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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday July 1, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." This is the 48th issue since I sent out the first edition on August 7th, 1999.

As you know, I take it hard when my picks don't pan out, for whatever reason. But I will never waiver from my 3-step handicapping process because the long term results speak for themselves. One gentlemen, a book-buyer, recently wrote me and asked why I don't have extensive data showing the validity of the handicapping techniques I reveal in "Calibration Handicapping." He found it somewhat difficult to take my word for it that these principles work.

I answered him in the best way I could, stressing that the principles and techniques that I use speak for themselves and that I have not spent the time to make a list of successful picks for each technique, such as the Profile plays, the WIR plays, the Wide Out plays, etc. Each and every Saturday, however, I do review a race from the preceeding week and demonstrate how handicapping my way resulted in collecting on winning payoffs. In essence, I have a 48-week period of data that supports my 3-step process of handicapping thoroughbreds.

In addition, I do get some positive email. Of course there is the not-so-positive after some listed picks that don't pan out. What convinces me that the content in my book really does work are the real life situations. I've had a number of book-buyers tell me of their successes using the handicapping techniques they have learned.

This reinforces my conviction that anyone who is motivated can unearth value plays using Pace Shape Analysis, trainer intent in the form of "Moves-Within-A-Race", and Internal Fractions Comparison.

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Here's an email I received on Monday from Scoot Minnix:

Jim,

Thank you for the picks in Belmont's 5th and 7th races on Sunday. The trifectas were great!!! Tell all the subscribers out there that if you know anything about handicapping, then you know there are times when there's a little lull between races, but with "Calibration Handicapping" the lulls are only short periods!!!

This man has the best system going anywhere. And I mean anywhere!!! I sure hope I get to meet you one day so I can buy you a drink, because I owe you at least that much!!! Again, Jim, thanks a bunch and 'God Bless'.

Scoot

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I'm sure Sharon has a good sense of humor and can take some good-natured ribbing. Here's a rebuttle by Jim Mahon concerning the winner of the Belmont Stakes, Commendable.

Re: Sharon-comments - BELMONT- His winning time of 2:31 for the 1 1/2 mile race was the second slowest Belmont Stakes run over a dry track since 1944. It proved nothing other than a horse with early speed always has some kind of shot. Day's ride and apparently Lucas' strategy to slow the pace to snail fractions made a closer's win impossible. Aptitude and Impeachment continue to drain bettors of thier bankrolls (confirmed closers) and are subject to defeat by a slow pace. Both of these animals will need less competitive races and a win to build up thier confidence.

With respect to Commendable he is now lucky that he will not be entered in an Allowance NW2 and can go on to bigger and better things.(right!) The analysis by Shar sounds like a Hollwood movie script and the Lewises, Lucas, Day and of course Charasmatic all deserve top Hollywood actors to portray them for this blockbuster film. LOOK OUT TITANIC, you have got competion now. All kidding aside, I again want to thank you for all the solid handicapping information in your work Calibration Handicapping. It vastly improved my results where I am now very selective in my plays and increased my bottom line. Good luck to you and look forward to your newsletter each week.

Jim Mahon

We'll see Commendable next in the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont on July 9th, a week from Sunday, a race that will include Red Bullet and More Than Ready. We can be assured that there will be no pedestrian fractions in this match up.

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As I'm sure nearly 100% of you would agree, there is no magic handicapping formula for success. There are too many reasons why horses will lose and too few why they will win. The odds are stacked against us. But knowledge is the great equalizer. With it we can actually stay ahead in this game.

By knowledge, I mean not only knowledge of what makes horses win races, but also intangibles such as understanding value and the importance of focusing on it. And the realization that betting on the horses is gambling and as such has no guarantees and has some not so desireable liabilities, like the potential to be caught up in obsessive/compulsive behavior and spinning out of control.

That's why I stress placing the focus on value payoffs. And restricting standard wagers to those situations while greatly decreasing wager amounts for "recreational" plays. Bob C. emailed me about something early last Sunday morning. In my reply I mentioned that I really liked the 4 horse in race 4 at Belmont and if I could get 2-1 on him I would make a hefty win wager. To me anything at 2-1 or over would have been good value. And I happened to have a good enough feeling on this horse, Flask, that I would dedicate an entire standard wager amount to win on him.

Happily, Flask did win pretty handily and paid $7.80. Bob then wrote me back Sunday night saying he made over $300 on Flask so he must have made a major wager also. I'm glad Flask won because I had no idea Bob would lay out that much on him. At any rate, my point is that value is a personally perceived intangible. That's why I make my own odds line, which I put to the right of the official morning line. Next to Flask I had listed (4-1) (2-1). I decided that he was a strong play, due to being a WIR/Wide Out play in what looked like a great pace shape match up being one of only 2 "early" versus 6 "late" runners.

On more than one occasion I've knocked trainer Juan Serey. He happens to be the trainer of Flask and I will have to give him credit where credit is due. Not because I cashed a ticket on Flask, but because of the trainer moves he makes on occasion.

Flask's last race was a precise text-book definition of a WIR play and to boot, a Wide Out play. I give credit to him and jockey Paul Teator, who actually orchestrated the "moves-within-a-race." There is no question in my mind that trainers on a regular basis sacrifice and "forfeit" a race in order to make a move or moves that will set up their horse for a top next-out performance.

If you look at the past performance lines for Flask, you will see that he had not won a race since November of '99, 11 tries ago. After orchestrating the moves the trainer and jockey planned, this horse basically won for fun on Sunday. Obviously, I'm not suggesting that such moves result in wins every time. They don't. But they do occur and many times at much better prices than $7.80. Knowing what to look for in this regard is another important piece of the puzzle to good handicapping.

Some of these trainer moves are more precise than others and as such will give us more confidence of a good next-out performance than others. When we find a play such as this that also has a pace shape advantage, we can certainly expect it to be the highest such percentage play we can find. And that is when to go for the major wager.

My picks in order were 4-1-7. While the 7 ran a valiant race at big odds, the other "early" horse, #3, who also had that pace advantage, managed to run between the 4 and 7 and create a 4-3 exacta of $106.50 and a 4-3-7 trifecta of $519.00. While I opted for the win bet, others decided to place a win wager and with that as a back up also play some exotic wagers, looking for value using the 4 as a key and a couple of others with the value horse, #7 in the 2nd and 3rd slots.

As can be seen, there can be a variety of correct ways to wager on a race. If a single horse is your overwhelming choice, then you can either take the win payoff if he does as expected or place some of your standard wager on the win end and spread some of it out on the exotic plays seeking value. In this case, Bob and I were happy with the results, and those who were successful in spreading on the exotics plays were even a bit happier.

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Saturday is the beginning of the 4th of July weekend and for some a 4-day holiday. Since Belmont will be open for all 4 days, I'll be checking out the action and sending out the usual spot play picks for the weekend and additionally Monday and Tuesday.

My review race this week is Race 7 from Belmont last Sunday. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here

This was a one-mile race on the Widener turf course for 4-year-olds & up for claiming tags of 100K down to 75K. After the mandatory scratch of one-half of an entry with the same jockey named on both halves, and also the late scratch of #4, a short field of 8 went to the post. I'll list each horse in actual post-positon order. Next I'll list: the running style I've labeled each, the last-out Beyer speed figure, and the last-out final fraction (raw/actual) as per the conversion chart in my book. Usually I will list the horses that made last-out "moves-within-a-race", but there were none in this match up.

