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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday June 3, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Concerning last Saturday's subject of wagering, I received the following email from Dave Stewart in Denton, TX.


I enjoyed your newsletter on wagering. I thought I might add something. In exacta wagering I usually play combinations of early runners with late runners unless there are only 2 early runners or 2 closers. Most of the time, I have found that the exacta involves an E or EP combined with a P or an S.


I can't say that I disagree with Dave. As I mentioned in a recent newsletter, the finish of a race is often composed of alternating running styles. Either early, late, early or late, early, late. Not always but often.

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And here are some thoughts on the subject from Mike Bertolet.


Just a word or two about betting your selections or for that matter any set of selections. To keep it simple: top choice bet at 4-1 or more; 2nd choice bet at 8-1 or more; 3rd choice bet at 15-1 or more. Of course for this to work you must be able to see the odds. For exacta plays do the following: Play any exacta combination of the top 3 choices that will pay $50.00 or more. With any decent selections (such as yours) a nice profit is possible and even likely. Of course, not all will be able to follow this plan. It does require patience. Anyway thought you might enjoy & be interested.

I thought of a good (or great) headline for the Preakness -- Pegasus shot down by Red Bullet.


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Last but not least, here are some excerpts from an email I received from J.D. Silva.

Hello Jim,

I haven't written to you lately since I converted your addendum on Internal Fractions Comparison to a .pdf file. I still love to read your newsletters and check the results even if I don't play all the time.

I just got the new Formulator from the Daily Racing Form at You might tell your subscribers about it. The software is available free online. The best part is you don't have to calculate internal fractions. By using the (th is horse) feature, it shows the fractions or the actual time for each call of the race.....a big time saver.

I just hit another Profile horse at Hollywood Park the other day that paid $37. This was the only race I played with a $20 bet to win. Spot playing is by far the best and most profitable way to bet. Using the concepts in "Calibration Handicapping" is the only way to make a great profit...PERIOD! When I combine these plays with my own power figures I can find the near Mortal Lock that shows a profit.

Thanks for the book, the great info, and your insights to what I think is in and of itself the best way to select these spot plays. The book is a must for any handicapper's arsenal!

Regards, Greatfully!
John (J.D.) Silva

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Today I'm going to review last Saturday's 2nd race at Belmont, a race for which I made picks in this forum. It's an example of a match up that can provide value in spite of an odds-on favorite who looks tough to beat. Obviously, the only way we will get value in such a race is if we can come up with a longshot to either beat the favorite or run 2nd to him.

The public made one of the entries even money, in spite of a Morning Line of 5-2. Can you think of the one reason why a horse who should be around 5-2 or 2-1 at the most would go to the post at even money? You got it, Beyer speed figure. According to the methods I use, this horse figured strongly also, but I had my "fair odds line" at 2-1, not even money. My "fair odds line" is the odds I list just to the right of the official morning line for each selection I make.

The Beyer speed figures are extremely useful indicators of next-out performance, but the betting public goes overboard in their faith in these numbers. A good majority of post-time favorites have the high Beyer figure. But should we bet these top figure horses blindly? Of course not. Such horses only win about 30% to 35% of the time anyway so we would get nowhere fast if we simply keyed on the top Beyer speed figure horse.

In my book, "Calibration Handicapping" I talk about how I think the Beyer speed figures can best be utilized, including the best barometer I have of determining if a horse will not bounce off a top effort. The favorite in this race did not meet the criteria for a horse to have the best chance not to bounce off a lifetime high Beyer speed figure, and I would guess since he finished 2nd, he probably reacted somewhat to that top effort and bounced down to a lower figure as the winner moved forward off a last-out "move-within-a-race."

One might ask why then I picked this horse as my top selection. The answer is that by my calculations, he seemed the most likely winner. But he was a large underlay (meaning lower odds than we figure he should be) at 1.10 to 1. At those odds, a win bet on him was totally out of the question. Remember, I had him at a value line of 2-1.

But that did not mean I couldn't key him in exactas. Just because he was an underlay didn't mean I would automatically skip the race without seeing if there was value in exactas. As it turned out, my other 2 picks listed after the favorite went to the post at odds of nearly 6-1 and over 7-1 and the probable exacta payoffs were good enough to wager on.

I'll review this race now and anyone who cares to do so can follow along by printing out the Daily Racing Form past performances that can be found Here

The first thing that is interesting about the results of this race is that there were value payoffs in spite of the presence of an odds-on favorite AND in a short 6-horse field. As you'll see, there were forces at work other than the obvious speed figure advantage horses.

I'll list the field from 1 through 6. Then I'll list the running styles I labeled each, followed by the last-out Beyer speed figures, the last-out 3rd-quarter fractions (raw/actual), and finally any "move-within-a-race" plays.

