Category: Horse Racing

Kentucky Derby; I Want Revenge Leads Wide Open Field

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By , June 16, 2009 1:58 am

Horse racing is a tough enough sport to cap when the field isn’t full to the brim with evenly matched contenders. But you have to take a stab on the Derby, and here are the horses I like.

In any horse race, just like in any other sport, there is always a great deal of randomness that can throw a perfectly capped race completely out the window. A bad start out of the gate, a horse breaking to the front to soon, a bump, a surprising ride by an unknown, any one little thing can set off a chain reaction that creates a top three on the tote board that no one could have foreseen.

This is never clearer than in the Kentucky Derby, where such a large field of horses over such a long distance can produce any kind of result. And unlike last year’s Derby which had an obvious favorite by the numbers, this race features no such obvious favorite, increasing the likelihood of a beautiful breakdown with an enormous payout.

I am a speed handicapper, but I also factor in the projected pace of the race in making my decisions on who to play. I have as good of a grasp as I am going to get on this race, and will share my findings with you here. But just to clarify, when I make a note of “why the horse won’t win”, I simply mean why I disqualified it from my winner’s circle on my budget. Most of these horses, especially the one’s I’m centering on in this piece, have a good shot Saturday if the race aligns itself right.


13. I Want Revenge (3-1)

The likely favorite for good reason. Beyer Speed at the Gotham G3 of 113 by far the best that any in this field has run, and despite troubles in his last race still prevailed with a gritty effort and a 103 Beyer, unprecedented for a bumpy ride. Pioneer of Nile has beaten this horse twice, but both times were on synthetic track, and I Want Revenge clearly excels on dirt as shown in his last two races. Trainer Jeff Mullens and jockey Joe Talamo give me no reason not to feel confident in this horse.

6. Freisen Fire (5-1)

Blazingly fast workouts and a steady improvement in Beyer Speeds in three straight wins lead me to believe that Freisen Fire is ready to launch his best effort here on Saturday. His racing style is perfect for a race of this size; let the front runners take the lead and sit right behind them until the final turn and then make your strike. He has the pedigree, and trainer Jones J Larry’s stats on races like this one (Dirt Races 25% winners, Graded Stakes 36%, Route 27%, among others) lead me to believe that this horse will be very tough to beat down the stretch.


7. Papa Clem (20-1)

Will likely fight for the lead early, but Bejerano is a smart jockey and will not wear him out too early. Papa Clem has showed the ability to fight for the lead early and stay involved late. Has a chance to be the case again in this race, and would pay nicely.
Why he won’t win: Trainer numbers don’t create much confidence, has only won a single non-maiden race.

11. Chocolate Candy (20-1)

Has an unbelievable late kick; while he likely doesn’t have the speed to keep up with this bunch, if the horses in front tire, he has the late kick to clean up the garbage. This will be the horse that comes “out of nowhere” at the end to finish in the top 5; and maybe even the top 3.
Why he won’t win; Top Beyer of 94 just isn’t going to be close enough in this field.

15. Dunkirk (4-1)

Excellent Beyer of 108 is more than enough to beat any in this field. You simply can not throw out the horse with the best recent Beyer, and the 2nd highest among any in this field.
Why he won’t win; Only three career races, never raced as a two year old. Only one graded stakes race. Hard to see him edging out all the others in the end.

16. Pioneer of Nile (4-1)

Proven winner, has won last four races, all graded stakes. Gomez is one of the best jockeys in the game, and trainer numbers are very promising.
Why he won’t win; Hell, he probably will. But you can’t pick every horse in the field, and sometimes you have to put a serious contender out of your winner’s circle. As a speed handicapper, I can’t pencil a horse with a top career Beyer of 96 in as a winner in a race that will probably require a number in the mid 100’s to get the job done.


I’m content to drop $50 on the Derby, and despite the fact that there will always be “that horse” in the crew that I left out that messes up everything, on my betting budget, I have to trust my capping.

$1 Trifecta ($40): 6, 13 with 6, 7, 11, 13, 15, 16 with 6, 7, 11, 13, 15, 16

$1 Exacta ($10): 6, 13 with 6, 7, 11, 13, 15, 16

Good luck on whatever you bet!


How To Handicap Horses Instructional Series

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By , August 17, 2008 6:00 pm

Most of my subscribers on youtube have come from my college football picks, but my series on Handicapping Horses is arguably my most popular work on youtube.

I had originally intended to make the series 8-10 videos long, but football season and then my eventual employment at SBR distracted me from finishing.

