Free Selections – Thursday 5/23/19

As I like to say there is such a thing as a “free lunch.” – Here are some free selections to build your bankroll and start thinking about the weekend. – Be sure to download the E-Z Win Forms for the definitive answer on how the race will take shape. – What are ya’ waiting for? – It’s almost post time!


Belmont Park

Race  #1 – #4 – Days of Spring = Adds blinkers for her 2nd start – Trainer Todd Pletcher wins 30% with his second start and 20% on this equipment change.

Race #3 – #6 – Queen Kahen = Makes a drop in class for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and he wins 19% with maiden claimers – Irad Ortiz gets the nod and he wins 26% on sprinters.

Race #6 – #4 – Belgrano = First start since March for trainer Jorge Abreu and he wins 15% with runners fresh off the shelf – Jose Ortiz in the saddle and wins 18% on turf runners.

Race #8 – #1 – Preservationist = 3 for 6 ITM and hasn’t been off the board to date. – The first start since February and trainer James Jerkins wins 19% with layoff runners.

Race #9 – #7 – Mobridge = Been off since March and comes to post for trainer Danny Gargan. – The barn wins 22% off a layoff.


Churchill Downs

Race #2 – #2 – Strut the Ring = Looking for three-in-a-row and trainer Matt Shirer wins 23% of his route races.

Race #3 – #9 – Mom’s Pass = Bred for the grass and trainer Steve Asmussen wins 19% with his first-time runners. – Ricardo Santana wins 23% teaming up with Asmussen.

Race #5 – #2 – Cowboy Rhythm = 2nd off the layoff and trainer Robert Diodoro wins 28% with runners as beaten chalk and teams up with rider David Cohen who is winning 26% the past 60 days.

Race #7 – #1 – Graceful Princess = Raced in March and trainer Ralph Nicks wins 15% with fresh legs and 23% with beaten favorites.



The Happy Horseplayer – May

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 22, 2019 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

It seems like yesterday as January rolled in with cold winds and snow. – Time flew by quickly, and before we knew it we were watching horses take the track as “My Old Kentucky Home” played. – Funny thing when a song brings everyone together if even for a moment. A two-minute race makes everyone a racing fan if even for a day. The beauty, the pageantry, and the long road to Louisville. What a long strange trip its been.


The Derby

For 144 runnings there has been no DQ in the history of the race. – The magical 145th edition gave us a Derby filled with more bumping and knocking than NASCAR. – As the field turned for home everyone wanted the roses. – 2019 will be the year that will be known as the “Big DQ.” – I guess I could tell you I lost money and my bankroll, or I could regale you with a wonderful story on how the big longshot had me celebrating. Either way, the race is in the rearview mirror. – The 144th Preakness brings a host of new shooters to the table and there’s no Triple Crown hope this year. But that being said, my inner-horseplayer will be locked and loaded. – Bring it on Baltimore!


Keeneland recap

In April, the Keeneland meet was underway. – My brother wanted to put up a couple hundred and see if I could carry it the length of the meet. – I told him; ” Just wait, I have $71 and let me work with that first.” – At the conclusion of the race meet the $71 bucks was still alive and showed a little profit. – It was really fun watching every race at the boutique meet. – I played the angles I’ve been using for years and with a little luck and divine intervention this horseplayer enjoyed each day. – The spring of 2019 was more fun than the law allowed.


Preakness 144

Maryland does crabcakes and horse racing. – This year will not have the winner and disqualified runner in the field. – This is a brand new day and the field is chock full of new shooters. I love the big field and probably the best betting opportunity we’ve had in the Preakness in two decades. – Just a note you’ll want to keep in mind before making a bet. – Play runners that exit the Derby who had a tough trip or ran a solid 5th or 6th. They tend to relish “Old Hilltop.” – Take a hard look at Bob Baffert and D Wayne Lukas. They play hard in the second jewel of racing.