1. Head First            EP    82    25.3 / 25.3
2. Destruction           EP    63    25.2 / 27.2    Prof / WO
3. Trumpster             EP    70    25.0 / 25.3
4. Polish Missile        EP    91    24.4 / 24.3    SRE
5. Cviano                    P    67    25.0 / 25.0
6. Unpeteable             E    70    26.2 / 26.2

The first thing that jumps out in this match up is that in the field of 6 there are 5 "early" runners and only 1 "late." The advantage usually goes to the group with the fewest, which in this case is "late", but recently the one closer in here hasn't done much late running. There is not a whole lot to like about him, so the first and second slots in the payoffs would likely be filled by 2 of the "early" horses.

But which? Where do we begin? We begin by trying to get a bead on which of the speeds will be around at the end by figuring the "speed of the speed." My calculations indicated that the 2 with the best chances to assume the lead at the top of the lane were #4 Polish Missile and #1 Head First. I included both of them in my 3-horse contender list. Here's how I viewed the field.

1. Head First - broke his maiden in his last and it was at the 50K claiming level, but he did it in style and with such a strong middle move and good early zip, I thought he deserved to be on the top 3 contender list. As things turned out, Head First showed some early speed and totally collapsed finishing last. I'm not making excuses for my picks, but he was very fractious in the gate before the start and may have even injured himself somewhat. At any rate, they don't issue refunds for that.

2. Destruction - was a Profile/Wide Out play. Because of the short field, he went off at 7-1, down from his last-out odds of nearly 21-1 in a 12-horse field. He obviously was an early speed type but he didn't have the same early speed as some of the others, so his only chance would be to be taken back off the early pace. His high Beyer on a fast track was 83 and that matched up well with this group.

Why would that be pertinent today since that figure was achieved back in January? Because since he ran his last as a Profile/Wide Out play, we can expect him to improve substantially on his last-out Beyer of 63, and I'm sure he did. It's always good to know what a horse's best speed figure is and to compare that to the rest of the field, especially if we have good reason to believe he will approach that figure today.

3. Trumpster - he was made the 2nd choice in the betting, why I'm not sure, but I guess the public thought he was the speed of the speed. With the presence of what I calculated as the "speed of the speed" in #'s 1 and 4, I didn't like his chances too much.

4. Polish Missile - he had a lot going for him. Not only did he have the best last-out Beyer speed figure by a good margin, but he also had a sizeable advantage in last-out final fraction comparison. In addition, he was an SRE play. Was there anything to be concerned about with this horse? First of all there is always some concern about which of the 5 "early" horses in a field of 6 are going to be able to run their race and which would be cooked early in a duel.

But Polish Missile looked quite strong. The only question was his last race. It was so much better than his recent tries that you had to think about the "bounce" phenomenon. Would it apply to him in this match up? As I said earlier, he did not run that big race the way I would prefer to see a horse run to set him up to overcome a bounce. Also, the last time he ran a lifetime high Beyer speed figure of 82, he did regress quite a bit. I still had to consider him the likliest of winners in this field.

5. Cviano - didn't have a lot going for him in this match up. He ran an okay 4th at Keeneland and then came to New York and ran a clunker, for no apparent reason. Off that race, he had to be thrown out of contention.

6. Unpeteable - he completed a nice exacta for us a week earlier and was the E horse of this group. We could be pretty certain of where he would be running at the beginning of this race, but not so sure of how he would finish. For those of you with my book, I didn't label him an SRE horse because he tried so hard last time after a tough beginning and finished only a neck off the winner.

He was the 3rd choice in the betting probably because of the perceived early speed advantage. But he didn't project to get a very lonely lead and his last-out final fraction in the slop didn't match up well. In fairness, a repeat of his prior race would put him in the thick of things late, but we can't always simply throw out the last and expect a duplicate performance of a better prior.

Here is how I listed my plays for this race last Saturday:

4. Polish Missile (5-2) (2-1)
1. Head First (4-1) (5-2)
2. Destruction (7-2) (3-1)

Polish Missile did turn out to be what I call the "speed of the speed" as he nearly had the lead after a quarter mile and then did take charge at the quarter pole before succombing to a very strong move by Destruction, who ran true to to form as a Profile/Wide Out play, and drew off by 4 3/4 lengths with Polish Missile 5 lengths ahead of Trumpster in 3rd.

What were the appropriate plays for this race? Obviously a win bet was out for Polish Missile at even money so I could have chosen to put a win wager on either or both of my other 2 picks. I opted for the exactas however as they were pretty good value and I committed to using Polish Missle as my key. Here were my exacta plays and the results.