  2. Old Shanachie               P    90    24.1 / 24.1
  3. River Gorge                  P    74    24.3 / 25.0
  5. Youknowhatimean        P    91    23.3 / 23.1
1A. Golden Dice                 P    96    23.3 / 23.3
  6. Officialpermission       EP    97    25.0 / 24.3
  7. Come Back Ronnie       P    96    23.4 / 23.3
  8. Wait for the Sword       P    90    24.0 / 23.3
  9. Scagnelli                       E    98    23.4 / 24.1

As I've said in the past, I don't believe that pace shape is as important in turf racing as it is in dirt racing. There is usually a furious charge down the stretch in races on the grass, that often doesn't depend upon a fast early pace. Although just the day before on Saturday both turf courses featured an intense early speed bias, I handicapped this race as though there would be no such bias on Sunday. Here is a rundown of my thoughts on the field:

2. Old Shanachie - ran his top lifetime Beyer speed figure in his last, a win on this course and at this distance. The negatives outweighed the positives on this one, however, as he was taking a significant hike up in company and the lifetime best effort could very well result in a bounce.

3. River Gorge - only 1 for 16 lifetime on grass, he was exiting a sprint on the dirt. Although he showed some improvement in that last race, finishing 2nd, his overall recent form did not suggest he could run with these.

5. Youknowwhatimean - at first glance one may think he was overmatched, having run mostly in lower-level races out of town. His record at the distance didn't get the pulse pounding either. But his turf record made me give him a closer look. It was clear that his last race was a good one. He won it in a battle to the wire and in the process earned the best last-out final fraction. That race was a return after a 6-month layoff and he immediately ran back to his lifetime best Beyer. Another subtle clue was that his trainer thought enough of him to enter at the $100K claiming price and not get weight off by entering him for less. I made him a top contender and my second pick.

1A. Golden Dice - was tied for 2nd in final fraction and had an affinity for this course and distance, having won his previous 2 tries on this course and at the mile distance, the last of which featured a 100 Beyer. I made him a narrow top choice over the horse to his inside.

6. Officialpermission - although he had a great record at the distance and on the course, and he was getting lasix added, his last-out final fraction did not stack up against many of these. As a matter of fact, it was the worst last-out turf final fraction. That coupled with the anticipated potential duel up front with the outside horse made me eliminate him from the contender list.

7. Come Back Ronnie - winless at the distance, he had a good finish despite being bumped in the stretch that resulted in a good last-out final fraction. His previous race was similar and resulted in another off-the-board finish, as did 6 of his last 8 tries. Because of his generally back-of-the-pack early placing and out-of-the-money finishes, I threw him out.

8. Wait for the Sword - his last race resulted in his 4th win out of his last 5 starts. This, coupled with his last-out final fraction made me give him a shot as a periphery play, despite moving up in company. I thought he was outclassed for the win slot but had a chance of getting a piece of the exacta or trifecta.

9. Scagnelli - given the choice between the 2 apparent early speeds of the race, him and Officialpermission, I would have to choose Scagnelli. He was never worse than 2nd in 5 tries at the distance and he had hit the exacta in 5 of 7 attempts on the Belmont turf courses. This would be only his 2nd start of the year however, and in his last he lost 2 lengths in the final furlong. I figured him to have the lead in midstretch and be caught by either or both Golden Dice and Youknowwhatimean.

Here were my listed picks as they appeared in last Sunday's Newsletter, including official morning lines, my value lines and the final odds.

1A. Golden Dice (2-1) (2-1) (2-1)
5. Youknowwhatimean (6-1) (7-2) (18-1)
9. Scagnelli (3-1) (3-1) (2-1)

Periphery Plays

8. Wait for the Sword (10-1) (9-2) (10-1)

It didn't take me long to see where the value was in the body of my picks, the top 3. While my first selection Golden Dice was rated 2-1 by the track oddsmaker, me, and the public, there was a huge discrepancy of opinions about my second pick Youknowwhatimean. I had him as a value play at 7-2 and the public made him nearly 19-1. Guess who I structured my wagers around?

I got lucky and didn't need to concern myself with a win wager on my top 2 choices. As I was waiting for this race, I decided to play a win parlay using what I thought was a pretty likely winner in race 6. I put a larger win parlay with Golden Dice and smaller on Youknowwhatimean. Obviously, I had no way of knowing what the odds would be on the horses in race 7. But as I say, I got lucky because Istintaj won the 6th at $5.70. So I had $114 to win on Golden Dice and $28.50 to win on Youknowwhatimean.

I therefore concentrated on exactas and trifectas in race 7. As it turned out, I happened to have listed the exact order of the top 4 finishers. Things would have turned out a lot nicer if the furious late rally by Youknowwhatimean didn't fall short by a nose, but tickets were cashed and that's the goal. As usual we can't know what the results would be if certain circumstances had not occurred, but my periphery play Wait for the Sword missed the show slot by only a neck after a very bad stumbling beginning.

Here was the order of finish:

1A. Golden Dice - $6.20
5. Youknowwhatimean - 1-5 ex. $70.00
9. Scagnelli - 1-5-9 tri. $185.50

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Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Monday July 3, 2000*****

Before I list my spot play selections for Monday July 3, 2000, I want to address the subject of wagering on those races. I receive a lot of mail asking what the best way is to wager on the picks I post in this forum.

As per usual, the first consideration should always be value. Since I make the selections ahead of time, meaning before late scratches and final odds, it's difficult to predict always which are the value situations until 20 or so minutes before the race.

My advice to anyone who wants to play my picks is to do what I do. If the odds are favorable, I will want a win wager AND exotics wagers. Only you can determine what value is in terms of a win wager. Some players won't play to win unless they can get 5-1. Others want 8-1, and many will accept 2-1.

Without going on and on, I'll tell you how I played the selections I listed for Sunday, July 2nd. With regard to the 5 plays from Monmouth and the 1 play from Churchill, I played all 6 to win, which included the top choice of 2 in Monmouth's 9th. The 2nd choice was too much of a favorite for me to bet to win so I opted for a win bet on the top choice.

The reason why I listed only one horse in each race (except for the 9th at Monmouth where I listed two) was to emphasize a win wager on those races was recommended. The cost of $2 wagers on those 6 races was $12.00 and the return was $18.20 or a 52% return on your money. Not great, but at least a profit.

In the races at Belmont I played this way. In race 2 I played #1 to win and keyed her in exacta boxes with #'s 5 & 7. The 7 won but the 1 failed to fire so I lost those bets.

In race 5 I did the same; a win bet on #7 and the exacta boxes keying 7 with 1 and 4. I did not play trifectas in either the 2nd or the 5th. Lost that race too. I used race 6 solely to kickoff the late pick 3 and again, another losing wager.

At this point, it seemed like a pretty tough day at Belmont. Things did not improve in the 7th or the 8th. I played the 3 to win in race 7 and used her in exactas with #'s 6 and 9 and lost the wagers. And in race 8, I played exactas keying the top 2 picks and used them to kickoff the late D/D. I got stomped on by Trippi, who crushed the field on class. So far, a pretty tough day, and in the minus column for sure.

But I had one race left, the 9th. When I handicapped this race and then again when I reviewed it before post time, I thought only 2 horses had a real shot at the win slot. #'s 6 and 10. I bet them both to win and constructed exactas and trifectas with them in the win slot like this:

Ex. 6-10 / 1-4-6-8-10. This $2 wager costs $16.00.

