Twinspires has a 1,000,000 point bonus on Saturday night’s Sam Houston Park Pick 3.

And of course, the Beat the Host challenge from Xpressbet continues. Again the week, my early strategy will be to beat Jon White to the first score, and then cover his plays. Sounds easy enough, we’ll see. Here are his early picks:

Saturday, January 30th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick
Gulfstream Park 3 2:03pm #3 Angel's Cove
Santa Anita 1 2:30pm #2 Kazroad
Santa Anita 2 3:00pm #5 Tamarack Smarty
Gulfstream Park 6 3:25pm #7 Gothics Peak
Santa Anita 4 4:10pm #2 Canonize
Gulfstream Park 8 4:33pm #6 This Ones for Phil
Santa Anita 5 4:43pm Locksley Hall
Gulfstream Park 10 5:43pm #8 Soldier's Dancer

“Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. “ ~ R.W. Emerson

Thursday, January 28, 2010

All Dressed up but No Place to Go

The 2010 DRF Championship begins tomorrow and I find myself without an invitation. Of course that is hardly surprising since I didn’t try to qualify – except for 2 free online contests – in 2009. This year Twinspires tv and Jill Byrne will cover the action. It will be interesting to see how they try to cover an event like this.

As January winds down there is still relatively little action occurring. March will see it heating up, but here are a few of the events worth watching/playing over the next couple of weeks:
1) Beat the Host continues thru February
2) Santa Anita and Gulfstream combine to host the ‘Sunshine Millions’ this weekend
3) Santa Anita’s ‘Winvivor’ begins again on Feb. 6
4) Twinspires will carry over their 1,000,000 point bonus to Louisiana Derby Preview Day on Feb. 20 as no one hit the $100,000 guaranteed Pick 4 last Saturday

Played a little Gulfstream and Santa Anita today making a little scratch. Have yet to uncork the wad. What was interesting was Joe K. was making a couple guest appearances at GP today and nailed 3 of 3 winners including two cold exacts. He looked like a genius.

Finished reading ‘Not by a Longshot’ which is an interesting book recalling a year at Suffolk Downs in Boston. First,it was enlightening reading all the work, time, and cajoling it took to assemble a full card and field for a big special day, like Suffolk’s Million Dollar Mass Cap Day. Likewise, it was fascinating seeing how fast it could all crumble in a couple of years. It puts this weekend’s Sunshine Millions in perspective as well as the work required to keep a mid-level track operating.

“A dead atheist is someone who’s all dressed up with no place to go.” ~ James Duffecy

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Buffalo Bills

NFL Championships are being played today and I think back to the Buffalo Bills and all those runner-up finishes, or first loser. Yesterday was week four of the beat the host challenge and I never implemented my get ahead early and cover strategy. After reviewing the 8 race card and Jon White’s picks, I was ready to shoot for prices.

The highlight of the card was Gulfstream’s Holy Bull race for KY Derby contenders. Summarized, Jon White had one winner with most of his picks never challenging or finishing in the money. Me: one winner too, and four seconds in four weeks to Jon White; thus the Buffalo Bills reference. Nosed, closed, and necked out race after race, the profit was positive for the day on the Win/Place wagers, alas his one win was more than mine – and wins are the only barometer in this contest - so I’ve still yet to beat the host.

One Win and three Places in the 8 race card. However; again, by my unofficial count, approximately 500 have now beaten the host, but by my very official count, I am not one of them.

GP #3: His 2-1 Gift Coupon finishes 3rd while my 13-1 Frolic on Home staggers in 10th. I reach for a bomb in a wide open 12 field race and come up very empty.

FG #5: JW’s Harbin 20-1 is no threat as my 13-1 Brickyard Helen gets passed in the last strides and gets 2nd. So close to the early score to break Jon While, but still searching.

GP #6 His Paizano hits off the layoff at 3-1 while my River North finishes a game 4th at 11-1. He is now in the lead.

FG #6: His Tybalt at 4-1 never threatens as my El Caballo crushes by 3+ lengths but at 2-1 he is still in the lead. This race started 7 minutes after the 6th at Gulfstream, so with him hitting minutes earlier my favorite doesn’t get me the early lead my strategy required. Halfway through the 8 race card and still chasing.

GP #7: His Bushwhacked at 4-1 posts 3rd as my 1st time starter 8-1 Miner’s Reserve never threatens in 4th.

FG #8: His 1-1 Quiet Temper favorite is no factor as my best bet of the day 7/2 Bella Medaglia gets collared at the end of a tough stretch run by a free roaming 23-1 Jody Slew. At 23-1 this race will determine today’s contest winner, but at the moment it pancakes my attempt to overtake the host. That loss was deflating.

GP #9: JW’s William’s Kitten 12-1 gets place as I try a fresh and blinkered 16-1 Thank U Philippe in 4th. I should have been off this high odds horse with little chance of upset, bad strategy. However, even if I chose another it would not have been the winner Winslow Homer.

FG #9: The last stand and I stay with my original pick the 4-1 Coy Cat. JW’s pick, even money Trusty Temper never gets closer than ninth while Coy Cat, just like Bella the previous race, gets passed at the wire by 5-1 Annihilation.

So appropriate a name, Annihilation, to encapsulate my experience during the 1st month of the Beat the Host contest.

The Official Results are below:

Saturday, January 23rd
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Gulfstream Park 3 2:10pm #6 Gift Coupon $0.00 #7 Unsung Song $24.00
Fair Grounds 5 3:13pm #6 Harbin $0.00 #2 Laheen $14.50
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #5 Paizano $20.50 #5 Paizano $20.50
Fair Grounds 6 3:43pm #2 Tybalt $0.00 #4 El Caballo $13.50
Gulfstream Park 7 4:07pm #6 Bushwacked $0.00 #4 Mine N Gems $16.00
Fair Grounds 8 4:43pm #10 Quiet Temper $0.00 #3 Jody Slew $105.00
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #5 William's Kitten $0.00 #6 Winslow Homer $24.00
Fair Grounds 9 5:13pm #7 Trusty Temper $0.00 #5 Annihilation $32.00
Host's Total: $20.50

Prize Winners for Saturday, January 23rd
Place Name Mutuel Total Prize
1st Robert Wheeler $165.50 $1000
2nd Daniel Witucky $157.00 $500

Second is the First loser. ~ Many

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A New Strategy

Have been traveling for a few days so no playing.