4 / 1-2 and 1-2 / 4

2. Destruction $16.60
4. Polish Missile 2-4 ex. $44.00
3. Trumpster

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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday June 10, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Today is Belmont Stakes Day and we'll see which of this year's crop of 3-year-olds can go the demanding mile and a half distance. This renewal lacks some of the excitement of recent years as not only are there no horses going for the Triple Crown but the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness are missing in action. I'll give you my analysis of this race a little later.

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Rich Johnstin sent me the following email concerning phone betting.

Hi Jim,

Your readers might be interested to know that Autotote (Conn. OTB) has re-opened its phone betting service to residents of many states, including Massachusetts. It was the first phone account I ever used and I always thought the best. Toll free #, no surcharges, many tracks.


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I received a couple of emails concerning last Sunday's 9th at Belmont and decided to make that the race I review for this week's newsletter. It is an excellent demonstration of how the principles and 3-step process in my book, "Calibration Handicapping" can unearth good value plays not seen by the public. Here is the first email from Tom in Virginia.

Hi Jim,

Thought I would drop you a line and let you know how I did today. I have a simulcast of Colonial Downs 30 minutes travel time from my house. I played Belmont race #9. Your top horse winner paid $12.60 win and $7.50 to place. I had a $1.00 exacta key 9/all that cost me $11.00 and returned $171.00.

I found a strong SRE play at Delaware race #4 horse 6 that ran 2nd paying $12.80 to place. I found a Wide Out/Profile combo at Monmouth race #3 horse 1 that paid $6.60 win and $3.20 place and I had several other plays that did not pan out.

I read your book and enjoyed it very much! I always am looking for new concepts that work!



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And here's what Fred J. from Queens, N.Y. had to say.

Hi Jim,

I cleaned up on the 9th at Belmont today using your picks and also one that you didn't mention, but that your book said was a play. I keyed on your first selection, #9 Hallucinogin and caught the exacta and the trifecta for $342 and $2082. I used the 3 horses you had listed under #9 plus I added in the WIR horse and made a bundle. I can't thank you enough for what you have taught me in your book. I love grass racing now!


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Im sure that from the hundreds of owners of "Calibration Handicapping" there are some more that caught at least that exacta and I know that many simply don't write emails and that's certainly understandable. It bugs me that I didn't at least mention that dang WIR horse who nearly won the race and finished 2nd at 30-1. I had WIR circled in red next to #8 Tiger Lion, but as you'll see, the pace shape of last Sunday's 9th was top heavy with early speed horses and I thought he would be used up. It goes to show I should never underestimate the power of the "move" plays.

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many books I sell, the odds on the plays brought out by its principles are not diminished. That's because so few players go by any of the 3 factors I focus on. The horses that finished 1st through 4th in this race were respectively: 1st - top last-out final fraction horse, 2nd - a WIR play, 3rd and 4th - tied for 2nd-best last-out final fraction with the 3rd-place finisher also being an SRE play. In order, these horses went off at: 5-1, 30-1, 7-2 and 45-1.

To be honest with you, I don't think there will ever be a decline in the prices of the value plays uncovered by "Calibration Handicapping" because most people simply don't use its contents. They don't stress Pace Shape, they don't know about "Moves-Within-a-Race", and they don't know how to calculate Internal Fractions.

Here's a review of the race. If you would like to follow along, you can obtain and print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race just Click here.

This was a NW1X mile race on the Widener turf course for 3-year-olds & up with a full field of 12. As per usual, I'll list the horses and then the running styles I've labeled each followed by the last-out Beyer speed figure, the last-out final fractions as calculated using the conversion chart in my book, and finally any "moves." I'll omit the final fractions for the 3 last-out sprinters as I did not consider them contenders.

  2. Northern Spring          EP    76    24.3 / 25.3
  3. El Temperamental       EP    74    24.3 / 24.2
  4. Splendeed                    S    61    23.4 / 25.3
  5. River Gorge                  P    35
  6. French Lover                E    65                            Prof
  7. Capasso                       S    74    24.2 / 24.4
  8. Tiger Lion                     E    74    24.4 / 25.4      WIR
  9. Hallucinogin                EP    83    24.0 / 24.0
10. Rapacious                     P    78    25.2 / 24.2      SRE
11. Knock Again              EP    81    25.0 / 26.3      WIR
1A. Pleasant Prince             E    78    24.4 / 25.0
12. Immediate Delivery       S    73

As I said, the pace shape of this match up was "early" top heavy with 7 of the 11 entries having some degree of propensity for early postioning. Therefore, I focused on the final fraction comparison and made my picks accordingly. The results would show that from those 7 early runners, WIR horse Tiger Lion had dominant speed over the others and nearly won after building a 5-length lead at the 8th pole.

