Newsletter of November 13th

       Newsletter of November 20th

       Newsletter of November 27th


*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday November 13, 1999*****

In this edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter" I'll address some emails I've received since the last issue. Some of the content may be repetitive, but it really can't hurt to review things again. I have found that when it comes to being successful at horseracing, "brainwashing" or constantly being reminded of proper techniques until they become second nature is critical.

When we're in the "heat of battle" while trying to make the right decisions and wagers, it helps to have certain things engrained in our minds so that it's second nature to make the right moves the majority of the time. For each and every race I'm thinking of playing, I automatically initiate my 3-step procedure that will allow me to be consistent and cover all the bases. First, I ask myself the question "do I have an edge in this race?" (Or is it too contentious with too many contenders or too uncertain, such as having stale horses or first-time starters entered?)

If the answer to that question is yes, I move on to the second one, "is there enough value for me to construct a wager for this race?" If I can answer yes to that question, then I review each and every possible wager open to me for that race and decide on the best option(s) to optimize the payoff if my horse(s) wins. If there is an angle play or a horse that I really like more than other contenders, then I will want to have some money on that horse alone, whether or not I also opt for exotic wagering. Many times I will like one horse and find the rest of the field too contentious, which makes the wagering decision easy, win or some combination of win-place-show.

Here is the first letter I received, from Robbie: "Hi Jim, boy am I having some problems. I've been playing the horses for 15 years and used to be a good handicapper. I would read the Racing Form and make my plays. Then I started with Trackmaster, rag sheets (Ragozin sheets), speed ratings and now I am totally confused when I handicap. Is there a formula or system that you use?"

"When I was winning I would handicap this way. First I would eliminate horses (horses that were not fast enough, bad form, etc.). Secondly, I would get a mental image of which contenders would get the lead, stalk, and close. Thirdly, I would look for intangibles such as trainer/jockey angles, trouble last out, etc. When I was going well, horses would actually jump off the Racing Form at me. I enjoy your newsletter and would appreciate any suggestions for a frustrated handicapper who loves the sport of horseracing. Thanks, Robbie."

Actually that's pretty much the way I describe my own particular handicapping style, only with more detail, in my book, "Calibration Handicapping." To be successful, I have to calibrate or arrange in priority order all handicapping factors and make the process repetitive so that I do it the same way every time and not overlook anything. First I review each entry in the race for various things like conditioning and other pertinent data, then I label each horse's running style and jot down the pace shape and race shape of each match up. Next I go through a few more steps that enable me to get a picture of how the race will be run and help identify the contenders.

I then determine which running style or styles will have the advantage and which will be at a disadvantage. Finally, I narrow the field down to 3 or 4 contenders. If there are more contenders than that, I will usually forget about wagering on the race, unless there is a standout play, such as an angle horse (one that has made a move-within-a-race). As a final aid in the overall process, I'll also look for overlays as shown by the computer program I use. In summary, I review and calibrate the running styles, pace shape, race shape, DSLR (days since last raced), Beyer speed figures, "invisible" Beyer speed figures, internal fractions, angle plays, and the computer program value plays.

Robbie mentioned Trackmaster. I don't have any experience with that program, but I've heard good reports about it so I guess it depends on one's individual experience with it as to how one feels about it. As far as computer programs go, I use the free program from BRIS called Multicaps.

To go to Bloodstock Research Information Services Click Here

I don't rely solely on the selections made by this or any other software program because of the simple fact that they cannot think and reason, at least not like we can. It's my strong belief that all such programs are heavily influenced by their version of speed figures. If you look at the top 3 selections in any program, they will likely correspond to that program's top speed figures.

But speed figures cannot and do not measure or reveal the all-important moves-within-a-race that horses make that often signal strong next-out performances. I have found Multicaps speed figures to be quite accurate, however, and the program is good at pointing out overlays, which if qualified as contenders, should definitely be considered as part of the wagering plan.

I say wagering plan. It is my belief that a good portion of the time spent on reviewing a race should be spent on preparing a wager or wagers. In one of my past newsletters I mentioned an occasion when in the space of about 45 seconds a couple of guys who were sitting behind me came up with a value horse that eventually beat an out-of-the-money odds-on favorite. They then immediately made a decision to box it in an exacta with that favorite and proceeded to talk sports until post time. Had they carefully weighed all their options, they may have cashed a win bet and/or a nice pick-3 payoff.