It has now come to this. Week 4 of beat the host is upon us, and I am adopting a defensive strategy. The first three weeks I played to win the weekly contest, now I simply want to ensure qualifying for the final round, so this week’s strategy is just beat the host. I’ll look to get ahead of Jon White, the host, event by taking low odd wagers, and then once ahead simply covering his remaining picks, much like a tacking duel in yachting.

His picks this week are:

Saturday, January 23rd
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick
Gulfstream Park 3 2:10pm #6 Gift Coupon
Fair Grounds 5 3:13pm #6 Harbin
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #5 Paizano
Fair Grounds 6 3:43pm #2 Tybalt
Gulfstream Park 7 4:07pm #6 Bushwacked
Fair Grounds 8 4:43pm #10 Quiet Temper
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #5 William's Kitten
Fair Grounds 9 5:13pm #7 Trusty Temper

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eclipse Awards

No playing yesterday or the rest of the week.

I watched the Eclipse awards last night and of course the highlight was the Horse of the Year announcement. Plenty has been and will be written on that subject. I, like many fans were eagerly anticipating this event, but there were a number of items large and small which disappointed me.

I guess my disappointments could be summarized as why on the sport’s highlight day, excluding the race days, does the event not strive to present itself and members at their most professional, classy best. Iot even starts with the way the event is presented.

One, why does every event now find it necessary to pander to the gutter for little jokes & quips which does nothing to add to the show. References to Tiger Wood’s sex issues, Dominatrix and such are simply ridiculous for an event/sport trying to put its best foot forward. Second, some people just simply need a lesson in decorum, especially after winning.

Pokes and jabs from the podium do nothing but make the winner seem shallow or bitter, not magnanimous. There were a couple of examples, but I’ll just use Leparoux as an example. First, I’m glad he won and were I to have had a vote, I’d have voted for him. His reference to spending time with his family was nice and fine, but then to leverage that on stage as an excuse and as the reason he lost the money title by $11,000 on the final day was simply tacky. You just won, you made a decision not to ride so man up and let it be.

Finally, I know the event took place in Zenyatta’s backyard in Hollywood. But when Rachel won, there was one table applauding – one! I know many were disappointed, but for that body which supposedly represents the best and brightest not to give Rachel Alexandra a hearty standing ovation was simply ludicrous. I saw it on TVG, but it was apparently also carried on ESPN and the pettiness evident at that moment made me embarrassed for them and this sport.

What can I hope? That from this, in the future the Eclipse and all those blessed to be a part of the event can comport themselves with the class and dignity which would make all of us fans proud to be associated with this sport. Below is my favorite quote of the night.

“None of us would be here without these wonderful horses, a thanks to them.” ~ Jonathan Sheppard

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beat the Host #3

Event #3 and it comes down to the final race. A win and in or a loss and try again! Details below.

GP 3 [$45k Mdn 4 &up 8f]
ML 3-1 #3 Pedrolino:
Pedrolino was scratched in morning so a one time starter off layoff @ 15-1 – Blue Solitude. The favorite Causeway’s Kin wins easily @ 4-5, so no damage done.
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
5 Causeway's Kin Trujillo Elvis 124 3.80 2.60 2.10
8 Inheritor (GER) Castro Eddie 124 8.40 4.80
6 Caffe D' Oro Saez Luis 119 3.20

SA 1 [$44k Mdn 6f]
ML 12-1 #1 Paradise Found:
Paradise goes off at a juicy 17-1 and runs like it coming in last of 6. Timbavati the favorite holds on to win at 2-1, so still no damage done.
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
5 Timbavati Bejarano Rafael 121 6.00 3.20 2.20
4 Imperial Pride Talamo Joseph 121 3.60 2.60
6 Royce Gomez Garrett K. 121 2.60

GP 6 [$100k 3yo T 8f]
ML 5-1 #7 Bim Bam:
Bim Bam goes off at a playable 3-1. Runs a great race, taking the lead on the turn, gets past on the inside in the stretch, fights back for a length lead ………. Then gets beaten sat the wire by a flying Nordic Truce on the outside who got a dream trip. Heartbreaker! Nordic Truce was the favorite and paid 2-1. Three races and three favorites coming home so still no big damage, except the host Jon White has picked all three favorites and is 3-0!
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
4 Nordic Truce Leparoux Julien R. 116 6.40 3.60 3.00
7 Bim Bam Coa Eibar 120 4.00 3.00
10 Call Shot Lezcano Jose 116 6.80

Three races run and the host total is $40.50

SA 2 [$44k Mdn F T 6.5f]
ML 4-1 Miss Pleasant:
Pleasant couldn’t shake off the rust, comes in lagging. Madel wins as ½ of an entry paying 4-1. Halfway through the contest and needing 7-1 or better to catch up.
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
1A Madel Solis Alex O. 122 10.60 4.40 3.60
8 Khendum Smith Mike E. 122 5.00 3.80
2 Susan's Wildcat Gomez Garrett K. 122 4.60

SA 3 [$100k G3 8f] San Rafael
ML 8-1 #4 Lucky Rave:
Conveyance wins easily at 1-5. So far today all chalk but the 4-1 entry. With the host playing chalk all day it will now take ~ 8-1 to overtake him.
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
3 Conveyance Gomez Garrett K. 116 2.60 2.20 2.10
1 Cardiff Giant Espinoza Victor 116 5.20 3.00
2 Domination Rosario Joel 116 2.40

The host now has $47.00 with three races left, so I’ll either need an 8-1 shot, or a couple wins strung together.

