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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday September 2, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Well here we are at the 2000 Labor Day weekend already. Only a few more days left to the Saratoga and Del Mar summer meets. Hopefully the weather will be nice to us and not spoil all the outdoor plans many of us have for this Holiday weekend. I know many of you will be spending a lot of time with your families and will put horseracing on the backburner, but for those who will indulge, I'll make the usual Sunday picks and also try to come up with a few for Labor Day.

This week I've received a number of emails from subscribers who want to know if I have a wagering plan that can help improve their bottom line. I've said it in the past and I'll repeat it here. Wagering is nearly as important as handicapping, and equally difficult to master. It's really an art. It's also an individual thing and a standard wagering format or process is not the easiest thing in the world to establish.

As you've heard me and I'm sure others say many times, value can be the key to everything. That's true, but what exactly does that mean? First of all, I won't want to even think about constructing a wager unless I can see that there is a potential payoff of at least what I consider to be fair.

And I did use the word construct when referring to making bets. I'm not going to be able to keep in the black if I make a habit of deciding what my bets are going to be while standing in line or at the betting window or just before I call in to use my telephone wagering account. In other words, I have to spend a good bit of time thinking through any wager I am considering making. If I did my homework and handicapped a race, it took more time than that to come up with the contenders and I should spend if not an equal amount, at least a good bit of time figuring out how to play them.

Once I have my contenders listed, I go through a 3-step checklist. First I ask myself, do I have an EDGE in this matchup? By an edge I mean are there one or more, up to three, contenders who stand out above the rest of the field? If not, then the race is too contentious for my liking and I pass the race. This doesn't mean I can't use fringe horses (periphery plays) in the second hole in an exacta or the third hole in a trifecta.

It means for the most part that I have to have no more than 3 contenders for the win spot. If I think more than 3 horses in any field have a chance to win, I'll move on unless there is an outstanding value situation like the one I'll discuss below, in which a 4-horse box would be my first option.

Secondly, I ask myself if there is enough VALUE in my contender or contenders to construct a wager. Since I know well beforehand who my selections are, I can wait until approximately 15 to 20 minutes before post time to go through my 3-step procedure and I can get a fairly good idea of the value present. If my 3 horses are 3-5, 2-1 and 5-2, I can pretty much forget about getting enough value on this race.

But before I throw the baby out with the bathwater, I'll jot down the exacta probable payoffs with my 3 contenders. If any of them are under $24 I'll pretty much focus on seeing if a win bet may eventually be in order. If, however, all six combinations are paying over $24, I'll keep looking at that possibility also. If the payoffs are all over $24, I can be pretty sure that the odds of at least two of my contenders will go up.

Finally, I will consciously go over in my head all the wagering options I have to choose from for the upcoming race. Obviously, for each race I have the choice of win, place or show, and for me it's usually win from among that group.

It's important to consider all of the wagering options available. If for example I'm looking at race 8, I have the following choices: win-place-show, exacta, trifecta, and daily double. If my top 3 picks in race 8 are 2-1, 7-2 and 15-1 and the daily double probable payoffs using my top pick in race 9 with my top 2 in race 8 are $12 and $18, I may want to skip that wager and focus on the exactas in race 8, all of which pay more than $24 dollars.

That doesn't mean I can't play any value D/D plays. After all, the favorite doesn't have to win either race. But if I am going to use both of my top picks in a double, I don't want to use that option if it doesn't pay as much as exactas in the first leg. You can see what I'm getting at. Some observation and thought should go into which wagers I want to construct once I've answered yes to the first 2 questions of edge and value.

Often if I like a horse a lot due to a standout final fraction and good odds, I'll just settle on a win bet and forget about exotic plays. But if there is no such standout from among my top 3, I'll include exactas and/or trifectas. Again, much of the decision-making process depends on the odds of my contenders.

Let me quickly go over the last 2 races on the Saratoga card this past Monday, August 28th. They clearly illustrate 2 distinct wagering situations I'll call A and B.

In race 8 on the turf, the best final fraction horses were 1 Antitrust, 3 Willowick Lad, 10 Cardinal Verse, and 6 Mutawwaj. I had written down my order of preference 1-3-6-10 mainly because the 10 had just won in the preliminary allowance condition of NW1X and this was the next level NW2X.

The post time odds for these 4 horses in situation A respectively were: 8-5, 7-2, 15-1, and 9-2. Here was a case where exacta boxing my top 3 picks would result in one combination, 1-3, paying $17.00, which was less than my $24 minimum.

In a case like this, rather than construct a box exacta of 1-3-6, since I favored my top choice quite a bit I would construct this wager, using only the top 2 in the win slot: 1-3 / 1-3-6 or 1-3 / 1-3-6-10. Then I would put more on the 1 / 3-6-10 and finally an additional wager on 1-3. Trifecta plays were similar; 1-3 / 1-3-6 / 1-3-6-10, 1-3 / 1-3 / 6-10, 1 / 3-6-10 / 3-6-10.

Why did I focus so much on the 1-horse? Because he was the favorite? No. It was because I thought he had a real strong shot at the win. Not only did he have the best last-out final fraction, but he had an early presence advantage and also the advantage of having the red-hot Jerry Bailey on his back. The results were that he nipped Willowick Lad by a neck, who was 1 3/4 ahead of Mutawwaj for the place, who was 3/4 in front of Cardinal Verse for the show.

Believe it or not, I had written down on my Racing Form the precise order of finish, all derived by calculating the final fractions of each horse. While the exacta paid only $17.00, the trifecta came back a respectable $120.00.

Situation B in race 9 was completely different. This again was a turf race so stressing final fractions was the way to come up with contenders. In this race, however, in spite of having JB aboard again, the favorite didn't have such an apparent edge. In her recent turf race, #8 Light The Lamp did tie for the best final fraction of 24.2, but that was before her last race that was taken off the turf, and that effort was a real clunker. She had to be considered a top 3 contender, but was not as strong of a choice as Antitrust was in the race before.

The other final fraction advantage horses were #10 Cloe Pond, also a 24.2 in her 2nd race back, #12 Precedence, 25.0 in her last outing, and #5 Shot Berry, 25.0 in her 2nd back, her last also having been an off-the-turfer. In this field of 10, 2 were coming back off long layoffs and 2 had never run on the grass. The 4 mentioned horses were in my mind the only 4 contenders I could possibly come up with.

But look at the respective post time odds for situation B: 2-1, 7-1, 63-1, and 7-2. Do you see the difference in odds with my top 3 in this race versus the last? In a case like this, in which among my top 4 horses there are odds of 7-1 and 63-1, I can see the immediate need for a 4-horse box exacta and/or trifecta. If one were to begin by making both of those bets, it would cost $12 for a $1 4-horse exacta box and $24 for a $1 4-horse trifecta box. That's a quick total of $36 so you have to be selective about the races in which you use the 4-horse box exotic play or plays.

The 2 key reasons for boxing all 4 in this case are that the 2-1 favorite is somewhat vulnerable off her last off-the-turf debacle and also that one of my contenders was 63-1. Horses with those odds don't often hit the board, but when we consider such a longshot as playable, I think we should play them as contenders, not look at them as what John Q. Public considers to be wild longshots with no chance.

Daily Double plays would be 1-3 / 5-8-10-12 and 1-3-6-10 / 8-10. These 2 back-to-back examples of similar turf route races are dramatic examples of 2 distinct betting opportunities. There was the necessary edge in both as well as potential value in both, especially in race 9. And the wagering approach to each situation was completely different. With the possibility of a 7-1 or 63-1 shot being in the money, the box wager was prudent in race 9, while it clearly was not in race 8.

Race 9 was won by #10 Cloe Pond, a head over longshot #12 Precedence, who was a head in front of #8 Light The Lamp. 3 of the 4 final fraction contenders hit the line together with the 2 longest prevailing over the favorite.

Cloe Pond paid $16.60 and completed the D/D of $63.00. The 10-12 ex. paid $398.00 and the 10-12-8 tri. paid $2,622.00. The astounding reality is that final fractions comparison clearly brought out the results of both of these races. It was then up to us to make the correct wagers and hopefully this whole exercise has helped to make that process easier the next time you are facing a value situation and need to know how to bet it.

In last Saturday's newsletter, I had the following picks listed for race 2 at Saratoga: 4-6-1-2-12. Here were the odds of my top 4 picks in the same order: 6-1, 10-1, 10-1, and 7-1. This is another clear example of Situation B. With odds like these, the immediate decision might be to box the top 4 horses in an ex. and/or tri. wager. Again, the cost to do this for a $1.00 play is $12 for the ex. and $24 for the tri.

Using the situation B wagering strategy of boxing the top 4 horses would have yielded half of the payoffs of the 2-6 ex. of $145.50 and the 2-6-1 tri. of $1,368.00. Add to this the results of boxing the 3 picks in race 4 on Sunday (I had only 3 picks listed), which I will talk about and review shortly, and we have 2 good winning payoffs as examples of the Situation B wager. Since there were only 3 selections in Sunday's race 4, The $12 cost for a $2 ex.bx. and also a $2 tri.bx. is the same as a $1 4-horse ex.bx.

