Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hambletonian Day Guaranteed Pools

With the Hambletonian being only a week away, the Meadowlands wants to let HANA Harness members know in advance what guarantees will be offered on the Hambletonian Day card.  The exciting news is Exacta players get the opportunity to share in the excitement of guaranteed pools as they will be offering one guaranteed Exacta on the race card.

Here are the guarantees being offered (the race numbers are based on presumption of a fifteen race card).

  • Early Pick 5 (Races 1-5) with a 15% take out - $25,000 guarantee
  • Early Pick 4 (Races 6-9) with a 15% take out - $50,000 guarantee
  • Late Pick 5 (Races 8-12) with a 15% take out - $25,000 guarantee
  • Late Pick 4 (Races 12-15) with a 15% take out - $200,000 guarantee
  • 12th race Exacta will feature a $200,000 guaranteed pool.

With the expanded race card, there will be some additional wagering opportunities made available.  As indicated above, an extra Pick 5 has been added to the race card starting with the 8th race.  The traditional Hambletonian Oaks - Hambletonian Daily Double will be offered on races 11 and 12 and additional Pick 3s will be offered with the expanded race card. 

Here is the projected wagering menu for exotic wagers based on a 15 race card. 

Exacta and Trifecta - All races
Superfecta - All races except the final race (15th race)
Super High Five - Last race (15th race)
Daily Double - Beginning with the 1st, 11th, and 14th race
Pick 3 - Beginning with the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 13th race
Pick 4 - Beginning with the 6th and 12th race
Pick 5 - Beginning with the 1st and 8th race
Pick 6 - Beginning with the 4th race



Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday Race of the Day - The Adios

The biggest day of the year at The Meadows is upon us and in the $500,000 Delvin Miller Adios Final, while we have a short field of six starters, we have what can arguably be called the strongest field ever assembled for the Meadows classic with the presence of the top tier of 3yo pacing colts in training at this time.  Let's take a look at the field:

The Meadows 12th Pace - $500,000; Delvin Miller Adios Final - 3yo Open (Exacta, Trifecta, Start of Pic 3)
1  Bolt The Duer (MacDonald, 10-1) - Took the lead past the quarter and just missed at the wire.  A very good horse but is just a notch below the tier.  I would consider him for trifectas.

2  Bettor's Edge (Dube, 4-1) - Was able to win his split of the eliminations coming from post position nine.  This is a much better race than he has been showing, could it be signs he is finally clicking?

3  Breakin The Law (D Miller, 8-1) - Finished third in his elimination but while a speedy sort, he does seem to be in over his head.  Will pass on him.

4  Sweet Lou (Palone, 2-1) - The best horse on paper, the best driver at the Meadows; how do you beat this duo?  If allowed to get the lead without a challenge he wins easily.  The question is does someone decide to take it to him?

5  Allstar Legend (Morrill, 8-1) - Scratched

6  Thinking Out Loud (Campbell, 5-1) - Came home in a :26.2 to finish third after drawing the worst of it last week.  Expect him up closer in this race.  Possibility.

7  A Rocknroll Dance (Gingras, 7-2) -  Winner of Meadowlands Pace and runner-up in his elimination.  Realistically the only one who can sting the favorite.  The question is will he?  Regardless, it is all about the trip.

How the race will be run is the big question.  If the field allows Sweet Lou to get to the front and remain unchallenged early, the race is likely over.  Unfortunately, these days few drivers are willing to go for broke (all or none).  If Sweet Lou is left unchallenged, he is the winner but at his likely odds, I wouldn't touch him.  If you must play the race in this case, a simple Sweet Lou - A Rocknroll Dance exacta is in order.

On the other hand, if you think someone will try to sting Sweet Lou, he is certainly beatable.  Of course, the question is who will take it to Sweet Lou?  My guess is it will be either Bolt the Duer or Bettor's Edge.  If this is the case, I would likely play Thinking Out Loud to win.  If one insists on an exacta in this case, I would play Thinking Out Loud on top of A Rocknroll Dance.