Tri. 6-10 / 1-4-6-8-10 / 1-4-6-8-10. This $2 wager costs $48.00.

The returns were $184.00 for the 10-4 exacta and $628.00 for the 10-4-6 trifecta. That's a return of $812.00 for each $64.00 invested or $406.00 for each $32.00 invested in $1.00 wagers.

What looked like a bad day quickly turned into a profitable one. What this illustrates is that if we are focusing on value, we don't have to connect on a high percentage of plays to come out on top.

Hopefully this will help explain how I play the picks I post. Above all, I try to focus on value plays. If the final odds show my picks to be all chalk, then obviously the most prudent option is to pass the race.

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Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Wednesday July 5, 2000*****

I'm writing this short message to all subscribers of Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter. It concerns a different but important subject matter.

Just about one year ago to the day I became very excited about something. And presently I'm more enthusiastic than ever. I came across a book that inspired me to get into the E-Commerce business, and a month later, "A Horseracing Handicappers' Website" was up and running.

During the past 11 months I've had a great time with the weekly newsletters and also made a good profit from the sale of "Calibration Handicapping." The purpose of this letter is to share with you the streamlined pathway to success for anyone who wants to get in on the E-Commerce bandwagon.

If you have a desire to make a supplemental or even full-time income on the Internet, with or without a website, please read on. If you do not, then please click here and thanks for your time to this point.

The fantastic explosion of the Internet has leveled the playing field. Now, individuals can compete with large corporations, the big boys...with zero advertising expense. It's truly amazing.

After you master the 3 prerequisites to a successful E-Commerce Business, product, site-selling and traffic-building, you CANNOT fail. All you need is a desire to succeed and you will. How can I guarantee this? Because I did it, and if you go to the SOURCE, you can't miss.

Right now the Internet is still in its infancy. If we compare it to another revolutionary explosion, the Motion Picture industry, it is in the "Silent Film" era. It took the Motion Picture industry 80 or so years to evolve into the great technological marvel it is today.

The internet explosion, however, is moving fast. Real fast. It will not take a period of 80 years but more like 10 years to reach the same point of evolution, and the window of opportunity will there for about another 3 years.

There are 3 main reasons why people don't take action and become involved in the greatest technological revolution and opportunity in the history of this planet.

1.) They don't know where to begin due to a lack of great computer skills and understanding of the Internet, including among other things, how to construct a website.

2.) They are not sure if they have a good enough product or service and if they did, they wouldn't know how much to charge for it or how to market it or how to begin the whole process. It's just too overwhelming so in spite of having an idea that just may work, they dismiss the thought.

3.) They don't have a lot of disposable income to invest in an E-Commerce business. Well, I was at that crossroads a year ago. I had an idea but had absolutely no thought about how to begin. I knew nothing about how to build a website, html language, writing sales copy, etc.

I'll tell you this though. I began my E-Commerce business for well under $500.00 and today it costs me about $10 per month in web-hosting fees. No need for a Small Business Loan here.

A year ago I stumbled on the greatest book I ever read. It's called MYSS. "Make Your Site Sell" was written by Dr. Ken Evoy, an Emergency Room physician from Canada, who in a few short years has become the top E-Commerce marketing expert in all the world.

MYSS has ALL the answers! Ken's 800+ pages and numerous links leave no stone unturned. If you want to have an E-Commerce business of your own, don't take my word for it, do yourself a big favor and check out his website for yourself. If you have that burning desire to get a piece of the pie while it's still there for the taking, click onto Ken's website Here.

The electronic version of MYSS, which you can download and read immediately (with money back guarantee), is priced at an unheard of less than U.S. $18.00. Other books/courses on Internet Marketing go for $199 & up. And none compare with this. You truly have to see it to believe it.

I'll bet you will be pumped up and excited like I was and still am and the chances are that your life will change forever.

Mine has.

Best Regards,

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday July 8, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Today I would like to continue in the discussion of the topic of wagering. Specifically, how we can maximize our ROI or Return On Investment through proper wagering and wager construction.

First of all, there are likely a number of ways to properly go about the wagering process, but I'll throw out a few ideas that I've incorporated into my own strategies that may be of some interest to you. I would bet there are quite a number of you who are already quite adept in the "art of wagering" and I do mean "art" because it's one thing to come up with contenders and quite another to have that translate into cash in hand at the conclusion of a race.

I took a quick look at my selections over the recent 4-day 4th of July Holiday period. If one were to have blindly and without concern for odds played $2 to win on each of my top 2 selections, except for the races for which I made single selections in which there would have been 1 win wager, I tallied 55 wagers. The outlay would have been $110 and the return would have been $111.50 for a break-even proposition.

This gives some credence to my belief that I need to mix in some exotics plays to keep a positive ROI. Notice I used the word I. Because I'm aware of some players who do stay ahead of this game by making win wagers exclusively. They are of the belief that too much money is wasted on lost exotic wagers and that by betting to win on value plays is the way to go.

That's why I said at the beginning that there are various plans of attack that can be successful, depending upon one's abilities and goals. In my case, I like a mixture of both. As I said early on in one of my first newsletters, I need the Home Run Ball once in a while to maintain my desired bankroll level.

What the win only analysis of my 4 days worth of selections does not show are the additional exotic payoffs that could have been realized with some creative wagering. Here are the payoffs of such plays:

Exactas: $40.20, $18.80, $15.00, $184.00, $33.60, $42.80 and $6.40. (out of 25 potential exacta situations)

Trifectas: $47.60 and $628.00 (out of 20 potential trifecta situations)

Pick 3's: $308.00 and $53.50 (out of 3 potential pick 3 situations)

Again, if one were to have bet blindly with no regard for odds or value and averaged $18 per ex., tri. and P-3, on the 48 such wagers they would have spent $864 and received in return $1378 for a profit of $514 and an ROI of 59%. But being selective by focusing on value plays would obviously have yielded a greater profit.

While the win bet approach to a succesful wagering plan is quite simple, the same cannot be said for exotic wager construction. Different situations call for unique and sometimes creative wagering. Take for example last Saturday's early pick 3, races 3 through 5.

Here were my comments for my top pick Floriselli in race 3: "drops in class off a sparkling last-out final fraction." With such an advantage, I singled #3 in the first leg of the pick 3. Since there was no such advantage horse in leg 2, I used all 3 picks. Here is part of my comment line for race 4: "this match up seems to be more about early speed than closing punch." I tried to put up as selections the horses I considered to be the speed and #3 Twin Meteors did wire the field.

In the 3rd and final leg I felt strongly about #'s 6 and 7 and today's review race is this race 5 from Saturday so you'll know why I keyed on those 2. I constructed the following pick 3 wager: 3/3-4-5/6-7 for a $2 wager total of $12. Since this ticket had the potential 3 favorites in each race, which is not a great idea if they turn out to be odds-on favorite winners, I also put in an additional value wager of 3/3-5/6 at a cost of $4. For $16 worth of pick 3 wagers, the return was 2 x $308 or $616.

This is an example of creative wagering. First of all, the pick 3 is made a whole lot better bet if we can single on at least one of the 3 legs. Such a scenario will result in either less money spent or the ability to use more horses in one or both of the remaining legs. Did I get a little lucky with my pick 3 construction? Absolutely. And I understand that I will lose more of these wagers than I will win, but if I go for value as I did in the extra wager, occasionally I can make up for a lot of previous losses and also build up my bankroll and ROI.