GP 9 [$48k Alw 4&up 6f]
ML 6-1 #11 Todd Got Even:
Finally a winner, but as suspected yesterday, the horse goes off under its morning line of 6-1 and pays just over7/2. This still leaves me in the hole. My total is now$24.00 vs JW’s $47

# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
11 Todd Got Even Marquez, Jr. Carlos H. 120 9.60 3.80 2.80
6 Obligingly Velazquez John R. 120 2.40 2.60
4 Charlott Humor Saez Luis 115 4.80

SA 5 [$150k G2 F 7f] Santa Ynez
ML 8-1 Whispering Hush:
Make the call to go to the 2nd horse I liked here, Amen Hallelujah bouncing between 5-1 and 4-1. If it goes at 9/2 it should cover JW’s total; however, now I find myself in a bind. As often happens during the course of a race day, the probable post times have changed. This race at Santa Anita is now looking to go at approximately the same time as the last race at Gulfstream.

The dilemma is payoffs aren’t known until a few minutes after the race is over, so even with a win I won’t know whether to cover JW’s pick at GP by selecting the same horse if I overtake him in this race so he can’t jump back ahead, or if slightly trailing to jump on the heavy favorite – Pinckney Hill - at GP’s final to overtake him, or if Amen doesn’t win to pick a 5-1 or better to make up the ground.

As post time approaches I take Amen hoping it pays 9/2 or better, and if she doesn’t win I stay with Rock in Bage at 7-1 to overtake Jon White. I included the off times below.

Amen powers home by a length. As I’m waiting for the payouts at Santa Anita to post I’m watching the horses at GP’s final round the turn and wishing there had been five minutes between races. Sure enough Pinckney Hill strides confidently under the wire in 1st as the payouts show Amen paying 4-1.

This gives me a total of $45 to JW’s $47.

Off Time: 5:38 Start: 6 went. Good for all. Won driving. Track: Fast Weather: Cloudy 71o
Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
4 Amen Hallelujah Sutherland Chantal 114 8.40 4.20 3.20
2 Franny Freud Gomez Garrett K. 123 3.40 3.20
6 Switch Bejarano Rafael 114 4.20

GP 10 [$51k Alw 4&up 6f]
ML 6-1 #8 Rock in Bage:
Off Time: 5:40 Start: 12 went. Good for all. Won driving. Track: Firm (Rail at 84 ft) Weather: Clear 78o
# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
10 Pinckney Hill Maragh Rajiv 120 5.40 3.40 2.40
4 Picou Castellano Javier 120 5.20 3.60
6 Thou Swell Garcia Alan 120 3.40

The favorites win 5 of the 8 contest races. I’ve been on two of the three prices that have won and still lose by two dollars. The host has beat me with the 1-5 horse Conveyance, paying $6.5 on a $5 win bet, OH MY!

I may need Vodka?

Official results below. The contest winners for the day had a total of $102.50. By the way, that’s the 2nd time in three events Fuguo Wong has come in second. He may need Vodka too.

Saturday, January 16th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Gulfstream Park 3 2:10pm #5 Causeway's Kin $9.50 #5 Causeway's Kin $9.50
Santa Anita 1 3:30pm #5 Timbavati $15.00 #5 Timbavati $15.00
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #4 Nordic Truce $16.00 #4 Nordic Truce $16.00
Santa Anita 2 4:00 pm #3 Aprisa Luna $0.00 #1a Madel $26.50
Santa Anita 3 4:31pm #3 Conveyance $6.50 #3 Conveyance $6.50
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #6 Obligingly $0.00 #11 Todd Got Even $24.00
Santa Anita 5 5:34pm #2 Franny Freud $0.00 #4 Amen Hallelujah $21.00
Gulfstream Park 10 5:38pm #1 Don'twait Toolong $0.00 # 10 Pinckney Hill $13.50
Host's Total: $47.00

Prize Winners for Saturday, January 16th
Place Name Mutuel Total Prize
1st Thomas Ramirez $102.50 $1000
2nd Fuguo Wong $100.00 $500

You have to have darkness...for the dawn to come. ~Anon

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Day at the Races

A whole day of racing and four tracks plus preparations for tomorrow’s beat the host. Oak Lawn opens today, plus Gulfstream and Santa Anita which are the two tracks on tomorrow’s contest, and the Friday evening special at Turfway which is my favorite winter track. Let the action begin!

Below is a preview and the races and early picks for tomorrow’s Beat the Host contest. As always, this may change if strategy dictates. The tracks are Gulfstream and Santa Anita, and I’ll describe the horses with Prime Power for relative strength vs field.

GP 3 [$45k Mdn 4 &up 8f]
ML 3-1 #3 Pedrolino: I think the odds will prolly be lower at post. Kenneally and Leparoux teamed with sharp works after 51 days off. I’d be giddy with 3-1. Host has this horse too. I’d guess 9/5 going off so it’ll be a tough call whether to stay on or jump to better odds/overlay.
Prime Power 1st of 8

SA 1 [$44k Mdn 6f]
ML 12-1 #1 Paradise Found: Six horse field, two 1st timers and 3 starts the most by any horse, and that horse is Paradise found. A bit of a gap between works, but has improved each race; however, other horses with starts all have slightly better Byer number. Still, it is a wide open race of green colts, so taking a price and hoping it is his day. Interesting is Royce is making his 2nd start after a 109 day layoff … he came in 3rd that start beaten by Macias and Via Verde who have already made a name for themselves.
Prime Power 4th of 6 with two NAs.

GP 6 [$100k 3yo T 8f]
ML 5-1 #7 Bim Bam: Putting together a nice string of races and wins. Two other interesting horses are #4 Nordic Truce having only raced once and winning a Mdn Sp Wgt, and the #2 Guys Reward coming in from KY and a layoff. Prices will be key.
Prime Power 1st of 12.

SA 2 [$44k Mdn F T 6.5f]
ML 4-1 Miss Pleasant: Had two strong races, but has not raced in 216 days. Surprised ML is this low as this race has an interesting mix. The seemingly strongest filly is still 0-11, so is she due. Also entered is a filly with two starts in France but making her US debut. Tote board will be interesting here.
Prime Power 2nd of 9.

