Friday, 21 February 2014

Paddock Handicapping

I really dislike paddock reporters at racetracks. I think that for the most part they ramble pointlessly and the 'insight' they provide is useless to the bettor. However, I do think that being able to identify a nice, fit looking horse in the paddock is important.
     A horse's appearance in relation to it's preferred running style is very relative. I hear too frequently paddock reporters say a horse looks like a sprinter and probably doesn't want to go the route, even when the horse has already won at a route distance before. Or some sort of variation of that. This is not something we should be teaching bettors who do not know about identifying a good paddock horse. We need to teach handicappers what to look for in a fit horse. So here's my idea.
     Once a month, have a seminar with a trainer and a pedigree expert to teach people what they look for in a fit horse. Since they are the people who know what you want to see in a horse physically better than most, they would make logical sense to do the teaching. With this seminar, the public can learn how to make intelligent observations on their own. This will also bring trainers into the spotlight more, something that many people seem to want.
     There is a lot of things a good handicapper must learn. In horse racing, knowledge and information are the best tools you can have. Teaching the public how to analyse a horse's physical appearance will create better handicappers and (hopefully) more winning bettors. It certainly cannot hurt.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Why I Should Be the New Racing Secretary

Woodbine is looking for a new Thoroughbred Racing Secretary. Now, I have proven to be a pretty poor handicapper in the last week or so, so I've decided to change career paths. If the lovely people at WEG are willing to hire me, this is what you can expect at Woodbine.

  • Changes to ON-Sired races. Many horsemen have Ontario Sired horses, but they always get stuck in big fields of 12, 13, 14 or whatever, and they can't win. I am going to cap the field size of Ontario Sired races at six. That way, more horsemen and their Ontario Sired rats, as the horsemen prefer to call them, can win. The gamblers won't be happy about this, but let me explain how this benefits them. Ontario Sired races are pains in the ass to handicap and are hardly worth the time. With only six horses, you won't have to waste what seems like forever on a race full of garbage. I will also add a rule that states that any horse who has finished off the board in three consecutive claiming races for $10,000 or less is eligible to run in Ontario Sired races, regardless of their sire.
  • Mark Casse Match Races. Whenever you look at a Woodbine race, you almost always see a Casse-trainee, and a lot of them look very tough to beat. Instead of having Casse's horses run with everybody else, everyday we will have two "Mark Casse Match Races." These are thrilling events where a Casse-trainee faces off against one horse from another stable. Since Casse has what seems to be half of the horse population, this gives everybody a chance to participate.
  • The Woodbine Festival of Racing. The Queen's Plate, Woodbine Mile, Canadian International, E.P. Taylor, Neartic, and the Woodbine Oaks will all be run on the same day called "The Woodbine Festival of Racing." I will work to make sure that all of these races get significant purse increases.
  • Stakes ONLY on Turf Course. We don't like ruining our fine E.P. Taylor Turf Course. The cheapest turf races currently being written at Woodbine are $40,000 claimers and Ontario Sired Maiden and Allowances races. However, even these are too much for our precious turf course. From now on, the turf course will be used for Stakes Races only.  The rail will be out in lane 3 with the exception of Grade 1 races, where it will be in lane 2. No race is good enough for the true rail. Besides, everybody loves the polytrack.
So there you have it. I will be sending this to WEG and giving it to all of the trainers and owners. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Track Bias in Quarter Horse Racing

An important part of Thoroughbred handicapping is the track bias, finding whether or not the track is favouring inside speed or if the rail is dead, etc. Even in harness racing, there are apparent biases. However, track bias is frequently overlooked in Quarter Horse handicapping. It isn't just novice Quarter Horse handicappers who aren't aware of bias, many regular players fail to take it into account as well.
      In Quarter Horse handicapping, there are two bias angles that most players use that don't do much for your value. In 870 yard 'around the hook' races where the gate is located very close to the turn, inside posts are at an incredible advantage, especially on mile racetracks. Horses coming from the three inside posts win over 50% of 870 yard races. In straightaway races, the common belief is that the extreme outside post is the best post to have. This is because the horse has more open space and may not feel the intimidation of being between other horses or being down on the rail.
     While these both tend to be solid angles, there are times where the racetrack itself comes into play and thwarts their usefulness. For example, let's take a look at the Sawgrass Stakes at Hialeah last Sunday. This was a 440 yard race where the three betting favourites came from the outside. 3-2 choice Dash Master Jess had the six hole in the eight horse field and was exiting a victory in the $227,260 Hialeah Derby. Joltin Jess came from post seven and was coming off of a pair of impressive victories in the Crystal River and the Moonstone. Finally, Sure Shot B last raced in the City of Hialeah Stakes where he rallied for the win. He had the far outside post. This trio were a classy bunch and deserved the money they took, which was a combined 63.7% of the win pool.
      Where did they finish?
      Joltin Jess finished 2nd by a 1/2 length. Dash Master Jess was 3rd, a neck behind Joltin Jess. Sure Shot B finished an even 5th by a 1 1/2 lengths. None of them got into any trouble, so why did they lose, even as the best horses in the race?
     The winner was Dashin Beduino, a horse who was 3-for-14 prior to the Sawgrass and was exiting a win against non winners of three Allowance company. It was an impressive win visually but this was a serious jump in class. Breaking from post two, he won by a 1/2 length at 7-1 odds.
      Was he just the best horse? Or was there a bias at play that helped him out?
      Out of nine races on the card, there was one winner from post six, three from post five, and the other five came from the inside three posts. All the races were conducted down the straight. 55.5% of the race winners came from posts one, two or three. That is a bias. To back it up, the day before, five of nine winners came from the three inside posts with one winner from post four. Looking at this, I think it is safe to say the horses running on the inside part of the track were at an advantage. Dashin Beduino may not have been the most talented horse in the field, but he had an advantage and it paid off for bettors who picked up on it.
     The moral of the story is that even while watching Quarter Horse races, look out for biases. Observing the way the straightaway plays can lead to some profitable results.