The profits from these 2 listed races, using this strategy were: half of $145.50 and $1,368.00 plus $333.50 or $1,090.25 and a net profit of $1,030.25. Add to this the payoffs of Monday's finale and you have one such juicy payoff for each of 3 straight days and a nice addition to the bankroll, regardless of the fact that a few other such plays went down during that period.

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As most of you know, in last Sunday's selections issue of this newsletter, I listed a pretty nice top-rated winner and exacta in race 4 at Saratoga. I had my selections listed as 7-1-3 and the results were 7 ($45.40) - 3 ($333.50). I received a lot of mail about these payoffs and I'm always glad to hear of others cashing in on my picks. I have a hunch there will be more good than bad in upcoming weeks as I've tweaked my selections process somewhat, hopefully for the better.

It's particularly gratifying to hear from professional or semi-professional players who think enough of my picks to play some of them. Zim wrote me saying that he cashed in on #7 Co Burn by playing $20 across the board. And Jim Mahon wrote the following email detailing his successful wagers on this race. Jim happens to possess the gift of good wagering. Maybe in the near future he'll share any insights on that important aspect of this game and if so I'll pass them on in this forum. Here's what he wrote:

Sunday, Saratoga, 4th Race - MSW - It's show time! Yes, it was sweet. Profile/Wide Out play adding blinkers and 1st-time lasix was the key here. That sharp workout on 8/23 was probably with blinkers on.

I hesitated at first, thinking Co Burn was a quitter, but with all of the aforementioned facts together he was worth a bet at 21-1. Kris B completed the exacta for $334.00. I was one of the lucky ones who hit the trifecta. Crafty Runner - ML 15-1 - was being bet down almost 50% to 8-1. Somebody knew something - that "crafty" Serey.

I use BRIS Ultimate PP's with comments and summary. They indicated Crafty Prospector/Mr. Prospector wins at 17% for 1st-time starters. The colt's workouts since July 24th were excellent. Serey the trainer has a 16% ITM with 1X starters. Teator, the jock and Serey have an incredible 26% win rate and 52% ITM as a team. Yes, if you knew all of this (I give credit to BRIS) Crafty was worth inclusion in the 3rd slot of the trifecta. I had 6 horses in the 3rd slot and he was one of them.

The tri. paid $3786. It was also possible to single "Shop Here" in the 6th race, a deserving favorite (won for fun by 4 lengths) with Impeachable, TNT Red and Silken in the 5th and of course our hero Co Burn, Vision and Kris B in the 4th and hit the pick 3, which paid $413.00.

I made a profit of approximately $5700. If it was not for Jim Lehane's "Profile/Wide Out" play, none of this would have happened. BRIS helped me hit the tri. Thanks Jim, for without your book, "Calibration Handicapping" this day would not have been so profitable. Take care and see you at the "IRS" window.

Jim Mahon

I included this email from Jim not only as a plug for my book, but to demonstrate the midset of a good bettor. Not only does he have a handicapping arsenal, which does include my book, but he goes through a wagering thought process similar to the one I've described today. He saw a longshot with potential and then constructed wagers, which included pick 3, exacta and trifecta, using a number of contenders, including 6 in the 3rd slot of trifectas.

Did he wager a bit more on this race than many players can afford? I'm sure the answer is yes. But if you think about it, he probably got the required bankroll to step out a little on this race from previous successful wagers at much reduced amounts. He will lose many such wagers, but by focusing on value plays like this one, when the payoffs occur, they more than make up for the losing ventures.

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I'll use this race, the 4th from 8/27/00 I've been talking about as my review race for this week. If you would like to follow along, you can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances by logging onto my website Here.

This was a 6F sprint for a field of 11 Maiden Special Weights, 3-years-old and upward. As per usual, I'll list the entries and then list the running styles I've labeled each, followed by the last-out Beyer speed figures, the last-out final fractions (raw/actual) and any last-out "moves-within-a-race".

 1. Vision                          E      83     25.1 / 25.1
 2. Crafty Runner              1st-time starter
 3. Kris B                          P     74      24.3 / 25.0
 4. Time For A Dream       P     64      25.1 / 25.2    Prof
 5. G' Morning Govenor   EP    80      24.3 / 25.3    Prof
 6. Scouting Report            P    69      25.1 / 25.2    Prof/WO
 7. Co Burn                     EP    71      25.1 / 25.1    Prof/WO
 8. Straight A                   EP    75      24.3 / 25.1
 9. Remembered                P    65      25.0 / 25.3
10. Sunday Triumph          1st-time starter
11. Ashbury                      1st-time starter

If you look carefully at these entries, you'll see that in the 37 past performance lines listed for races at 5 1/2 furlongs or more, not one shows a gain from the pace call to the finish. This was not a bunch of good closers. Therefore I made the comment that this race was about speed.

What I meant by that is that with this pace shape and with the lack of any confirmed closers who sit back in mid-pack and unleash their late run, early presence seemed to be the key. But there were a number of such horses in here. What ultimately led me to my 3 picks was "moves-within-a-race" , key equipment change and "speed of the speed." While the speed completely collapsed and suddenly a few of these non-closers learned how to rally, I was pretty much correct in my assessment.

Here was my thinking about this group.

1. Vision - I had to make him a top-3 contender because of his early speed capabilities. I thought he may have a clear lead at the top of the stretch and be a real threat down the lane. Richare Migliore, who I'm finding really believes in pushing hard early (as per his Jim Dandy ride on Albert The Great, for which he was dismissed from the mount for the Travers), decided that a 21.4 first quarter battle was appropriate. So much for the "speed of the speed."

2. Crafty Runner - 1st-time Serey runner with lasix and a 59.3 work. I saw all of this but with a number of others that had run, threw him out of my short list. The Jockey/Trainer stats that Jim mentioned turned out to be key.

3. Kris B - was a good-looking Wide Out play 2-back and stumbled at the start of his last. With his 25 flat final fraction, I thought he was a definite top 3 contender in this match up.

4. Time For A Dream - a Profile play, but looked like might get cooked by Vision if he went out like he did in his last, which also featured a 10-length collapse in the final furlong.

5. G' Morning Govenor - a near-Profile Play bringing more speed to the mix. In his 2nd race this year, his last, he ran a lifetime best and a "bounce" looked like a distinct possibility.

6. Scouting Report - a Profile/Wide Out play who ran quite similarly in his last to the winner, #7 Co Burn. I spent a lot of time deciding whether or not to include this horse. I finally felt I should leave him out due to having flashed pretty sharp early speed in his only race since January. I felt he may need another race off that effort, though I wouldn't argue with anyone who used him.

7. Co Burn - A Profile/Wide Out play who, like some others in here flashed good early speed on a closer's-biased surface on August 5th. One key was that he (as well as the aforementioned horse to his inside) did it while 3-wide. His 2nd-best final fraction status and the fact that he was cutting back to 6F with the addition of lasix and blinkers made him my top choice. When I handicapped this race, as I always do, it was without knowledge of the morning line odds.

I made him my top choice and then found that the M/L was 20-1. This is an example of how we should not back off from a horse we think has a good shot simply because the morning line oddsmaker doesn't see it that way. The public will usually side with the oddsmaker and help keep such a play an overlay.

8. Straight A - yet another that would pretty much insure quick early fractions. His only race was pretty good, but again, one might think he could need another race before firing his best shot.

9. Remembered - had not run since February and in his only 2 outings showed little. He was made the favorite because he ran with Milwaukee Brew and Trippi in those 2 starts. But that was 6 months prior and he was not real close to either of those future stars when he ran against them.

10. Sunday Triumph - first timer with some good works and the Chavez/Bond combo. I had to take a stand against from the 10-hole.

11. Ashbury - ditto.

After all the smoke had cleared and the race was official, the best last-out final fraction horse Kris B had missed by a nose to Co Burn, who was tied for 2nd-best final fraction and had made a telling "move-within-a-race." This was a case of a bunch of horses who had not shown that they have what it takes to win a race, but it happened to be a real good example of how my 3-step process does indeed work enough of the time to keep ahead of this game. It was a furious calvalry charge in the final furlong, but in spite of being bumped at the start forcing a slower-than-usual beginning and a 4-wide trip, Co Burn had the derived energy from his last-out "move" to get the nod.

Here were my listed selections with morning line odds, my value line odds, and the final odds.

7. Co Burn (20-1) (6-1) (21-1)
1. Vision (3-1) (2-1) (7-2)
3. Kris B (6-1) (3-1) (8-1)

As can be seen, the top 2 finishers were overlays and my 2nd choice was an underlay. Here were the payoffs.

1st -  7. Co Burn - $45.40
2nd - 3. Kris B - 7-3 ex. $333.50
3rd -  2. Crafty Runner - 7-3-2 tri. (Guru TBC) $3,786.00.

