Testing Your Faith

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 20, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Handicappers are tested from time-to-time. It may come in a bevy of getting beat in a photo, or not finding your horse with a search warrant. Either way, you’ll find that deeper meaning of the game, or you will grab your golf clubs and head out to the links. I once heard the secret to being a good horse player is having a short memory. We can recount with vivid detail the big wins and how we cashed the monster score. There may be some problems bringing back to life the bad beats that still linger in our thoughts. For me, this was an easy task. It was a rare event that was almost catastrophic, and the other was just a bad mojo that hangs in the air. So, sit back and grab a hot beverage on this pre-winter day and see if your remember these back-to-back bad luck events for yours truly.

The place was beautiful Arlington Park. Located in pristine Arlington Heights, Illinois. I had a great place to stay, and the hotel overlooked the track. Things couldn’t have been better. Now, this is going to be rare, but just humor me, and we’ll dismiss the bragging later. I’m breaking my rule of “talking crapola” about winners. – I arrived late the day before, and caught the last five races. I went 5/5 and won about $500. A good start, and I was off to the races. Dinner was at the OTB, and I was betting Mountaineer. With the racing gods smiling down, I won another $200 and covered dinner. Long story short, this was the year I was gambling for a living. I had left my longtime job, and cashed in my 401-k. ( I know, bad move on any planet.) I has the blessing of my better half, and off to the races I went. I charted, and watched replays constantly. I kept my tracks to New York, Kentucky and Arlington Park. Things started off slow for my venture, but then it began to take off. I had a list of horses to watch and made about 2-3 bets per week. Mostly heavy place wagers, and some mixed in with win bets as well. The big day came about and I love turf racing. I couldn’t wait as the weather was perfect, and I was smiling from ear-to-ear. As I walked in, Saratoga was getting ready to run. I hadn’t planned on making one off-track bet until I looked up and saw my number one New York horse was warming up on a sloppy track. My deal to bet Arlington Park had faded a bit and I decided on ONE bet away from AP. I made a $200 win wager on a (6-1) shot, and went to watch the race. He won by 6 lengths, and I was $1,400 up from my first race. The day was getting hotter, and every race I was hitting little scores. I had my eyes peeled for a runner in the Arlington Million with my favorite jockey aboard. I could wait, and all of the money I was winning was going to be used in pick-fours, pick-threes, trifectas, and big win and place money. Well, the good luck continued all day, and I had my winnings in one pocket and my initial bankroll in the other. My runner was (9-2) on his way to the gate, and I had more confidence than ever before. Just like “Let it Ride,” This was a very good day. As I watched the race unfold, and the outcome. To this day I cannot believe what transpired. Take a look for yourself and watch my TOUGHEST best in my life.

 

I was a loss for words, and #4 with Gary Stevens in the irons was hurt badly. I couldn’t see the final finish until they put it on the jumbotron. I’m glad the “iron man” Stevens came back after a lengthy injury, but it still hurts to this day. – For me, I licked my wounds and bounced back to make a large win bet on a runner by the name of Kitten’s Joy. I made money overall, but what a long strange trip it was. For the record, I’m glad Gary made his comeback, and there would be plenty of other chances for this handicapper.

 

The site was Arlington Park, and the scene was exactly the same. I was winning pretty good all day, and I fell in love with a runner in the Million ridden by a young gun named Jamie Spencer. The name of the runner was Powerscourt. There was another heap load on the line, and you be the judge for the 2004 Arlington Million. Be sure to fast forward to 16.44.

 

Bad beats and big wins and the ones that got away. I still bet the Arlington Million, but I have “barred” myself from returning to the scene of two bad beats in consecutive years. No matter the outcome, real horse players love the game. It took the wind from my sails, but I survived. I have had plenty of nice days, but those back-to-back years would have made my professional wagering venture a little sweeter. I have a rule that racing does not allow for crying, whining, or bitching. This is my ONE exception and now I’m back in order. No matter what your bankroll is doing, there are other days. I have since healed, and every time the big race comes around. I think back to my visits to sweet home Chicago.

Gamblers, Handicappers, and Visitors

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 20, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

The track was jammed, and traffic is thick. Getting a parking spot was tricky, and finding a seat is a job. But, that was horse racing. The lines were so long you’ll stand and handicap while waiting. That was the scene long ago, and if you head out now. There aren’t enough people to start a fight. You won’t find that “newbie demo” unless there is a free band or $1 beers. With the action and crowds swirling, the mutuel lines are wide open. Tracks are in full handle-hunter mode. They come armed with brass and staff attempting to educate the masses. Yep, educate the crowd while they’re suppose to be betting. This sounds like a tall order, and it is. But, there is no harm in trying I suppose. How about a little something new?