Dennis S. wrote, "my first question is very complex, but I would appreciate it if you would attempt an answer. I have learned the expensive way that I must become very selective about the types and number of races I play. What criteria make a race playable?"

I have also learned a lot of things the expensive way. You don't become a good handicapper overnight and the more wagers you make until you are, the more expensive a lesson it is. I agree with Dennis wholeheartedly that we should be ultra-selective about which races we play. That's why I say to specialize. Find your niche or forte'. With which kinds of races do you have the most success; sprints, routes, turf, claimers, maidens?

As I've said in the past I find that I have the most success and the best ROI with sprint races. Why? Because most sprint fields on the dirt are composed of horses that have last run in sprints, which makes the matching up process simpler. Sure, you will occasionally find a last-out router or a sprinter that last raced in a route on dirt or turf, but for the most part sprinters run in sprints. In addition, sprint fields generally are composed of horses that have run similar last-race distances, say 6F, 6 1/2F or 7F, which also makes for simpler handicapping.

On the other hand, in route races there are quite a few distances at which horses compete, such as a mile (8F), a mile and a 70 yards, which is 40 yards shy of a mile and a sixteenth (8 1/2F), a mile and an eighth (9F), a mile and three sixteenths (9 1/2F), a mile and a quarter (10F), a mile and a half (12F) and marathons of a mile and five eighths (13F) and beyond. It is a little more difficult and tricky to try to match up factors such as internal fractions in fields with entries having run such diverse last race distances, including the occasional stretch-out sprinter.

Am I saying that we should not play route races? Not at all, I'm just saying that I myself have found more bottom-line success with sprint races and I would recommend that anyone who is having difficulty with staying ahead of this game try the sprint game for a while and keep track of the results. A good place to begin as always is with "paper" bets.

The main reason why I prefer turf route races to dirt route races is that many times I can find a field that is composed entirely of horses that have last run on the grass and at similar distances. Then the handicapping process becomes easier with less chance of a total surprise result. I can compare final fractions and go from there.

As for what criteria make a race playable, my answer is the two things I talk about regularly, edge and value. If you don't have these two prerequisites, in my opinion you don't have a strong or major play. If you play only races that provide these two criteria, however, your ROI has to improve!

Dennis S. wrote, "Jim, I feel that I owe you an apology. I utilized your Wide Out angle today and found nothing at Finger Lakes, 1 horse at Suffolk, 1 at Calder and 2 at Philly. Suffolk and Calder were looking good until the stretch, when they each faded badly. The 2 at Philly both ran 2nd with double digit place payoffs and being the greedy one that I am, I had nothing on them in this position and I passed up $100 and $200 exactas respectively. It has given me hope and has me looking forward to the arrival of your book. Do you cover bet construction at all in your book? This seems to be my biggest problem, in conjunction with selectivity."

I explained to Dennis that he was not being greedy. It's tough to make the right wagers all the time; none of us have anywhere near a perfect record. We all screw up occasionally when it comes to betting. That's why it's best to have a definite "standard" type wager when you have a horse you like, which includes playing it alone. I now have decided that when I like a horse well above the other contenders in a race, I will bet that horse alone, whether or not I choose to play exotics wagers using it and other contenders.

In some past newsletters, which can be found on the archived section on my website, I've covered the subject of wagering, including pick 3's, exactas, and trifectas. When I get a standalone horse, one that I really like above the rest, I will usually play it to win at odds of say under 10-1. From 10-1 to 15-1 I may play win and place. Then depending on just how high the odds are I'll play win-place-show or place-show or even just show.

I recall a Wide Out horse from a week or so ago that was in the first race in New York, which I believe was a maiden race. I hadn't even thought of betting the race and as a result did not mention this horse in my selections on the weekend. But I noticed it eventually and saw that it was going to the post at odds of nearly 60 to 1. This is not a horse I would try to hook up with another in an exacta or daily double. This is one I would play alone, but how? I finally settled for a straight show bet and the dang thing ran 3rd, paying $24.00. Would I have been a little perturbed if it had won and I had nothing on it when it paid $120? Probably, but at those odds, the wagering should be slanted with a small amount if any on the win end, more in the place hole, and even more to show.