Winning Ponies

If you’re looking for a great handicapping tool to make your day incredible. Look no further.  Winning Ponies is your one-stop-shop for the best in handicapping data with the E-Z Win Forms. Easy to use and incredibly effective on the marquee days! – Best of luck on Preakness Day and don’t forget to take part in the FREE handicapping contest at


The Happy Horseplayer = Improbable / Borbon War / Alwaysmining

Memory Lane / Preakness Day

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 22, 2019 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

We all have a story or two about race track stories. – I’ve always said the people are the best part of the track. – A short conversation turned into an hour long walk down memory lane with a friend who has worked in the industry all of her life. – Oh, how I long for the old days. Here are a couple of items on our gab list.


I asked how the Preakness crowd was at their track?

” There were hardly any of the seats used, and most came and went to make a bet. – No energy and the place echoed like a ghost town. – As we talked about the big day and what it used to be. A flood of memories came rolling back to me.”


Have you seen any of the old faces? 

” The old faces are starting to fade. – They are replaced by their adult kids and new people who come and go. – There are no reservations and the tables are empty. It’s pretty sad when you look down and remember what it used to look like.”


I can remember handicapping seminars, free coffee for early birds, and a free contest for players looking to win a few bucks. – The place was jumping. – There was an energy that was hard to believe. I used to get to work a couple of hours early and there would be 40-50 people waiting outside the doors. – It was exciting just pulling into the parking lot and the day never disappointed.


The Preakness handle set an all-time record of $99,852,653. – Being able to wager on a bevy of ADW’s has hurt making the trek to the track. – Everyone has an idea on how to fix the day but it may be too late. Or, is it?

How about understanding the game is open to new ideas? – The old guard is starting to drift away and we need to target the new faces. -Here are a couple of ideas that may work. No harm in trying and what do they really have to lose?

1. – Have a food truck party on the empty track apron. – There is no live racing and why not have a bevy of upscale and down-home cooking? – Fans enjoy and food makes everything a party.

2. – How about a duo of acoustic players for a few hours? – Couldn’t be an arm and leg expense.

3. – Get your employees involved. – Have small games for kiddie prizes. – Local restaurants are always glad to help out with small trinkets for the kids. – Face painting, the track mascot, and let them know you’re glad they came out.

4. – How about trying to do Weiner dog races? – Family fun at the low cost of zero. – These are really a hoot!

5. – Get your “brass” out and about. – No hiding in the office, get out and meet the people. You don’t have to knock on doors, they’re already there. – People like to meet who’s in charge.

6. – Have a drawing for a dinner for four every half hour. – Great bounce back prizes and they’ll plan on coming out for the live races.

7. – Most tracks turn off wi-fi so players won’t use computers or phones to wager. – They can do that anywhere, and you’ll just lose handle. – If they are there, you may get a few more wagers. – What do you have to lose? You can always turn it back off and go back to empty seats.


Just ideas, but they can make a crowd of 100 turn into 300 for about a $1,000 bucks. – Not because that is pennies, but it’s a low-cost way to reach out and showcase your venue. If you have them, they might make a wager. – That’s where it all begins. – I think we’ve taken away the fun and become complacent. You can never go wrong with passing out vintage hats or glasses. Fans and players love them.

I’ve been working in racing for a long time, and we better try and show our venues before people forget how to get there.




Did You See That?

As the Preakness is etched into the pages of history we have more questions than answers. – Was War of Will the real deal? – Could Maximum Security have taken all three legs of the Triple Crown? – We’ll never know. But one thing is for sure. These past few weeks have been pretty action-packed.

The advent of social media is a way to discuss, stay in touch and be a part of what’s going on. – I get it. It can also be a pain in the ass at times when the discussion turns into an argument. I never thought there would be a DQ in the Derby, but after watching the race, I agree. The proper call was made and the world can go back to showing pictures of their dinner. – But even if I didn’t agree, it doesn’t matter. A decision was made by top-level officials who are paid to oversee the races. – Will this lead us down the slippery slope of questioning every ball or strike? Did the officials miss the replay of the receiver dragging his back foot? – The answer is yes. We already do.