At five videos, the series does still stand alone and teach a lot about the basics of handicapping horses. At some point I will likely finish the series, at which point I will update this page.

Part 1: How Odds Work

Part 2: How to Bet the Races

Part 3: Beyer Speeds

Part 4: Trainers and Jockeys

Part 5: Race Styles and Pace

NHL Playoff Hockey or The Preakness? Tough choice, huh NBC?

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By , May 20, 2007 7:09 pm

Buffalo and Ottawa, the East’s two best offenses were locked up in a close Game 5, with Ottawa seemingly controlling the tempo through the first two periods and earning themselves a 2 – 1 lead heading into the third. Desperation and the home crowd kicked in all at once, and the Sabres went on an offensive flurry and tied the game up on a power play goal with just under 10 minutes left to play. Both goalies were outstanding and kept the puck out of the net for the last 9 minutes and change of play; this baby was heading into overtime.

You know how I feel about overtime playoff hockey. There just isn’t anything better.

Would Buffalo be eliminated, or would the Senators be forced to fly back to Ottawa for a Game 6?

Who would be the hero? Who would be the goat? How long would it take to decide a winner?

“The Preakness is coming up next here on NBC. If you’d like continued coverage of this game, check your local provider for the Versus network”

But post time isn’t until 3:00 pm, so we could see an overtime period without missing the actual race. Maybe they just meant after…

“What a sunny day it is here where Street Sense will try and take the next step towards immortality and the triple crown!”

Hmm. So, seeing as I don’t have Versus, I now have to miss the game so I can see the leadup to the Preakness?

Believe it or not, unlike 99% of my hockey fan friends who were absolutely irate and sent hateful letters and emails to NBC, I don’t blame them for the move at all.

The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and Belmont Stakes are a bigger deal than the NHL conference finals.

Monetarily, anyways.

People paid great money to get their commercial spots during the hour leading up to the Preakness. Commercials that wouldn’t be seen if you kept the hockey game on; there are no commercials in overtime of a playoff hockey game. Besides, the commercials were catered to people who would be tuning into the race, not keeping it on for the hockey game.

So NBC had a choice; refund all those advertisers their money and upset horse racing fans, or upset a bunch of loyal hockey fans.

Easy call.

Because hockey fans love their sport. We can’t threaten to boycott a network for pulling stunts like this because quite frankly we are lucky when we get to see hockey at all. After all, NBC can offend me all it wants, because I don’t get Versus here at my apartment. I have to watch internet feeds when games aren’t televised. So what if we all get piping mad? What does NBC care? You think it needs hockey ratings to survive?

Besides, those of you that work, how many of you heard people bringing up the race on Saturday? Who they had? Whether or not Street Sense would win? Bets? Side bets?

Ever hear that talk surrounding hockey in your workplace?

NBC made the right move. I refuse to criticize them, and I also refuse to criticize horse racing. Its awesome. Does it hold a candle to playoff hockey? No, but what does?

All this emphasized was what an idiot Gary Bettman was for not signing a deal with ESPN. ESPN offered Bettman a contract to cover hockey; granted, it was not very lucrative, but why should it have been? The league was coming off a lock-out and its already small fan base was shaken and there were whispers the NHL might not recover. Signing with ESPN may not have paid the most upfront but it would have given the league the two things it needs the most; advertisements and coverage.

Ever watch Sportscenter or ESPNews and see commercials for arena football? Sure you do. Why? Because ESPN actually gets to cover arena football.

Ever watch Versus and see commercials for the NHL? No. Why? Because you AREN’T WATCHING VERSUS.

You may not even get it!

Bettman’s shortsightedness has solidified hockey’s spot outside of major sports. Hockey used to be one of the 4 major sports. Well, those are now NASCAR, NFL, MLB, and NBA.

Hockey stays with tennis, golf, boxing, and all the other sports that don’t get any respect.

But at least I got to see an awesome horse race available in high definition right after the grainy image of the Senators winning the East on my computer screen came to a close.

Major sports take the back seat for a day

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By , May 6, 2007 3:48 am

National Football League.

National Basketball Association.

Major League Baseball.

National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing.

National Hockey League.

Not today.

Sure, the NBA had an exciting Game 7 between the Rockets and the Jazz which I’ll cover in another post. They also got their 1st 2nd round series under way, as the Pistons easily handled the Bulls at home. But the nation wasn’t really watching.