As far as construction of exacta and trifecta wagers go, the way I recommend going about those is the "slot" wagering plan as discussed in a previous Saturday issue of this newsletter. This simple plan involves carefully deciding which horses fit in which slots, of which there are 2 for exactas and 3 for trifectas. And of course, the cost calculations are made easy with the free exotic calculator that everyone has been told of.

During my review of race 5 from last Saturday, I'll go over this wagering plan as I used it. Before constructing wagers, however, as I've stated in the past, I do have a 3-step process I go through for each race I perceive to be playable. 1.) Ask the question, "do I have a key contender(s) for this race? Or are there too many possibilities?

If I have more than 3 of what I consider to be top contenders, the race may be too contentious for me to construct an exotic wager. But value will often be the deciding factor. 2.) Is there enough value in this race for me to bet on it? And 3.) What are ALL the wagering options available to me?

If I answer the first 2 questions yes, then I'll begin the construction of wagers. What all this adds up to is that wagering is just as important as handicapping. It should not be taken lightly or done in a hurry a couple of minutes before post time.

We can get a fairly good idea ahead of time about which races seem to present the best value and jot down wager ideas for those races well ahead of time. In other words, if we see that our top 2 choices in race 2 are 2-1 and 5-2 and our top 2 choices in race 5 are 6-1 and 10-1, perhaps we should focus on race 5.

At any rate, you can see the need for some serious thought and creativity when it comes to wagering if we want to stay in the black. Now I'll get on with today's review race. As stated, it is race 5 from last Saturday at Belmont Park. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here.

This was a mile and an eighth race on the Inner turf course for 4-year-olds & up with claiming tags of $40K down to $35K. The field was narrowed down to 10 entries after late scratches. I'll list the field in post position order. Next to each entry I'll list my labeled running styles, followed by last-out Beyer speed figures, final fractions (raw/actual), and any last-out moves-within-a-race.

   4. Coach Riley              S   87   25.1 / 24.0
   1. The Quibbler             P   88   24.2 / 24.1
   6. Precious Ring            P   79   24.0 / 24.0
1A. Dynability                  P   74   23.4 / 24.1
   7. Bin Rosie                  P   86   23.4 / 24.0
   8. Skeaping                   P   82   26.2 / 26.0
   2. Tomadache               S   81   24.4 / 24.2
   9. Red Hawk                P   77
10. Bigado                     EP   86   24.2 / 24.2
11. Roman Thunder       EP   86   24.0 / 24.2   W.O.

Here were my thoughts on this race. First of all, I had originally listed 3 contenders plus 2 periphery plays, which are those I think have a decent shot at the ex. or tri. but not necessarily the win slot. My top choice #5 Purehue was a late scratch. This made my revised order of preference 6-7-1-4. I did ultimately add an additional periphery play, but that was after the scratch of my top choice and I'll explain why I added that horse later.

4. Coach Riley - had the best last-out (current) Beyer speed figure. He was moving up the claiming ladder off a good-looking win at the distance on April 30th at Aqueduct. The negatives were that he was an S runner from the rail and his last-out speed figure was his lifetime best. Although he was certainly given ample rest to offset the liklihood of a "bounce" off that effort, it was questionable whether or not he could duplicate that figure in this match up. And such a figure appeared to be needed to win. As such, I placed him on my periphery play list.

1. Quibbler - had not run since November, but his works led me to believe that he had a shot at the 2nd slot in the ex. or the 3rd slot in the tri. He didn't have the look of a horse who could come off such a layoff and win against these.

6. Precious Ring - my top choice. Here is an example of "reading between the lines" or digging into the past performances beyond the last race. First of all, I did like his last race because he ran evenly and finished just over 4 lengths off the winner from the 9-hole. That may not sound like much, but as I said in my comments, he was returning from a race on the turf on June 24th.

The turf courses that day were extremely speed-favoring and I stated the next day (Sunday) that we should look for horses returning from that day to get our money back from losses due to wrong running styles. Precious Ring fit that mold. Looking back in his p.p.'s we can see a good prior effort on 5/27 when he finished 2nd to #7 Bin Rosie, my 2nd choice. Another key was his lifetime best Beyer speed figure. Notice that it was on 4/4/98 and the key was that it was run at this same distance of 9 furlongs.

1A. Dynability - was dull and a throwout.

7. Bin Rosie - was in great form having won 2 and finished 2nd in his 3 races this year. His last was a good 2nd from the 12-hole and it featured a tie for the best last-out final fraction, along with #'s 1 and 6. He was the horse to beat on paper and went off as the 7-5 favorite. As with Precious Ring, if you look back in his p.p.'s, you will see that he too ran his lifetime best Beyer speed figure at this distance, and it happened to be on this turf course. Precious Ring and Bin Rosie were the remaining plays of my original top 3 and for the reasons mentioned were to be the keys to any and all of my wagers.

8. Skeaping - although he won his last at Garden State, his final fraction indicated that he did not fit with these.

2. Tomadache - although he did make a nice late move, he didn't warrant the tab of contender. Notice his 11th place finish against the top 2 picks in his race prior.

9. Red Hawk - had not run in over a year and his works gave no evidence of a forthcoming effort strong enough to contend vs. this group.

10. Bigado - was taking a drop in class and ran a decent race in his last, including pairing up 86 Beyer speed figures. But he was winless on the turf and 1 for 20 lifetime so I could not consider him as a contender from his outside post.

11. Roman Thunder - was the horse I added to my periphery play list after the scratch of my original top choice. He had not won or even run at the distance of a mile and an eighth, but the key for him was that he was the field's lone "move" horse. He made a good middle move in his last as a Wide Out play after being bumped at the start and deserved a shot at the 2nd and 3rd slots.

Here are the wagers I constructed around my top 2 picks #6 and #7:

ex.: 6-7/1-4-6-7-11, the cost for which in a $2 wager is $16.00. Then an additional box ex. of 6-7 at a cost of $4 for each $2 wager.

tri.: 6-7/1-4-6-7-11/1-4-6-7-11, at a $1 wager cost of $24.00 and then the value play of a $2 wager: 6/7/1-4-11 at a cost of $6. Since I already had money to win on both the 6 and the 7 horses via the pick 3 as shown earlier, I could focus entirely on the exotic plays providing there was enough value. Since my top choice was 8-1, I had the green light.

Here were the results and payoffs:

6. Precious Ring - Won $18.80
7. Bin Rosie - 6-7 ex. paid $40.20
11. Roman Thunder - 6-7-11 tri. paid $479.00 (Guru TBC)

Pick 3: 3-3-6 $308.00

I hope you will consider this a good example of creative wagering and stressing value so that you will benefit from it in the future.

Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday July 15, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." This year's 3-year-old picture continues to be completely muddled. I can't remember the last time the winner of an important 3-year-old race came back with another strong performance. Last Sunday's Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont was a further example of lackluster performances.

After a scintillating win in the Preakness on May 20th, Red Bullet came back completely empty, as did Belmont Stakes winner Commendable, who finished an uninspired 4th in a 4-horse field.

I understand that Red Bullet was found to have a low white blood cell count after the race so he may have had a legitimate excuse for his worst race lifetime. Perhaps his next encounter with Albert The Great will be more competitive. I also know that Commendable was jostled around and steadied at the start of the race, but I don't think he can be excused for a nothing effort on that basis.

