Thursday, May 22, 2014

Build a Win 4 Series

The Molson Pace is coming to The Raceway at Western Fair District next Friday, May 30, 2014.  As in previous years, management is asking racing fans to pick the first three legs of the Win-4 (Pick-4) as the final race in the series will be the Molson Pace Invitational.  To select the three races you would like to see linked to the Molson Pace in the Win-4, click here.  The deadline is Monday, May 26.

Western Fair makes Molson Pace night their big evening.  The early Win-4 will have a $7,500 guaranteed pool with the final Win-4 (the one you are selecting the legs for), having a $10,000 guarantee.    There will be a Super High-5 in the seventh race which will also have a $10,000 guarantee and since it is closing night, there will be a mandatory distribution.

As for the race, the Molson Pace will once again be an invitational with Foiled Again committed to return for a sixth time in an effort to win his third Molson which will have a purse of $150,000.  In addition to the race, there are plenty of activities and giveaways which makes it worthwhile for fans to attend the race in person.

So if you haven't voted on which races you want to see part of the $10,000 guaranteed Win-4, make sure you go to the survey site and vote.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Someone is Being Your Eyes

If you are like me and you don't have time to watch the replays of the races but there was someone willing to do so for you at no charge, would you consider playing those races?

If the answer is yes, why aren't you playing Tioga Downs and/or Vernon Downs?

You see, at these tracks, Tioga Downs track announcer James Witherite is doing the work for you, reviewing each race at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and compiling trip notes in addition to providing his analysis of the races.

We are not talking about the two or three worded trip note in the past performance line if the track even provides the information; we are talking about fully descriptive trip notes such as the following:

7. Prince Marathon 
16May sprinted clear, yielded, 2w str, driving, just up 
09May locked in ½, labored ¼, evenly 
04May 2w 9/16, failed to catch cove 

The information compiled in the notes is any race since April 11 at the two track.s  Unfortunately, if a race is contested elsewhere other than Tioga and Vernon, the information won't appear so  a day where there are NYSS races, the information may be limited but when overnight races are being contested, this information may be invaluable; especially if you are a trip handicapper.  To access this information, follow these links for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

So knowing this information, why aren't you playing Tioga Downs and/or Vernon Downs?  True, the handles are not Meadowlands-size but it may still be profitable to play these tracks even if you cuts back on the size of your typical bets.  Don't forget, Tioga Downs has some of the lowest takeout rates in America so you get more bang for your dollar.  In enough time, handle will build up and larger bets can be handled without impacting the odds.  If you are a casual player, then these track should be on short list of tracks to play.  After all, what other track(s) provide you with this level of information?

Ripping Off the Regulars

A seat in the dining room at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day goes for a princely sum of $450.  I understand there is a demand for seats, but what about the horseplayer who comes regularly to the track and eats in the dining room?  No room in the inn for them?  If it was me, I would tell them they have seen the last of me.  Don't get me wrong, I understand demand is high and accept the fact the prices will be somewhat elevated since it is a special event but to attempt to extract this much money from the regulars or tell them the hot dogs are available downstairs is unconscionable.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Many Ways to Handicap