SA 3 [$100k G3 8f] San Rafael
ML 8-1 #4 Lucky Rave: This is a derby prep dominated by Conveyance and his 3-5 ML odds. No way to play him, but his only two starts have been wire-to-wire winners by 2 and 7 lengths with 91 and 102 Byers respectfully. The horse to beat, but a no play at less than even money. Via Verde is also running, but I’m looking for Lucky Rave to be the one if Conveyance stumbles as most of these are stretching out, but Lucky has been running 1 mile plus routinely. Lucky has been running great but all on turf. Here’s his shot to see if his turf form converts to dirt and a possible shot at the Derby.
Prime Power is 3rd of 5 behind Conveyance and Via Verde.

GP 9 [$48k Alw 4&up 6f]
ML 6-1 #11 Todd Got Even: Zito trained and consistently pounding the New York circuit. Fits well here though he has a 2 month layoff. Hard to imagine he goes off at 6-1, but if so he’s the play. Another interesting possible play is #7 who has just one start, but he crushed a $60k C race wire to wire at Aqueduct.
Prime Power 2nd of 12.

SA 5 [$150k G2 F 7f] Santa Ynez
ML 8-1 Whispering Hush: Ran on turf the last two and goes back to dirt. A consistent performer, but slightly less than the best of the others. The strongest closer by far, with rain in the forecast if the race sets up for a finishing kick then she’s the one.
Prime Power 4th of 6.

GP 10 [$51k Alw 4&up 6f]
ML 6-1 #8 Rock in Bage: Ships in from New York with a consistent set of workouts and races. Plenty of horses in this field who could win.
Prime Power 5th of 12.

The Host picks are listed below:
Saturday, January 16th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick
Gulfstream Park 3 2:10pm #7 Pedrolino
Santa Anita 1 3:30pm #5 Timbavati
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #4 Nordic Truce
Santa Anita 2 4:00 pm #3 Aprisa Luna
Santa Anita 3 4:31pm #3 Conveyance
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #6 Obligingly
Santa Anita 5 5:34pm #2 Franny Freud
Gulfstream Park 10 5:38pm #1 Don'twait Toolong

A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is-full of surprises. ~ Isaac Singer

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Got called in and am having to put in many work hours this week. Don’t they know I’m semi retired and this is cutting in to my track time? Only had time for a couple of races at Santa Anita, but plan on GP, SA, and TP tomorrow along with prepping for Saturday’s contest, and the Triple Crown Countdown chat.

Played two races at SA, both to win and both came in second. Guess that makes me the 1st lozer.

So I was laying there this morning having my morning cup of joe with the inamorata when she tells me a story she saw on the news. Apparently, they went and tested the public self serve and coffee dispensers they now have in all the convenience marts and gas stations. What do you think they found? Um hmm, 88% tested positive for fecal matter! It seems drinking from the horse stall is cleaner.

That’s right sports fans, not everyone is washing their hands. I never would go to those self serve buffet bars because everyone drags their arms and hands through them, and so many people would tell me they were sick after eating at a place with that type of service/menu. Anyway, when people get a quick cup of coffee on the go and say, ‘this tastes like crapple,’ hey they aren’t exaggerating. Makes me thankful the Bon Vivant makes a fresh pot every morning!

“Civilization is being poisoned by its own waste products ~ R. W. Inge

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Green Visor

No plays today.

I developed a budget at the start of the year which would cover all the anticipated tournament entry fees, travel, and other costs associated with this quest. So how to pay for all of it? Well, I saved up enough in prior years to tackle this without any winnings, but ideally it would come from a combination of tournament prize money and daily/monthly/annual track wagering profit.

It is this daily/monthly/annual wagering that I’ll discuss today. Instead of recording cash, I’ll just use ‘X,’ so anyone can plug in their own numbers (example: $2 wagers, $50 wagers, $100 bankroll, $2,000 bankroll, etc.) and compare. Thus all tracking will be done as a percentage of X, and ROI. That should make it fairly straightforward. Hopefully, at the end of the year the time put in will pay for all the expenses, but one never knows unless I start tracking it early. Also, I’ll start recording it daily to watch the joy/horror unfold.

Speaking of horrors, the inamorata was telling me this morning a true horror tale she heard on the news – it’ll make you rethink your food. I’ll share it in a day or two.

If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score? ~ V. Lombardi

Monday, January 11, 2010


Ho hum Monday. Played Turfway and a little of GP yesterday. Cashed nice at Turfway, and not much at GP, but overall it was a good day. I will devote a blog one day this week about racing finances and tracking.

Today is the 11th, and the forecast calls for our first day of thawing on Thursday with temps in the 50s and sunny. The pond is still frozen solid and no sign or feather of the Don. The Bon Vivant said she was watching local news and how the weather affected livestock. Specifically, she said it mentioned ducks or other non-migratory animals and how if they depended only on a single water source and it froze for an extended period, they could easily die. Sad news indeed, I don’t know a thing about ducks, but I hope to see my old friend the Don back this weekend.

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it. ~ Somerset Maugham

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Score: Host 2 – Good Guy 0

The Good: Turned a profit, I don’t know how, but did. Warren’s Matchmaker coming in 2nd at ~$16 to place helped.
The Bad: The Host thoroughly crushed me
The Ugly: After two weeks and 16 races, I’m a consistent 0 for 16!

I was winning in the non-contest races – thank you ‘Custom for Carlos’ – so that put salve on the wounds by fattening the account, but otherwise, not much to cheer about. Below are the oh so putrid details.