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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday September 9, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." First off I want to mention that last Monday's selections issue was not sent out to around 300 of you. I regret that my computer froze up during the transmission of the newsletter and as a result had to be re-booted, causing a loss of some transmittals.

Labor Day evening I received the following email from Eddie Eden. Following it is my response. I am a trifecta player with some success. I want to play the superfecta on a daily basis at Belmont Park. I am not asking for any horses, just your philosophy on betting the superfecta. If you could please send this message to other subscribers who want to email me on their methods of betting the superfecta, I would greatly appreciate it. Anyone with knowledge on betting the superfecta please email me at: in care of Edward Eden. Jim, keep up the good work with the website and I look forward to your newsletter each weekend.

Yours in picking horses,


Hi Eddie,

Glad you like the newsletter. I myself do not play the superfecta and I'm surprised you intend to play it every day at Belmont. The reason I say that is that in my opinion, one should only play races for which they have a real feel and for which they have an edge, along with value. Of course, if you hit the superfecta, it's almost always value.

The reason why I don't often play the superfecta is that any number of horses can clunk up for 4th place, not necessarily one that looks like a contender. In my mind it's a tough bet and it's difficult enough to try to pick 2 horses in an exacta or 3 in a trifecta, let alone get the 4th place finisher as well.

That said, if you are bent on playing the superfectas, that's your business. I can't give you any helpful information on that wager, but I'll put your request in Saturday's newsletter in case anyone can enlighten you in that regard.



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Last week I spoke about wagering and how important a part it is of the whole process of trying to cash tickets. I'd like to continue somewhat in the same vein today and tie in value also. I've said in the past that there are a number of different reasons why we play the horses, ranging from a part-time weekend or holiday pastime or diversion to a full-time profession.

I would think most players fall closer to the first-mentioned category, but I know there are a number of you who reside in Las Vegas and play full time. I have no way of knowing what percentage of subscribers to this newsletter actually play any or all of the listed picks. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that I play those that ultimately present value.

And the way I approach my listed picks is the way I would recommend anyone do who so chooses. I've been taking some heat lately about the number of picks I list for certain races. To reiterate, here is what those selections represent. First of all, since I handicap the races before late scratches, I sometimes list 4 or 5 horses in preferred order so that if one or two are scratched, there are still three remaining.

I always have a "body" of top 3 picks. The others are what I label "periphery plays." The top 3 are the selections from which I believe the winner will emerge. The periphery plays are additional horses that I believe can fill the 2nd slot in the exacta or the 3rd slot in the trifecta. If my 3rd pick is a late scratch, then my 4th pick would move into the body of picks. If anyone decided to play my picks but not exotic plays, then they would ignore the periphery plays.

Last Saturday I wrote about how I approach a race that I originally saw as potentially playable. I check for an edge, then for value, and finally review all my wagering options. Since I have handicapped the race and listed a preferred order of horses, I obviously believe that there is an edge in each race listed.

The next condition is of utmost importance to me; value. Jerry P. among others asked why I don't put an asterisk next to my preferred and most preferred picks. The answer is that I tried that some months ago and was not satisfied with the results because of not knowing the post time odds. In other words, I may put an asterisk next to a horse with a 3-1 morning line and find that he has post time odds of 6-5.

Again, what I do is look at the post time odds and then decide on how much I like a horse. As an example, on Labor Day I had 2 races for which I made selections at Saratoga, the 5th and the 8th. In the 5th, my top 2 picks went off at 11-1 and 3-1, while in the 8th they went off at 5-2 and 9-2. From among that group of 4 horses, I had to like most my top pick in race 5, Sheikh Rattle simply because as the clearly best final fraction horse, along with the other noted reasons I liked him, he was 11-1 in a field of 7.

The morning line odds on Sheikh Rattle were 10 to 1 and my fair odds line was 4-1. That was the greatest discrepancy from among the top 2 horses listed in each of the 2 races from Saratoga. This in my mind is a better way to determine a "preferred" choice than using an asterisk beforehand. Sheikh Rattle went on to win paying $24.60 and the exacta keying HIM or my top TWO picks over the others paid $100.50.

The way I played this race was a win bet on Sheikh Rattle and the following. Since the exacta box combinations of my top 3 picks all paid over $24.00, I began with an exacta box of 1-4-9. I then keyed the top 2 as such: 1-9/4-7-10 and finally 9/1-4-7. And I played the following trifectas which failed as I ran first, second and fourth: 1-9/1-4-7-9/1-4-7-9-10. The cost of this #1 tri. play is $18.00 as per the exotic calculator I have on my desktop.

Again, this is just the way I chose to play this race. I got some emails from players who simply made the win bet. If I wanted to risk $10 on this race I would have put the whole $10 to win on Sheikh Rattle. If I wanted to risk $20 I would have put $11 to win and and a $1 exacta part-wheel of 1-9/1-4-7-9 followed by another $1 exacta part-wheel of 9/1-4-7.

The reason for this example as well as all the other content in this and every newsletter is to help any handicappers in this forum who need or want it. It's not to blow my own horn or sound pompous so I hope it doesn't come across that way. None of the 60 or so issues of this newsletter have come with a price tag. Every word written has been free of charge. The worth of them is another story; that's for you to decide :-).

As I touched on last Saturday, the construction of wagers on a particular race can be very dependent upon the odds. If you see a race in which you think a horse has an overwhelming advantage, but the crowd sees it that way too and he's going off at even money, what do you do? Most of us would agree that a win bet is not viable at those odds. If we make a habit of playing odds-on horses to win, we have little chance of staying in the black.

The only option in this scenario in my opinion is exotic plays; exacta and/or trifecta. Note the difference between this example and the one just discussed, won by Sheikh Rattle. And there are a number of other circumstances we will come across. But the main question will be to play to win or not to play to win. If the answer is not to play to win then we have 2 choices. Either pass the race or make wagers other than to win.

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Today's review race is an example of a likely winner but one who is viewed as such by nearly everyone and therefore is sure to be a pretty heavy favorite. I'll go over the race and then also the various wagering options that were open to us for this race. It was the final event at Saratoga last Saturday, the 10th, for which I made picks in this forum. After reviewing the race, I'll tell you how I played it. You can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past perform- mances for this race by logging onto my website Here.

I'll list the entries and then the running styles I labeled each, followed by the last-out Beyer speed figure, the last-out final fractions (raw/actual) and any "moves-within-a-race." This was a field of 10 New York Bred fillies and mares 3-year-olds & up going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf at the preliminary allowance level of non-winners of one race other than maiden, claiming, or starter.

 2. Tis                              P    74    25.3 / 25.3
 3. Caro Wee Dancer      P    72    24.0 / 24.3
 1. Kerry Offaly               LATE SCRATCH
 4. Kawajlain                   P
 5. Pip Pip Hurray            LATE SCRATCH
 6. Stone Ends                 S    65    24.1 / 24.3
 7. Pearly White             EP    82    24.0 / 24.0
 8. Maritime Brass           E
 9. Run Alexis Run           P    80    24.3 / 24.1
10. Wootie                      P    73    24.0 / 24.1    SRE
1A. Frisco Folly              P
11. Funlovin                    P

Here were my thoughts concerning each horse in this match up.

2. Tis - broke her maiden in her last. Since neither her last-out final fraction of 25.3 nor her previous turf race final fraction of 25.0 at Tampa Bay Downs in May compared favorably with some of these who had already competed against winners, I eliminated Tis from consideration.

3. Caro Wee Dancer - in her 3 lifetime races, all of which were on grass, her Beyer speed figures improved in each. Her last-out final fraction of 24.3 was not as good as some in here, but was accomplished from the 11-hole and her prior 23.4 was good. She looked like a contender and since she had the 4th-best last-out final fracion, I placed her as my 4th choice, first periphery play.

4. Kawajlain - another recent maiden-breaker, she ran her last 2 on the main track. Her most recent turf race resulted in a 26.1 final fraction while she finished 7 lengths behind #2 Tis, and therefore was a non-contender.

6. Stone Ends - a deep closer who had a last-out final fraction of 24.3, but she was 10th at the pace call and lost ground from there to the finish. I put her 2nd on the periphery play list thinking she perhaps had a shot at 3rd in the trifecta.

7. Pearly White - it didn't take long to see that she would be the crowd favorite because she was a double Beyer advantage horse, meaning that her last 2 Beyer speed figures were better than any of her competition's lifetime figures. While this did not assure her of a win, it did pretty much assure her of being the odds-on favorite. She also had the best last-out final fraction of 24.0. Her prior 23.3 also strengthened my view of her as the most likely winner of this heat and I had to make her my top choice.

8. Maritime Brass - the speed of the race, but she was exiting a series of sprints on the main track and her one attempt at a route was a hefty fade-back on the turf last Summer. Since she had not shown that she can last at a route, I dismissed her, in spite of her pace shape advantage of being the speed of the speed in a field top heavy with closers.