Create a library of short ”how-to-wager” videos located on your webpage? The poker craze began with guys playing in basements, and working their craft to be the next name on TV. Nobody was watching, and they picked it up at their speed. The next generation won’t be coming out with Uncle Ted or grandpa. They embrace social media, and learn the game differently than we did. New players can peruse your library and study the parts of the game that keep them interested. I see newbie crowds in casinos. They are dressed up and hanging out with pals from the office, or out for a night on the town. Why not let them come prepared before they get there? Nothing like knowing what you’re doing. If you doubt the angle, stop by any low limit blackjack table on a Saturday night and I’ll bet you’ll see new players holding onto a card of when to hit, split, or double down. Create the how-to videos, and they’ll feel more comfortable when they come out to play. Would you stand in a line that said “beginners” in a packed house environment? Me neither…

What if the track has a loyalty card? Then about 50% of the work is done. When they sign-up, you have the ability to communicate in a manner that fits their needs. Quick email blasts talking up double point nights, special buffet prices for the new player, and get them involved with reward drawings and behind the scene tours. Do you think a new player would enjoy talking with the track handicapper, or a big-name handicapper brought in to give them the secret sauce? It works, and if you have any doubts. You’ll see casinos having “free sessions” of learning how to play. Stop by, have a few beers and learn at no cost. When you see them on Saturday night, they’ll look like they’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching this for years. I used to conduct handicapping seminars, and we would start with “handicapping 101.” Two weeks later there would be a “handicapper workshop.” Two weeks later we would be having “professional handicapping.” Now, that’s not to say we have every winner in every race. But we would break down the race card with how-to and what-you-should-do tips. Give a player a winner and they cash, teach them to handicap, and they’ll play forever. I don’t know how many times seasoned players would stop up and visit after the seminar and say, “I didn’t know about the speed ratings and track variants.”

There are three types of guests at the track. – Gamblers, handicappers, and visitors. Gamblers will bet on anything at anytime. They don’t need to think it out and seek the action. There is nothing wrong with this, and from time-to-time they hit big. Lack of preparation and patience will be their undoing in the long run. Handicappers are a cerebral group who like to do their homework. They enjoy the process of finding the contenders and putting together the winning ticket. Visitors are standing in a group talking drinking that $1 beer, and only come out to be a part of the scene. There is nothing wrong with any of these guests. But why not try to keep them engaged in the action? If there is a free drawing, it should be limited to loyalty card members only. This is your drawing card, and you’ll be able to understand your crowds behavior. Should we send them a free program as a new player? How about grabbing the handicappers with special seating where they can study and be comfortable? The $1 beer guest is important as well, and you can send them email blasts with upcoming events, special ticket purchases, and draw them in with on-line education videos. See, we can reach everyone without grabbing them, teaching them bits and pieces, and hope they make a bet. Scrap the task force recruiters who rove the track looking for new players. On marquee days, you’ll see some great first time player events with America’s Best Racing Ambassador’s. They have it right there, and make you feel comfortable at your speed. No pressure, and no in-your-face tactics. As we round the turn and stumble around finding the elusive “newbie.” Give them ease of motion learning, and allow them to have a grasp before they park the car. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you’ll have a better shot at creating the next generation of players.

The Action Never Stops

The nation is in a cold snap, and its a doozey. At the time of this blog, it is one month and four days from the start of winter. In my neck of the woods, we’re getting ready to break a low-temperature mark since 1880.  Even as the weatherman spouts bad news, this time of year has a sweat brewing across my brow. As the weather has turned from November to February. I find myself looking for warmer days ahead. Quoting the dapper Peter Rotondo from Horseplayers, ”Get hot, stay hot.”

The Triple Crown is in the books, and the Breeders’ Cup has faded into the sunset. I guess you’re settling in behind the computer getting a jump on your holiday shopping. Before you jump the gun and max out your credit cards going crazy. Drop back and see what the month has to offer. – Before we make our first early winter wager, there are some big shout outs to folks who’ve been great for racing, and taken time to join us on the Winning Ponies Internet Radio Show. – Rosie Napravnik, we wish Joe and yourself the best as you begin the next chapter of your life together. It has been a true pleasure watching you grace the saddle. When you surprised the world with your announcement of retiring from racing to raise a family. The smile on our faces was ear-to-ear. Oh, we’ll miss watching you ply your trade, and cashing tickets by the handful. Whether or not you return to the saddle, watching your career has been a pleasure. Winning the Kentucky Oaks twice, and two Breeders’ Cup wins on your resume, you’ve become the darling of the sport winning our hearts. It would’ve been a matter of time before you eclipsed your mentor Julie Krone in earnings, but some things in life are more important than money. Winning Ponies wishes you and your family the very best, and thank you for memories.

Matt Bernier first appeared on the radar screen as a young gun on Horseplayers. He came across looking to take his game to the next level. I liked your style right away, and told fans you would be a force to be reckoned with in days to come. As member of the Daily Racing Form team, I watched you begin a new course as a handicapper. When you joined John Englehardt on the Winning Ponies Internet Show, fans were treated to a glimpse of what you can bring to the table. When you scored in the Aqueduct Betting Challenge to win the first prize of $40,000, that is just the beginning. You’re an employee of the DRF, and you’re not eligible for a seat in the NTRA/DRF Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Not to worry, Matt. I don’t think this is the last we’ll be hearing from you on the handicapping circuit. Best of luck from Winning Ponies!

The season is upon, and before we know it we’ll be smelling the sweet aroma of roses from Louisville. Lets not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. There are a few racing meets that always grab my attention, and they are getting ready to swing into action.

Fair Grounds – The 143rd racing season gets under way on 11/21/14, and continues to 3/29/15. Racing is Thursday – Sunday, and during the month of December there are some special holiday racing cards. Featured event is the Louisiana Derby.

