Aqueduct December 5

Race 1     7-6-1

Papa Tom has been turfing all summer but he’s shown a liking for the inner dirt. On the down side he’s 2 for 39, but those two wins came on the inner. Certainly has the numbers to win. Gaining Ground is dropping to his lowest level in search of a win. Of the RuRod entry Solly’s Mischief looks the better of the two.

Race 2     3-6-1

Time for Harlan drops to the bottom for this run after two off the turf races. Her number tops the field. Bella Forever showed good speed on a sloppy track but may have to tangle with East Coast Express on the front end. You Take the Cake has 24 starts but is good enough to catch a minor piece.

Race 3     1-5-2

Dreaming of Cara struggles to find the winner’s circle but has been racing with better. Miss Da Point has four wins in nine starts on the inner dirt and should get first run in the stretch. Lady Gracenote has top numbers but will have to run by everyone in the stretch.

Race 4     6-7-8

Krista’s Persona puts the blinkers on for this try after showing speed and fade. Cuts back in distance and that should help. Saluda looks for a win in her 9th start. Has the numbers but is suspect when it comes to heart. Sky Fortune goes off a short layoff for Jeremiah Englehart.

Race 5     1-5-4

La Bella Valeria has plenty of early speed and has a win and a second at the distance. Go Olivia Go has 4 wins in 11 starts on the inner and will be one of the ones coming in the stretch. Your Move is three of four at the distance and two for two on the inner.

Race 6     5-7-1

Freudex just missed after a nice tracking trip last time and cuts back half a furlong today. Readyheartandsoul is coming off a two month rest. He was competitive when moved from the turf to dirt at SAR  and then came back at BEL where he got caught outside the whole way. Should have a better trip today. Tottie Royer  is much better bred for the dirt than turf should enjoy the cutback in distance.

Race 7     5-4-6

Darling Bridezilla has no wins in 5 starts on the inner, but is making the big drop for Jacobson who is both effective on the drop and second off a layoff. Sweet Sway is 3 of 4 on the inner and looks to be in good condition. Midnightpositano struggles to find the winners circle but has the numbers to grab a piece here.

Race 8     6-4-1-2

Half Nelson has good speed and is 4 of 5 in the money on the inner. Lots of space between races so that is cause for concern, but when he’s right he’s got the ability. N.F.’s Destiny goes for Jacobson who is having mixed success on the inner this week, although this one is 3 wins in 5 starts on the inner. Laila’s Jazz was over his head in the last one, but was competitive before that and has a win on the inner. joe Mooch is another in good condition and goes second off the claim for Linda Rice.

Race 9     6-10-5-7

Swivel got pinched back early in his first start but still ran well. Tiznow has been an effective sire, especially for horses trying dirt routes. Beyond the Green looks primed for a good effort after losing as the favorite last out. Persuasive Devil is five of six in the money and could be a part of the exotics. Arctic King is another that has been competitive and looks much improved for trainer Bruce Brown.

Aqueduct December 4

I understood NYRA is calling off turf racing for the year, so all the races are picked for the inner dirt.

Race 1     5-7-3

Lil’ Zilla has been hanging around at the $40K level for a while and drops today to the inner dirt bottom level maiden price, $25K. Her first six starts were on the turf, then she ran into a sloppy track, then ran a pretty good race in an off the turf affair on the fast AQU dirt. If she takes to the inner she’s the fastest. Peach Lake is looking to find the winner’s circle in start 18. Lot of seconds and thirds lately so she should be competitive even though the win is questionable. Built in a day only has four starts and looks like she’s been waiting for a distance of ground on a fast track.

Race 2     6-5-2

Rosemarie is another one that might appreciate the cutback. Nice figures, but has trouble getting up first. Mononoke is a total money burner, but is good enough in this field to slip into the win slot. Lemon and Honey has 3 seconds and a third in 10 starts this year and may inherit one of the exotic spots.