War of Will slipped right up the rail and proved he was the best winning the Preakness. – There was even an inquiry, but it was into the start of the race as Bodexpress lost his rider at the start. – USA Today had a great piece about the start and a quote from the rider; A 20-to-1 shot to win the Preakness, Bodexpress threw his jockey, John Velazquez, off right out of the gate. Luckily, Velazquez wasn’t hurt and Bodexpress didn’t interfere with any of the other horses running the race. The jockey told NBCSN that the horse just hadn’t been able to settle down that day and was being slightly ornery.

“He wasn’t behaving well in the gate,” Velazquez said. “He got me against the wall. Obviously, when the doors opened…I lost my balance and went off. I’m disappointed.”

Ok, we have a little better idea of what took place and great coverage from one of my favorite papers. – But, going down a few more sentences I read some quotes that looked like argument baiting and not solid reporting. – I must admit it was cleverly written, but  readers want to know the story and not hear a bedtime version:

While we may never know what the horse was actually thinking, it’s a good bet that Bodexpress probably just didn’t feel like being whipped that day.

I mean, look at this horse run. He’s having a great time. He even kept running after the race was over! He is the horse we didn’t realize we needed! What a hero!  
Him running that race without a jockey and totally free was one of the best things in sports I have seen in a long time.

Anyway, take that Bodexpress energy into your work week! Shake off the metaphysical jockey on your back and run free!

It was a cleverly written piece. Can’t squabble with that. – But the readers want to know about the race and not just stoking the “Twitter-sphere” fires. – How about the winner, the race, or even the crowd having a great time? – No, let’s see if we can wake up social media monsters and have a good laugh. – What started as a way to discuss and chat with each other has turned into open-mic night.

I have worked in racing the majority of my life and I’ve loved every second. – There are no better people than the men and women who take care of the horses. I once heard the best line from an old trainer; ” The horses bathe and eat before I do. They come first.” – How about the owners who plunk down millions to invest in the sport and keep it alive? – Or the tracks who fight competition and struggle to make the game great? – What about the people who bring the hay? Tend the stalls? Haul the horses safely? Riders, trainers, and grooms who make a living and keep the taxes flowing?  What about the mutuel clerks who sell tickets? The dining and concession people who make a living from waiting on you? – They all hold their breath when something happens on the track because they love the sport and the people involved.

I know it was all in fun, and showing the loose horse was a hoot for many. – But, things happen in sports and racing is not exempt. – So when the NFL goes to two-hand touch, NASCAR has bumper cars traveling 10 mph, and MLB will now have underhanded softball throws not to exceed 5 mph. – I guess we’ll all be happy campers who pick up our phones to show “Throwback Thursday” pics of when sports was different.

Here’s a little recap of what happened yesterday:

War of Will skimmed along the rail and showed the heart of a champion in front of millions winning the Preakness. – Put down your phone and enjoy the game. You’re missing a whole lotta fun.




Let It Go – Let’s Move On

If you’re still feeling the Derby hangover let it go. If you’re still looking at videos and results, they won’t change. If social media is controlling you more than ever it’s time to move on. – Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Now, pick up the pace as life is going on. – The Derby is over.

Right call, wrong call. It’s in the books. If they overturn and give the purse money back to Gary and Mary West. It won’t pay you at the windows; make you right among the world of naysayers, and won’t change a thing. – Let it go.

I was beaten to a pulp during the last presidential election that I jumped off Facebook and Twitter for three months. – Upon return, the bitching was still red-hot and I took another vacation for two more months. – It slowed down a bit, and we got back to posting pictures of our dinner, kids, and the glamorous places we wish were visiting.

Don’t hate the DQ’ed winner as he was trying to corner the muddy track in a herd of runners. – And don’t try to tell your winning story how you loved Country House and he was the best horse. – If that were the case, you would never have seen box cars for a payoff. You took a stab or had him in multi-runner tickets. – Whatever the story. Stop telling them and let it go.

I’m wondering how long we’ll read about a magic potion to answer all questions? – I’ve read “Nobody deserved to win more than XXXX.” – Bull crap. How about the other owners and trainers? They didn’t deserve a chance to wear the roses? – Or, Bob Baffert has feelings this way or that way about the DQ. – He knows better. This race with 20 runners can be dangerous. Kinda’ like the American version of the Grand National. But, I digress. – We’ve heard from the professionals, chat groups, and once a year fans who watched and gave us their opinion. – After all of this info, we are back to square one. The stewards make a decision and that is the end of the discussion. – You won’t get paid for your lost $2 ticket or that pick-four won’t come in the mail. – It stings, but that is gambling. – If you were on the receiving end of having a winner put up. Would you still be bitching?