Bet construction is an individual thing, pretty much dependent on one's bankroll and per race allotment. There are some who believe that a certain percentage of your bankroll, such as 5%, should be allotted for each playable race. Others are not as rigid and have a pretty standard amount for each race regardless of the bankroll size. Still others have different wagering amounts depending on how strongly they feel about a particular horse or race. If one person's per race wager is $50, they can obviously cover more plays than someone who can risk $10 per race.

For anyone who has a small bankroll (for now), I would suggest win or win-place wagers on single horses rather than combination bets until a fairly sizeable bankroll has been accumulated, at which time they might begin to include daily doubles, exactas, pick 3's and possibly even trifectas. Even if you have to begin with $2 wagers, if you are selective and go for value horses, you can build up a bankroll.

I calculated an unofficial tally that reveals that if you had played to win each of my top 2 listed picks, plus any Wide Out plays that were not ranked in the top 2 slots, in the past few newsletters (10/30, 10/31, 11/1, 11/6 -omitting Breeder's Cup races, and 11/7), you would have made wagers totaling $90 and received payoffs of $126.30 for a profit of $36.30 and a positive ROI of 40%. It may not sound like much, but if you think about it, an annual return on investment of 40% would be difficult to beat. I hope the trend continues and gets even better.

As far as selectivity goes, I covered that pretty extensively in a prior newsletter also, but I'll repeat it again. I strongly believe in being selective. I also think we have different reasons for playing the horses. We all want to win, but some of us only get to play on one day of the weekend, while others of us can play seven days a week if we want. Some may very well want to play as many races in that one day as possible because they enjoy the day away from the regular grind and want to play races rather than sit them out. Others have a goal of making a supplementary income of a few hundred or a thousand dollars a month, while still others want to wager on the horses for a living.

No matter where you fit in, I suggest that you be selective and make major bets only on prime situations that present a definite edge and good value for your money. If you want to play higher risk races such as ones with multiple first-time starters, then do so, but why risk the same amount that you would on a prime play? Differentiate between "fun" and "serious" plays and you'll see an improvement in your ROI.

If I find that the 3 horses I have chosen as my selections are too chalky and don't present enough value, I'll skip the race entirely and wait for the next playable race. This is a numbers game and the value plays are sure to come if we wait them out.

I hope some of the material in this newsletter is of help; let me know if you want any other subject addressed in future issues.

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



To get an additional unique and valuable slant on handicapping the thoroughbreds, see what my friend the "Guru" has to say at:


Wagering on a horse race without knowing which are the true contenders is like running under will get nowhere fast.

Order "Calibration Handicapping" TODAY.
Increase your ROI (Return On Investment) TOMORROW!

Email Jim         fax: (603) 676-1216


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday November 20, 1999*****

Welcome again to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." The first thing I want to cover is the following email I received from George P. from New Jersey:


"Just a quick email to let you know that your Wide Out play is alive and well at tracks other than Aqueduct. I'm attaching a file of the Daily Racing Form's past performances of the 2nd race at Calder yesterday (Sunday, 11/14/99). I'm sure you can spot the obvious Wide Out horse and since I bought your book, "Calibration Handicapping", I could see that this was a Profile horse also. I've found as you have said in the past that the best Wide Out play is one that also has made the move you call the Profile. The money I had on this $43.20 horse to win plus the exacta of $235.40 paid for your book more than 20 times over. Thanks a million!"


This is not so much a plug for my book as it is a demonstration that the new Wide Out play that I recently discovered (and shared with all subscribers to this newsletter) is indeed a pretty good spot play, especially when the value is there as it was last Sunday in this race from Calder in Florida. Unfortunately, I was unable review the Calder races that day or I would have included it in my selections that went out Sunday. I've attached the file of this race that George sent me. To view it you need an Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free from Adobe's website at:

If you look at the race, see how long it takes you to locate the winning Wide Out play. An interesting point with this horse also is that she went off at 20 to 1 in spite of finishing a decent 3rd in her last race, 3 � lengths behind the horse that she beat in this match up. Thanks George, this is another fine example of what I've been emphasizing. A horse that makes the right move-within-a- race, such as the Wide Out move, will often beat a horse that has the best speed figure(s), and at much better odds.