Gulfstream Park – The action gets under way 12/6/14- 5/31/15. You can catch live racing action at “Gulfstream West” until Hallandale swings open the gates. Great turf racing, and the “babies” strut their stuff all the way to Louisville. In my opinion, there is some of the best value in racing with full fields, and the red-hot connections heading south for the winter.

 

 

The Cycle of Horse Racing

Most think racing goes to sleep after the Breeders’ Cup. I can see why they would think such a thought, as how do you follow up the biggest weekend of racing? Well, for starters you can start looking at the upcoming tracks, as the cycle starts all over again. Another item on your “to-do-list” should be examining how you have done this past year, and what would you like to change. That should get you ready to break from the gate and grab the lead. Here are a few nuggets as you ready you game to go to the next level, and one to keep your feet on the ground. – Best of luck!!

 

2014

I would like to think I’m a pretty good handicapper. I have won contests, had some big days, and enjoyed the 2014 racing season immensely. But as the refs in the NFL would say during a play challenge.” After further review.” I can stand to change some things for 2015.

Some players are streaky and go hot and cold. My game is the same, and I need to recognize my bad days rather than trying to play them out. It’s a challenging game to say the least, and horse players are ultra-competitive. We see it as a weakness when more tickets hit the floor than going back to the windows. Not the case. When I feel that cold wind blowing on my handicapping game, I need to slow down and bet fewer races with less money. This would allow me to focus and harness my creative flow. The fewer races you dive into, the more energy you’ll have for the races in your plan. Patience, young grasshopper, patience…

 

Remember Where You’ve Came From, and Know Where You Have Been

When you want to know what separates the good from the great, all you have to do is look at this picture. Chad Brown is a class act, and I think we’re only seeing the tip of the ice berg. Remembering those who taught you their craft patiently, and with the guiding hand of a mentor. Most of the connections are still walking red-carpets, but some just recognize where they came from and want to share with those who meant the most. This Twitter picture from Christina Blacker says it all as Chad Brown pays tribute to his friend and mentor with his Breeders’ Cup wreath and program.

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Time to Take Your Game to Infinity and Beyond

I hate to brag, and Winning Ponies would never take part in this act. They let their stats do their talking, and if you get a moment to peruse the testimonial page. I think you’ll find hidden nuggets of gold to make you a better handicapper. Here is the quote of the year from a Winning Ponies member; “I’m a great gambler, but I’m a terrible handicapper.” - “I can’t pick a winning horse to save my life. About a month ago, I decided to look into the results of their handicapping products and try to construct a sound betting strategy using their predictions and my money management. It paid off bigger than I could have ever imagined.”

 

Winning Ponies Member Wins Over $400,000 in 2014 Breeders’ Cup

 

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Winning Tickets

 

 

 

 

With 2014 winding down and the holiday season just around the corner, this is no time to go to sleep. Thoroughbred racing is a year-round game that requires patience and a money management plan. Let Winning Ponies save you valuable time doing the leg work, and you spend your time deciding how to maximize your wagers. As a note, if you put in 30 minutes to handicap a race, you’ll need to spend the same amount of time deciding how to get your action in play. How many times have we seen very good handicappers turn a slight profit if any? They spend hours pouring over information and a few moments deciding how to us it. This fits under the heading of “what not to do at the races.” Let Winning Ponies bring you the best in racing information with the one-of-a-kind E-Z Win Forms. This will allow you to use the information that best fits your handicapping plan, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts it will be a matter of time before we see your name on the testimonials. The exotic predictions have paid $9.838,555.00 in 2014, and there are six weeks left to handicap this year! Never too late to get on board, and Winning Ponies wants you to decide for yourself. If you are still on the bubble, just take a look at the Winning Ponies results and in real time you’ll be able to see how their selections are doing. If you decide to get in the game later in the day; no problem! Winning Ponies only charges for the races that are used versus other data providers who charge for races that are in the books.

 

Harder Than You Think

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 9, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

When I was a young man, I used to head out to the races and jump in every promotion offered. They were easy to understand, and if there was a huge prize up for grabs a few thousand would have their entry in the hopper. When I had the golden opportunity to design promotions and contests, I wanted players to have a chance to win big doing what they loved. Sometimes this was the greatest part of the job, and other days there was an extra large bottle of aspirin on my desk. Here are some of the promotions and contests out team brought to the players. Some good, some bad, but I wouldn’t have traded this part of the job for anything.

 

Road to the Roses

Players paid $20 to enter, and the contest would begin with one of the earliest three-year-old marquee races, and would end with the Kentucky Derby.  There would be a race selected each week, and on some weekends there would be up to three. Players stopped by the booth where a long entry box was located. It was numbered 1-12, and the numbers matched the colors of the saddle cloths. For the larger fields, there was an auxiliary box that would be used next to #12. The contest was a huge success, and there would be 400-500 players entered. I even had a second and third chance to enter. If you missed the first week, you could enter before post time for the second event and it would cost $30, and the same for the third week, but the cost was $40.  Each week, the point value would go up a point or two. The Bluegrass, Arkansas Derby, and Wood Memorial had big time point increases, and you had to turn in your entry in person. The payout was 50 % to the winner, 30% for second, and 20% for third. For players who finished 4th – 10th, they would receive $10 off a lunch or dinner coupon. This was a fan favorite, and a race fan showed me his old entry punch he carries in his wallet.