The winner was Albert The Great, a newcomer on the scene. Since Nick Zito added blinkers 4 starts ago, Albert The Great broke his maiden and then won NW1X and NW2X condition allowance races, all in front-running fashion.

On Sunday, he again went unchallenged on the lead at all points in the race and beat 3 Graded stakes winners, including the Grade 1 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winners. It's another example of what can happen to horses when seemingly minor changes are made. Could blinkers turn a maiden into a champion?

Strange things can happen in horseracing. Some champions have been made with a switch to turf, as in the case of Lure a few years back, while others improve dramatically after being gelded. I guess the Dwyer results help to confirm my opinion that the easiest races for me to handicap are claimers and allowance races. Not that you couldn't make a case for Albert The Great, many did.

I just couldn't see him repeating a dominating front-running win against his opposition. He did and I was wrong. Or was I one of the many victims of trainer intent? Were Orseno and Lucas out more for a prep than a win? Was their focus entirely on the Haskell and/or the Travers to the extent that they couldn't have cared less about the Dwyer? It remains a muddled picture.

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Grass racing at Belmont seems to be providing a fair number of races that can be handicapped successfully, inlcuding today's review race. As some will remember, the day after the Saturday June 24th racing at Belmont I wrote the following in Sunday's selections issue of this newsletter.

"I made selections in 3 turf races yesterday at Belmont Park and as things turned out I had no shot in any of them. On both turf courses there was a severe bias in favor of early speed as in all 5 races on the green, the winner was either on the lead or right along side it the whole way. Closers from mid-pack to further back had no shot whatsoever. The only benefit to be had from this situation is to watch for any horses that made up any ground late in any turf race on 6/24/00 and play them in their next outing."

That last sentence has turned out to be important. Since the June 24th turf races, a number of horses have come back to do well in their next starts. The first was Precious Ring in race 5 a week later on July 1st. In my analysis of that race, I made note of him returning from the turf course of a week earlier and that he had run evenly. He won at $18.80 and topped a cold $40.20 exacta with the 7-5 favorite.

Last Saturday 3 more horses returned from June 24th Belmont turf course races. In the 1st, Ben's Approval was my best bet of the day as he not only had the best final fraction of the field, but he also gained ground in that last race, against the severe bias. He won at $8.30 and topped a cold exacta of $21.60 and a cold D/D of $22.80.

Then in race 8 two more horses returned from the 24th, Special Coach who rode the bias to a near-miss 2nd place by a neck, and Elhayq who gained 2 lengths on Special Coach and won that race. In last Saturday's race, Special Coach beat one horse in a field of 9 while Elhayq won at $32.00. I wrongly eliminated both horses in my selections because I figured they had both ridden the strong early bias from 2 weeks earlier. In hindsight, I should have seen that Elhayq did actually make up ground and as such should be considered a contender based on that against-the-bias move.

On Thursday of this week, the 9th-race exacta ($63.00), trifecta ($277.50) and superfecta ($696.00) were all composed of runners returning from turf races on June 24th. What all this adds up to is that trip handicapping can be a valuable tool on occasion. However, I don't think there are enough severe biases to warrant us sitting around waiting for horse to come back from having run well against them.

But when we are forced to take our lumps because of a recognized severe bias, like I had to on June 24th, we have to try to recoup those losses by playing back those horses who ran well against it. I'll continue to keep an eye open for more 6/24 returnees.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Today's review race is race 1 from Belmont Park on 7/8/00. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here

This was a mile event on the Widener turf course for 4-year-olds & up with claiming tags of $35K. It was a field of 10 with the late defection of #3 Rogers Pass. I'll list the field in post position order. Next to each entry I'll list my labeled running styles, followed by last-out Beyer speed figures, final fractions (raw/actual), and any moves-within-a-race.

  1. Expected Takeover          EP    54
  2. Be Accountable               EP    75  24.4 / 25.0
  4. Cherokee Focus                P    30  24.4 / 26.2
  5. The Quibbler                     P    76  24.0 / 25.2
  6. Agate                                E    78  24.0 / 25.1
  7. Ben's Approval                  P    84  24.0 / 23.2
  8. Trucking Baron                  S    87  24.4 / 24.2
  9. Ancient Dancer                  P    72  25.2 / 25.4  W.O.
10. Forlabid                           EP    82  24.4 / 25.2
11. Focus                                P    71  24.4 / 25.4

As I've said in the past, turf races differ from dirt races in that the early pace of the race is usually a lot slower. It could be that horses don't get enough traction on the grass to accelerate as quickly or any number of other reasons, but in turf racing, generally closing punch is the name of the game.

A phrase was coined some time back by a famous ex-jockey from Great Britain that went something like this. "All grass races are 4 furlong contests. Sometimes, however, a field may gallop for a mile or more before it begins." Obviously, he agrees that the turf race really begins on the far turn and continues from there to the wire.

Our race from last Saturday was no different, in spite of some pretty quick early splits, which in essence set things up even more for good closers. #'s 1 and 6 went at it pretty hot and heavy up front for 3 quarters of the race and then bowed out as the closers fought it out to the finish.

1. Expected Takeover - was coming off 8 sprints on the dirt and was going on the turf for the first time. His last was a complete collapse and as such I didn't even list his final fraction. Since the liklihood of him being another Lure was slight, I considered him nothing more than a pace factor and threw him out of contention.

2. Be Accountable - another sprinter trying the turf. He had run twice previously on grass with no success and in spite of a game finish in his last did not indicate he should be considered a contender with this group.

4. Cherokee Focus - his last was a complete dud at a mile and a half on the dirt, so I went to his prior on the grass. He showed a little outside speed in that race but couldn't be expected to keep up with #'s 1 and 6 and showed no closing punch whatsoever. A tossout.

5. The Quibbler - he failed miserably a week earlier in that race won by Precious Ring when I had him as a periphery play in my selections. I thought he may get a piece off his Fall '99 form, but that didn't materialize and his last didn't do a whole lot to indicate he should be a contender in this match up.

6. Agate - was the questionmark horse and as such I put him on my periphery play list. He showed consistent early zip and had a bullet work showing, but the question was whether he could withstand the obviously apparent duel with the 1-horse and go on to victory. I thought the best he may do is complete the exacta, but that was even somewhat of a stretch with such early competition.

So far I've whittled down a 10-horse field to a 5-horse match up, at least as far as the win is concerned. If every race were this clearcut it would be a much easier game. Then again, one may ask an intelligent question? Why not play only those races in which you have this kind of an edge?

7. Ben's Approval - I've extolled the virtues of this horse already, but as you can see, he clearly has the best last-out final fraction of this field. As I've told some book buyers (of "Calibration Handicapping"), for turf races I now try to calculate the final fraction from the last call point to the finish. In the case of Ben's Approval, this would be from his call point that shows him behind in 5th by 4 1/4 lengths to the finish of the race, at which point he was in 3rd by a length and a half. 5th by 4 1/4 lengths is his positioning with beaten lengths showing at the 1-mile point in the race.

That corresponds to the fraction showing of 139.0. If you look at his past performance line and want to know how to match up postioning with fractions, this may help. His line looks like this:

2   4   4(3)   5(4 1/4)   4(3)   3(1 1/2)

This means that he left the starting gate in post position 2 and was 4th out of the gate. At the first showing fractional point of call, which is after a half-mile had been run (by the leader(s) in 50.3 seconds, he was 4th 3 lengths back. Next comes the fraction of 115.2, the time it took the leader of the race to run 6-furlongs and that matches up to his positioning of 5(4 1/4).