Comparing the Beyer speed figures for the entries in this race from Calder, you can see that #'s 2 and 5 had the best last-race figures of 55. In each of their previous races, they earned a 56. Also, #1 had a 70 figure in her second race back. Those 3 went off as the top 3 betting choices in this order, #1 9-5, #5 3-1 and #2 9-2. The winner, #9 Dance For Rosemary? Her last figure was 44, a full 11 points lower than the top 2 last-race figures and her lifetime best was only 52. The 2-horse, by the way, completed the big exacta.

I've attached another file of DRF past performances, this time for race 8 at Calder on 11/15/99, for which I had the winner ($27.80) listed on top on my website that day under Free Selections (along with another top-listed Wide Out winner that paid $12.60). This race clearly illustrates another topic I've discussed, and that is matching up running styles. In this short field of 7, every single one of the entries possesses either an E or an EP running style. This means that there were only early presence horses and no pressers or closers.

This is a prime example of a match up that required locating the "speed of the speed", which to me represents the horse that will have the lead as they straighten away in the stretch. If there is a multi-horse early speed duel, this is the horse I calculate to emerge with the lead. If there is not a duel, this is the horse that should potentially be able to take the field all the way. In addition to having made the move-within-a-race I call the Profile move, Samantha the Great also was, according to the way I calculate it, the "speed of the speed" and she wired the field pretty easily at nearly 13 to 1. As it turns out, due to the lack of closers in the race, the place horse chased the winner all the way, resulting in a 2-speed finish.

Why was Samantha the Great allowed to go off at such generous odds? This is yet another good example of a race in which the public was fixated on speed figures rather than internal fractions advantages and moves-within-a-race, which as I've said are what beat the horses that show the best figures a good portion of the time and account for many winning overlay plays. Therefore I'd like to go over this particular race a little more closely so you can see the value of hidden overlay plays like Samantha the Great and also so you can spot future plays like her.

Here are the last 2 Beyer speed figures for each horse in the field beginning with the last race, in post-position order:

1.) 47, 72
2.) 57, 60
3.) 60, 61
4.) 59, 75
5.) 58, 73
6.) 71, 67
7.) 41, 63

As you can see from this list or by looking at the DRF p.p.'s, #2 Samantha the Great had pretty much inferior Beyer speed figures compared to much of her competition. As a matter of fact, her best lifetime figure on a dry track was her last, a 57 and if you look in the upper right-hand corner of the p.p.'s, you can see the best lifetime figures on a fast dirt track for each horse were in order: 83, 57, 75, 79, 73, 68, and 63. The winner, #2, had the worst figure of them all! By a large margin.

So how in the world could this horse win a race against such apparently superior horses? Again, it depends on how you look at things. Obviously, I can't talk about the content in my book; for one thing it would be totally unfair to the many who have bought it. But if you look at the "invisible" Beyer speed figures for each horse's last race, a different picture emerges. In post-position order, here they are: 74, 78, 60, 72, 71, 71, and 72. All of a sudden, the #2 horse can be seen in a different light, as possessing rather than the lowest figure, now the highest.

Samantha the Great won this race not because of her last race Beyer speed figure and not because of the potential shown by her lifetime best Beyer speed figure. She won this race because of the factors that pointed to her running a much bigger race and speed figure than she had before and that's one of the keys to handicapping. Samantha the Great won this race because she had made the move-within-a-race I call the Profile, and because she had the best last-race "invisible" Beyer, and because she was the "speed of the speed" in a match up that indicated success for such a horse.

I've attached one more file. This one is the DRF p.p.'s of race 5 at Churchill Downs on Sunday, 11/14/99. I included this race in my picks that I sent out that day to all subscribers of this newsletter and it is a good example of how to separate contenders by the use of internal fractions comparison. My picks in order were 5-2-3, and the results were 2 paying $12.60, 3 second and 5 third (ex. $25.60 and tri. $87.40). I obviously try to list my selections in the order of my preference, but in all honesty, I went back and forth between the 2 and the 5 for quite a while before settling for the 5 on top. In the future, when I'm that torn between two horses, I'll indicate it.