2. Northern Spring - as stated in my analysis of this race, he prefers the place slot, having run 2nd in 6 of 13 outings. He figured to get a good trip behind any speed duel that may develop and his current form made him a contender. As it turned out, he encountered some heavy traffic problems in deep stretch and Jerry Bailey didn't give him the best of rides.

3. El Temperamental - was tied for the 2nd-best last-out final fraction of 24.2, two ticks off the best. His last was not as bad as the finish may indicate to some as he gained a length and a half late. Because of his record and recent out-of-the-money finishes, I put him on the periphery play list as having a shot at the trifecta or superfecta.

4. Splendeed - had not run in over 5 months and was facing a field with too many current horses with a better chance.

5. River Gorge - a recent sprinter who looked totally overmatched, but did have the look of a horse who would mix it up early and make it difficult for any of the early runners to last.

6. French Lover - another early-burner who projected to be part of the early mix and be used up. His sire has zero first-out turf winners and he never went a mile so there were too many question marks to consider him a contender. He was a Profile play but that last race was in the mud.

7. Capasso - his last was his first on the grass and it was not a good performance. Nothing to like.

8. Tiger Lion - this WIR play has an abundance of early speed. Although he showed his customary early zip in his two turf outings, I erroneously thought he would be at best part of the speed brigade and would fade out of it by mid-stretch. That was not the case.

9. Hallucinogin - was exiting a maiden-breaker win with the best final fraction of the bunch and as such had to be a contender. Since he also had the best last-out Beyer, I made him my top selection.

10. Rapacious - possessed the 2nd-best last out final fraction as well as being an SRE play. His running style added to his potential to do well in this match up and he was a definite top-3 contender.

11. Knock Again - a WIR play who looked like he also would be contesting the early pace and have nothing left for the drive. His best turf race was well below the other early speeds. He didn't look primed for a lifetime best effort, which would be needed for him to have a chance with these.

1A. Pleasant Prince - yet another with plenty of early speed to add to the mix, with nothing showing that would indicate he would be around at the end.

12. Immediate Delivery - being an S-horse from the 12-hole did not bode well for his chances.

My picks for this race were in order:

9. Hallucinogin (5-1) (3-1)
2. Northern Spring (8-5) (2-1)
10. Rapacious (10-1) (5-1)

Periphery Plays

3. El Temperamental (20-1)(10-1)

And the results were:

9. Hallucinogin - Win $12.60
8. Tiger Lion - Ex. $342.00
10. Rapacious - Trifecta. $2,082.00 (Guru TBC)
3. El Temperamental - Superfecta $34,164.00

Late D/D with 2nd pick in 8th, 4-9 $49.00

The whole shebang was there for readers of "Calibration Handicapping." It just took some creative wagering like the plays made by Tom and Fred.

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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday June 17, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Well, the Triple Crown events are history for the year 2000. With the results in for the Belmont Stakes run last Saturday, no one will be accusing any of the participants of being fast race horses. To put things in perspective, the winner crossed the finish line in the time of 2:31, which translates into 35 lengths behind Secretariat's smashing victory 27 years earlier.

I don't have the records in front of me, but I would guess that this was the slowest winning time since Big Red set the still unequalled record time for a mile and a half on the Belmont main track. And that record includes ALL other races run at the mile and a half distance since 1973. The reason I'm even mentioning this is to demonstrate the fact that there are more ways to lose at this game than there are to win.

There is no handicapping technique or process that I'm aware of that would allow a player to come up with Commendable as a top prospect to win the 132nd Belmont Stakes. He had broken his maiden in his first race lifetime. Since that day in August of 1999, he participated in 5 races and didn't hit the board in any of them, including his last 17th-place effort in the Kentucky Derby, before his easy romp in the Belmont.

It's not a real difficult assignment to figure out why he won the race, now that it's over. I can't imagine any Belmont Stakes race in the modern era having been run with such pedestrian fractions. And this was on a perfectly clear day and a fast track. Here were the splits set by the leader at each call point. Commendable was 2nd at the first 2 and on the lead at the last 3:

24.0  49.1  114.1  139.0  205.0  2.31.0

The raw internal fraction calculations reveal the following for quarters 2 through 6:

25.1  25.0  24.4  26.0  26.0

I think we may be hard-pressed to find any Grade I race on a fast track with no major wind factor in recent times with such a slow early pace. As a comparison, here are the splits of the 4th race on the Belmont Stakes Day card. It was also run at the distance of a mile and a half on the main track. but these were horses that had run for a CLAIMING TAG of $35K at some point during 1999 or 2000.