Race 3     2-3-6

Blue Shark is dropping from MSW to this low claiming level. He’s shown a lot of ability to get interested early, but hasn’t finished so well. He’s definitiely bred more for the dirt and should be fine at the distance. American Hero is another with competitive numbers, but will need a good spot and a good pace to run at. Warrior’s Hero has lots of speed but has been having to spend it on sloppy and muddy tracks and the dirt. Last time on a fast track he almost won.

Race 4     6-12-11

M J Plus just missed at this price three weeks ago and has consistently good figures. Love to Run was claimed last out by Chris Englehart and he is fair first off the claim. May have to duel with Shankopotamous but he’s shown an ability to sit just off. Lot’s of in the money finishes. Global Asset seems to be a little faster on the turf, but ran very well in his last race over a good AQU dirt. Claimed last out by Bruce Levine and he is good with new barn arrivals.

Race 5     2-3-4

Apex has good tactical speed, a win at the distance and a win over the AQU inner. Bemata was left in his last start at Parx, but prior to that he was running well. Dighton is new to the Bruce Levine barn, but has two wins, two seconds on the AQU inner.

Race 6     11-1-13

In a competitive race the MTO Our Caravan is finally dropping out of graded stakes to try his hand with OC $62K runners. He should find this field much easier. One of the Klesaris entry will scratch, and if it is off the turf Frazil is the one likely to start. He’s got nice tactical speed and just lost last out to Golden Itiz after dueling all the way around the track. He’ll be looking to turn the tables on an inner dirt where he is 5 for 16 in the win slot and 11 for 16 in the money. Golden Itiz goes for three in a row. Hasn’t been on the AQU inner, but has been running strong figures. Has a nice tracking style.

Race 7     7-3-1

Herbal Prospecter runs wet or dry, and goes second off the claim for Tony Dutrow who is 28% with that move. Big Town is not well thought of by the linemaker at 12-1, but he figures as fast as any horse in here and is well suited to the distance. Pleidian has front running ability, although he’s like to battle for the lead. Still, he’s 5 of 9 at the distance.

Race 8     5-6-1

Spa City Fever has a decided figure advantage, although lately Jacobson hasn’t been finding the winner’s circle at his normal rate. Still, gotta go with the number here. Saratoga Snacks was good enough to race in the Cigar Mile last year and although he hasn’t hit the winner’s circle this year, he’s been running well all year. Bond Vigilante has only had one race this year and Chad Brown is 22% second off the layoff. He’s got plenty of tactical speed and was racing with better last year.

Race 9     6-2-3-4

6 Twist ‘n Bake has the fastest figures, although they are on the turf. Turf horses did well today, so we’ll see if that continues. Ozone puts the blinkers on after showing plenty of speed her first two outs. Not sure why and Contessa is only 5% with the move, so we’ll see what difference it makes. Kisses for Romeo was right behind Ozone last out and can improve for a warming Dominic Shettino. Perfect Freud was third last out after running wide out of the 10 post. Sydney Dutrow put in a claim and wheels her back a tick higher.

Aqueduct December 3

We’re finally on the inner dirt but NYRA hasn’t given up on the turf yet. Let me ask a question. If the turf can’t be better than soft after 5 days of no rain, what hope do we ever have for getting a firm turf?

Race 1      7-1-6 

Senso goes for Jacobson. She’s been at the $40K level for a while, which is not a good thing, but she had a couple of good races in off the turf affairs her last two. She’ll be a suspect favorite but has raced best on the dirt. Confessa had some trouble at the start last race. Will be bet off one good dirt race at SAR at this level that she might have won with a better trip. Maura’s Pass ran fair on a sloppy track last out and gets a trainer change to Jason Servis.

Race 2      5-3-7

Razia Sultana has been consistent in he first three starts. Didn’t care for the mud at BEL but has been working hard in the mornings lately,. Violette and Ortiz have been a strong combo lately. Good Shot has been second in his first three starts and she seems to be getting better with each start. Stolen Victory has been off the turf her last two starts. Finished close behind Good Shot two back. Room for improvement.