Friday Race of the Day

Meadowlands 6th Trot - $50,000; Invitational (Exacta, Trifecta, Start of Pick 4)
1  Opening Night (Campbell, 12-1) - Winner of last at Philadelphia; winner of 4 of last five races.  The horse deserves a chance to compete against the best though I suspect the top was reached last week.

2  Anders Bluestone (Pierce, 7-2) - Wire to wire last week at Pocono Downs coming home in :27.4 in winners over.  Another one that has been consistently sharp.  Can't see leaving him out of exotics.

3  He's Spooky (Tetrick, 8-1) - Won winners over at Pocono two weeks ago.  Trounced in Open at Mohawk last month.  Must prove he belongs with these.

4  Don't Know Chip (Gingras, 6-1) - Finished second to Anders Bluestone at Pocono and winner of Opens at Tioga Downs.  This horse needs to work out a trip.  Suspect he won't get the necessary trip.

5  Likeabatoutahell (Morrill, 12-1) - Faltered in last in race won by Opening Night.  Suspect this field is too tough.

6  The Evictor (Callahan, 20-1) - Has been in poor form of late and overmatched.  A pass.

7  Winning Mister (Sears, 5-2) - Jumped off in Maple Leaf Trot.  Prior to that finished fifth in Titan Cup.  This field is easier which is an advantage but must up front early.

8  Lanson (Lachance, 15-1) -  Definitely off form.  His best efforts come in the early part of the season.

9  Autumn Escapade (D Miller, 12-1) - Has raced well since she returned.  Mare stepping up but figures to be tighter.  Could provide an attractive horse at the right odds.

10  Sevruga (A Miller, 4-1) - 7 for 10 this year and won last against these; winner in Meadowlands Invitational early June.  Post must be considered an issue, but still can win.

Autumn Escapade is the class of this race, when ready.  At 8-1 or higher, I will play the lone mare.  If odds are below 8-1, will look elsewhere at Winning Mister and play a Winning Mister-Sevruga exacta; would play a Winning Mister trifecta key over Anders Bluestone and Sevruga. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Race of the Day

Tonight at the Meadowlands there is an unusual opportunity for harness racing horseplayers, an overflow field of twelve horses are going to the gate in the second leg of the Ima Lula late closing event for 4you trotting mares.  The race is carded as the seventh race on the eleven race card and includes Superfecta wagering as well as is the start of the Pick 3.

Here is the field for the Ima Lula.

Meadowlands 7th Race - Trot, $20,000 - Ima Lula - 4yo Mares Late Closer 2nd leg
1  China Pearls (Campbell, 3-1) - Was the winner of her division of the 1st leg of the Ima Lula.  Prior to last week, she was racing in Canada and racing well in the Miss Versatility at Georgian Downs.  Prior to her win last week, her most recent victory came in an elimination of the Armbro Flight at Mohawk Racetrack.

2  Fitness Girl (Abbatiello, 30-1) - Has had a tough go in her first start back this year finnishing a well-beaten last in her season debut.  She obviously had some problems racing only once as a  three year old, but had a good year in Canada as a two year old.  A well deserved long shot.

3  Beatgoeson Hanover (Sears, 6-1) - Was looking for a trip last week when she finished third to China Pearls.  In her effort the week before, she won a nw16000l5 contest in 1:53.2.  Will need another trip and a fast clip to be a factor.

4  Tui (Napolitano, 9-2) - Riding a two race win streak including the other division of the Ima Lula last week.  She will need to be on the engine this week to be a factor.

5  Lady Andover (Lachange, 6-1) - Finished second to China Pearls last week off a trip.  Another one who races well with a trip off a fast pace.

6  Oh Sweet Baby (A Miller, 15-1) - Has been off the board all seven starts this year and is likely to continue on her streak.  Can't recommend the horse.

7  Four Dasmals (Johnson, 20-1) - Has been racing in a lower level late closing event at Tioga Downs and won her first start bak at Vernon Downs in a middle-level classifiied race.  Did not show much last week and not likely on paper to show well.  Will need to change strategy completely to be a factor.

8  Leah's Ex (Tetrick, 30-1) -  Won  first two legs of late closing event at Tioga Downs before blowing up in the final.  In last week's effortl the horse shows nothing to suggest her recent form is about to change for the better.