 

Gimmee a “High-Five” – After the contest success, my boss wanted me to come up with some ideas for new wagers. He wanted something for the new owners that showed we were aggressive. I looked around the world for big money payout wagers. There was an all-time high lottery payout, and I wanted horse players to get in on the action in our sport. It was 2002, and I found an interesting wager at Caymanas Park in the Bahamas. It was a wager called the “High-Five,” and usually had a large carryover. When it was hit, they had to weigh the money! I know this sounds like the guy who argues about who invented the radio, that’s not the case. All props to Caymanas Park, and I just wanted to put a little twist on the bet. It was going to offered one time per day on the largest field. If no player hit the wager, 20% would be paid to winner’s with four correct. The balance would be carried over to the next racing day with a mandatory payout on the final race card of the month. – It looked like it would work, until I was rejected in a team meeting. Some felt it was too difficult, and nobody would pay attention to this wager. When I began at River Downs three years later, I floated the idea to my new boss. He loved it, but was a little nervous presenting it to the Racing Commission. He showed it to Thistledown as they wanted a new wager. With the new craze for watching poker on TV, they wanted to call it the “Royal Flush.” It never took off, and was never fully understood by horse players. In 2007, Santa Anita stepped up and offered the wager. It took a bit to catch attention, but if you look around you’ll see every track offering this wager. Kudos to Caymanas Park for a super idea.

 

In the Money / Pick the Losers

The player success with the “Road to the Roses” contest had all team members sticking their spoon into the pot. – I had an idea that would be a neat visual to advertise, and would be an on-track contest called “In the Money.” The track would seed the first pot with $1,000, and players could play at $10 per entry. There were three races selected, and you had to finish in the top three places in the first race, the top two for the next, and have the winner in the final race.  I made provisions for scratched runners to get the post time win pool favorite. If no player hit “In the Money,” the entire pool would carryover to the next race day, and new players could get involved with the growing pool. This looked like a home run, until a team member spoke up and said, “how about a contest where you have to pick a loser?” I thought my head would pop-off as that idea was voted in. It was my task to make it happen, and I hated the idea. Instead of the ITM idea, we were going the opposite direction. Well, we called it “Pick the Loser” and all you had to do was not finish ITM for the four races selected. The Daily Racing Form slammed us for a “loser’s outlook” and other tracks couldn’t believe we pulled this stunt. The opening night came, and there were 1,200 entries. In the first race selected, there was a 3-5 shot first time starter, and two others that looked as good. It was a 12-horse field of maiden special weight runners, and the top three riders held mounts on the chalk. The rest of the field looked like three legged donkeys, and it should be easy to have one of the 99-1 shots out of the money. Well, horses can look good on paper, but that’s the reason they actually run the races. At the top of the lane, the saddle slipped on the 1-5 shot causing many runners to pull up, go wide, or get held back by their riders to stay out of trouble. The top three finishers were 60-1, 80-1, and 99-1. Out of the 1,200 entries, only two were alive. One person ended up going all the way for a bumper payday. Needless to say, “Pick the Losers” was not offered again.

 

I’ve had some interesting jobs in racing, and overall it was great. It took quite awhile for the last contest to blow over, but you can’t hit a home run unless you take a swing. Racing needs to engage racing fans, and keep them around to play multiple races at their oval. If I’m playing in a contest race, I’m more likely to have a wager or two in the same race. Handle grows, the track makes money, purses grow, and the game stays alive. There is no such thing as a quick fix, and we need to focus on the “less is more” philosophy. Cut back a day of races per week, add in the purse money for the existing days, and more horses enter. The more that enter to run, the bigger the pools. The bigger the pools, the more money that can be out back into the game. We need to re-think some of our old ways, and look to a new future. This isn’t your grandpa’s game, and we need to take the new ways into consideration before we adopt the “build it and they will come” mantra.

 

Crystal Ball Wisdom

Leading to the Breeders’ Cup Classic there was a swirl of good humor, sweet talk, and the best is yet to come. They loaded into the gate, the odds are clicking, and human connections have their fingers crossed. The racing world watches with shallow breath, the bell rings and the gates break open. “Annd They’re Offfff!!”

Racing can be a fickle bitch. One minute she’s your best girl, and the next she’s dating the quarterback. I wish we could look into the crystal ball and find the answers. Oh wait, here it is… I’ll just dust it off and seek divine interpretation from the racing gods. I begin by dropping my losing tickets into the caldron of truth, and the flames of knowledge summon voices from beyond. POOF! “Racing fan, what truth do you seek? How can the gods of all things racing help you? ” – ” In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, did the right thing happen, or should there have been some action to switch the results?” – “Racing fan, you will be visited by ghosts of the past to answer any and all questions. But remember, there will be no second-guessing, and all decisions are final.” The room went dark and thick smoke rolled in . It had an eerie feeling, but one that felt familiar.

As the smoke parted, the first visitor came into focus.