This was a short field of 6 going 6 � furlongs in an allowance race for non-winners of one race other than maiden, claiming or starter. When I first looked over this race I could see that there was potential value because there was a horse with a standout Beyer speed figure (#3) and if I could find a horse or horses to beat him, it would likely be an overlay. So I looked for an edge. The closest I could come to finding a move-within-a race was the 2-horse having just broken his maiden as a Profile horse, but since there were no such last-race moves, I went to internal fractions comparison.

I threw out the 1 horse due to having run in route races and having run pretty dull races also. I eliminated #4 for being one-dimensional speed and not showing any closing punch in any of his 3 races. Facing some strong closers in this match up was not a good sign for his running style. I also threw out #6 for pretty much the same reason. Although he ran a very quick half of 43.4 in his last at Keeneland, neither he nor the winner finished up that race with a 3rd quarter equal to my top two picks. In this match up, an E horse or frontrunner would have to show pretty good early zip along with some ability to continue on. The 4 and 6 horses didn't show that. Here were the running style labels I gave to each, from top down: S, EP, P, EP, P and E.

Here is how the remaining 3 horses matched up and it again demonstrates what I mean when I talk about what reveals an edge and value horses that can beat the favorites. If you do the calculations, you will see that #2 Valiant Style had the following internal fractions: 24.1 turn time, 11.3 5th furlong in a race with a 12.0 final 8th and he ran his final quarter in 23.3. After being bumped at the start, this horse came on like gangbusters with sparkling fractions from the quarter pole to the finish. 11.3 and 23.3 are excellent. The deciding factor as to why I listed him second rather than first was probably because his last race was his maiden-breaker and he was stepping up to face winners for the first time. But as you can see, that is an overrated factor when it comes to a horse who has run such good internal fractions compared to much of his competition, including the favorite.

Speaking of the favorite, here are the fractions for the last race of #3: 23.4 turn time, 12.0 5th furlong in a race with a 12.4 final 8th and he ran his final quarter in 24.4. Although this horse earned a Beyer speed figure of 12 points (which is the equivalent of approximately 4 � lengths) better than #2, you can see that his final time was only 1 tick faster and his final quarter was about 6 lengths slower. Here is another case in which the edge provided by internal fractions comparison points to a horse with inferior speed figures. While #3 Privileged (last Beyer of 92) went off at even money as the odds-on favorite, #2 Valiant Style (last Beyer of 80) beat him by more than a length at better than 5 to 1.

If #5 Catniro was a late scratch, this race would have been a no-brainer. Simply bet the 2 to win and play the 2-3 exacta, reversed for less. But this was not the case, and I had to consider Catniro as having a pretty good chance with this group. His internal fractions looked like this: 23.3 turn time, 11.4 5th furlong in a race with a 12.0 final 8th and he ran his final quarter in 24.1. In hindsight, if you compare these three contenders, you have to come up with #2 due to his final fraction advantage. Anyone who wagered to win on my top 2 selections, however, would still have made a decent profit of $8.60 for every $2 bet on each.

Anyone who is interested in obtaining the free football picks I spoke about on Tuesday of this week, the college games will be available on Saturday morning and the pro games will be available on Sunday morning at the following website location:

That does it for this Saturday; I'll see you next week. Until then, I wish you clear skies and fast tracks, and ... knock'em dead!



To get an additional unique and valuable slant on handicapping the thoroughbreds, see what my friend the "Guru" has to say at:


Wagering on a horse race without knowing which are the true contenders is like running under will get nowhere fast.

Order "Calibration Handicapping" TODAY.
Increase your ROI (Return On Investment) TOMORROW!

Email Jim         fax: (603) 676-1216


Back to Top         Home

*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday November 27, 1999*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." I've been notified by a number of you that you did not receive last Sunday's mailing of selections until after the races had begun or even finished. I can't determine the source of this problem but I'll try whenever at all possible to send out newsletters and picks the evening before race day.

My main topic today is a frustrating one, but one that nevertheless must be addressed and it concerns the selections issue I just referred to from last Sunday. Like everyone else who has played the horses for a long period of time, I have some anchors imbedded in my subconscious mind that now and then pop up to interfere with the successful techniques that I have discovered and used during the past few years. These are the techniques (the latest of which I have shared with you) that have enabled me to succeed and maintain a positive ROI.