Next comes the time it took the leader to run a mile, in this case 139.0. The next postioning with beaten lengths showing for Ben's Approval is 4(3). This means that at the 1/8th pole (the stretch call) in that race, he was in 4th, 3 lengths behind the leader. But this position, which is showing in each and every past performance line, in many route races does not have a corresponding fraction showing to the left. And that is the case in this past performance.

So to calculate the final fraction (3/8ths) for Ben's Approval, I subtracted 139.0 from 215.0 and got 36 seconds. That time on the turf conversion chart in my book corresponds to a final quarter of 24.0. Since he gained 3 lengths during that final 3/8ths, his final fraction is 23.2. The final fraction advantage for Ben's Approval was significant enough to make him my top choice. But add in the fact that he closed 3 lengths in the final portion of the race on June 24th when the track was completely biased toward early runners, and you have a standout win prospect. Thus, my comment that he was my best bet of the day.

8. Trucking Baron - with an S running style, he always needs a good trip from his Jockey and/or some racing luck. Sure enough he was 9th in this field of 10 after 4 of the 8 furlongs had been run, and 8th after 6F. But in this field of mostly pretenders, and with his 24.2 final fraction, he looked like he had the best chance to run 2nd if Ben's Approval did what was expected of him.

9. Ancient Dancer - was running mostly in sprint races and had not run or won on the turf in quite some time. But he did run his last as the field's only "move" horse, a Wide Out play. As such, I put him on my short contender list along with #'s 7 and 8.

10. Forlabid - winless on the turf and not showing a lot in the past year, I had to throw him out of contention.

11. Focus - his last 8 races, dating back to 11/99 were poor and many were at this level or above. A tossout.

Ben's Approval did thankfully run as expected and brought in the 1st-race cold exacta and also the cold early D/D. Here is how I listed my selections for this race last Saturday, including official morning line, my value line and the final odds.

7. Ben's Approval (4-1) (8-5) (3-1)
8. Trucking Baron (9-2) (3-1) (5-2)
9. Ancient Dancer (5-1) (4-1) (5-1)

Periphery Plays

6. Agate (6-1) (4-1) (8-1)

And the results were:

7. Won paying $8.30
8. 2nd - 7-8 ex. $21.60
9. 3rd

Early D/D with top choice in race 2: $22.80

Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday July 22, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Next Wednesday is opening day for the 2000 Saratoga 6-week meeting. Simultaneously, on the West Coast, Del Mar opens it's doors for their summer extravaganza.

I'm looking forward to another successful campaign at the Spa and bettors will be in for some additional wagering opportunites. There will be trifecta wagering on every race that has minimum of 6 starters. And a popular wager at many tracks, the rolling pick 3 will begin with race 1. These changes should provide a number of great betting situations and hopefully we'll get in on some of them in this forum.

Handicapping at the Spa presents challenges as well as rewarding situations. As usual, the idea is to come up with live horses that are not perceived as such by the betting public. For those six weeks, there will be invaders galore from tracks other than Belmont and to assist me in coming up with some great-priced horses, I've added a couple of items to my handicapping arsenal.

I've subscribed to the Daily Racing Form's new publication, Simulcast Weekly. It contains a ton of useful information, including the full charts for 8 tracks for a particular region. For my region, I get all the results charts each Wednesday for the previous week's action at Arlington, Belmont, Calder, Churchill (now Ellis Park), Hollywood, Laurel, Lone Star and Monmouth.

For someone like me who likes to review the results charts in an attempt to locate any biases or troubled trips, this is an extremely useful tool. Each weekly copy also has what they call a winners' book for each track. In this portion of the publication one can find all kinds of useful information, including the Beyer speed figure for each race winner and details of the race in question.

There are other helpful features including recaps of the races in what is called the handicapper's diary and pedigree insights and in the first edition, some good tips on trifecta wagering by Steve Davidowitz. I'm not promoting this tabloid, just mentioning it as an additional handicapping tool. The newstand price is $4, but from now through September 4th, yearly and 6-month subscriptions can be purchased for $109.00 and $59.99 respectively. For anyone interested, the phone number is 1-877-514-4220.

I've also recently subscribed to trip notes for every race run on a New York track for the past 10 weeks and for a 13-week period in the future. These can be valuable aids to unearthing hidden value plays and hopefully will translate into some nice-priced winners in the weeks to come. As you can see, I don't believe in standing still when it comes to handicapping. To stay ahead of the sharks, you have to swim fast.

Of course the basic 3-step process I use in "Calibration Handicapping" remains the core of my handicapping, but I'm always looking for other helpful information that may assist in locating the value plays we all want.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My review race this week is race 9 run last Saturday, July 15th at Belmont Park. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here

This was a 6 1/2F NW1X allowance sprint for Fillies and Mares 3-years-old & up, foaled in New York. As usual I'll list the entries, in this case a full field of 12, followed by the running style I have labeled each, the last-out Beyer speed figure, the last out final fraction (raw/actual) and any moves-within-a-race.

  1. Cosette                        EP    41
  2. Impossible Miss           EP    75  24.4 / 25.2
  3. Lady Blumstir               EP    45  25.3 / 28.0
  4. Baangarita                      P    50  24.3 / 26.2
  5. Noble Vinci                 EP    25
  6. South Beach Girl            P    36
  7. Ruby Friday                   P    55  24.4 / 26.1  W.O.
  8. Karakorum Galore       EP    63  24.2 / 25.0
  9. It's A Lark                     P    54  25.2 / 26.0
10. Star Sequence             EP    54  25.1 / 26.0  W.O.
11. Bidasweet                      P    59  26.2 / 25.0  SRE
12. Blue Broad                    P    72  25.3 / 25.3

If we look at the above chart and focus on the last-out Beyer speed figures, this seems to be an open and shut case. The 2-horse and the 12-horse seem to be heads & shoulders above the rest of the field. But speed figures do not always tell the whole story and usually neither does any other one factor.

We have to look at the whole picture before making a firm decision about wagering on our contenders. This match up of 12 was even in early and late runners with 6 of each. As it turned out, only the strongest of the EP runners survived to hit the board.

Here are my thoughts on the field in post position order:

1. Cosette - a potential early factor only, I threw her out immediately off her recent form and didn't calculate her final fraction.

2. Impossible Miss - her last-out best Beyer speed figure gets one's attention in this race since there is such a dropoff from the top 2 such horses back to the rest. Of the 6 EP horses, she had the best early pace capabilities and with her very competitive last-out final fraction, I made her my top selection.

If we examine the Beyer speed figures a little more closely, we can see that Impossible Miss had run an even higher figure of 76 six races back, as well as a 74 three races back. This grouping, in spite of being spread apart, indicates that she can certainly run a mid to high 70's speed figure in this race, something we could not project for too many of her competition.

3. Lady Blumstir - a potential early pace factor. Her 45.3 half on a 20 track variant on May 4th was significant, but she had dropped anchor badly in her last 2 starts at this level.

4. Baangarita - she was returning to the races off a 4-month + layoff with a couple of big works showing, but not much else to make me consider her a contender.