Eddie Arcaro = “I know you’re sore about the start of the race, but do you know what it was called in my day? It was called race riding. How many times have you went to the windows to cash a ticket that you know should have been taken down? Plenty. But that’s all good if you’re on the right end, huh? Let me tell you how many times I was shut off, blocked, or struck by another rider’s whip. How about when you’re shooting through a hole and it closes to squeeze you against the old wooden rail. I have splinters in my ass and still I continued to ride. But let me tell you, how about stepping on another rider’s iron coming around the turn away from the judges view? Or, drifting out a smidge near the wire keeping your fast closing runner in check? That’s the game, and if you don’t like it, bingo is down the street. But, they have three balls missing from the hopper, and they are yours.” His image began to fade into the mist, and the thick smoke rolled in again. As the smoke filled the room, two figures came into focus, and they sounded like they were going to fight. I was getting scared, as the smoke began to dissipate. Two small figures stood in the mist and they looked pissed.

Don Meade and Herb Fisher = ” We’re the tough guys you see in old time pictures. You know, the 1933 Derby as we were whipping each other and fighting down the lane. Ring a bell now? I bet you thought that was funny, huh  - Let us tell you, when Broker’s Tip beat Head Play by a nose, there was plenty of tickets that hit the floor. Back then it was part of the game, and you didn’t bitch after the stewards decision was made. We probably wouldn’t have made it in your day, as there are rules and regulations that cover everything. Kid, here’s the scoop. Get in or get out. It’s final when they post the results. Winners get paid, and losers have a story.” As they faded back into history, I began to understand. All of a sudden there was the sound of booming thunder and I began flying through a portal of time. I was twisting and turning as images of races past swirled around me. – I landed in front of a door, and I reached for the knob and walked in. There before me were some of the best trainers that ever saddled a horse. Sitting in the middle was a gruff looking bald man. He had a stare that could look through steel and a confident swagger. “Were you born in a barn? Then shut the damn door and come in.

There was a long table. – It was the kind you would see in a board room, and there were some men staring at me. Not a word was spoken until the bald man in the center said; “sit down and get comfortable. You’re here seeking knowledge and answers, and sir I plan on letting you know what time it is. I’m the chairman, and I decide on who speaks and when. Allow me to introduce you to the members at the table. At my far left is P.G. Johnson trainer of Volponi, High Schemes, and Quiet Little Table who whipped Forego. Next to Mr. Johnson is my man Mack Miller, legendary trainer of Java Gold, Fit to Fight, and Sea Hero. To my right is the Maryland winning machine Bud “Grover” Delp, and he had a little runner you may remember by the name of Spectacular Bid. Sitting next to Mr. Delp is may be one of the best horsemen I have known. Allow me to introduce you to Robert Frankel, trainer of Ghostzapper, Bertrando, Empire Maker, Ginger Punch, and Aptitude to name just a few. I’m Charlie Whittingham, and if you haven’t heard of my accomplishments, maybe you need to play Keno. Trainers gather here from time-to-time talking horses and watching over the game we dearly loved. We gathered here to set the record straight, and you need to sit back and take it all in.

“First off, the game is not perfect. You can have a thousand judges, stewards, and the 3rd Battalion. Things will be missed, and all decisions will not please everyone. That’s the way it is. – As far as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there was some bumper-car racing out of the gate. We know all of the players, and some have a valid excuse. But, if you look in the front of your program, there is a line in bold that says; ALL DECISIONS BY THE STEWARDS ARE FINAL AND BINDING TO ALL PARTICIPANTS. That means it’s over and done… Please tell everyone who loves the sport that nothing is perfect, everyone can’t win, and from time-to-time mistakes will be made. This just happened to have a $5 million tag attached. Now, go back and enjoy the beauty, pageantry, and heart pounding action. Enjoy every race like it’s your last, because someday it will be. Go now, and take this knowledge with you. Oh, and before you go, please let the powers-that-be know I am really pissed that Hollywood Park is gone. That place should have been kept, and the rest of the town scrapped. ”

It felt like I had been sleeping for years. I awoke with a passion and purpose. I wanted to go to the races now. I didn’t care if they were cheap claimers or Kentucky Derby runners. I wanted to put this one decision behind me and get on with the game. “Would any decision have made everyone happy? No. It is time to move on, and quit wasting time talking about “what-ifs” and what should have been. There is so much action to see and only a short window to enjoy the beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Gamblers

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 4, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

“Ever since I was kid all I wanted to be was a gambler.”  OK, that’s enough of sounding like the opening scene of Goodfella’s. – After giving it a good think; it’s true. When I was a kid, I wanted to work in the parking lot to be closer to the races. Hell, I thought it was a position of great glory. When I moved up to run the parking lot, you would have thought I made my first million. It put me through college, and I began moving up the ladder. I made my way inside and became an up and coming middle manager. Then a bigger break came about, and I hit second base heading for third. I won’t have a billion dollar 401-k, but I haven’t regretted on single minute working at the track. How many people can truthfully say that? My dad told me something as a young man, “You can have the big money and big worries, or you can enjoy what you do and have a fun life.” For once, the old man hit it right on the head.