An anchor is something that as I say is automatically imbedded in our subconscious minds. For example, you may have really liked a song in the past that when played today brings vivid memories of where you were at a particular time when you heard it sometime long ago. The same thing can happen when we use a particular handicapping technique for a long period of time, not really knowing that it is the wrong technique. One of the handicapping factors I used to stress was the notion that certain races were strong (or "key") races and others were weak (or "negative key") races.

Although this line of thinking may have some merit to it on occasion, it is not wise to base your entire handicapping decision on such an unproven belief. In other words, long ago, I used to look at races that horses were exiting and try to determine if they were strong races or weak races and use that as a starting point for my handicapping. Needless to say, I eventually discarded that process and later came upon what really makes horses win races.

The problem with an "anchored" idea is that it can remain imbedded to a certain extent so that if you don't want to think about or be influenced by it you have to make a conscious decision to not let that happen. Now obviously I didn't have to mention this whole dialog, but since I'm trying to share knowledge in this forum, I've decided to go over how I blew it by letting "old tapes" monumentally get in the way of my handicapping and my picks for a couple of races on Sunday, November 21, 1999. Obviously, for your benefit and mine, I will make every effort to avoid such mental lapses in the future.

Here is an email I received from a book buyer, Armand W. from N.Y.:


"As you know, I purchased a copy of your book "Calibration Handicapping" and I've found it very good. I've also received all of your newsletters for the past couple of months including the ones that went over the Wide Out play and internal fractions for sprints. Now I have to tell you that I'm really confused by your picks in the 5th and 9th races at Aqueduct on Sunday. In the 5th, #8 Pooska Hill should have been your #1 pick using fractions and #2 Shut Out Time was a Profile horse. You didn't mention either in your selections! What gives?"

"In race 9, unless I've got it wrong, the winner #5 Binawhile was a Wide Out play, and the second and third-place finishers in that race were Wide Out plays in their 2nd to last races. You didn't mention any of those 3 horses either. Am I doing something wrong?"


No, Armand, you are absolutely correct. I'm the one who did something wrong. For the two races you mentioned, instead of using the techniques I've been discussing in this forum, I inadvertently reverted back to "old tapes" that don't apply and completely discarded what I've found does work. It doesn't happen to me very often, but it did last Sunday.

I'll go over these 2 races now and show you how they should have been handicapped and were handicapped by anyone who has decided to utilize the procedures I've been emphasizing, including Armand. I've included the Daily Racing Form past performances in the form of 2 attached files so you can follow along if you choose to do so. To view them you need an Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free from Adobe's site at:

Click Here for Reader

Aqu 11-21 5th file

Aqu 11-21 9th file

First, Race 5 at Aqueduct. This was a 7F Allowance sprint for 3-year-olds and up that had not won three races other than maiden, claiming or starter. The field of 8 had the following running styles in post-position order: EP, E, P, S, P, S, S, and P. Therefore, it had a pace shape of E-EP and a race shape of Honest. Looking at the field from top to bottom, #1 had just run a lifetime best Beyer speed figure of 94 at Delaware Park at 5F and appeared a likely bounce candidate. #2 was what I refer to as a Profile horse and on that basis should have been considered as a contender. #3 was exiting a mile race, in which he was dead last at the first call and didn't make any telling moves from there to the finish. #4 was a stale horse that had not run in 259 days and had not run in a sprint in at least his last 12 races. The addition of blinkers would not seem to be enough and this was an immediate throw out in spite of his decent work tab and good connections.

Number 5 was my first mistake. For some inexplicable reason, I thought he was exiting a "strong" race and inadvertently let the "old tapes" surface and cause me to make him my strong top pick. He certainly had the look of a contender, but not necessarily a strong contender, as we'll see in the internal fractions match up. #6 ran dead last after a middle move in a Stakes race. I'm always a little leery of horses that have run well in consecutive races and then throw in a clunker. In his case he had won 2 good races in a row and then digressed. Would he come back and begin another winning streak or was he going off form somewhat. I figured the latter, in spite of him taking a hike up to Graded Stakes competition in his latest.