5. Noble Vinci - another stale horse off a long time with a couple of good works showing. I eliminated her.

6. South Beach Girl - a stale horse with no form whatsoever except at lower-level Finger Lakes; out.

7. Ruby Friday - last ran as a Wide Out from post 10. On that basis alone, she gets my attention. It helps that she was exiting the same race as Impossible Miss and that she finished 3rd in that race behind her. But looking back at her prior race shows a strong 2nd in which she beat Impossible Miss by over 6 lengths with a 73 Beyer. Keeping things in perspective however, we can see that Impossible Miss had beaten her in 2 of their last 3 encounters and the last was quite a bit better. A top 3 contender.

8. Karakorum Galore - bumped in her last race when beating only one horse, but with her consistent early speed and top last-out final fraction, I put her on the periphery play list.

9. It's A Lark - like Ruby Friday she had a good race 1-back and also had some decent early presence. With the abundance of speed in here though, I dismissed her as having a money chance.

10. Star Sequence - being a Wide Out play you would think I would at least put her on my perhiphery play list. This is an example of picking what I consider to be the horses with the best chances overall, not just automatically considering horses that have made a last-out move-within-a-race.

The main reason I eliminated her is that she would have a very difficult time if she was sent up to contest the early pace from her outside slot, as is her customary way of running. If on the other hand a decision was made to try to change her running style, she has not shown any recent late kick and it is never a great idea to change a horse's running style anyway. In essence, she was between a rock and a hard place.

11. Bidasweet -is another case of me not using a move-within-a-race horse, in this case, an SRE play. And she tied for the best last-out final fraction. The problem with Bidasweet was that she did not show the good form she exhibited lately at Rockingham and Suffolk Downs when she was running in New York. As I've said in the past, I will usually want to see a horse perform well here before considering it as a viable contender. Of course there are exceptions, but not often at this level.

12. Blue Broad - caught the attention of everyone who was going to play this race. In early June she shipped in from Santa Anita, a Level 1 Class track (along with Aqueduct, Belmont, Del Mar, Hollywood and Saratoga) and stomped on New York State-Bred fillies, winning by 9 1/2 open lengths. In the process, she earned a high Beyer speed figure and like Impossible Miss, had previously earned a comparable number, which would indicate she could very well repeat it against this bunch. I made her my second choice.

I said earlier that we should look at the whole picture before making any wagering decisions. When I saw 7-5 on my 2nd choice Blue Broad and 10-1 on my 3rd choice Ruby Friday, I saw discrepancies in post time odds vs. what I considered to be fair odds. Here is the order of preference I put in last Saturday's newsletter for this race. In includes the official morning line, my value line, and the actual final odds.

  2. Impossible Miss (7-2) (5-2) (5-2)
12. Blue Broad (5-2) (5-2) (7-5)
  7. Ruby Friday (10-1) (4-1) (10-1)

Periphery Plays

8. Karakorum Galore (6-1) (9-2) (26-1)

Periphery plays are those horses I consider as having a chance for the money, but not necessarily for the win. Depending on late odds, etc., I may use these plays in the 2nd and 3rd slots in exotic wagers or in box exactas with my top choice or top 2 choices. In this case, 26-1 was a little scary for a horse in against the likes of #'s 2, 7 and 12, who had already shown they could put up good numbers.

As a result, I used Karakorum Galore only in the 3rd slot in my trifecta wagers. As far as my top 3 picks were concerned, there were a couple of notable discrepancies among them. Impossible Miss was going off at just about what I valued her in this particular match up, 5-2. But Blue Broad was another story. The track handicapper and I both had her at 5-2, but she was hovering around 7-5. Since she was going from the 12-hole, I thought that was a significant underlay. And since I was getting 10-1 on a horse I thought a fair price on was 4-1, Ruby Friday, I focused mostly on Impossible Miss and Ruby Friday in the exacta and trifecta wagers.

Here are the results:

1st #2 Impossible Miss won paying $7.80
2nd #7 Ruby Friday, 2-7 ex. paid $48.60
3rd #12 Blue Broad, 2-7-12 tri. paid $129.50

Cold late D/D 2-2 paid $16.40

Those who use the DRF Formulator software could have gotten the same results in race 9 by clicking on the Beyer speed figure graph and last 3 button, not a standalone way to handicap but on occasion a useful tool to confirm your selections.

Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday July 29, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." This week I am going to discuss speed figures and in particular since I use the Daily Racing Form, Beyer speed figures. Andy Beyer and Len Ragozin were the first to make their own speed figures, which until they were made available to the public, gave them and their chosen associates quite an edge on their competition.

Nowadays we can find speed figures from numerous sources. We can still pay a ton of money for the Ragozin and Thorograph sheets or access the Beyer figures, the cost for which is included in the Daily Racing Form. Most if not all handicapping software programs have their own proprietary speed figures also. What does all this add up to? What in actuality are speed figures? Are they really the magic mumbers that enable us to see the winner of a particular race? Why do people say that now since speed figures are available to everyone, additional handicapping slants are needed to locate value plays?

First of all, as I've said, if speed figures were completely and totally reliable, everyone would be making money at this game. But they are not. If one were to play the best last-out speed figure in every race, they would lose money. A lot of money. If speed figures were the complete package, there would be no need for additional handicapping techniques to locate value plays.

Speed figures interpret the performance of a thoroughbred and turn it into a number that can be used to compare with other performances from different days and different tracks. There are a couple of ways speed figures are calculated. Some are made through projections of how individual horses should have run in a race as compared to how they actually performed. This is the project- ion method popularized by Andrew Beyer. These are far more accurate than the par times method of merely comparing the final time of a race to the average for that particular class.

It is my contention, however, that as good as the Beyer and other speed figures are, they are flawed. Simply because they do not and cannot measure other factors that can also be respon- sible for a strong next-out performance. Things like what I call "moves-within-a-race", such as the Profile move, the SRE move, the Wide Out move, the WIR move and the Golden Eighth move. These are very real occurences that happen either randomly or through careful orchestration by the trainer and jockey.

So what does possessing one of these last-out moves do for a horse? How does it help him in his next race? For as long as I can remember, I've looked in awe at a horse who makes an explosive move around the turn and into the stretch, or after being in the stretch already, and goes on to an easy win. I always wondered where that burst of energy came from. Especially if the horse in question had not recently shown such a big winning move.

I concluded that many times it was a result of a move or moves he made in his prior outing. That somehow, some way, this horse derived some energy or strength for his next race. And that is how my "moves-within-a-race" originated and were discovered. This theory can be backed up by the "key" race phenomenon. As most of you know, a "key" race is one that produces two or more next-out winners, and some yield more than that.

As a recent example, take the 4th race at Belmont on June 24th, a day that I exposed as having an extreme early-speed bias for all 5 turf races run that day. In my newsletters, I picked 2 winners out of that race, Precious Ring ($16+) and Ben's Approval ($7.80). These horses did not make "moves" per se, they just ran well enough in those races to come back strongly in their next outing, after somehow having received the "power" or "energy" to do so.

Joining those 2 as next-out winners was Third Mortgage who went to Monmouth, where his trainer grabbed an easy win at $24.00 against a strong favorite who finished second in a short field. The first-place finisher in our "key" race, Storm Magest, came back to run a strong 2nd in much higher company than he had run in previously and completed a $100+ exacta at nearly 20-1 behind the favorite. 2nd-place finisher in our "key" race, Le Mistral also ran 2nd behind a Grade I dropdown horse and completed a miniscule $7 exacta. The point is, these horses, 3 winners and 2 second-place finishers all received some kind of energy for strong next-out performances, and speed figures are completely unable to "measure" this "intangible."