Angelo retired from Ford. Everyday he used to hold sway at this front table in the track restaurant. He didn’t bet much, and at 70-years-old he loved giving money to his adult kids and grand babies. “Angie” had the feel of a Mafioso leader, and I never saw him upset or raise his voice. He commanded respect, and always knew how to return the feelings. He had four friends who sat with him and he was the king of the table. They ranged from retired CEO’s to a bottom level bookie was who always broke. Angie always took care of the bill, and there was never a question about things. Angie was a player who had seen the best of the old days. He told me once he played poker for 72 straight hours. “I didn’t sleep, but they had a place to shower up and served up great grub. I lost over $23,000 in that stretch, but came back two weeks later to win $109,000. I bought my wife’s mother a new house next to ours. Boy, was that a mistake!” His sense of  humor was one of a kind, and he kinda’ sounded like Henny Youngman. He laughed with his entire soul with his jelly-belly shaking the entire time. The track forgot to mail his tickets for the marquee race, and he didn’t get mad. He came to me and asked if I could look into this. I dropped everything and made my way over to the ticket office. They were sold-out and they asked me if I would apologize for this error. – No. This wouldn’t do at all, not for my man Angie. I went to the president’s office and told him of the problem. He didn’t hesitate for a second and said, “take my box in the clubhouse, everything on the house.” We had a solid relationship, and he never doubted me as I knew the real players. When I delivered Angie his tickets, he looked up and me and tried to give me $200. “Naaah, not between friends, Angie.” – “Ed, I won’t forget this, and thank you for taking care of this for me and the boys.” When I came in the next day, he asked if we could talk. I agreed, and we sat and talked before the doors had opened. “Ed, I like to bet. I have been betting most of my money off shore, and they give me a good rebate. I bet enough at the track to get our extra comps for the boys. I know your job is finding and keeping big players happy. I want to help you out. I am an old man, and one day I’ll kick off and leave $200,000 in my account never to be found as my wife doesn’t know how much I like to wager. Ed, can you always make sure the “boys” have this table and a few programs?  I am going to start making all of my bets here. That should help your numbers a bit.”  - “You have my word, Angie. No matter what, I’ll take care of things.” – “Thanks, Ed. I always knew you were  a man of your word.” For the next two years Angie bet with both fists, and he always let it be known because I went out of my way to treat them well. As time went by, Angie would miss a day here and there. That was not his way, and his wife stayed busy during the day, and he was always home by 6p. – One day, Bill walked in with a gift wrapped box. He had some sad news, and informed me that Ange had passed on. Bill had a wrapped box for me, and said “Ange” wanted to thank you for friendship. I opened the gift was a box Cuban cigars and a gold lighter. Bill said,” he really liked you, Ed. We’ll never be the same without the chairman.” – “Bill, the table and everything stays the same any day you and the boys want to be here. Angie would have wanted it that way, and that’s the way it will be.” They came out the next week and the table and programs were sitting in place. At the top of the table was a larger chair and we had an engraved name plate on the chair. It wouldn’t be right to have just anyone sit in that chair, and it made the guys happy that Angie would always be there waiting to play the races.

Paulie loved to gamble. He would run up and bet numbers as soon as he walked in. No program, no problem… He just wanted the action. This went for years, and I always made sure he had programs, and a seat if he could sit long enough. He loved the action, and would be the first to tell you, “Life is for living, and you’ll get all the sleep you want when your dead.” Good guy, low maintenance, and always tipped the bartenders well.  It was fair to say if I could clone him a thousand times, I could make an impact at any track in the country. – His wife fought cancer four times and beat back the bastard each time. But, she required a great deal of care. He had a visiting nurse come by around 3p, and she would bathe, feed, and get her ready for the night. -He would go to the store, and make an occasional trip to the casino. The track was too far of a drive, and the casino was minutes away from their luxury condo. His visits to the track dwindled each month. When his wife was in her final stages, his daughter moved back to the area to be close to mom. This allowed for more trips and more gambling. His trips got heavier and quicker, and he was getting every comp in the world. When his wife passed away he was in Las Vegas staying in a luxury suite. He had sold one of his vintage cars months ago, and was about to sell his 1966 Mustang. “I don’t need a fancy car anymore, and I’ll get something that gets a little better gas mileage.” He was on the train, and it was a fast moving kind that turns minutes into months, and dollars into memories. His kids tried to get to get him to stop, and there was no way he was going to listen. It was all or nothing, and he knew his fate. – I saw him late one summer, and he was working at a local bar. He was living above in the apartment, and he said he liked the place. He had sold, lost, and forgot everything. The man standing before me wasn’t that horse player who ran around the room chasing exactas and tipping bartenders. He had hit the wall, and the ultra fast paced world he entered was too much for his style. He passed away about a year ago and his daughter called the track to inform everyone. I read the obit, and showed up. The room was full of old horse players talking about the old days, and his family from around the country. They all loved racing, and never figured out why he stopped going to the track. I thought about it on the way home, and he needed something faster. It was almost like he was running from something and was looking over his shoulder. Either way, he was a special guy who won’t be forgotten. I saw his daughter at the track with her work friends one evening as they were having a Christmas party. She came up and gave me the biggest hug, and thanked me for everything I did for her father. “I told her I had something for her, and it would remind her of dad. I went to my office and took down a framed picture of Alysheba breaking his maiden. He loved this horse, and I remember him winning a heap on him that day.” She grabbed me again, and with tear filled eyes thanked me for remembering him. I don’t know if he ever won a dime that day, but for her it was a beautiful reminder of a place that made her father happy.