9. Run Alexis Run - had a last-out final fraction of 24.1, good for a tie for 2nd behind Pearly White. Her previous final fraction was not as good however, so I had to place her as my 2nd choice or co-2nd choice with the horse to her outside.

10. Wootie - also had a last-out final fraction of 24.1 and in 20-20 hindsight, I should have made her my 2nd choice off her being an SRE play and also her previous final fraction of 23.3.

1A. Frisco Folly - showed speed in her last 2 on the dirt, but her last on the turf was not as good as some of these (she finished 2nd to Tis) and she looked like she may get cooked by Maritime Brass.

11. Funlovin - her last was a non-effort in the mud against open claimers and that was preceded by a 3rd-place finish with a 25.2 final fraction, which didn't match up.

As expected, Pearly White was a pretty hefty favorite. One could tell that from the Daily Double probables as the 8-7 combo in races 9 & 10 was hovering around $6 or $7. With about 15 minutes to post I began my wager construction. I knew I had an edge with Pearly White, but now I had to determine if there was any value.

A win bet was out and I didn't play the $7 D/D so I had 2 choices, go home or play exotic wagers. When I looked at the potential exacta payoffs, I knew I could stay and play. With all of my other choices except Run Alexis Run, the exactas paid over $24 or nearly that. The excep- tion was the 7-10 combo, which had a probable payoff of $22.00, close enough considering I would be mostly keying on the 7 anyway.

I decided to go with a small exacta box of 3-7-10 and then key the 7 over the 3-10 with a saver exacta of 7-9, which had a probable payoff only paid in the neighborhood of $13.00. I then keyed the 7 on top in trifectas.

If I were going to play this race with only $20 or even $10, however I would skip the exactas and go for the trifecta. Since I basically liked only 3 horses behind the favorite, with one additional perhaps in the 3rd slot, I would take the shot at the trifecta, keying on Pearly White in the following manner for a $10 outlay and then a $20 outlay (actually $12 and $21):

$2 - 7 / 3-9-10 / 3-9-10 = $12
$1 - 7 / 3-9-10 / 3-6-9-10 = $9
$2 - 7 / 3-9-10 / 3-9/10 = $12 for a total of $21

Speed of the speed #8 Maritime Brass held up far longer than I expected and had a 3-length lead at the furlong marker, at which point Pearly White, Caro Wee Dancer and Wootie all kicked in. They finished in that order with Pearly White getting the nod by a head over a game Caro Wee Dancer who was a half in front of Wootie. Even though I would have keyed totally on Pearly White had I been wagering $10 or $20, if she had been nipped by one of the others I still would have considered it a good bet.

Simply because if I were going to make a win bet on the race it would have had to be on Pearly White and since her odds prohibited me from making that wager, I would have substituted the same amount of money on trifectas. Had she finished other than first I would have lost either bet, but the latter had the potential to transform chalk into a value payoff. Taking the exacta wager route would have also returned value in this instance.

Here were the payoffs.

1st - 7. Pearly White - $4.30
2nd - 3. Caro Wee Dancer - 7-3 ex. $39.60
3rd - 10. Wootie - 7-3-10 tri. $153.50

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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday September 16, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Today I am going to continue with my discussion of wagering and value. Last weekend I posted selections from Belmont for 5 races on Saturday and 4 races on Sunday. What I'm going to do today is show you precisely the way I wagered on those picks and what I was thinking when planning to do so. These will be the exact wagers I made on my Philadelphia Park PhoneBet account from right here in front of my computer before listening to the live calls on

Hopefully, you will see how I recommend anyone who wishes to do so play my picks. I understand that many players don't have the same budget I do and so I will also review how I would have played if I had a standard wager of $20 per race. As things stand right now, if I decide to make a play, my standard wager is $80 to $100. On special occasions I'll go as high as $200, but normally right around $80.00. That goes for all races I decide to risk a wager on.

If I would want to risk less, then that means I think the race is too risky or conten- tious and therefore really shouldn't make any bet at all. As I've said in the past, an enter- tainment wager here or there doesn't hurt and those should be made in amounts a good deal less than prime bets.

Let's begin with Saturday's picks. First off, I want to apologize for putting up the wrong betting numbers for a couple of horses in a couple of races, including my winning top pick in race 1, Not So Wacky. The reason this happened is that I handicap Saturday's races on Friday morning, without the benefit of the official saddlecloth numbers or early scratches.

In the cases of races 1 and 5 on Saturday, there were early scratches which changed the numbers I had written down on my Daily Racing Form and transposed to this newsletter. Normally, when I get the scratches and numbers, I make the necessary changes in the newsletter, but I failed to do so in these instances and I received a number of emails from those of you who played #9 to win instead of #8 in race 1.

I will make sure this doesn't happen in the future by not placing numbers in the newsletter until I have the official saddlecloth designa- tions.

For each race from last weekend I'll list the picks as I made them followed by the official morning line odds, my value line odds, and finally the actual post time odds. Then I'll give my thoughts about the wagers followed by the actual plays I called into PhoneBet.

Race 1 (Horse name - MLO - My Odds - Tote Odds)

8. Not So Wacky (6-1) (3-1) 3-1
2. Personal Trainer (3-1) (5-2) 2-1
4. Shore Leave (4-1) (7-2) 9-1

Periphery Plays

9. Purehue (12-1) (7-1) 21-1

When I handicapped this race on Friday morning, the first thing I noticed about it was a strong pace shape advantage for the 2 EP runners, Mud Warrior and Not So Wacky. I then went ahead as I said and put down the numbers of the horses I would list in priority and the plays listed above were the plays I made my analysis for.

When I obtained the early scratches some hours later, I saw that Mud Warrior was an early defection. This left Not So Wacky as the lone speed, which is always a threat to go all the way on top. What made him an even better proposition, at a morning line of 6-1, was the actual running style make up of this particular match up and the fact that he was coming off a powerful-looking wire-to-wire win.

In the 9-horse field, not only was Not So Wacky the lone EP runner, but 7 of the remaining 8 horses were S runners! Rarely will you see 8 S horses in a dirt race. Turf yes, but dirt not often. So my mind was made up to put a decent win bet on Not So Wacky at anything at 5-2 or better since he had such a pace shape advantage.

Here are the wagers I placed on race 1:

$60 to win #8 - I wanted at least this much on the win end and I keyed him on top totally. If he had lost I would have moved on, disappointed yes, but knowing that I made a good wager for the situation at hand.

Win bet on #8 ($60)
Straight $8 Ex: 8 / 2-4-9 ($24)
Straight $4 Ex. 8-2 ($ 4)
Tri: Part Wheel ($2)  8 / 2-4-9 / 2-4-9 ($12)

Not So Wacky did wire the field as expected and paid $8.60 so the return on the win wager was $258.00. Longshot Purehue had 2nd at the top of the lane but was passed, thereby killing the $182.00 exacta I would have had 4 times. Total wagered: $100; total return: $258.00; aggregate: +$158.00.

Race 5

4. Newspeak (10-1) (3-1) 32-1
1. Ask The Lord (12-1) (5-1) 10-1
2. Knock Again (5-1) (7-2) 7-1

Periphery Plays

7. Soldotna (4-1) (3-1) 3-1

I got an immediate clue that #4 Newspeak, my top pick was dead on the board. His odds kept rising until he went off at a much-higher-than anticipated 32-1. I went ahead and bet him to win and place anyway, with some reservations about the high odds. This race did not go the way I projected it would and all wagers went down the tubes. Here were my plays.

$15 win and place #4 ($30)
Ex: $1 bx. 1-2-4-7 ($12)
$2 bx. 1-2-7 ($12)
$2 1-2 ($ 2)
Tri: $1 bx. 1-2-4-7 ($24)

Total wagered: $80; total return: $0; aggre- gate: +$78.

Race 6

4. Impeachable (10-1) (5-1) 12-1
1A. Enter (entry) (8-5) (8-5) 6-5
7. Darkwood (5-1) (5-1) 6-1

I couldn't put an exacta box on my 3 picks because the 1-7 wager was less than my minimum payoff of $24.00. In a case like this, I will often key on one of the 3 picks and box that with the other 2. I decided to bet the 4 to win and box the 1 with the 4 and 7 in exactas. Here were my wagers.

$20 win and place #4 ($40)
Ex: $10 bx. 1-4 ($20)
$10 bx. 1-7 ($20)

Total wagered: $80; total return: $0; aggre- gate: -$2.

Race 7

1. Big Bambu (3-1) (2-1) 8-5
2. Hurricane Bertie (8-5) (9-5) 3-2

After the late scratch of my second pick, Go To The Ink, I was left with 2 short-priced horses. In a 5-horse field, an exacta was out of the question and there was no trifecta wagering. I had 2 choices, a win bet or pass the race. Since I liked Big Bambu quite a bit over Hurricane Bertie, I opted for the win wager on #1. She seemed to have an overwhelming early pace advantage over her 4 rivals so I took 8-5 on her and she took it pretty easily on top the whole way. The $80 win bet returned $216 for a $136 profit and an aggregate profit on the day of $134.