Here is the only solution for racing fans. Take a little break from talking about last weekend, and look to the Preakness. It sounds like Country House and Maximum Security are out and new shooters are on deck. – This makes for a new opportunity and possibly great value. – I’m moving on, are you? – I sure hope to see you at the races, OTB, or text me if you’re betting from home. Let’s get back to the game we love. There are tough calls like this everyday and we move right on our way. But, this was on the biggest stage and more were watching. – You’ll start feeling better, and before long we’ll have our Preakness plans in hand. That’s the idea and it may be the only one that makes sense for racing fans. – I admit. The Derby was tough and for the first time in 145 runnings there was a DQ. That alone speaks volumes and as we add horses to the starting gate. Maybe cutting back to 15 horses? How about 12? – The quote of the Derby belongs to the elder statesman in the field, Jon Court. – “My God, some of these young riders need to toughen up a little bit and quit trying to win so much,” Court said. “I don’t care if it’s the Derby or a $5,000 claimer. They need to have a little more integrity about the equine value we ride and not cast everything so carelessly aside,” according to Horse Racing Nation.

The Preakness is up next and we’ll be better served jumping back into the betting ring. – If you still need a little vacation from playing, it is understandable. – Let’s keep in mind how much we love the game. Remember how we started long ago and the people who took the time to share their love of the game. – I’ll see you in the winner’s circle!


Does Anyone Know What Really Happened?

I wait for the first Saturday in May like Christmas. – Any money I have is earmarked for wagers on this glorious day. – I’m the fan you try to reach through marketing, advertising, and giveaways. – I come out when it rains, in the heat, and during the winter. – I talk up the game and write and do radio about the sport. – Working in racing has been the best job for this fan, gambler, and lover of the sport. – This morning has a little different feel. Kinda’ like a hangover with a hammer on the head chaser.

What I have experienced in less than 24 hours is confusing. – Friends and fans text and call me about the big race. They want to know what happened as I’m the guy who champions the sport may be able to answer their questions. – Well, I can’t. I’m on the outside looking in. Here are a few thoughts about some of the questions I’ve read on social media and texts.

1. – For the young man who said people were only mad about losing money. – He must have never made a wager. It is his version of tough love to get us all back to his way of thinking. – If it were not for the gamblers they would be running for blue ribbons. We keep the game moving and growing (if possible). It is from the wagers where money is spread around to pay bills, salaries, purses, make improvements, and have the party giveaways fans enjoy. – But, I’m sure they’ll all forget about it because you tell them tough cookies.

2. – Wouldn’t this have been easier if they “popped” up the inquiry sign? – There is a disclaimer in the program that says: ” The opinions and decisions of the stewards are final and binding to all participants.” – If the red-sign came up on the tote board about 60% of the confusion would have went away. The inquiry sign would have communicated to the fans they were going to examine the race in great detail. Fans would have grasped the idea and process. – Some tracks have the stewards come up on live TV and explain the decision. Not hours later, as that has the feel of not knowing. – The qualified people in the booth know the rules inside and out. They make the tough calls and get paid accordingly. If they would have came up on screen immediately another 20% goes away. – The other 20% would split between those who support the call and those who will argue until the end of time.

3. – Stop telling stories of how you scored, your kid had a show ticket, and grandma had the exacta. That has a “look at me” feel. – You’re not making much sense other than bragging. – This day is the biggest on the world stage for the sport. There is much to be gained and lost, and fans may be lost forever on one decision. – If you don’t understand, just take a picture of your dinner and post it on Facebook instead of adding to the confusion. – This black eye won’t go away soon.

4. – Quit posting pictures, videos, and wild rants. – Let the professionals talk. I want to listen and understand.