First Time Player / Free Saturday Pick Four Selections

I started the day with optimism and energy. Right now, I feel like I have gone 12 rounds with the champ. I stayed up late and got up early, and the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms took it to the house ! – I made a few bets, and our pick four hit but sustained a loss. But the curious lady who sat next to me asked if she could see something with the horses names. I showed her my E-Z Wing Forms and she liked them. “Are the best horses in order of selection preference ? ” – Her hubby subscribes to an on-line service that is expensive, and he talks on the phone all day working with others to see how they interpret the data. She gets to sit there, wait patiently, have lunch and people watch. That was until today, as she wanted in the game.

She had a basic knowledge from watching her husband, and liked boxing exactas and betting a horse to win. Her wager was $20 per race, and here is a glimpse of how she did boxing the top three selections and betting the top one to win:

Race #1 – #3 -Bling is my Thing / #1 Tier selection = $22.40 to win.

Race #2 – #9 – Cary Street top selection, and #3 Irish Surf = Exacta paid $27.40

Race #5 – #3 – Chitu / top selection and second selection #11 – Bahamian Squall = Exacta paid $54.60

Race #6 – #5 – Hootenanny the top selection won and paid – $14.00

Race #7 – The top three finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd. = Exacta paid $14.20

Race #8 – #4 – Lady Eli the top selection paid $6.80

Race #9 – #10- Untapable the top selection won and paid $5.20 to win

Race #10 – #7 – Jimmy Bouncer the top selection won and paid $7.00 to win.

Her style of playing cost $200 for the day, and she cashed in for $151.60 – The day was pretty chalky at times, and she had learned the first step of using the data. – She was elated, as now she could get in the game and enjoy the races. She did lose $48.40, but she admitted she’ll start examining the data closer, instead of making five second betting decisions. Even though she lost a few bucks on the day, a new player was created. Give someone a winner and they cash for the race, show them where the winner’s come from and you’ll create a lifelong racing fan. - Her husband lost over $700 on the day…….

 

The betting syndicate had the pick four 4X, and lost money today. Speed looked good, and chalk was on the menu. Our bankroll stands at $1,132, and we’re ready to take our dose of ” Bet-it-all” and shoot for the moon. No matter the outcome, this should be a great day.

Race #9 / The B.C. Turf = #11 – Chiquita, #7 – Flintshire, #12 – Main Sequence, #9 – Hardest Core, #1 – Telescope

Race #10 -The B.C. Sprint = #11 – Baaken, – #4 – Secret Circle, – #7 – Mico Margarita, #5 – Private Zone,  and #2 – Indianapolis.

Race #11- The B.C. Mile = #5 – Toronado, #12 – Seek Again, #14 – Karakontie, #7 – Kaigun, #2 – Obviously

Race #12 – The B.C. Classic = #7 – Bayern, #12 – Candy Boy, #8 – Zivo, #13- California Chrome, #11 – Tonalist, #4 -Moreno, #5 – V.E. Day, and #2 – Cigar Street.

Ticket cost = 5 X 5 X5 X 8 = $1,000 for a $1 ticket and $500 for a 50 cent version. We’ll use the 50-cent version twice and $66 to win on #5 – V.E. Day, and #2 – Cigar Street for a total of $1,132.00

There is a 100% chance of rain overnight and a 60% chance of afternoon showers. Now more than ever you’ll need the E- Z Win Forms. – Speed was solid today, and tomorrow can change on a dime. Having the change of weather tab can allow you to stay one-step ahead of Mother Nature. Just click the change of track conditions tab, and you’ll receive a new set of E-Z Win Forms tailored to fit your needs. The big day demands we come prepared, and there is no better weapon than Winning Ponies.

The Quiet Before the Storm / Friday Breeders’ Cup Pick-Four Ticket

Since 1984, the world’s finest Thoroughbreds have competed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.  From comebacks to incredible photo finishes, each Breeders’ Cup race has produced a champion that has captured our imaginations. I remember Dad asking me to his house that Saturday, as there was going to be some big races running. Social media was giving someone a call, and having the world at your finger tips was in a far off land. The simulcast explosion had not happened in Kentucky, and you had to go in person or bet with a local bookie. The clock is showing hours before we welcome another other year of racing history. Winning Ponies wishes you the best, and if luck isn’t enough. We are locked and loaded, and just a click away from taking your game to the next level.

I stopped by the track with the “day before itch,” and wanted to make a bet. I went out with to make a good bet on “True to You” at Indiana Grand. This two year-old son of Scat Daddy broke his maiden impressively, and then ventured a notch or two over his head in the (G-2) Pocahontas and (G-3) Jessamine. His odds were (5-2), and Malcolm Franklin was in the irons. He was in the care Thom Amoss, who owns the best winning percentage in the country with (38%).  I figured he may be lucky to be (5-2), but when there was a (1-5) shot by the name of “Cheers for Sidney” who just broke his maiden, I doubled up and took a good swing. When he headed the chalk at the 3/8th’s, I watched as Franklin looked over his shoulder for competition. He saw the field getting smaller, and drew away to pay $12. If this is any indication of things to come, I can’t wait until the horses take the track. I saw many faces just like mine, and we all had the same thought brewing in our noggins. There was a sense of quiet before the storm. Players mixed and mingled, but you didn’t hear the usual sounds of the track. It’s Breeders’ Cup time, and you can feel the electricity in the air.