GP 4 [$45K Mdn C 3yo’s 1 mile]
5-1 Moe Man – 3rd

GP 5 [$100K 3yo’s 6f] Spectacular Bid
2-1 Westover Wildcat – 3rd

SA 1 [$32k Mdn C 3yo’s 1 mile]
23-1 Warrens Matchmaker – 2nd

GP6 [$100K F&M 4&up 6f] G3 Sugar Swirl
4-1 Warbling – 2nd

SA 3 [$49k 4&up T 6.5f]
8-1Calimonco – 3rd

SA 4 [$25k Mdn C F&M 4&up 6f]
7-1 Stylin Deputy – 5th

GP 9 [$100k F 3yo’s 6f] G3 Oldhat
50-1 Malibu Legacy – 8th

SA 5 [$25k C 4&up 7f]
7-1 Raingear – 6th

Here is XpressBet’s summary of the day:

Jon White, the man to beat in XpressBet’s $50,000 Beat the Host competition, bounced back yesterday with three winners in eight mandatory races to total earnings of $81. That number was good enough to top most of his challengers and to trim the field of Sweep-the-Host Bonus survivors to 32.

Maryann Nilsen topped all players with $149.50 in earnings and takes down the weekly $1,000 prize. Paul Mahre and Keith Vanlanen each had a $139 mutuel total and share second prize of $500 at $250 each.

The Results:
Saturday, January 9th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Gulfstream Park 4 2:38pm #7 Systemic Risk $0.00 #6 Quiet All American $59.50
Gulfstream Park 5 3:07pm #9 A Little Warm $32.00 #9 A Little Warm $32.00
Santa Anita 1 3:30pm #4 Moonskipper $0.00 #6 Extra Energy $14.50
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #9 Pretty Prolific $34.00 #9 Pretty Prolific $34.00
Santa Anita 3 4:32pm #2 Banner Lodge $15.00 #2 Banner Lodge $15.00
Santa Anita 4 5:04pm #6 Dame Camille $0.00 #8 It's Partytime $19.00
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #7 Touching Beauty $0.00 #9 Richiegirlgonewild $105.00
Santa Anita 5 5:35pm #7 Stand Tall $0.00 #5 Self Insured $15.00
Host's Total: $81.00

Prize Winners for Saturday, January 9th
Place Name Mutuel Total Prize
1st Maryann Nilsen $149.50 $1000
2nd Keith Vanlanen
Paul Mahre $139.00 $250.00

A note: If you didn’t have ‘Touching Beauty’ at 23-1, you were not going to win this contest. An example of why playing long odd horses is a priority.

At the end of the day, anybody who thinks there's a reward for nothing, ends up losing. ~ Kerry Stokes

Saturday, January 9, 2010


These are the races and early picks for this afternoon’s Beat the Host contest. Of course this may change if strategy dictates. The tracks are Gulfstream and Santa Anita, and I’ll describe with Prime Power for relative strength vs field.

GP 4 [$45K Mdn C 3yo’s 1 mile]
ML 6-1 Moe Man - Two starts, ships in from Ky, gets Leparoux in the saddle, 5th in Prime Power, but I’m expecting improvement.

GP 5 [$100K 3yo’s 6f] Spectacularbid
ML 6-1 Westover Wildcat – Trained by Dutrow, has 2 wins and a 2nd in 4 starts, improving each race, 1st in Prime Power.

SA 1 [$32k Mdn C 3yo’s 1 mile]
12-1 Warrens Matchmaker – This race is filled with similar types, just a matter of who is ‘on.’ Warren’s started in $50k company with two 4ths and a 5th, hoping the slight class drop will see him to victory. Prime Power 5th of 7.

GP6 [$100K F&M 4&up 6f] G3 Sugar Swirl
Two horses Warbling and Thunders Dove. Thunders Dove the ML favorite and off for 105 days, so I’ll prolly go Warbling.
ML 6-1 Warbling – 2 starts and 2 wins both rough trips but she got it done. I believe she has more to give. 5th in Prime Power

SA 3 [$49k 4&up T 6.5f]
ML 6-1Calimonco – A six horse field, Calimonco has raced in the east, but winters in California for the 1st time. If he likes the odd downhill turf, he could surprise. Most horses don’t like the odd downhill run, or at least take a race or two to become familiar; thus his seemingly high morning line odds of 6-1. Prime Power 2nd of 6.

SA 4 [$25k Mdn C F&M 4&up 6f]
ML 7/2 Stylin Deputy – In a 9 horse field, this one seems ready making her 3rd start off a layoff. Of course she was on a layoff since her record is 0-2-2 in 7 starts. The favorite has had only one start and if she runs that again, she wins. 2nd of 9 in Prime Power.

GP 9 [$100k F 3yo’s 6f] G3 Oldhat
ML12-1 Malibu Legacy – 2 starts and 2 wins. Hasn’t faced the toughest company but winning wire to wire. If she can get the lead, she may surprise. This is the next to last race, but wish it was 1st as this is my favorite long shot pick. If other contestants are struggling they’ll be looking for a price late. Prime Power is 10th of 11.

SA 5 [$25k C 4&up 7f]
ML 8-1 Raingear – Claimed at 10k in the summer at Del Mar, this horse was moved to the turf and tougher company and was soundly beaten. Now it is back to dirt - or more exactly all weather at Santa Anita – but still in the class hike. His summer dirt form puts him right in the chase with these, but does he regain that form? Prime Power is 2nd of 7.

The six through 8th and final race of this contest are scheduled to go off within 30 minutes (5:05 and 5:35), so that last half hour will see much begging and strategy changes. Below are the Host’s picks nicely posted the morning of the contest.

Saturday, January 9th
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick
Gulfstream Park 4 2:38pm #7 Systemic Risk
Gulfstream Park 5 3:07pm #9 A Little Warm
Santa Anita 1 3:30pm #4 Moonskipper
Gulfstream Park 6 3:36pm #9 Prerry Prolific
Santa Anita 3 4:32pm #2 Banner Lodge
Santa Anita 4 5:04pm #6 Dame Camille
Gulfstream Park 9 5:08pm #7 Touching Beauty
Santa Anita 5 5:35pm #7 Stand Tall

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

Lots to Learn

Did you ever sit in on an advanced placement class in school or say, sit in a NASA moon-shot meeting? Well, I do know the front from the back of a horse, but sometimes that seems like all my knowings! The Countdown to Derby chats and articles are full of info I don’t know, haven’t thought about, or forgot. Best of all it is concise and weekly.