Race 10

9. Decadent Designer (8-5) (8-5) 6-5
4. Charm (5-1) (7-2) 6-1
5. Misty Springs (9-2) (4-1) 4-1

Periphery Plays

7. Slipping (15-1)(10-1) 51-1

51-1 was a bit much on #7 so I focused entirely on the 3 "body" picks. The combined odds of #'s 4, 5 & 9 totaled only about 11 so I had to focus on exactas as well as a win bet. I couldn't make an exacta box of all 3 since those with #9 on top were less than $24.00. So here is how I constructed my wagers for race 10.

$30 win #4 ($30)
Ex. $15 bx. 4-9 ($30)
$10 bx. 4-5 ($20)

Charm didn't get the best of trips and fin- ished 2nd to Misty Springs. I lost the win bet but had the $53.50 exacta 5 times. Total wagered: $80; total return: $267.50; aggregate +321.50.

So for the day's activity on Saturday I risked the sum of $420 and got a return of $741.50, which is an ROI of 77%. Following is how I would have played $20 incremental wagers on the same selections.

 1.) $20 win #8 - return: $86

 5.) $4 win & place #4
  $1 ex.bx. 1-2-4-7 - return: 0

 6.) $4 win & place #4
  $3 ex.bx. 1-4, 1-7 - return: 0

 7.) $20 win #1 - return: $54

10.) $5 ex.bx. 4-5, 4-9 - return: $133.75
  Profit: $173.75; ROI: 74%

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Here is the tabulation for Sunday's 4 listed races.

Race 5
5. Douanier (4-1) (5-2) 6-1
6. Yeowzer (2-1) (2-1) 4-5
4. Bulling (8-1) (7-2) 5-1

Periphery Plays

At 6-1 I went for a win bet on Douanier and keyed him in an exacta box with the other 2. The results showed I couldn't have been further off in this race as in a field of 6 my 3 picks ran 4th, 5th, and 6th. Not one of my best.

$40 win #5 ($40)
Ex. $10 bx. 5-6 ($20)
$10 bx. 5-4 ($20)

Total wagered: $80; total return: $0; aggre- gate: -$80.

Race 7 1A. Intransigence LATE SCRATCH
5. Santo Mio (6-1) (4-1) 11-1
7. Susan McGrath (5-1) (9-2) 7-2

Periphery Plays
2. Powerful Package (4-1) (4-1) 5-1

This race is the review race for today so I'll indicate the results as far as profit or loss goes and then show my actual wagers after the review. I'll note, however, that my original top pick was a late scratch and as such, the periphery play moved into the 3rd slot of the body of my picks, leaving me with only 3 selections.

Total wagered: $80; total return: $486; ag- gregate: $326.

Race 9
4. Gaviola (4-5) (4-5) 2-5
6. Millie's Quest (9-2) (5-2) 7-1
2. Good Game (6-1) (4-1) 10-1

Periphery Plays

A price of 2 to 5 on Gaviola was lower than I anticipated and as such made any wagers with her underlays; too low for my liking. The main play I was interested in with her was the exacta of her over Millie's Quest and the $11 or $12 for that play as well as doubles of $10 and $15 with my top 2 picks in race 10 seemed not enough to justify an outlay of $80 to $100. As a result, I passed the race.

Race 10
9. Hallucinogin (7-2) (2-1) 5-2
8. Krato (4-1) (3-1) 4-1
4. Spring Street (15-1) (7-1) 8-1

Periphery Plays
1. Major Adonis (10-1) (6-1) 21-1

As I've said in the past, when it comes to deciding on a win bet, I almost always will choose from among my top 3 picks and usually from between the top 2 as I did in this case. There wasn't a whole lot to separate them in terms of ranking as my top or 2nd pick. I went back to the prior race of each when making selections and in that race Hallucinogin had finished in front of Krato by a scant neck.

I let the circumstances be my guide, as usual. Hallucinogin was 5-2 whereas Krato was 4-1 with the best of the jockey colony Jerry Bailey regaining the mount. Krato was the choice for the win bet and here is how I constructed my wagers.

$40 win #8 ($40)
Ex. $4 bx. 4-8-9 ($24)
$2 bx. 1-8 ($ 4)
$2 bx. 8-9 ($ 4)
$4 p/w 8/4-9 ($ 8)

Krato won easily and the exacta plays went down. Total Wagered: $80; total return: $216. For Sunday I risked $240 and got a return of $702 for a profit of $462, an ROI of 193% and a 2-day total profit of $783.50.

Here is how I would have played $20 incre- mental wagers on the same selections.

5.) $8 win #5
$4 ex.bx. 5-6
$2 ex.bx. 5-4 - return: $0

7. See review race - return: $168.60

9. No wagers

10. $8 win #8 - return: $43.20
$4 ex.bx. 8-9
$2 ex.bx. 8-4

Profit: $151.80; ROI 253%; 2-day profit: $325.55.

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Today's review race is the 7th at Belmont on Saturday 9/10/00. You can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here.

I'll list the entries, followed by the running style I've labeled each, and then the last-out Beyer speed figure (raw/actual) and any "moves-within-a-race." This was a 6 furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up which had never won a race other than maiden, claiming or starter - NW1X.

2. Powerful Package        EP    76
3. Out Of The Buggy          P    75    24.4 / 25.0
4. Cherokee Racer             P    53    26.2 / 26.3
1. Olympian Sister              P    72    24.0 / 24.3
5. Santo Mio                      S    75    24.4 / 25.0
6. Alylivia                         EP    56    25.0 / 27.2
                                                 75    24.3 / 24.3
7. Susan McGrath               P    81    24.3 / 25.0    W.O.

Here were my thoughts concerning each horse in this match up.

2. Powerful Package - I didn't list her last-out final fraction due to the fact that it was run in the slop at a mile 5 months ago. Although her works were uninspiring, she did have the pace advantage in her favor. Simply by looking at her prior race on March 16th, one can see that she ran the pace call fraction in 45.3 while 3-wide on the turn and continued on gamely for the place money.

The other EP runner, Alylivia had never in her career run that fast to the half mile pole. There were 2 other noteworthy points about Powerful Package. First, she looked to prefer the place slot, having run there 6 times before in her 12 lifetime outings. Secondly, she was exiting a key race, as shown by the italicized lettering of the 1st and 3rd-place finishers. Even though that race was 5 months ago, I had to consider her as my 3rd choice after the late scratch of my initial top pick, Intransigence.

3. Out Of The Buggy - had one of the top 4 last-out final fractions, 25.0 which tied her lifetime best such figure. But she had the look of a horse who wasn't likely to back up good efforts. The last time she ran 2nd, while running a similar Beyer speed figure at this NW1X level, she came back with a dud performance. On that basis, I went against her and left her out of my picks.

4. Cherokee Racer - it took only a short time to eliminate her from consideration.

1. Olympian Sister - I made her entrymate, a late scratch my top pick but did not mention her as an alternate if she was the one part of the entry to run. Although she did have an edge in final fractions with a last-out 24.3, that was accomplished over 2 months prior. Note that last race was in 2 levels higher in the NW3X category.

Although she was entered here at the proper level of NW1X, her works since July 15th were nothing to indicate sharpness. She had run a strong 48 flat bullet work 3 days after her last race and then had 3 slow works during the next month and a half, followed by another gap of 25 days with no activity before this race. Since I felt she had the look of a horse in need of a race, I left her out.

5. Santo Mio - had a good finish in her last and that race was preceded by one against much tougher foes than she would meet today, in which she ran a 24.1 final fraction, albeit in an up-the-track finish. She had a glaring drawback however, and that was that she was an S runner in a pace shape that favored early speed. I still felt she had a good shot at the money but could not make her my top selection. Thinking that surely Intransigence would be the half of the entry to run, I made her my 2nd pick. Had Intransigence been an early scratch, leaving to run the half of the entry I did not like, I probably would have made Susan McGrath my top pick, followed by Santo Mio.

6. Alylivia - in her 2nd race back, she ran a 24.3 final fraction, but as stated earlier, she never fared well in a race with half-way decent splits. Since I projected a pace call fraction of 46.2 for this race, I could not see her being around at the end as an EP runner who preferred to vie for the lead.

7. Susan McGrath - although she was my original 3rd pick, with the late scratch, by post time she was my top selection. Not only was she a Wide Out play who was 6-wide leaving the turn and then finished well, but she had much better tactical speed than did my original 2nd choice Santo Mio. She also had proven that she could compete at today's projected pace. Another little indicator of potential strong next-out performance was the 1 3/4 length gain she made on the turn while being so wide. By the time I had prepared my wagers for this race, Susan McGrath was my top pick.

Here are the actual wagers I made for this race last Sunday.