Number 7 was exiting route races and was an S horse on the outside. This is always a combination that requires a perfect trip to overcome a bad running style match up. Finally, there was #8, whose last 2 were strong winning races and in anyone's mind would have to be considered a strong contender. Anyone, that is except someone who was being influenced by bad "old tapes." The first thing I do after looking over the field somewhat is to see if there are any "angle" horses present. In this case there was only the Profile horse, #2. Then I match up internal fractions in the following manner in post-position order, omitting the 4-horse whom I had already thrown out of the mix:

Turn Times: 23.3,  23.1,  none,  23.0,  22.1,  none,  22.4.

There were only 2 early speed-type horses in this field, #'s 1 and 2. It should have been obvious that #2 was the better of the two and was the "speed of the speed" between them. Additionally, as I said earlier, #1 had been running at Delaware Park and had a run a lifetime best speed figure in his last. Coupled with the fact that he was the only angle horse in the field, #2 should have been considered a strong threat to go wire-to-wire or emerge with the lead at the top of the stretch and go on strongly in this match up of mostly P and S horses.

In what can only be labeled as complete "brain lock", I threw out #2 and #8 because of the crazy belief that the race they were exiting was a "dead" one. Again, the purpose of this whole exercise is not to berate myself but to show you that if you want to improve your bottom line and make consistent scores, you have to go with what's been proven to succeed and throw out thinking that doesn't work. I, like everyone else, have to work at this.

3rd Quarter Fractions: none,  25,  26.3,  24.3,  24.4,  none,  24.0.

It doesn't take a genius to see who has the big advantage here. #8 with a 24.0 final fraction coupled with his 22.4 turn time on a high track variant and his Beyer speed figures should make anyone lean toward a "fair odds" line of about 3-2 in this match up. The only question may be his 3 big races in a row and a potential "bounce". You could even make the case that he was a 3-and-out Beyer speed pattern horse, having run his 3 biggest showing speed figures in his last three outings, which might make a bounce even more likely. But such was not the case as the 2 and the 8 ran heads apart down the stretch with the 8 getting a head-bob nose win at the wire paying an overlay price of $8.00. #2 completed the exacta of $44.80 while 6 lengths clear of #6 who rounded out the trifecta of $114.50.

It's not because of the tremendous payoffs of this race that I decided to suck it in and show it as an example, but because it was a straightforward case of the two most logical horses coming through in a particular match up. When the running styles are EP, E, P, S, P, S, S and P, you have to think that if there is a good early speed horse between the 2 likely frontrunners, he will have an awfully good chance to be there at the end, and in this case he was. Because my thinking was totally clouded by the "anchor" that still has to be dealt with when it pops up, my first comment was, "this is an E-EP match up in which the 2 inside speeds may negate each other and set it up for a couple of horses who will be coming late." As you can see, like Armand did so clearly, this was a totally wrong analysis that was made because of being influenced by wrong old thinking.

Race 9 on Sunday's card was run at 7F and was a $35,000 down to $30,000 claiming event for 3-year-olds. The field of 12 had a pace shape of E-EP with plenty of early zip in the race (1E horse and 5 EP horses). Suffice it to say that I was again influenced by what I thought were "strong" vs. "weak" races. Although the selection of #11 Golden Returns as my top pick was acceptable due to the strong internal fractions of his last race, selecting #'s 2, Danzig's Sword and #3 Imperial Knight were downright embarrassing as I look back on it now. I chose the 2 horse due to the race he was exiting, but handicapping 101 says the horse must show at least something on it's own in order to be considered a contender. This horse did not.

The past few performances of #3, although sharp, should have been downgraded because of having been run at an inferior stock racetrack, Philadelphia Park. The intent is not to demean Philadelphia Park; it is simply to educate those that want to play NY races. Horses coming into the NY circuit from tracks like Philly, Delaware, New England, Finger Lakes, even Canada and others often need a race over the track for us to see if they can compete on the level of horses based in New York. Entries from tracks such as Churchill, Gulfstream, and CA tracks, on the other hand, can come into NY and often be competitive right away.

If you look at #5, Binawhile, you will see the comment at the far right of his last past performance. It reads, "Chased 3 wide, tired." When you see a comment like this, it is an immediate tip-off that the horse could very well be a Wide Out play. By simply scanning over to the p.p.'s, you can see that Binawhile was a neck behind at the start of the turn in his last race at 8 � F at Belmont Park. As they straightened away in the stretch, he was 4 lengths back and then proceeded to fade out of it.