Their early picks:
J. Plonk: Looking at Lucky
J. Kristufek: Moojab
B. Nadeau: Walking the Beach
Me: Buddy’s Saint

Best Tip of the Chat:

HP NOW - Jeremy Plonk:
Take Control has all the physical tools, --- Baffert wasn't expecting a win and got it in the debut and the ceiling is more impressive than the actual win

Beat the Host is this afternoon, I’ll summarize tomorrow.

Played GP today, and watched a 70-1 come home ….. sadly I wasn’t aboard. Cashed some lost some. Punted hard on Akonite (another KY horse wintering in KY) in a 10k claiming. Chalk won, with Akonite a whatever 5th. Did win my biggest wager of the day on Psychic Income and won, but at 9-5 it was a chalk eating weasel play.

Hottie: Akonite – 5th
Paid: 0, 0, 0
Then played Turfway and made a little scratch back. So far it looks like this, playing at Turfway and making burger money; playing anywhere else and losing angus burger money.

Facts are stubborn things. ~R. Reagan

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tomorrow Tomorrow

Creaky gears are starting to turn and come to life. Played Gulfstream yesterday and finally started cashing. Rather than discuss all the races, as there are other items to post, I’ll just summarize using Bugs Bunny's line – ignoranamous! Turn a plus day to minus by ... well,Obsequious.

Obsequious won her 1st maiden race and then promptly went on a lovely 0-11 streak. That streak included multiple starts in G3 races and G2 throughout Kentucky in which she just couldn’t pull off the charge, so 2nds, 3rd s and such dominated her PPs. The 7th at Gulfstream was a 48k Alw and I fell in love with a 0-11 shipping in who proved her record was no fluke by making it 0-12.

Today Jeremy Plonk begins his weekly ‘Countdown to the Crown’ feature at plus his weekly chat about all the 3 year olds making a bid for a start at the Kentucky Derby. I’ll summarize the weekly Derby contender chats another day, but it is only four months to the Derby so excitement is starting to build.

Finally, ‘Beat the Host’ continues tomorrow and after a week of wound licking I’m ready jump in again. Have been playing Santa Anita’s ‘Showvivor’ the last week, and from a total of ~ 1,800 entries, I’m still one of 384 alive – it too is a simple, free contest – just pick one horse to ‘show’ each day until all but one are eliminated. I’ll update next week with details if still in the running.

Hottie: Obsequious – 5th
Paid: 0, 0, 0

Day –

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. ~Bill Watterson

Thursday, January 7, 2010


As I mentioned earlier, I follow/wager mainly on the Kentucky Circuit – Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Turfway Park. Turfway is the winter home of Kentucky racing from November to March until the Keeneland meet begins in Spring. However, in January, Turfway only races Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; thus, I’m searching for another winter track to follow. Usually, I just wait for Keeneland and the spring, but now that I’m jumping off this cliff, no time for three month vacations.

Santa Anita would be the logical choice, as it is a premier track in California with many quality races. Aqueduct holds down the New York circuit, and Tampa and Gulfstream are running in Florida. Gulfstream is interesting in it is trying to promote itself as the 3 yr old launching pad. It has full cards and a variety of horses shipping in from across the US. All this combined means a plump and juicy tote board.

Gulfstream it is. The only hitch is I’ve never played this track, so new and exciting is just around the corner. I did play three races at Santa Anita Wednesday, going 0 for 3.

This will look impressive:
Day ROI 0.00
Month ROI 0.00

The safe way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket. ~Frank Hubbard

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Again, no horse playing today, but will resume tomorrow. However, was excited as tickets for Keeneland spring meet went on sale. Perched over the keyboard waiting to buy tickets online for the Bluegrass and a couple other big events, I was as excited as doughnut time – which, since it’s a no sugar year, has ceased to exist – and ready to scoop up some prime viewing seats.

A big gift to me was ready to be opened. Alas, I didn’t read very carefully. Only group tickets – 24 or more – went on sale. It’ll be another month before single tickets go on sale. Color me gloomy!

What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. ~ E. Powell

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NTRA Survey

Again, no racing on this day. Received a survey from the NTRA about the 2010 tour. Without going through all the questions, summarized I leaned toward making the tour more of a force by expanding the number of qualifiers from it to the Final Championship Tournament, as well as giving priority preference when registering for qualifying and tour point events around the country. Of course since I’m joining the tour, I would tend to emphasize it more.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Sun Came Up

Well what do you know; the sun still came up after yesterday’s fiasco. No horse playing though, just a day with books and the dog.

The past couple months geese and mallards would stop for a day or two in the pond across the street as they migrated about. The Don would swim up right along the edge of every traveling band, among them but not really a part of the voyagers. It has been very cold this week and the pond is frozen. I haven’t seen the Don in three days. I don’t know much about ducks, but I hope he can find some shelter among the little band of reeds and few trees that bound the pond.

"Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan's egg." ~ H. Christian Anderson

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saturday’s Tourney Results

Well dear reader, sit back and enjoy reading about a classic meltdown. Remember Van De Velde at the British Open, this story makes him look clutch and heroic. This is the anti-How You Do It story, an epic of impotency. It is only day 2 of the New Year and I broke all the rules of the wagering lessons I’ve learned over the years.

I wrote much below in real time to ‘capture the fun.’ Oh my, how sad.

So the ‘Beat the Host’ contest is:
Races 3, 5, 9 and 10 at Fairgrounds
Races 1, 3, 5 and 6 at Santa Anita

Jon White is the host … and now the enemy.

Recall the goal is $150, and conservative is out.

3 at FG [$45,000 Mdn F & M 6f]
My first pick #2 is scratched, so I reach for #1 – Double Stuff - with one start to date, looking for her to improve. She is by far the best 5.5f horse in the field, sadly it is a 6f race and she comes in 4th. Winner is 9/2, so not a big price.