$20 win #7 ($20)
$10 win #5 ($10)
Ex. $4 bx. 2-5-7 ($24)
$4 p/w ex. 5-7/2 ($ 8)
$5 ex.bx. 5-7 ($10)
$4 p/w ex. 7/2-5 ($ 8)

The race ended with Susan McGrath and Powerful Package engaging in a spirited stretch-long battle with the former emerging with a nose win, giving Powerful Package her 7th runner-up finish in 13 starts. Santo Mio missed the show money by a nose and a head. Here were the official results.

1st 7 Susan McGrath - $9.90
2nd 2 Powerful Package - 7-2 ex. $64.50
3rd 1 Olympian Sister - 7-2-1 tri. $128.50

Total wagered: $80; total return: $486; aggre- gate +$326 through race 7.

Here is how I would have wagered $20 on this race.

$8 win #7
$2 ex.p/w 5-7/2
$2 ex.p/w 7/2-5
$2 ex.bx. 5-7

Total wagered: $20; total return: $168.60.

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


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*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday September 23, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Before I get started with today's discussion, I would like to mention a couple of topics that may be of interest to some of you.

If you have ever had a desire to own a thoroughbred race horse, here is your chance. is forming AFFORDABLE new partnerships all the time. For details: Click Here

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My friend from the West Coast Mike Bertolet asked me to mention an arcicle he came across called Percentages and Probabilities by Fred Davis circa 70's. He thinks it was published in 1974 and it is a study of impact values and a system for using them. Anyone interested in this article can contact Mike by email at:

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Beginning soon, I will be offering a daily email containing selections for Belmont during the week. This will be an additional service for subscribers to this newsletter who want it. Of course the weekend newsletters will continue as always.

These will be spot plays that will be under consideration by me for the Wednesday through Friday cards, pending any late changes such as scratches and track condition. Value will be the focus. This may be a good time for those who don't follow the New York racing circuit to have a look. In this age of simulcasting, a good bet is a good bet, no matter where it originates from.

I understand that many of you do not/cannot play during the week, but those of you who would like these picks sent to you, which will either be the evening before or the morning of the day of racing, please email me at:

Jim's Weekday Picks

It is VERY important that to sign up for this service you place the following in the subject line of the email: "Weekday Picks." This is so I can differentiate between this and the new subscriber email.

All interested parties please let me know as soon as possible so I can compile a list of names and begin sending the weekday picks. Since we now number over 2000, it could be a sizeable list that will take a few days to assemble.

Here is an actual email I sent to two friends this past Wednesday It is verbatim as sent to Mike Bertolet and Eric Issacson and serves as an example of the new weekday service. I had only one race that I liked and the results turned out great this time.

Hey Eric and Mike,

In race 5 today at Belmont I like #10 Ruby Friday in spite of his 1 for 17 record. He's a best last-out Beyer/final fraction play who made a nice 11.4 move in the G8 of his last and this was after being steadied early. I could use a few late scratches to move him in from the 12-hole somewhat. After him I have 4 & 2 with 3 & 8 as other possibilities.


You can be sure of 2 things about this email. #1 if this race had been run on Saturday or Sunday, you would have received the same information, only with more analysis as you will get with the new weekday service. #2 I indeed sent this to Mike and Eric, whom I have never met in person, but have become friends with on-line. If you want to confirm with them that they did receive this information the morning of September 20, you may email them. You have Mike's email address listed above and Eric's is

Here were the results:
1st - 10 Ruby Friday - $10.20
2nd - 8 Crafty Spender - 10-8 ex. $ 155.50
3rd - 2B It's A Lark - 10-8-2 tri. $1,373.00

The way I played this race was with a win bet on #10, an ex.bx. on 2-4-10, exacta p/w 10 / 2-4-5-8, and ex.p/w 2-4-5-8 / 10. Since I liked Ruby Friday to win and I had him boxed with all contenders in the exactas, I keyed him in a tri- fecta play as such: 10 / 2-4-5-8 / 2-4-5-8, for which a $1 tri costs $12. Had I decided to wager $20, I would have made these plays:

$12 win 10; $2 ex.p/w 10 / 2-4-5-8

The profit for these plays was $196.70.

This race is a case in point as to part of the reason why I decided to go with the weekday selections. The weekend cards are only 40% of the action each week at Belmont and/or Aqueduct and as such is not always a fair representation of the value plays that are presented to us on a weekly basis. Hopefully, with the 3 additional days, I will be able to demonstrate more fully the potency of my 3-pronged approach as outlined in "Calibration Handicapping."

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This past Sunday's (9/17) card at Belmont serves as a good example of a few different aspects of this game we love. The first that comes to mind is the emotion that sometimes accompanies our play; frustration! When I handicap a card the day before, I try to locate plays with at least some semblance of value.

As Sunday unfolded, I became more and more frustrated as I saw the results. The first listing I had was for race 1 and my picks went down the tubes. I could try to make an excuse for the 4th-place finish of my top choice Ancient Dancer, on whom I made a sizeable win wager, and point out that for the first 3 races at least, the track favored early speed and the extreme outside post.

But it is just as likely that this horse failed for any number of other reasons. I then skipped the next 4 races, but I had handicapped the 5th and decided not to post my picks for that race. I had seen that there was virtually no early speed in the race and that the final fraction advantage play #6 had broken slowly in his only start and was 12th in a field of 12 at the pace call.

As it turns out, that was a mistake as he didn't break poorly this time and after being only 1 1/2 lengths off the lead at the pace call, went on to win easily by 4 1/2 paying $16.20. The mistake I made after handicapping and deciding not to list selections for this race was twofold and worth discussing to help avoid repeating in the future.

Unless a horse has a history (of at least 5 races) of being slow out of the gate, we should not assume that because he was in his last start that he will be in his next try. Secondly, since this race was at a distance of a mile and a quarter, and had a field of 8, we could assume that any horse, even a stone-cold closer would have enough real estate to get into good position by the top of the stretch, which is where the real running begins in turf races anyway.

In hindsight, this race for sure should have been among my picks and at the very least could have replaced race 6. Not only did #6 Total Gold ($16.20) have the final fraction advantage of 24.0 / 23.3, but one of the 2 next-best FF horses, #1 Counselor Neil 25.0 / 24.3 ran 2nd to complete the exacta of $102.50.

This race also serves as a prime example of the power of final fraction comparison versus Beyer speed figure as a next-out indicator. While Total Gold was earning a 23.3 FF in his last and only outing, his Beyer speed figure was only 67. Here were some of the other last-out Beyers: #1: 73 (preceded by 80, 72, 76);  #4: 73;  #7: 76;  #8: 75  and #9: 73. It's no wonder that Total Gold paid $16.20.

Now before a number of you begin saying that I am contradicting what I have mentioned in the past, look at the whole picture. What I mean by contradicting is that Total Gold was 10 lengths behind at the pace call and from that position it is easier to gain to the finish, which he did by 2 lengths, thereby making it not all that impressive. But here is the difference.

Let's compare the data from the horses I've mentioned and see if you can spot a strong indicator in addition to Total Gold's significant final fraction advantage. I'll list the horses, followed by their last-out Beyer, followed by their last-out raw/actual final fractions.

1. Counselor Neil              73    25.0 / 24.3
4. Hemisphere Dancer       73    25.0 / 24.4
6. Total Gold                     67    24.0 / 23.3
7. Rather Be                      76    25.0 / 24.0
8. Discovery Ridge            75    25.0 / 25.2
9. Regal Dynasty               73    25.0 / 25.1

These were the contenders in this race. If you look carefully, you will see that the raw fraction in the race Total Gold was exiting was a full second (or 5 lengths) superior to the others. This is precisely the reason why I include that raw fraction, which of course represents the final fraction calculated using the times on the toteboard teletimer for the two points in question, which were registered by the leader at each of those points.

The raw FF will often point out a stronger race that an entry is exiting and such was the case with Total Gold who also had the best actual final fraction in the group. Again, this logical $102.50 exacta was frustrating to see, knowing it should have been listed.

The next race I made selections for was the 6th. After 2 late scratches, the field was reduced to 5. This is what I mean when I refer to late changes and how they can affect the value of the race. #6 Fire King, who had a M/L of 5-2 closed at 4-5. My top pick #4 Seeking The Dream was at 7-1. A decision had to be made whether or not to make a box exacta on the 4-6 combo, which paid $15.80 as the lower amount. As a rule of thumb, I will go for it when I can get 5-1 or better on a 2-horse box and this paid nearly 7-1.

The next race brought more annoyance on my part. Here was another turf race that I had handicapped and ultimately decided against posting picks for. The turf courses had been labeled "off" and figured to be the same for Sunday's racing. The top FF horse was also a deep closer from the inside. And this time the race was only a mile and a sixteenth. Again I decided that it may be asking too much for her to get a good enough trip to be able to be in positon to make her run when it counted.