Reprinted with permission of DRF Harness.  Originally appeared on May 8, 2014

by Derick Giwner
 There is more than one way to skin a cat. While I understand the meaning, despite a quick Google search, I’m still not sure what skinning a cat has to do with finding multiple ways to do something.
As a participant in the HANA Harness Grand Circuit contest this year, I’ve been giving some thought as to how each of the 15 contestants are making their wagers. Through four legs, nearly half the field (seven total), including myself (slight pat on the back), are currently in the black. Those are impressive statistics, albeit using a small sample size.
What’s interesting is that each handicapper is using different techniques and styles to achieve success. But even more compelling is reading the person and learning which days they are betting from a feeling of strength and when they may simply be making a play for the sake of obligation. Selections with no background information or explanation are somewhat useless.
In the HANA contest, each handicapper is required to wager at least $150 but no more than $250. From this, do we assume that a handicapper who wagers $250 feels strongly about his bets that night? That would seem logical but it is worth noting that the two players which have wagered the entire $1,000 through four legs are ranked first and last in the standings. I for one have yet to fire a $250 shot, mainly because that standout wager has yet to present itself.
Bob Zanakis, one of the “bet it all each week guys”, leads the way with a net profit of $827.35. It is interesting to note that he has played a nice mix of win, exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets each week. Knowing that, if he simply posted a win/place bet one week, I might wonder if he didn’t like the races that night. Similarly, Earl Paulson is showing a profit with nothing but $150 win wagers. If he put in an exacta or trifecta, that would certainly catch my eye. Is he simply conservative or is he waiting for the right moment to strike? I guess we will learn that in the coming weeks.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many ways to win at the races. There is no hard-line theory ala blackjack. But each wager has an inherent value on any given night that can prove worthwhile. Is it possible that Earl can make $150 win wagers each week and win the contest? Sure. Is it likely to happen? No.  In a head-to-head contest he would have a reasonable chance, but against 14 others, I believe you need to widen your wagering options.
Has my strategy been strong? I have played exclusively win and exacta bets. In retrospect, I screwed up on Sunday night at Miami Valley. I should have played trifectas in addition to exactas. As post time was approaching on Sunday, I looked at the race a second time and it was clear that the trifecta was a better play. There is a good lesson to be learned here about giving yourself a fresh look when handicapping.
I handicap every card at the Meadowlands three to four days prior to the races. When the night of the races arrives, I don’t simply bet whatever I selected. I find it constructive to handicap the race a second time. Typically, since there is such a large time gap between my first and second look, I often don’t recall the exact horses I selected. When I do remember my top selection immediately, those are the “best bets”. You always remember a horse you really like. I’m also looking to see if I missed something. Handicapping a race can be like looking at a piece of fine art. There are many details to be uncovered if you stare long enough.
But I digress from the handicapping contest. Below is a list of each handicapper and the amounts they have wagered along with the type of plays they made that night. If you plan to use their opinions (some of these people are fine handicappers), the background information may help you uncover when to act and when to watch.
By the way, this week’s contest race in the TVG-FFA pace on Saturday at the Meadowlands. Without revealing my exact plays, let’s just say the bets total the minimum $150. It is a tough race with too many possibilities to have any strong opinion.
Handicapper (Wagers)Leg 1Leg 2Leg 3Leg 4Total Wagered
Garnett (Tri/Super)240250240250980
Ray C. (Win/Exacta)230150150170700
Ray G. (WP/Exacta/Tri)250250225210935
Derick (Win/Exacta)200150150180680
Sally (WPS/Exacta/Tri)250180150150730
Brian (WPS)250250150250900
Mark (WPS/Exacta/Tri)250170180220820
Rusty (WP/Exacta/Tri)250250150250900
Dennis (Win/Exacta/Tri)240250240250980
Earl (Win)150150150150600
Ann (WPS/Exacta/Tri)250246240250986
Brandon (Win/Exacta)250150250250900
Josi (WP/Exacta)2502502502501000
Gordon (WP/Exacta/Tri)250160200250860
Bob (Win/Exacta/Tri/Super)2502502502501000
For more columns like this please go to

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Are You Watching?

If you have been following the HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge thus far, you will have seen some great hits in the few contest dates already contested.

For example, Friday afternoon at Freehold Raceway, Gordon Waterstone of The Horsemen magazine focused on the second division of the Lady Suffolk and took advantage of the short field to wheel the 1-9 favorite Cee Bee Yes in the exacta and connected with 35-1 Pinking of You for a $540 profit on a $40 Exacta wheel.  On Saturday, Bob Zanakis was the hot one playing the Dexter Cup as a fifty cent superfecta partial wheel earned a profit of $165,15 on a $60 investment and his $25 Exacta key earned him a net profit of $275 on an investment of $100.  Will there be a big winner with the Grand Circuit races at Miami Valley Raceway tonight?

I am not saying every night will have a breakout hit, but it is clear with the revamped contest, HANA Harness' site is a site worth visiting.