5 at FG [$43,000 Mdn F 6f]
Wicked Uno is the best on form, but at 4/5 who can take her in a contest – I soon learn the host can. Reach again for a first time runner – Southern Strike - @ 12-1 with ma producing 6 winners from 8 starters and pa a 3.37 spi. Wicked Uno tromps home.

1 at SA [$32,000 Mdn C 1 1/16 mile]
Worth a Punt is the 1/5 favorite, so once again looking for a price. Nothing much to choose, so go with a one time starter getting 9 lbs with an apprentice jockey. Drama? – don’t look here as Punt crushes field by 10+ lengths.

After three of eight races, the chalk is scoring so it is still anyone’s contest. This will end up being decided by 1 or 2 races that come in with a price. Right now a guess is ~ $110 to $130 could take this and the $1,500 prize. Jon White had Wicked Uno – his total is $6.50.

3 at SA [$48,000 4&up F&M 1 1/16 mile]
Nothing dominates in this race, the first race of the day with many contenders. The favorite is #4 @ 2-1. I like this nice little filly with the best kick, so I plunk down on Joe Talimo to wake up – Lullabytime – in the stretch for a late run win. Want to guess the results … you are right, Lullabytime sleepwalks and it’s chalk again. The #4 Miss Silver Brook wins at 2-1.

9 at FG [$50,000 4&up 1 mile]
Two horses to play here, the 3 and 11. With the better post position due to the quick turn and better odds, #3 – Sea the Soldier - gets the nod. The favorite in this race – Twilight Ross – goes off at 7-5. Want to guess the winner – Favorite time again. #3 sank at the ¾ pole.

A closer look at the leader board reveals the Host – Jon White – has posted all his picks for the day. How could I have overlooked this? Eureka, I have the enemy’s battle plans. Three races left and his total is $6.5, I REPEAT $6.5! An even money favorite beats him AND I know who he is picking in the final three races.

[This section is written after the races]
An uneasy feeling has swept over me in the last hour as I have been getting crushed at the window. It is an uneasy feeling like a gargoyle is perched behind and watching over the shoulder. I haven’t cashed a single ticket all day and that includes place and show wagers. Now though unusual, it is nothing to fret about as I usually don’t make many plays during the course of a day, and they are very rarely on favorites.

What is unusual is I don’t wager during tournaments except in rare instances – there are plenty of days and races to play for profit. Also, I follow the Kentucky circuit and rarely play outside of it. I always watch the paddock and post parade, and if I don’t like what I see, I pass. I’m not addicted to ‘action.’ Finally, my strength as a horseplayer is discipline – I don’t chase, and I follow the plan.

However, now I find myself playing two tracks – Santa Anita and Fairgrounds – at my normal bankroll, without a plan or review of the PP’s. As I said, tournaments and wagering are different, so I’m looking for wager overlays and tournament scores which are conflicting strategies, much like smoking and exercise, or cake and dieting, Congress and honesty. How did I get in this mess? As usual, my mouth is the culprit.

I’ve been chatting during the tourney with Jeremy Plonk from and Horse Player Now as well as Joe Kristufek who is Arlington Park’s Morning Line maker. Another thing I don’t do is chat during tourney’s – I told my friend Bug to quit calling me earlier in the day as I was concentrating on this event … I think I may have said ‘lose this number’ or something equally pleasant. Anyway, feeling I had the contest races scoped out, I start jawing with these guys. Next thing I know I’m backing up my opinions – and sad to say, there’s too – with real dollars – and losing... often.

What in the name of dirt and worms is happening, I’m playing in a little $40 live bankroll contest, losing to the host with a cumulative bankroll of $6.50, and dumping two days of wagering bankroll on two tracks at which two hours ago I had no opinions other than contest races. Ummm, a little hint of panic comes knocking, as earlier the races were spread out by about a half hour each, now the next three races would all occur within the next 20 minutes.

[Back to real time]
OK, three races left. I can do this.

5 at SA [$60,000 4&up T 6.5f]
Again, two horses (#2 and #8) are intriguing but also very different in the ML odds. Must choose one. Go with #2 Noble Court the favorite 2-1 over #8 Cherokee Heaven @ 9-1. I’m ditching the high score strategy of trying to win this, now I just want to beat JW’s $6.5 total and Nobel Court is the class of the field. Oh no, say it ain’t so Joe! Joe Talimo brings Cherokee Heaven home wire to wire paying $20.20.

10 at FG [$15,000 Mdn C 1 mile]
I get shut out! My day is done. I am seeing stars from lack of oxygen to the brain.

[Real Time over - Recapping the Tragedy]
I get caught up chatting with JP, looking for a short odds horse for the contest, and forget a quirk of this contest. No entry means automatic disqualification. I don’t get my pick in before the bell on the 10th at FG. Normally, no entry equals zero, but here they show you the door. I lose to JW’s 4-5 odds SINGLE PICK AND $6.5 TOTAL!

Here’s a sample of our conversation:
JW still only has $6.5 but since I have $0 ....... if I lose to $6.5 watch for bridge jumper.

Jeremy Plonk:
LOL don't do it, water is tooooo cold today

It only hurts when I laugh ... ditched the #8 and odds as it’s a chalk day right? and go #2 to beat JW's $6.5 ....... pulling up MapQuest for directions to nearest bridge lol

Jeremy Plonk:
MapQuest might send you through a high traffic area, so give yourself extra time to make it to your fast death

Then this from a helpful fellow player
Vincent Thomas is the most picturesque bridge in the area, still has the holiday lights up.

Jeremy Plonk:
brutal room! we give people picturesque places to check out

I have become the butt of jokes. I become caught up in chatting, wagering, and Tom Foolery and am DQ’ed from the season’s first contest. I lose to $6.5. Thus, begineth my lifelong dream and path to NHC Glory in a most inglorious manner.