#2 Queue did find enough room late to get up and pay $20.00. Here were her raw/actual numbers: 24.0/22.4, pretty much of a standout in that area, and she had just finished 4 lengths behind Gaviola. I'm not going to be making it a habit of reviewing races that should have been posted. This is a painful exercise to demonstrate some of the more frustrating facets of this game. It also serves to prove that using the 3-step process in my book "Calibration Handicapping" without doing too much "reading between the lines" as I did on Sunday will often result in very nice paydays.

Speaking of "reading between the lines", I'm afraid I did some of that in Sunday's 9th race also, the next race for which I posted selections. I had to make City Zip my top choice, not only because of his best last-out final fraction, but for his heart and determination he showed in his prior race. When I initially saw that #1 Burning Roma had the same best last-out FF of 243, it caught my attention immediately.

His prior race in an undefeated 2-race career featured a 24.4 FF so the last was no fluke. Unfortunately, I ultimately decided not to list him as he had raced exclusively at Laurel and was unproven in New York. Mistake; big mistake. When Jose Santos creamed City Zip with left-handed whipping as he saw Burning Roma coming on strongly late, City Zip responded by veering out and was DQ'd from the top spot in a Grade I race. We may not see Jose on this horse next time.

The change in order resulted in a $125.00 exacta using the top 2 FF horses and a late D/D of $255.00 using the top 2 FF horses in race 10. Now you know what I mean by frustrated and by now you may be a little peeved also that I didn't have the entirety of this "Calibration Handicapping" bonanza day listed in my picks.

The final fractions came through again in race 10, which I will shortly discuss as this week's review race.

I've on occasion asked the question, "what makes horses win races?" You could also ask, "what's the most important facet of handicapping?" Is it pace shape? Running style? Speed figures? "Moves"? Internal fractions comparison? Trainer intent? Trainer claiming patterns?

While all of the above can be helpful in pointing out next-out readiness, I hope you can tell by the above review of last Sunday's racing at Belmont that final fraction advantage in my view is the most important indicator.

When I talk about final fractions, many if not most people think of closing ability. They think of closers and scoff at the idea that this facet of handicapping can be useful on speed-favoring tracks. In the examples given above, at the pace calls (again the 4F point in sprints and the 6F point in routes) Total Gold was 1 1/2 lengths back, City Zip was 1/2 length back, and the top 2 finishers in race 10 were in front and a neck behind respectively.

It's similar to the impression some players have of my "Profile" play. They think that such a play will always be up near or on the lead in its next outing. This is often not the case at all. And with top last-out final fraction plays, it does not follow that they will be coming from the clouds. When a horse makes a last-out move, be it a trainer/jockey orchestrated move or simply a best FF move, on occasion it will have "derived energy" for its next start. The trainer and jockey will know about this energy while waiting for the next race.

An astute trainer will then instruct the jockey as to when to "release" the horse and let him run according to the way the race sets up. If the horse in question is in a pace shape with very little quality speed, the trainer, knowing he has a "live" horse on his hands may instruct the jockey to send him right out for the lead to avoid any possible trouble and the horse will go wire-to-wire.

In a different scenario, a trainer may say nothing to the jockey, who will let the race unfold and let the horse guide him. The truth of the matter is that when certain horses decide to go out winging on top, in many cases the small human aboard has everything he or she can do to hold on for the ride, let alone control the way the 1000 pound thoroughbred will run.

Suffice it to say that I believe that the way a horse runs in the last portion of the race is most significant, as can be seen I'm sure by how often I do mention final fractions in my analysis and review of races. Is it the be-all and end-all of handicapping thoroughbred races? No, nothing is. It's not that simple. But I don't think you can go too far wrong being able to calculate and compare internal fractions.

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Now I'll quickly go over last Sunday's race 10 at Belmont. You can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here.

I'll list the entries, followed by the running style I've labeled each, and then the last-out Beyer speed figure (raw/actual) and any "moves-within-a-race." This was a 7 furlong sprint for New York State-bred 3-years-old and up which had never won a race other than maiden, claiming or starter - NW1X.

 1. Rainy Day Blues          S    25.1 / 25.2
 2. Unrelenting Desire       S
 3. Electra Q Shun            P    25.0 / 25.1    W.O.
 4. Son                           EP    25.1 / 25.4
 5. Apt Contender          EP
 6. Forever Man               S
 7. Blue Eyed Trickster   EP    26.3 / 26.2
 8. Dancing Lou                P    25.1 / 25.3
 9. Baricor                        P    25.0 / 25.1
10. Alarm Code             EP    25.0 / 25.0
11. Smiling Bob                S    26.3 / 25.1    SRE
12. Monologue                 P    25.1 / 26.4

Here were my thoughts concerning each horse in this match up with a pace shape that gave an advantage to early speed.

1. Rainy Day Blues - in his first race in New York he finished evenly against a couple of these, but with his S running style from the rail I could not consider him a contender.

2. Unrelenting Desire - Dull and out

3. Electra Q Shun - as a Wide Out play 1 tick off the best final fraction who finished well late in his last and figured to have good early presence, he had to be one of my top 2 choices in here.

4. Son - I made him my top selection off his race 2-back at this distance when he registered a 25 flat final fraction and also because of his consistent early presence in a match up that favored same.

5. Apt Contender - consistently showed early speed and won his prior in the slop at 9F, but didn't look to me as though he could be a threat for the top 3 slots.

6. Forever Man - his first effort since January was a dull 10th in a field of 11.

7. Blue Eyed Trickster - was cutting back to 7F in poor form.

8. Dancing Lou - did not show much in his last; no excuse, therefore no play.

9. Baricor - his final fraction looks good, but a closer look indicates he is always a non-threat and his trainer wins one race every 6 months.

10. Alarm Code - possessed the best last-out Beyer/final fraction and as such had to be in the top 3; also had the advantageous EP running style for this pace shape.

11. Smiling Bob - SRE horse broke his maiden with a come-from-the-clouds win. But his 25.1 final fraction was in a race with a raw time of 26.3 and being an S runner from the 11-hole was asking a bit much.

12. Monologue - he showed some early presence in his last before fading back and ran on the dead rail for much of the race. I gave him a shot at the 2nd or 3rd slot in the exotic plays off that and his prior race 25 flat final fraction.

Here are the picks for this race as shown in last Sunday's selection issue of this newsletter, with official morning lines followed by my fair odds lines and then the actual post time odds.

 4. Son (5-2) (2-1) 9-5
 3. Electra Q Shun (5-1) (9-2) 6-1
10. Alarm Code (7-2) (3-1) 4-1
12. Monologue (6-1) (4-1) 12-1

As I've said in the past, when it comes to a win bet, and since I was not alive in the D/D that was my first consideration, I will usually play one of my top 2 choices or in the rare instances both if they are longshots. Looking at the odds for #'s 4 and 3, it was a no-brainer which I would go with. Not only was #3 Electra Q Shun 6 1/2 to 1 on the board, but he did have some early presence and he was a Wide Out play.

Here were the prices.
1st   3. Electra Q Shun - $15.20
2nd 10. Alarm Code - ex 3-10 $57.50
3rd   5. Apt Contender - tri. 3-10-5 $1,542.00

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


*****Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter*****
*****Saturday September 30, 2000*****

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." As I told the subscribers to my new weekday newsletters, my picks last Sunday went down the dumper due to one of the most intense speed/rail biases in recent memory. The rules were simple on Sunday; either be on the lead at the top of the stretch or you had no shot at the win. Any horse that was sent wide into the stretch could only spin his wheels as the place to be was the golden rail. Certain "mindless" jockeys who had no clue of this bias will go nameless, but you can identify them by examining the charts.

The last such severe bias I encountered concerning my picks was on June 24th at Belmont when both turf courses were extremely speed-favoring. I stated next day that the way we could recoup losses from this day would be to play back horses that made any gains or even finishes from the turf races that day. Here is a partial list of horses that did come back as winners, a number of whom ran next on weekends and were picked in this forum: You'll Be Happy; Ben's Approval; Precious Ring; Third Mortgage; Elhayq and quite a few others, the full list of which I don't have compiled.

I've scoured the results charts from last Sunday and I'll be reporting to you any comeback races for horses that ran even the slightest bit against that intense bias. One for sure to keep in mind is Love Sedona, who in race 10 clipped heels at the start, stumbled badly and dropped far back early. Although it was on the golden rail late, he then gained over 18 lengths from the half mile point to the finish and 6 lengths from the pace call to the finish; an outstanding feat on that track.

Speaking of my new weekday selection editions of this newsletter, the first few days featured an auspicious beginning. I sent out to all subscribers who requested them, picks for 3 races from Belmont on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.

On Wednesday the top 2 picks in race 5 combined for an $18 exacta, and keying on the top 2 picks in race 9 got the $31.80 exacta. Thursday featured a top pick winner of $9.00 in a 3-horse field in race 7 and a top pick winner in the 8th that paid $12.60 with a cold exacta of $39.60. Had one decided to play the races 6-7-8 pick 3 with the standout chalk in race 6, they would have collected the $152 payoff.