23.4  48.1  112.3  138.0  204.1  231.2

The raw internal fractions for this race were:  24.2   24.2  25.2  26.1  27.1

These claimers went the equivalent of the following lengths faster at the 5 call points:

1st Q: 1 length
2nd Q: 5 lengths
3rd Q: 8 lengths
4th Q: 5 lengths
5th Q: 4 lengths

And they completed the 12 furlongs just 2 ticks slower than the 3-year-old colts did in the Belmont.

Let's take a look at the splits of this year's Kentucky Derby:

45.1  109.4  135.3  201.0

and the internal fractions:    24.3  25.4  25.2

The Derby is run at a mile and a quarter, 2F shorter than the Belmont. It's a distance that many feel is more difficult for 3-year-olds to run than the mile and a half in the Belmont. The reasoning for this is that 3-year-olds are maturing rapidly and the Derby distance on the first Saturday in May is a tougher assignment than 2F longer after 5 weeks of physical development.

Be that as it may, the Derby field ran the first 6 furlongs 22 lengths faster than did the Belmont field. They ran the mile 18 lengths faster. And they ran the mile and a quarter 20 lengths faster.

We can now see how and why Commendable won the Belmont Stakes. He was the beneficiary of significantly slower early splits than claiming horses went earlier on the same card. And astoundingly slower splits than the same division went in the Kentucky Derby. Apparently, Commendable could get the distance while the other recipient of the gift of slow early fractions, Hugh Hefner, could not.

A big question I would want answered by the Jockey if I had a legitimate contender in this race, like Aptitude, would be how he could let the leaders get away with such a slow early pace. It certainly seems that the 9 Jockeys who were biding their time behind the two pacesetters were asleep at the wheel.

It's one thing to understand why Commendable won this race and quite another to predict such a scenario before it unfolded. Yes, there were only 2 legitimate "early" horses in a field of 11 and the advantage went to them. But the only way either of them could win off their recent form was to be able to run a 139 flat mile and that would be awfully tough to predict. In a race that provided 60 thousand dollars to the winning Trainer and the same amount to the winning Jockey, you wouldn't think they would allow such a scenario to actually become reality.

But the reality we are confronted with is that situations like this do occur. And situations like this are why we can't cash more tickets than we do, even if we are good handicappers. There is really no way to correctly predict the pace of a race and when the Jockeys "steal" one like this, we get beaten. I will give credit to Pat Day and Jorge Chavez, though. They achieved what they wanted to do and set that ridiculously slow early pace that enabled Commendable to win. The other riders get an F for failure to realize what was going on up front.

You might think some trainers who thought they had serious contenders may have told their Jockeys to be aware of the pace due to the presence of only 2 legitimate speed horses. But this example does emphasize the significance of Pace Shape. And also perhaps something about whether or not the Jockeys really have a "clock" in their heads to accurately judge the early splits.

While the Triple Crown races as well as other big Stakes races provide a lot of pre-race hoopla and excitement, they do not always provide us with the best betting scenarios. It's not the best idea in the world to lay out a lot of money on a prediction of which 3-year-old will be able to go a distance that they have never come close to trying in their careers. An entertainment bet would be appropriate for these kinds of races that are more unpredictable. I would recommend saving the major, or standard wagers for races in which we have pertinent past performances to interpret.

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Today's review race will be the 7th at Belmont on Sunday June 11th. If you would like to follow along, you can Click Here to view or print the file.

This was a mile and a quarter race on the inner turf course and was a preliminary allowance for 3-year-olds and up who had never won a race other than maiden, claiming or starter or which had never won 2 races (in case they had won their maiden race against winners). I'll list the field of 11 and then the running styles I've labeled each. Then I'll note the last-out Beyer speed figures, followed by the last-out final fractions (as calculated by the comparison chart found in my book, "Calibration Handicapping"), and any last-out "moves-within-a-race."

  1. On The Fan            EP    71              25.1 / 25.2
  2. Mr. Fater                  P    77 (Slop)   27.4 / 27.4
  3. De Roma                  P    70 (dirt)     25.2 / 27.3     SRE
  4. Understood               P    79             24.2 / 24.2
  5. Dad's Gun               EP    52             25.0 / 27.4
  6. Jovial Forecast          S    19 (dirt)
  7. Blending Swords       S    72 (spr)     24.2 / 25.1
  8. Mateeghan                S    89             25.0 / 24.2
  9. River Bed                  P    88              24.4 / 24.2
10. Antitrust                    P    80              24.4 / 24.2
11. Go Go Juice              S    73              25.0 / 25.2

As I've mentioned in the past, turf racing is pretty much of a different entity from dirt racing. As such, and because there is more often than not a late cavalry charge, closing power should be stressed more than pace shape. The obvious exception would be on a turf course that has been proven to favor early speed. Such a condition can arise from time to time, especially after an extended dry spell. The Belmont turf courses have not experienced that "baking" to this point, so we can expect the best closers to win more than their share.