Race 3      1-4-2

America spent most of the year tackling the likes of Untapable and Stopchargingmaria and soundly beat an allowance field in the mud at AQU last out. Stands out in this field. Evening Show has been struggling to find the winner’s circle this year but has been running competitively. Lunar Surge has been having a good 2014 with 7 of 8 in the money. She’s another that has a lot of thirds compared to wins, but could make the exotics.

Race 4      4-14-10-2

Mambo at the Gym improved substantially when dropped to this level. Hasn’t been on the dirt yet but has good tactical speed. Harbor King is the MTO in the race. Richard Metivier has so far refused to give up on him and has put him in state bred MSW. Perhaps with the drop to MCL he improves. Puts blinkers on. Identity Crisis has been mainly on the dirt and is much better bred for the dirt than the turf. Bold Runner has a lot of speed and will be the one to catch.

Race 5      5-6-2

Prove It All Night has a good turn of speed that she’s been using to her advantage. Jumps up off the claim. Lopez is usually effective with frontrunners. Kelly’s Prize drops in from the state bred ranks. Last time she was at this level she ran creditably. Mr Rico Is Valid didn’t seem to care for the turf last time but two back he was competitive on the BEL mud. Gullo claim hasn’t win’t yet for him but he is 24% with the turf to dirt move.

Race 6      7-8-5-3

Two year old maiden race has a number of promising first time starters and a few second time starters. Call me Stoney switches to Bruce LEvine for his second start after showing speed and fading last out. That race certainly gave him necessary experience and the intervening works should have him with a  good edge. All Is Number goes first time for Violette and has a nice series of works for this one. Violette has been hot wtih firsters lately. Apollo Eleven goes first time for RuRod and Castellano. Good works for this debut. Francis Freud had trouble at the break first time out in June. Cannizzo laid him off until this spot. Should come back fitter and stronger.

Race 7      4-7-1-6

American Progress puts the blinkers on for Leo O’Brien and takes a price tumble from NW1X. Has a win on the inner dirt and that moves him up today. Bajan Summer improved when moved to the dirt and dropped to this level. Switches to Angel Cruz for this trip. Three For Me is making his 13th start but he has shown a tendency to finish in the money. Another with a win and a second on the inner.

Race 8      8-3-7

The horses that ran on Sunday all scratched out of this race leaving four runners. Clean Eleven looks like the speed here and is decently bred for the route. Castellano stays and that is a good thing. Legally Bay is 1 for 25 and has been knocking around this level for a while. She’s got some fast figures and with only three competitors she has a better chance than she’s had in a while. Swift Taylor is coming from FL with three wins in her pocket including one on the inner at AQU.

Race 9      10-8-5

Mr. Lit comes in from FL for new conditioner Michelle Nevin after being off for a year and a half. The first race was certainly necessary and he has a win, second, and third in four races on the inner. Straight Bite showed some speed last out at a mile in the slop at AQU but faded badly. Switches to the Bruce Levine barn. Much better bred for the dirt and a wet track. Byron’s Pop is the Jacobson trainee coming in. He showed some speed in his last before fading. Expecting better today.

Betting Two Horses

Slow week last week with Thanksgiving and all. Horseracing took a back seat to family and the holiday, as it should.

After a prompt from Jason Beem, I thought about doing this week’s blog on the uncomfortable chemistry between Peyton Manning and Papa John on those pizza commercials, but I really didn’t have much more than what I just said. Although it did strike me that unless you are an accomplished jazz musician or a voodoo high priest you have no business referrring to yourself as “Papa.”

Here’s a note to advertising agencies. You are not obligated to use Phil Phillip’s song, Home, in every commercial. I’m not sure when I hear the song in the background if it is for insurance, car sales or something else. It also reminds me of a David Spade joke about Lynyrd Skynyrd. They only did two songs. Free Bird and Not Free Bird. Sorry Phil. Nobody but your most ardent fans can name your other songs. And that’s as much as I needed to say about that.