In Friday's 3 races the early D/D clicked for $34.00 keying all 3 picks in race 1 with my top pick in race 2. Then as I said I would do, I listed the first horse to return to action from Sunday's extreme bias. I stated that in race 8, Full Detail ran a 23.4 final fraction while 3-wide against that intense rail bias and he came back to win going away at $18.60, kicking off a cold exacta of $64.00. I would say we had a good 3 days of weekday picks.

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I've heard it said from a number of sources I respect and I happen to agree. On any given card, we'll be lucky to find 2 or 3 solid value situations, sometimes less. I usually list more than that number of races in these newsletters, and on occasion they are all playable, but often after late changes, some have to be skipped due to depleted fields, track condition or low-value contenders.

As I've said more than once, there are varying reasons as to why people play the thoroughbreds. If entertainment is the top priority, then making money cannot be. Anyone who plays with the idea of actually making a profit each month had better learn to be real selective in their wagering. And specialization can help one's cause also.

Meaning that usually we have an area or areas of strength when it comes to handicapping. It's advisable to stick to what we're best at. I don't know about you, but I sometimes can "feel" whether a situation is right or wrong. I don't know if it's my unconscious mind letting me know or what it is, but I've learned to pay attention it.

At first glance I may look at a 6F claiming sprint as a playable race. After handicapping the entire field, however, I may see things differently. I may like a Profile play, but then notice that he likely will go out on top and that this particular match up has 4 such early runners and I'll get the message from "inside" that this is not really a high percentage play.

Or I may encounter a claiming race in which a good trainer is dropping a horse 2 levels after a series of decent tries. The question is always there. Is he going for the purse or trying to unload the horse? If he fits as a top contender and there are questions, the prudent move is to pass the race and wait for one where you have no such nagging concerns.

There are a number of situations we will come across with regard to match ups. Here are a few, among many that I encounter.

A standout contender who is the favorite. If I can't get 2-1 minimum on this horse, I won't want to bet him to win and if this is the case, I'll want to opt for exactas and/or trifectas, depending upon the odds of my other contenders.

A standout contender who is going off at higher odds than I would have predicted, or put another way, an overlay. I'm not talking about a huge longshot, but one that is going off anywhere between 3-1 to 12-1; in that general range. In this scenario, I'll definitely want a good por- tion if not all of my outlay on his nose to win. And I'll key him in exotic plays if there are not too many other contenders.

Two horses who are very close and I really consider to be co-top choices. Obviously, if the odds are right, I'll want a win bet on the one with the highest odds, or on both if the odds warrant it. I'll also key these 2 in the top slot in exactas and/or trifectas as such 12/1234 and 12/123/1234.

Three horses that I can't really separate. For instance, they all may have run very similar last-out final fractions and have other reasons that make them equally likely to land in the winner's circle. Although a win bet on the best and/or second best odds is a primary consideration if the value is there, this is the scenario in which I will most often make a 3-horse box exacta. Again, all 6 combinations must pay at least $24 for me to make this 3-horse box, and to make a 3-horse trifecta box, the total odds should be at least in the 13-15 range.

A pace shape advantage. It could either be a lone speed horse in a field with mostly mid-pack and late runners. Or it could be a solid closer in a field of 10 with 6 early speed types, none of which shows it wants to dominate the others. Even if the horse with the apparent pace shape advantage hasn't shown much lately, it is a threat in this situation. Especially the lone speed horse.

Last Sunday as stated, the Belmont main track was a superhighway for early speed as well as having a golden rail in the stretch. After seeing evidence of this for 4 straight races, why try to buck it? Throw out anything and everything that cannot possibly get to the front and play those that can to win, especially those who are going at good odds.

As I write this newsletter on Wednesday afternoon, I'm listening to the races from Belmont on This is the first day after that extreme bias sitation on Sunday and the first 2 races today were more of the same. Again, there was significant rain on Tuesday and the main track is listed as fast. After hearing that a first-time starter wired the field in race 1, and knowing that the bias may still be in effect, it would be prudent to determine which of the field of 6 in race 2 have the capability of getting right to the top.

The public thought for sure that it would be #6 Timeframe due to the early fractions he ran in his recent races. But those races were at Monmouth and The Meadowlands. Just about the entire field could have a shot at getting to the front, but there was one horse who had an advantage over the others.

That was #1 Olerud. He like 4 of the remaining 5 entries had shown good early zip in his last. But he, unlike any of the others was coming off a win. Even though it was in a maiden $50K claimer, he had won his last race, and that probably had as much to do with him getting to the front as anything. Once he got on top, he never wavered as the good old Belmont stretch held him up like a champ and he clicked wire-to-wire at $20.00. And his last-out Beyer speed figure was 56 compared to the favorite, who could not go by him and last ran an 81. This was yet another case of a last-out maiden-breaker coming back to win at a nice price.

If you can identify situations like these that you encounter on a regular basis and have a preset wagering plan to fit each, the wagering process becomes that much easier and there is less wavering during crunch time.

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Today's review race is the 7th at Belmont on Saturday 9/23/00. You can view and/or print the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race by logging onto my website Here.

I'll list the entries, followed by the running style I've labeled each, and then the last-out Beyer speed figure (raw/actual) and any "moves-within-a-race." This was a mile and a sixteenth route run on the Widener turf course for fillies and mares three-years-old and up which had never won 2 races other than maiden, claiming or starter - NW2X.

   3. Hedge Ratio               P     76     24.4 / 24.4
   1. Brown Eyed Lass     EP     85     24.1 / 25.0
   4. Tell It                         P     79     24.1 / 24.4
   5. Miss Sara Toga          P     68     26.1 / 27.2
   2. Affirmed Lane            P     89     24.1 / 24.2
1A. Miss Chief                  P     81     25.0 / 25.0
   6. Impeachable               P     79     24.4 / 25.2
   7. Mycatcandance        EP     86     Dirt Sprint   W.O.
   8. My Friend Terri        EP     84     25.0 / 25.1
   9. Venusberg                EP     65     24.1 / 26.2  W.O.

Here were my thoughts when handicapping this race.

3. Hedge Ratio - in her first race back from a layoff she ran an okay 4th at The Meadowlands but had not been competitive in New York in a long time.

1. Brown Eyed Lass - she weakened in her only turf try and with a number of other potential speedsters signed on, I didn't like her chances up top.

4. Tell It - had the 2nd-best last-out final fraction of 24.4 and finished pretty evenly while gaining in position at each call after a slow beginning. Her 2 turf races were okay 4th-place finishes and she was sure to be a decent price. I made her my 3rd choice and after the scratch of #10, she was moved up to 2nd.

5. Miss Sara Toga - her last was a bust in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Handicap at Meadowlands, but her previous 5 turf tries were solid, including one at Saratoga, which meant she fit with these.

2. Affirmed Lane - had the best last-out Beyer speed figure/final fraction combo and as such had to be one of my top 2 picks. She had also already won at this NW2X level.

1A. Miss Chief - made a huge middle move in her last and then finished evenly and as such could have and should have been considered a top contender in this match up.

7. Mycatcandance - mostly a sprinter who was returning to the turf, on which in her only try she finished up the track. In hindsight, this was not one of my better picks as I got too caught up in the fact that she was a Wide Out play rather than comparing her closely with her competition in this match up. I listed her as a periphery play.

8. My Friend Terri - showed consistent early presence, but had not run in New York and from her outside post projected to have a tough time slugging it out on top.

9. Venusberg - was a Wide Out play but like the mare to her inside had a difficult assignment from her outside slot and hadn't shown enough in her 2 U.S. starts to warrant contender status.

Here were my picks as listed in last Satur- day's newsletter, after the late defection of the 10-horse. I'll show the official morning line odds, followed by my "fair odds line" and finally the actual post time odds.

2. Affirmed Lane  (2-1)  (2-1)  2-1
4. Tell It  (12-1)  (7-1)  11-1
7. Mycatcandance  (6-1)  (4-1)  11-1

In the 20 or so minutes before this race that I considered contructing a play, I recognized the situation that was before me. This was a case of having 2 horses I could strongly consider for the win, a situation I mentioned earlier. There were other contenders, such as the 7 as well as the 5 and 1A, but for the win, my preferences were Affirmed Lane or Tell It.

Again, when I saw the odds, it became clear which I would go with. I had Affirmed Lane at 2-1 and she was 2-1. I had Tell It at 7-1 and she was 11-1. Although the horse doesn't know what its odds are and the odds are not what makes it win, by going with the overlay in this particular situation, as I discussed in the body of this newsletter, I will come out ahead in the long run. It was gratifying to hear that a number of you did the same thing.

Here were the results.
1st - 4. Tell It - $25.60
2nd - 1A. Miss Chief - 4-1 ex. $109.50
3rd - 5. Miss Sara Toga - 4-1-5 tri. $589.00
Affirmed Lane finished 1 1/4 lengths back in 4th

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


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