The pace shape of this contest was 2 "early" and 9 "late", thus giving an apparent advantage to the early speeds, #'s 1 and 5. But neither of these horses showed in their recent p.p.'s that they were capable of a strong front-running effort. As the race unfolded, #7 Blending Swords, whom I labeled S, shot out for the lead off his last-out sprint on the turf, along with #2 Mr. Fater, who had shown speed in his last-out win in the slop. Neither of these pacesetters were around at the finish.

Here is a brief description of how I saw each horse's chances in this match up.

1. On The Fan - as a N.Y.-Bred non-winner of 1 other than, he was racing out of his element and although he showed improvement when switched to the grass, did not figure as a prime contender.

2. Mr. Fater - broke his maiden in the slop and didn't show a whole lot in his 4 tries on the turf.

3. De Roma - was an SRE play, but as a 1st-time turfer did not figure off his last on a fast track.

4. Understood - ran a good 3rd-place finish in his last and tied for the best last-out final fraction of 24.2. I took a stand against him however, as he had only 1 race since November and all prior races were in Europe. I felt the other 3 co-leaders in final fraction advantage had much better chances, but I wouldn't argue with anyone who was of the opinion that Understood had a decent shot at being part of the exotic plays.

5. Dad's Gun - had some speed and also a win on the course at the distance, but his 2 races this year made him a non-contender.

6. Jovial Forecast - an S horse with dull form made him a quick throwout.

7. Blending Swords - an S runner coming in off a sprint at Calder. His last 2 did not provide any clues for a top performance in this race.

8. Mateeghan - was tied with #'s 9 and 10 for the best last-out final fraction and because of his best last-out Beyer speed figure, I made him my top pick.

9. River Bed - graduated in his last with a strong Beyer and tied-for-best final fraction. Had to be a top 3 contender in this otherwise lackluster field.

10. Antitrust - signaled a potential strong next-out performance with his sharp last-race stretch move and figured off his last two.

11. Go Go Juice - was an S horse in the outside slot and despite showing a decent final move in his last while wide, could not be considered in the top 3.

My picks in order were:

8. Mateeghan (9-2) (5-2) (4-1)
9. River Bed (7-2) (3-1) (2-1)
10. Antitrust (4-1) (7-2) (6-1)

What would be the best way to wager on this race? Since my 3 selections all had the same last-out final fraction, they had to be considered pretty evenly matched. Since I have to list horses in an order, I picked Mateeghan and River Bed first and second due to their superior last-out Beyer speed figures, but as you can see from the results, they ran 2nd and 3rd to Antitrust who had more experience against winners and in spite of his 1 for 14 record on the grass, went very well for the victory.

If you look at the final odds compared to the official odds and my own odds, you can see that the value lies with Mateeghan and more so with Antitrust. A win bet on either or both of those would be appropriate. Since the 3 choices were tied for best last-out final fraction, a box exacta and/or box trifecta would be the exotic plays.

Win on #8 and or #10
Ex.Bx. $2 / 8-9-10
Tri.Bx. $2 / 8-9-10


Win 10 Antitrust $14.20
2nd 8 Mateeghan, Ex. 10-8 paid $63.00
3rd 9 River Bed, Tri. 10-8-9 paid $160.00 (Guru TBC)


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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday June 24, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." When I handicap a race, I stress the last performance line or "last-out performance". Unless there was trouble encountered in the last race or it was run on a different surface, including grass or an off track, it's my belief that the last race tells much of the story concerning next-out performance.

Of course class drops and other factors can also have a bearing on how we view a horse's chances in a particular match up. But it's not always wise to ignore the rest of an entry's past performances. If we review all of the p.p.'s we can sometimes locate clues that will give a clearer picture of the potential for today's encounter.

I'm going to give two cases in point concerning "reading between the lines." The first is an email I received from Sharon, and it concerns the recently concluded Belmont Stakes. I talked about that race in last Saturday's newsletter and pretty much said that I could only see how Commendable won the race after it was concluded. But Shar saw things differently and she certainly didn't base her conclusions on looking at the last-out p.p. of Commendable, or even the last few. Here is what she wrote:

Evening Jim,

If you will go the the ReMarQ board, site, you will see some very enlightening "stuff." Under the subject of Commendable, I have taken part in much discussion. I had been touting this colt since prior to the Derby. I had a fit when he was in a quadrupled entry for that race, and then he skipped the Preakness and entered and won the Belmont.