Yeah, the NHL had a few cruicial Game 5s . One sent the New Jersey Devils home packing, and the other gave the Red Wings a key 3 – 2 series lead over the Sharks. Even less people were watching then usual.

Baseball had a whole day’s worth of action, but they aren’t even in the playoffs. They stood no chance.

Today, it was all about horses and boxers.

The Kentucky Derby, the greatest tradition in horse racing and step one towards winning the elusive Triple Crown, was the main focal point of the afternoon.

One of the race’s favorites, Street Sense, did not disappoint, racing all the way from the 19th position to beat out the rest of the pack and win it all. It was an exciting race, especially due to the race Hard Spun ran. I picked Hard Spun before the race to do some damage, and very early on in the race, he jumped out to an early lead. Front runners almost always fade, especially in a race of this magnitude; but not Hard Spun. He got such good separation from the rest of the pack and somehow kept his pace that it actually looked like he had a shot to win right down to the wire; it took a great effort by Street Sense to beat him. Horse racing really is an incredible sport, and it is ashame that it had to take the undercard today to the big fight.

I picked Mayweather, but I never got around to blogging about it; which is probably good, because judging how the rest of my predictions went today, I probably would have made him lose. You can’t ever count De La Hoya out of any fight; his good looks sometimes distract people from how excellent of a boxer he is. And he has fought any and all comers; and those who have beaten him have certainly had their hands full while doing so. He’s got heart, smarts, and a world of talent; but Floyd Mayweather really is THAT good.

He doesn’t box spectacularly; he doesn’t need to. With technique, speed, defense, and patience, he can outwill and outlast any boxer he faces. Neither boxer got knocked down, and De La Hoya fans (and somewhat ridiculously Judge Tom Kaczmarek) obviously wanted to believe De La Hoya won the fight, but look no further than the stats; Mayweather landed more punches while throwing over 100 less (207 of 481 to De La Hoya’s 122 of 587), and landed more power punches (138) then De La Hoya landed punches all together (he had 82 registered power punches).

Love him or hate him, Mayweather is damn good. I love him. I love that he embraces the villain reputation. Everyone hates Barry Bonds, but Barry doesn’t go around ripping his opponents to shreds verbally. Barry doesn’t talk about how Hank Aaron is old and week and how he’s going to snatch that old man’s record from his hands. Barry is a villain because of his actions. Mayweather is a villain because he can be. What better picture to use as the first image to grace the Dime;
The man came out wearing the colors of the Mexican flag and a huge sombrero. Are you kidding me? He loves every minute of it; and he can back it up, too. He’s a perfect character for the sport of boxing; and if it could be saved, he’d have something to do with it.

But after tonight, I’m beginning to think it can’t be. As much as people were hyped for this fight, plenty of people I talked to weren’t going to get to see it; they weren’t going to order it for $55, and they didn’t have any friends willing to, either. The fact that they have to charge for the larger fights; because boxing doesn’t gross enough to survive without pay-per-view; absolutely kills any chance that it can raise in popularity.

On top of that, the amount of time off a boxer needs to prepare for his next fight is also a buzz-kill of sorts for the sport. It can’t really be avoided, but lets say a ton of people got pumped up for this fight, and are now either huge Mayweather fans OR they can’t wait to see him get beat. How long do they have to wait until his next fight? And unlike De La Hoya, his next fight likely won’t be nearly as big or exciting of a name. So after this fight, the one that would supposedly “save boxing”, one of the stars is facing retirement, and the other is facing a year or more off before we get to see him in the ring again; against someone who isn’t as fun to watch as De La Hoya was.

The last reason boxing is beyond saving? The heavyweight division. Greats of the sport come in all shapes and sizes and are of all weight classes, no one is denying that. But heavyweight boxing really is boxing at its best; the biggest, the strongest, and the simple fact that one punch can always end it. Lennox Lewis was great, but he had no one to fight. Nowadays…

World Champion Wladimir Klitschko, Ray Austin, Samuel Peter, Lamon Brewster, and Chris Byrd are the top 5 ranked heavyweights.

Who, who, who, who, and who?

I’m exaggerating slightly; I knew who Klitschko was before I looked it up. But the point remains, not only does boxing need some great talent/character combos like Mayweather (and by character I don’t mean great guy, I mean like personality), but it needs lots of them. And they need to fight each other and create some exciting rivalries. How do you take a sport that no one cares about with a bunch of guys you can’t market and make it into the great sport it once was?

If you find out, give the NHL a call too. Thanks.


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