California Chrome won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, causing the folks at Del Mar to spew forth superlatives, including that he was the only horse to win four Grade 1’s this year, which is totally true if you ignore Main Sequence.  No real story here. He beat Lexie Lou, a filly with Canadian credentials and Talco , a three year old with a career as an allowance horse staring him in the face. Needless to say, based on the level of competition, Chrome didn’t cement his case for horse of the year.

I was going to talk about addicted gamblers, mostly based on one guy on Twitter who seems to bet a ton of races, gets ridiculously angry (almost ever time at the jockey) when he loses, and can’t wait to shout when he hits one. Pretty much every race. I wrote in detail about this in my article, Risk Intelligence, which you can find in the July archives, so I’m not going to go into detail again. But this is one of the warning signs of gambling addiction, getting really furious if you lose and over the top if you win.  I’ll just say, if this sounds like you, you might see if you have some of the other warning signs for addicted gambler.

Aqueduct ended it’s main dirt meet with a whimper when they took all the races off the turf on Cigar Mile Saturday and the inside part of the course was like playing like horses were running on a concrete moving walkway. Not much of a story there either.

However, on Cigar Mile Saturday if you had played my top two selections to win, you would have hit 5 of 10 races and your ROI would have been 63%. That means if you were betting $10 to win  on the top two horses in each race, you would have bet $200, collected $326.

The idea of playing multiple horses to win has been mentioned in a lot of books, including my book, The Condition Sign, and was developed as a strategy by Howard Sartin, a psychologist who treated addicted gamblers with the devilishly simple idea that the cure to chronic losing was winning.

Let me start with my maxim: In most cases it is more profitable to bet two horses to win than to bet one horse win and place. Whenever you hear people pumped up about their “ladder” bet, either they don’t understand the arithmetic of win and place betting, they need the psychological salve from a place bet, or they lose all the win photos their horses are involved in. Let’s look at the arithmetic.

We’ll start with the assumption that your top two choices both average 4-1 and that one of your top two selections wins 50% of the time, and your top choice wins 25% of the time and finishes second 15% of the time when it doesn’t win. The place price will be assumed as $5. There are three possibilities.

  • one of the two horses wins
  • your top choice does not win but finishes second
  • both finish out of the top two spots

For the sake of calculation, let’s say you either bet $10 to win on your top two choices or $10 win and place on your top choice.

In the case of betting two horses to win, in 100 races the total bet would be $2,000, the total collected would be $2,500. In the case of betting one horse to win and place, total bet would be $2,000, total collected wouild be $2,250. Of course, if you took the same $20 and put it on your top pick to win, you’d collect….$2,500. In other words, betting to win only is superior (using these assumptions) to ever betting win and place. I’d challenge you to do your own experiment picking two horses in a race and figuring out whether it would be more profitable to bet them both to win or pick one and divide the same amount win and place. Eventually you can get sophisticated enough to make win bets unequal based on your calculated win line, but that’s a different lesson.

Most people who bet place just can’t deal psychologically with the lower collection percentage, and I fully understand that. But you have to keep telling yourself, I’m better off in the long run not to bet place (most of the time).

Now I’ve read pieces that talk about betting against yourself if you bet two horses to win. For the most part, they are wrong, but I’ll concede it depends as much on your successful selection rate as anything.

The one time I think you are justified in making a place bet is when your horse is at big odds, and again it is for psychological reasons. Not long ago I had a horse just get nipped at 37-1 and I believe it would have been devastating to not make some collection. Besides, the place mutuel was better than the vast majority of win mutuels.

I realize this is a bit of a grinding way to win, and for that reason I would concede that it is fine to budget half your bankroll for win bets and half for exotics. That is maxim number two: half of the money you bet should be to win.  If you play well, there is plenty of opportunity for profit.