Several in the newsgroup kidded me before the race and named me as President after the Belmont. Jokingly, of course. To me Jim, this colt was a standout, a very typical DW Lucas ploy. I had $10 across on him, on top of Aptitude and All. I had posted to the group that Lucas had brought this colt along far differently from most of his other youngsters.

Why did he run High Yield to exhaustion, then add blinks, change this one's running style, and dismiss the last shown race, the Derby, from the 12 post with Prado? He also has owners who support his every move and go along with his plans, no matter what. He has trained Classic winners for them for years, and the Belmont is his specialty.

It is obvious that this colt's condition and ability were purposefully hidden, for all his races, with the exception of his Maiden, which he won at first asking, were run very "evenly." Horses simply do not run evenly all the time. He knew he had to face Pegasus and Bullet eventually, and had Commendable dead fit for this big upset.

You couldn't possibly handicap this race by speed, etc.; it has to be done by dissecting every race shown and figuring that Lucas is a master by deception. He was grooming this horse almost in Drysdale style, building fitness, conditioning, and speed.

Sure the times were slow, and the heat took its toll, but this colt did not tire, pressed all the way, was challenged and still won. He also was not coupled with Impeachment. He had only 1 race win, but so too had Aptitude, Impeachment and Curule.

Now that he is "exposed", I look for this youngster to really perform, then perhaps have a freshening, and head for the Cup in November. He has brought this colt along absolutely perfectly, and like the man or not, he does know what he is doing.

A shocking win for some, but for me, as I posted before I left for Oregon, he's gonna pop and I'll be at the windows.....and I was.

I'm not boasting here Jim, and I am sorry if it appears as such. I only mean to point out that this colt was extremely bettable, was a steal at 18-1, and the facts were there for everyone to see if they weren't so quick to dismiss his previous races as compared to those who had been trying to win and didn't. He simply had not tried to win since he broke his Maiden as the favorite. That showed for openers that this baby has some talent.

Best Regards,   Shar

Now that's what I call reading between the lines. I give Shar a lot of credit for coming up with Commendable in the Belmont. And she made her opinions known well before the day of the race. It turns out she had things pegged perfectly, and she was rewarded handsomely for being right on the money.

It might be possible and maybe even probable that a trainer with a sharp focus on the Classic races like D.Wayne could and would orchestrate out-of-the-money finishes for his owner's horse so he could get a price on him eventually. I do find it a bit of a stretch though that those tactics would include the Kentucky Derby debacle, just to point to the Belmont Stakes. I think the Derby has more status than the Belmont.

But that is what makes horseracing; varying opinions. I can't knock Shar's successful analysis, but I still see that 1:39 for the mile in the Belmont and wonder what the final results would have been if it had been run in 1:36. My opinion on Commendable varies somewhat from Shar's. I will be surprised if he comes out of the Belmont with a strong performance in the Haskell. Time will tell.

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

The second example of "reading between the lines" will also serve as this week's review race. It was race 6 at Belmont last Sunday, June 18th. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by Clicking Here

This was a 7F sprint for 3-year-olds and up with a claiming tag of $35,000 (down to $30,000). I'll list the 7 entries and next to each horse the running style I've labeled it, followed by the last-out Beyer speed figure, the last-out final fractions (#'s 3, 4, 6 & 7 will be adjusted having last run at route distances), and any "moves-within-a-race."

1. Johnny Legit            P    92    25.3 / 25.1
2. Kay's Guy               P    77    25.0 / 24.4    SRE
3. Royal Redcoat        S    63    26.3 / 25.3
4. Shock Value           P    82    24.0 / 23.0
5. Felarof                 EP    87    25.3 / 26.0
6. Flax Jacket             E    74    27.1 / 26.1
7. Ancient Dancer       P    89    26.0 / 25.0

There is an apparent running style advantage for the early speed horses since there are only 2 early and 5 late. Here was my thinking on this field, in post position order:

2. Kay's Guy - is the field's lone "move" horse, an SRE play. However, when horses come from out-of-town tracks, I usually want to give them a race or 2 over the track here in New York. Especially if they come in from lower rated tracks like Suffolk Downs. This is not a knock on Suffolk Downs stock or the track itself (Rich); simply an observation. As a result, I omitted Kay's Guy from my contender list last Sunday. As things turned out, he ran a big race at 40-1 and got the show money.

3. Royal Redcoat - an S runner cutting back from a mile and a sixteenth, he didn't show anything much in his recent p.p.'s to indicate an in-the-money finish.

4. Shock Value - at first glance I felt the same about him as I did about Kay's Guy; a Philly-based horse that would have to show he could run in New York. But rather than just move on to the next horse, as I do with all entries, I looked further. I saw that Shock Value did indeed run at Aqueduct back on March 16th, a race at this distance of 7F, in which he ran a credible 2nd.