Here are the official results:
Saturday, January 2nd
Track Race Post
(ET) Host Pick Host Results Winning Runner Winner Payout
Fair Grounds 3 2:28pm #1 Double Stuff $0.00 #3 Calliope Jane $19.00
Fair Grounds 5 3:26pm #7 Senorita Margarita $0.00 #2 Wicked Uno $9.50
Santa Anita 1 3:30pm #1 Worth A Punt $6.50 #1 Worth A Punt $6.50
Santa Anita 3 4:31pm #8 Pretty Unusual $0.00 #4 Miss Silver Brook $17.00
Fair Grounds 9 5:22pm #4 Augustus Macray $0.00 #7 Twilight Ross $13.50
Santa Anita 5 5:34pm #3 Mr. Cacht $0.00 #8 Cherokee Heaven $52.00
Fair Grounds 10 5:52pm #5 Time to Reign $0.00 #11 Cocoa's Knockout $26.50
Santa Anita 6 6:05pm #2 Top Seeded $10.00 #2 Top Seeded $10.00
Host's Total: $16.50
Prize Winners for Saturday, January 2nd
Place Name Mutuel Total Prize
1st Carl Baucom $138.00 $1000
2nd Fuguo Wong $119.00 $500

The Day: --

Across the street from the house is a shallow pond about 150 yards long by 20 yards wide. About three months ago a pure white duck just appeared paddling around, not sure how he got there, maybe someone just dumped him. See him every day and named him Donald – original huh? – but just call him the Don. His is often a solitary life.

"Money lost, something lost. Honor lost, much lost. Courage lost, everything lost? Better you were never born" ~ Goethe

Saturday, January 2, 2010

XpressBet Challenge

The XpressBet Challenge starts this afternoon and runs for 9 weeks every Saturday.

Here is quick look at the results for the 1st two weeks of last year’s tourney.

Prize Winners for Saturday, January 3th
Place Player Payoffs Prize
1st Stephen Waller 141.00 $1500.00
2nd Steven Moyer
Patrick Husain 138.50 $375.00
4th Charles G. 129.50 $150.00
5th Ronald Jones 118.50 $50.00

Prize Winners for Saturday, January 10th
Place Player Payoffs Prize
1st Leonard Powell 134.50 $1500.00
2nd Harvey Hochberg 120.00 $500.00
3rd Allan Goldman
Tim Simmons
Bernardo Wisner 119.50 $166.67

A review of all nine weeks show the highest total by a winner of $255 and the lowest winning total being $104 in week nine. The contest is eight $5 win wagers over eight predetermined races. Assuming $150 to be the goal needed to win, that equates to picking eight winners at ~ 4-1 odds. Picking eight out of eight is slightly easier than hitting back to back hole-in-ones – on par fours – so finding high odds horses is key.

Now for the uninitiated to race wagering or tournaments, tournament play is a totally different strategy than a regular day of race wagering – it’s like playing the 2 minute offense all game and trying the long bomb every down. Another day will be for a discussion various strategies, but for now, below is simply a list some of the items to be tracked over the coming months:

NHC Standings
Tournament Results
Win %
Horse of the Day
Triple Crown Runners

Hottie: Mega Party in 3rd @ TP [3yo $7,500 C 6f] – Finished strong 2nd by 9L but never a threat to win, lost by 2L.
Paid: 0 – 4.6 – 3.2 so a little was made.

Heart Breaker: Frisco Lass in 2nd @ TP [$7,500 MC 6.5f] – Broke from the #7 hole at a mouth watering 17-1 with #9 2 lengths leader at the start. #s 10 & 11 close down at turn with #1 pinching up. Gonzalez stands on her to pull her up from trampling the faltering #9, regaining momentum after the turn she looks outside but is blocked again from the now rearguard cavalry charge. Changes course again, goes to rail, breaks free and finishes 2nd to 58-1 Alysdeil! The Super paid $49,170. Added her to stable watch and hoping to find her at 8-1 or better her next start.
Paid: 0 – 14.4 – 6.6 so nice payout as she was played across but heavier for the place.

The Day: +

Continued Ida’s training today. The girl knows her commands, the challenge will be distractions! Boy does that dog love birds, squirrels and her favorite of favorite – RABBITS! She’ll be working fine and then … ‘oh look a bird.’ Reminds me of my twenties and … ‘oh look a skirt,’ so I do have patience with it.

We long for affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. ~G. Eliot

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

So this is a brief overview of the NHC Tour:

The NHC Championship is held every January in Las Vegas. It is run by the NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) and is the Super Bowl of horse race wagers. In 2009, it will have just over 300 participants competing over two days and 30 races for a first place prize of $500,000, which, with bonuses, could be as high as $2,000,000 – Yes Two Million.

The only way to get a seat in this Championship is through qualifiers. It doesn’t matter how much money one has, as no one can buy an entry, it has to be earned through qualifying tournaments. These qualifying tournaments comprise the NHC Tour. Some are online or at casinos, but predominately they are held at thoroughbred tracks throughout the USA.

In 2009, there were approximately 100 qualifying events (I believe the number was 101). These qualifying events will have between 1 and 10 seats in play for the Championship depending on the number of participants, length of qualifying (from a single day to 8 months (Twin Spires)), entry fee, and assorted other factors. These qualifiers also pay prize money, usually $5,000 to $10,000, but can be up to $50,000 – that’ll buy momma a new pair of shoes.

In the tour, each event awards points up to 30 places (sometimes less depending on number on entrants). A contestant takes their best five finishes from all the events entered throughout the year, and the player with the most points is the Tour champ. The tour champ wins $100,000 and the top six in the tour automatically qualify for the Championship tournament as well as many Benjamins being deposited into the bank.

That in a nutshell is the NHC Tour (

New Years Eve came gingerly. Mr. Vodka did try to KO me, but I Duran’d and said ‘no mas’ early in the evening. Thus it was mostly mild and uneventful, and by uneventful I mean no one was afraid I’d toss my cookies on them. I’m nothing if not classy!

“So many fail because they don't get started - they don't go. They don't overcome inertia. They don't begin.” ~ W. Stone