This will have a negative effect on racing. The interests of the gamblers must be paramount. – If you disagree, they’re the ones who keep the lights on and sport rolling. – There won’t be a purse increase if you eat more popcorn or buy a hat at the gift shop. The purses are what the owners / trainers try to win and keep the barn alive. – I have to give kudos to the owners Gary and Mary West. He handled the rain soaked confusion with tact and patience. That’s not to say there won’t be any calls to lawyers on Monday morning. – As his horse was taken down from Derby history he handled it with patience and calm trying to make sense of the madness.


Final thoughts from this fan, gambler, and lifelong employee in racing:

* Hang the inquiry sign

* Inform the public immediately other horses claimed a foul and not hours after.

* Have immediate TV coverage where the stewards go out over the airwaves and explain the process of why a horse was taken down in a timely fashion.

* Put a leash on TV coverage begging the point to disqualify (or not) any horse – We live in the times of immediate information. – Not leading the public, but explain the process and let the professionals work.

* Whatever the call. Move on and accept the decision.

Perfect Ride

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 29, 2019 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, | 3 Comments >>

Image may contain: crowd and outdoor


We’ve seen good rides and bad trips. You blame the rider, the horse, or forgetting to wear your favorite hat. – But when you get that “perfect ride” there’s nothing sweeter as a racing fan with a $2 dollar ticket in hand.

Years ago, I met a small gent with a kind smile. Always dressed sharp and his favorite look was the black vest that fit his toned body perfectly. – Upon looking at him you would swear he could still ride, and when you shook his hand it was like a pair of vice grips.  A no-nonsense man with a sense of humor and dedication for educating and schooling riders. He wanted to share his knowledge and craft with the new riders and remind the journeymen of the little things that make all the difference. – He would arrive every day on his motorcycle and be the first to the steward’s office. – That’s where I met the rider of the 1970 Kentucky Derby winner, Mike Manganello.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Mike Manganello, people smiling, people standing, suit and outdoor


Mike always had that quiet smile, but don’t let that fool you. He could kick it into gear and take care of business. His gentle but firm way helped many riders who would come to his office with other stewards and watch the “movies.” – This is a replay of the past day’s races where an infraction occurred or some questionable decisions by riders would be met by words from a master. – Safety is paramount in racing and having stewards who know the game makes it that much safer.

Image may contain: Mike Manganello, smiling, eyeglasses


Here is a recent picture of Mike signing autographs at a PDJF event. – The PDJF is the permanently disabled jockeys fund of which he and his wife Kitty are always seen. – The PDJF help riders who have been hurt or disabled pay bills, take care of expenses and receive medical attention. – You can take part at any time with a donation as it goes to a great cause. – Here he is with his better half Kitty at a Mahoning Valley PDJF Day.

Image may contain: Kitty Manganello and Mike Manganello, people smiling, people standing


I was chatting with Mike one day about his magical ride aboard Dust Commander in 1970. – He wasn’t one for bragging or talking about the good old days, but he spoke to me about his victory like it happened two minutes ago. – His ride was flawless and I kidded him about how he saved ground and only left the rail once. ” Mike; Calvin Borel is known as the rail-skimming rider, but I think he watched a few of your wins.” – He just laughed and told me how it was done back in the day. – I didn’t have the nerve to tell him I was in awe just talking Derby with a man whose name is etched in history. – I enjoyed working with Mike at Belterra Park, and he is one of the good guys of racing. – My best to you and Ms. Kitty, Mike. – Now without further adieu, here is the 1970 Kentucky Derby. – Keep an eye on the gold silks from the 3/8th’s pole to the winner’s circle. He left the rail only once and dropped right back over to save his ground. I must have watched this race a 1,000 times and it is still one of my favorites.




It’s Only a Number

It seems like a million years ago watching the 1986 Derby. – William Lee Shoemaker (The Shoe) broke from post one and saved ground around the historic oval. – The best part was how he had to weave through traffic after breaking from the worst post and draw off down the lane. Watching Bill Shoemaker win the race for his fourth time was worth the price of admission I’m sure, but to complete this herculean effort at 54-years-young made it one for the ages.