This is the past performance line of a Wide Out play, one that was in his last race 3 or more wide while going around the turn and then faded back, reserving what was left in the tank for the next outing. Of course, if you look at his p.p.'s you can see that his last try at this level was a winning one at this distance. That is why this horse was the second choice of the betting public, not because he was a Wide Out play, because the betting public does not know about this play.

Didn't I notice that Binawhile was a Wide Out horse? The answer is yes, but again, upon looking at the charts of his last race, I erroneously deduced that it was a bad race he was exiting, and of course I will not fall into such a ridiculous "old tape" trap again. Keep in mind what I said earlier that any of us are capable of reverting back to techniques that are "ingrained" in our subconscious minds. If such a technique is wrong, it should be avoided like the plague when it surfaces. Only you can tell what has worked for you and what has not. Learning from our mistakes makes them worthwhile; repeating them makes them very costly.

As per Armand's email, if you look at the last p.p. of #6, Golden Furiously, who finished second in this race, you will see that he showed speed while 3-Wide. Since he ran strongly to the wire and finished second, he is not considered to be a Wide Out play in this race, but his strong effort was accomplished from being such a play from his race prior. As you can see, in that second race back he was a definite Wide Out play as well as a Profile horse. He just missed at odds of better than 7 to 1, and came back in this race with another good performance.

The show horse, #13, Philabusta was listed in my selections of 11/14 as "a Wide Out play exiting a mile race on the turf and is sure to be a price in this match up." He didn't fire that day, but with the drop in class for this race he closed well to complete a $2,500 trifecta as a 2-back Wide Out play, as was Golden Furiously.

Hopefully this newsletter will serve as a simple lesson to be learned and adhered to like glue: when it comes to handicapping, always use proven techniques over imagined theories. Don't look too hard for something that is not there because in most cases it isn't.

I was real pleased to hear from quite a number of you that you connected on some of the races I picked correctly on Thanksgiving, especially race 8 at Aqueduct. That one topped off a real nice day for many of us. As Bozyn put it, he ended his day on a High Note. I listed only 2 horses and they ran 1-2 in order with High Note paying $39 to win with the cold exacta paying $116.50. Such is the value of the moves-within-a-race that are part of my main focus of handicapping. Following is one of the many emails I received, from Rick G., and my response.

"Hi Jim, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! I just wanted to thank you for your newsletter today. It was my first one and I was very impressed with your selections even on the sloppy track at Aqueduct. Congrats on the 18-1 winner (and cold exacta) in the 8th. Do you do that often? (lol)

I'll be looking forward to your newsletters in the future.

Thanks again!"


"Hi Rick,

Thanks for the email. I wish I could say I make cold picks like yesterday's all the time ($39 and $116.50), but I'd be lying if I did. Using my approach, however, I do come up with a number of longshots each week. That's simply because my way of handicapping is completely different than the general public's. For instance, that horse in the 8th yesterday had completely inferior speed figures to over half the field he was facing. This made the public, including the public handicappers, totally ignore him.

For them it was an open and closed case. If High Note had run 7 times lifetime and never even came close to any of the speed figures that Cat Country had run in each of his 3 races lifetime, he couldn't possibly win the race. And comparing him to others in the race would indicate that he had no chance to even hit the board. But the Wide Out play (and in this case also a WIR play, discovered by the Guru) indicates a last-race performance that will often set up a horse to run better than he has in the recent past, at times even better than he has in his lifetime, as was the case with High Note. Not only did High Note win the race, but he did so from dead-last ninth down the backstretch on a strongly speed-favoring track which was caused by a sloppy, floated surface.

Of course, the horses with the best speed figures were made the favorite and second choice. But the 7 horse, who ran second as the post time favorite, was clearly second best and using internal fractions comparison between him and #2, one could see he should be the stronger of the two chalks.

Do the angle horses I play win all the time? Absolutely not. But they win enough of the time at the right prices (almost always overlays) to maintain a positive ROI."

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


Dandy Dan went 1 for 2 in his college picks for Friday. Anyone interested in his picks for Saturday and Sunday can log onto:

To get an additional unique and valuable slant on handicapping the thoroughbreds, see what my friend the Guru has to say at:

Email: fax: (603) 676-1216

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