 

Earlier in the year, you probably read as our betting syndicate kicked off a place parlay venture before the Keeneland meet started. Well, life takes precedent, and we had to put things on hold for awhile. But, as luck would have it, we’re back in full-effect with a $1,600 bankroll. Our betting syndicate is ready to make a large pick-four ticket for both days. On Friday, there is a guaranteed pool of $1,500,000 for races 6-9, and $3,000,000 for races 9-12 on Saturday. We have been waiting for a long time to get our action in play, and we’ll be shooting for the stars using price selections from the Winning Ponies E-Z Win tier levels.

 

Friday

 

Race #6 = #5 – Hootenanny, #6 – Conquest Typhoon, #13 – Lawn Ranger, #11 – Imperia, #10 – Startup Nation, #2 – Daddy D. T.

Race #7 = #4 – Pants on Fire, #1 – Tapiture, #1 – Goldencents, #3 – Vicar’s in Trouble, #2 – Carve, and #6 – Golden Ticket.

Race #8 = #4 – Lady Eli, #2 – Osaila, #11 – Conquest Harlanate.

Race #9 = #10 – Untapable, #4 – Belle Galante, and #11- Close Hatches.

Ticket cost = 6 X 6 X 3 X 3 = $324 for a $1 ticket / $162 for a 50-cent ticket. – We’ll use the 50-cent version four times for $648.

 

The Biggest Show in Racing

The foliage show begins in some parts of the country, hot summer winds trade places with a cool crisp breeze that means only one thing for horse racing fans. Breeders’ Cup has arrived. Since 1984, the world’s finest thoroughbreds have competed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a place in history. But only the best of the best have found one. From triumphant comebacks to incredible photo finishes, each Breeders’ Cup race has produced a champion that has captured our imaginations, and earned our eternal respect. Here is your invitation to enjoy the finest of what our sport has to offer. The racing year has had up’s and down’s, but it wouldn’t be the biggest stage if it were easy to get there. One thing is for certain, the best-of-the-best will be there, and Winning Ponies will be locked and loaded.

When / Where

The 30th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship will take place in Arcadia, California at Santa Anita. There will be a total of 13 races with purses totally over $26 million dollars. It begins on Friday, October 31, and November 1, 2014.

Up for grabs

If you are a punter that loves to make a wager on a swelled guaranteed pool, this is your day. According to the Breeders’ Cup menu of wagers, here is what awaits:

Guaranteed Pools

Friday:

Pick 5: $500,000 (races 1-5)

Pick 6: $750,000 (races 4-9)

Pick 4: $1,500,000 (races 6-9)

Saturday:

Pick 5: $750,000 (races 1-5)

Pick 4 $1,500,000 (races 4-7)

Pick 6: $2,500,000 (races 7-12)

Pick 4: $3,000,000 (races 9-12)

 

There will be a maximum of 14 horses per race, and exotic wagers will offer a 50-cent minimum bet value. There will be a special 14% takeout for the guaranteed pick-five wager. Some of the biggest pari-mutuel payoffs of the year take place over the course of these two days, and the best-of-the-best do battle to serve up a handicapper’s dream. The post position draw takes place Monday, October 27,2014 3:30 pm ET, /12:30 pm PT.

 

Now you have an idea of what awaits, and the only question is how will you prepare. This is where Winning Ponies has your back. You’ll need a data provider who brings you a comprehensive view of not only how the field shapes up, but a better concept of the outcome. Handicapping can be hard enough, but add in the task of deciding how you’ll apply your bankroll, and you have one tall task ahead of the weekend. Winning Ponies has over $9,346,857 in exotic payoffs. This should whet your appetite, and you’ll need to come prepared before you “reach in your jeans and pull out your greens.”

Winning Ponies will only send out the E-Z Win Forms have taken everything into account. I know, it is a big order to take everything into consideration. This is where you need to have faith in your data provider. Once the E-Z Win Forms are on-line for you to peruse, rest assured you’re not on your own. Some data is put out 72 hours in advance, and changes in the weather can be just a streak of bad luck. – But not at Winning Ponies. There is the “change of weather tab” which allows you to receive a brand new set of E-Z Forms if Mother Nature throws you a knuckle ball. Oh, and the best part… No charge… It is your day, and your opportunity.

People dislike traffic, waiting in the checkout line, and waiting for the mail. We can’t do much about the above mentioned, but Winning Ponies brings you everything in “real time.” Yep, right now, right away, and all in place to allow you to make more informed decisions. Your results, changes, updates, track conditions, and scratches as soon as they are announced.

I have seen about every data provider known to man. Not because I am a know-it-all, but I wanted to inquire about which service fits my needs. All are different, and all unique. Winning Ponies strives to bring you the best data in racing by taking away the long hours compiling the data and then deciding how we are going to use it. These tasks are prepared for you, and now your time can be better spent deciding how you’ll utilize the data to maximize your winning percentage. We’ll take care of the homework, and you can have more time to study for the test. This gives you more time to focus and enjoy your weekend.

Breeders’ Cup is a weekend event that brings handicappers joy, and a tear to the eye. We have watched as the races unfurled along the year, and they all culminate on the biggest stage in racing. Winning Ponies will offer you blogs, free selections, handicapping advice, and the Winning Ponies Internet Radio Show to bring you up-to-the-second racing information. We have come a long way, and Friday will be here soon enough. So, what are you waiting for? It’s almost post time!