But a further review is what clinched him as my top choice in this match up. I already knew that he possessed the best last-out final fraction by a large margin. What I found deeper into his p.p.'s was the fact that he had beaten Lager last May at Philadelphia Park. Lager, as many of you may remember won a feature race as my top pick about 6 weeks ago and paid $63.00. In his next race, he ran a huge 2nd in the Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park.

In effect, I knew that with all else he had going for him, including that best final fraction and a good G8 move in his last, Shock Value also had some hidden class. This is a case of successfully "reading between the lines." Obviously, we won't be right all the time when we find these hidden plays, but when they pop at good prices, they can offset many losers.

5. Felarof - with an EP running style was one of only 2 such "early" horses in the field and as such had a pace shape advantage. He ran a good last-out race in the slop and showed a fondness for the 7F distance and also the Belmont strip, especially the place hole with 7 such finishes. A full perusal of Felarof's p.p.'s shows a couple of wire-to-wire wins at Belmont in the '99 Fall meet, both at higher claiming levels. With all of this information, I had to make him a top 3 selection.

6. Flax Jacket - an E runner coming in from a 5th in a field of 6 last-out finish at a mile and a sixteenth. Did not figure to outbreak Felarof coming off that route race, but due to the pace shape advantage, he had to be considered as having a shot underneath in the exacta. As such, I made him my periphery play.

1. Johnny Legit - was on a roll since the addition of lasix and having the best last-out Beyer speed figure, projected to be the favorite. But 4-5? That was a bit of an underlay for a horse who won at 50K and then was DROPPED in class and won at 35K. He was then scratched at least twice before running in this race. I had to consider him a threat, but there was a troubling questionmark concerning that move the trainer made. When a horse is doing well and wins by 3, you don't usually wheel him back 12 days later for $15,000 less. I made him my second pick.

7. Ancient Dancer - last raced at a mile on May 5th. It was a good 3-wide placing that would appear to set him up for a legitimate shot with this group. I took a stand against him however, for the following reasons. My top 2 picks had better final fractions and he projected to have potential trouble from his outside post. If he went out and tried to run with the 2 speeds, he could pay for it with an out-of-the-money finish and that appears to have been his ultimate fate.

My picks in order with official Morning Line, my "Fair Odds Line", and the Final Odds were:

4. Shock Value (8-1) (4-1) (17-1)
1. Johnny Legit (8-5) (8-5) (4-5)
5. Felarof (4-1) (3-1) (9-2)

Periphery Play

6. Flax Jacket (5-1) (7-2) (6-1)

The results were:

Win: 4. Shock Value $36.40
2nd: 5. Felarof; 4-5 Ex. $181.00
3rd: 2. Kay's Guy

The value generated by this 17-1 shot Shock Value was incredible. Although the exacta of $181 come back less than what a parlay of the 1st 2 finishers would have paid ($36.40 x 1/2 of what the place horse would have paid to win or 5.6 = $203.80), the pick 3 paid huge.

Here is what a win parlay would have paid using the 3 winners of the pick 3, races 6 through 8: $36.40 x 2.8 x 1.7 = $173.20. The actual pick 3 payoff was $409.00! As it turns out, that score was easily attainable using my top 2 picks in each leg at a cost of $16.00 as such: 1-4/5-9/1-4.

As usual, it pays to know your wagering options. A pick 3 wager using favorites in two of the three legs is only advisable when you think you have a longshot with a good chance of clicking in the remaining leg. In other words, I would not have used Johnny Legit on the same ticket with Paraselene and Gaviola, the winners of races 7 and 8. The win parlay using those 3 horses would have paid: $3.80 x 2.8 x 1.7 = $18.00.

The actual all-favorite P-3 payoff may have been in the neighborhood of $25.00, which is not worth the risk of $16.00 if you used 2 selections in each leg. But anytime you have a horse going off at odds of more than 10 to 1 that you think has a solid shot at winning, a pick 3 payoff will be okay regardless of whether or not the favorites (other than odds-on favorites like 1 to 5 shots) win the other 2 legs. And finally, to play a pick 3 without having a bead on all 3 races is never advisable.

This race is yet another example of factors other than speed figures being the prime indicators of strong next-out performance. The top 2 Beyer speed figure horses, #1 Johnny Legit (92) and #7 Ancient Dancer (89) were off the board while the top two finishers figured on final fraction advantage/ hidden class advantage and pace shape advantage. And of course, the top 2 Beyer speed figure horses were also the top 2 in the betting at 4-5 and 7-2, which accounted for the value payoffs in a 7-horse field.

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


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