It hasn’t happened since 1986, and only 9.1% have ever won from the one post since using a starting gate in 1930. Add in the 54-year-old rider and getting (18-1) was an underlay. – Las Vegas prop bets would have probably been near triple digits. – We’ll have to wait and see how the 145th running does this Saturday.  History buffs love this as gamblers would be first to tell you they’re only numbers.

This Saturday another number is popping up. – Jon Court will be the oldest rider to compete in the Kentucky Derby. – According to Churchill Downs research, Bobby Baird currently holds the distinction, having ridden Raymond Earl to a 10th-place finish in the 1978 Derby at the age of 57. Bill Shoemaker is the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, famously leading Ferdinand to victory in 1986 at the age of 54. – Court is 58-years-young and has a mount aboard Long Range Toddy.

Asked about the history he’s about to make, Court expresses a mixture of indifference and reverence. “I am laughing about it, but I’m taking it seriously,” he said. “I’m focused. I’m on the verge of making history. It just projects me that much closer to perhaps one day — if I keep going — to get nominated for the Hall of Fame. These are the things that add up when you start to accumulate these accolades. It’s an honor to be here.”

Court has 4,147 career victories, ranking 63rd all-time among North American jockeys, according to He’s earned more than $105 million in purses, ranking 43rd all time; according to the Courier-Journal.

His “magic” may be in the bio-hacking supplements introduced to him by retired rider Ramon Dominguez. Court said the use of bio-hacking supplements helps relieve oxidative stress, which is a natural occurrence and plays a role in the aging process.

“We slow down Father Time, so to speak,” Court said. “I’m always looking for ways to better myself nutritionally. To do what I do, I have to stay on top. “I was considering retiring in years to come, but since I started bio-hacking it’s as if I have a new lease on life. It’s extended my career. It’s fallen into place perfectly,” according to the Courier-Journal.

There’s something special about the Derby. – When I was a young boy my Dad would collect wagers from the neighbors and head up to the local bookie to get their $2 action down. Under normal circumstances, they would have talked behind the “old man’s” back about betting with a bookie. But the Derby makes everyone a racing fan one day a year. – The history, the pageantry, and the majestic Thoroughbred capture everyone on the first Saturday in May. Hope spring is eternal as these runners enter the starting gate this Saturday. It’s a long road on the Derby Trail and only one will prevail. Uttering the words of every gambler; “Who do you like in the Derby?”

Derby Do’s and Don’ts / Racing Replays

There can be so much info you need to decipher. That can be tough if you are starting the process and if you start with: The Paulick Report, Equidaily, Horse Racing Nation, The, and – This will get you headed in the right direction. – Then, and only then go back and start watching racing replays. – Go ahead, the days are rolling by and you’ll be hearing ‘My Old Kentucky Home” before you know it.


1. – The past six years have been chalky with all favorites – I think this year we’ll get some value.

2.- Six straight winners have been unbeaten at age three according to; Horse Racing Nation.

3. – Gamblers think of the Derby as a closer’s paradise but speed and pressers have held sway.

4. – Cal-breds have been red-hot winning four of the last five Derbies.

5. – Dubai runners get a goose egg in the winner’s circle.

6. – Same for Japanese runners going 0 for 2.

7. – Breeders’ Cup winners are 2 for 35 heading into the Derby.

8. – Unraced two-year-olds are 1 for 63 with Justify taking that one down.


Race replays:

The Arkansas Derby


The Lexington


The Santa Anita Derby


The Blue Grass


Florida Derby


Wood Memorial






Road Work – Kentucky Derby 2019

Boxers wake in the wee hours and hit the road. The fog hasn’t burnt off and the night still holds for a couple more hours. – The sun can be seen creeping over the hills as the skies turn a wondrous golden. Morning arrives and the road work is complete. – They grab a shower, have a fighter’s meal, and back in the ring. – Thoroughbreds pointing to the Derby have the same routine. – They start early, and by the time the rest of the world is up and around. They have put in the necessary work.

Here are some works and races to give you a visual glimpse. – You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for last works and how the runners come out of the effort. – Best of luck from Winning Ponies! 


Game Winner






Omaha Beach




Code of Honor




Long Range Toddy