For those that say "hogwash", that these horses would have won or finished 2nd anyway for other legitimate reasons, you are entitled to your opinion. All I can tell you is that after 30 years of study, I am convinced of the existence of derived power or energy. At any rate, back to speed figures.

Speed figures are less reliable for distances under 6 furlongs, over 10 furlongs and for turf races in general. The reason is simple. There are far fewer races run at these distances and surface. The same can be said of figures calculated for races run on sloppy or muddy tracks. The 6 or 7 men who calculate the Beyer speed figures all rely on a variant and if there are not enough races to compare, they do a lot of educated guesswork.

On a given day at many tracks, out of a 9 or 10 race card, there may be only 2 races on the grass, and those 2 may have been contested on different courses, inner and main. So in general, turf race speed figures are a good bit less reliable than those calculated for dry dirt races at the most common distances.

As I said earlier, to bet on a horse simply because it has the best last-out speed figure is a mistake. We should take a look at how that figure was earned. Did the horse get an easy, uncontested lead and coast home? Such a Beyer speed figure can be "inflated." This winner will not be prone to produce a similar next-out figure unless he's in the same pace match up the next time and that may not be real likely.

Other horses in the race may have had their last-out figure compromised greatly by a troubled trip or tardy beginning, something out of the ordinary for that horse. Or a last-out race may have been on a wrong surface (turf, mud, bias, etc.)or against the wrong level of competition and a return to normal circumstances today will bring a much better speed figure. As you can see, there are many reasons why a best last-out speed figure will not translate into a top performance today, not the least of which is today's pace shape.

As you know, in each of my Saturday race reviews, I do list the last-out Beyer speed figure for each horse. This is because I do value the Beyer speed figure calculations and I think they are a good tool. But I also point out from time to time how the top last-out Beyer speed figure horses do not win and sometimes are not even part of the exacta. Occasionally in the review I'll note how to best use the Beyer speed figures for a particular race and in "Calibration Handicapping" I go into much more detail about getting the most out of them.

As per Mike Watchmaker's recent article in the DRF, "one of the best ways to use Beyer speed figures is to eliminate horses that are simply too slow to win. In a race with established form, if it looks like it's going to take an 80 Beyer to win, and several horses have never cracked a 50 Beyer, those horses have little chance and can be confidently eliminated. If you can eliminate half the field this way, the handicapping process can be made much easier."

That's a good way to handicap, especially now that for the next 6 weeks at Saratoga we have the rolling pick 3 and the every-race trifecta. We'll have many more exotic play opportunities and to reduce the field down to 4 or 5 can give us a considerable edge in those plays when the value warrants them. What Mike Watchmaker's article does not mention of course is to be on the lookout for horses that have made last-out "moves" that will indicate to those of us who know about them the potential for a much higher next-out speed figure. Over the many weeks of my Saturday review races, I've pointed out many such horses who have increased their Beyer speed figures by a large margin and beaten the best last-out figure horse at a very nice price.

One last tidbit about Beyer speed figures and then I'll get on with this week's review race. I make it a habit of underlining (in red) each entry's best figure. I can then see where recent performances stand in relation to that best effort and I can also compare it and recent numbers to each entry's lifetime best figure. In my opinion, the way we can best utilize the Beyer speed figures is to project or estimate what number will be needed to win today's race. We can then estimate what each of our contenders is capable of running in this match up, which again will include other factors like running style and pace shape, "moves" and internal fraction comparison.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My review race this week is race 5 run last Sunday, July 23rd at Belmont Park. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here

This was a mile NW1X allowance race on the Widener turf course for 3-year-olds and upward. As usual, I'll list the entries, followed by the running style I have labeled each, the last-out Beyer speed figure, the last-out final fraction (raw/actual) and any "moves-within-a-race." It was a field of 9 after the late scratch of main track only horse #10 July Sky.

  1. Cardinal Verse          S    86  23.3 / 23.2
  2. Intermission               S    66  24.2 / 26.1  SRE
  3. Devil's Egg                S    86  23.4 / 23.4
  4. Quiet Quest               P    86  23.3 / 23.3
  5. Tiger Lion                 E    85  23.4 / 24.3
  6. Skeaping                   P    65  24.0 / 26.1
  7. Tallow                    EP    85  23.4 / 24.3
  8. Wallhanger             EP    37  24.3
  9. Backstreets              E    82  25.1 / 25.2

Here was my thinking when handicapping this race.

1. Cardinal Verse - Although stale, meaning not having run competitively in more than 90 days, his last couple of Beyer speed figures back in the winter in Florida were better than most of these. Since young horses do mature, I felt that he would have to be labeled a contender, in spite of a lackluster worktab leading up to this race.

2. Intermission - won as an SRE play in his race 2-back, but his lone try on the grass left a lot to be desired. Since I could not project a Beyer in the high 80's for him (guestimate needed to win this race), I had to throw him out.

3. Devil's Egg - although he was tied for the best last-out Beyer speed figure and had a very competitive last-out final fraction, both were achieved from the back of the pack, a position he figured to occupy in this match up also. Notice in his last two turf races, he was 9th in a field of 12 and 8th in a field of 12 at the 8th pole. Not great normal positioning to indicate a top next-out effort.

4. Quiet Quest - excluding the stale entry, #1, he had the best last-out Beyer and final fraction. This is one situation in which I stress last-out Beyer speed figure; when it is possessed by the horse who also has the best last-out final fraction. As such, even though Quiet Quest was moving up in class from his maiden-breaker, I felt as though he had a good shot at the win and made him my top pick.

5. Tiger Lion - was one of the two E runners and as such, projected to be right on or near the lead. Since he had back-to-back good competitive Beyers and was dropping back to a mile, a distance at which he just missed in his race prior at 30-1, I thought he deserved top-3 status.

6. Skeaping - his last was not good at the $35k claiming level.

7. Tallow - Although his last couple of final fractions didn't measure up, his consistent early presence and Beyer speed figures made me include him as a contender on my periphery play list.

8. Wallhanger - Dull

9. Backstreets - early speed is the name of his game. But unlike Tiger Lion, he has not shown recently that he can be anything more than an early pace factor.

Thus I was left with 4 contenders. 3 prime and 1 periphery. Here is the way I had them listed in last Sunday's selections issue of this newsletter, along with the official morning line, my value line, and finally the actual post time odds.

4. Quiet Quest (9-2) (5-2) (4-1)
1. Cardinal Verse (6-5) (2-1) (1-1)
5. Tiger Lion (6-1) (5-1) (5-1)

7. Tallow (4-1) (3-1) (5-1)

As can be seen, from among my top 3 picks, #4 Quiet Quest was the value horse and as such I keyed on him for the win and the exacta and trifecta plays. While jockey Norberto Arroyo, Jr. wisely laid back off the pace someewhat on Tiger Lion when it became evident that E runner Backstreets was intent on the lead, the same could not be said of Jorge Chavez on Quiet Quest.

The latter pushed the pace the whole way and then bravely held second as Arroyo and Tiger Lion got the perfect trip for the going away win. Returnee Cardinal Verse showed little but nipped Tallow for the 3rd slot to reduce the trifecta payoff.

Here were the results:

#5 Tiger Lion - Won - $12.20
#4 Quiet Quest - 2nd - 5-4 exacta $57.00
#1 Cardinal Verse - 3rd - 5-4-1 trifecta $172.00

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Until next week, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks. Knock 'em dead!

Jim

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