9  Pantholops (D Miller, 12-1) - Has improved since return to the mile oval with a third place finish last week  While not a front runner, she has the ability to race up close or look for a trip.  May be worth a look at in the bottom of exoticsw.

10  All Munky Busines (Schnittker, 20-1) - Had the misfortune of racing against Kendall Blue at Tioga Downs, finishing second against the horse in both preliminaries and final.  The return to the Meadowlands has not been helpful thus far.

11  Cedar Dove (Pierce, 4-1) - Draws the inside post in the second tier.  Finsihed second against Tui in her division of the Ima Lula.  Prior to then, she won the Miss Versatility after finishing second in the Armbro Flight final and elimination.  Will try to follow China Pearls out to get a good trip with cover. 

12  Firstclassprincess (Gingras, 8-1) - A shipper from the Burke stable comes in from the Meadows.  Starting from the second tier as well, there is a good chance she will get a poor trip.  I will  pass on this one and tab her for a later effort.

I'll be looking at Cedar Dove as my win selection and putting Lady Andover under her for the exacta if it turns out ot be a value play.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Take Out Rates of the Bix Six

If you haven't noticed, many standardbred tracks are attempting to increase wagering by offering guaranteed pools, but in most instances guarantees are limited based on their existing handles for these exotic wagers. As such, the largest guarantees in harness racing tend to be offered by the Meadowlands which this month has upped many of their guarantees. But not every wager has a guarantee, or one wagering usually can't support so one needs to take a good look at the takeout rates as a lower takeout rate typically offers the best deal. After all, takeout is often the difference between winning and losing.

As such, here is a chart of takeout rates for six standardbred tracks where the handle tends to be the highest or have artificially high purses (the best rates for these wagers are highlighted in blue). This is not a complete list; obviously there are other standardbred racetracks, but other than local horseplayers, they tend to escape the attention of many horseplayers in the simulcast market.

Win, Place, Show
Exacta, Double
Pick 3
Pick 4
Pick 5
Super High 5

True, takeout rates are often controlled by law and/or racing commission actions, but the gambler needs to look out for their own interests. You may have certain tracks where you do better than others and you can't ignore that, but when all else is equal, horseplayers need to be looking for the best deal. Some thoroughbred horseplayers would do well to check out some wagers at standardbred tracks as some offer better takeout rates than running tracks.

After all, if you don't watch after your own money, who is?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pandy Takes Leg Fifteen Honors; McKelvie Clings to Lead

(July 1, 2012) – The fifteenth leg of HANA Harness’ The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge sponsored by The Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs is in the books following the completion of last night’s card at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and when the dust settled, Chip handicapper Pandy was on the top of the leg’s leader board with a Win ROI of 1.74 followed closely behind by Trackmaster’s Chatsworth Consortium which took second place honors with a ROI of 1.57 followed by Pen Handicapper Bobby Z, who took show honors with a 1.29 ROI. Despite not taking the top spot in several legs, Mark McKelvie’s consistent performance allows him to cling to the overall lead with a 1.00 ROI with Chatsworth Consortium nipping at McKelvie’s heels with a 0.98 ROI; separated by a mere $6.80 difference.

In regards to exacta selections for the most recent leg, it was a question of quality over quantity as the Chatsworth Consortium had an Exacta ROI of 4.09 as the two exactas taken down grossed $261.60 while Bobby Z’s five exacta selections resulted in a ROI of 2.23, grossing $143.00.

Through the first fifteen legs of the Handicapping Challenge, the overall standings are:

$ Won
Mark McKelvie (P)
TM’s Chatsworth Consortium (C)
Bobby Z (P)
Ray's Robot (C)
Mr. Trifecta (P)
Pandy (C)
Scott Alberg (P)
Earl the Pear (C)l

This week, the Handicapping Challenge handicappers will be busy with a trio of contest dates. Thursday and Friday, legs sixteen and seventeen will be at the Meadowlands for the Reynolds Stakes, while leg eighteen on Saturday evening will be staged at Yonkers Raceway when the Yonkers Trot will be contested.

As always, contest dates, handicapper selections, and additional statistical information are available at the contest website ( Each leg’s selections will be posted the morning of the day’s racing action.