Problem Ponies – Horses to Watch – 7/26/16

Most of the country is sweating it out and the racing action keeps getting hotter ! – Summer racing is always the best of the year, and Mother Nature is giving us a full-blown party. Del Mar and Saratoga on the wagering menu, and Arlington’s grass racing. Does it get any better than this ? – Oh, and don’t forget Gulfstream and your favorite oval close to home. Just kick back, grab a cool drink, and put on your shades in the sunshine. Things are just getting started and the best is yet to come ! – In the meantime, keep a close eye on these runners next time out. They had a compromised trip and that means there might be a bumper payday right around the corner.




7/23/16 – Race #2 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#1 – Master Merion – Jose Ortiz in the saddle and this guy grabbed the lead and fought his rider most of the way refusing to settle down. – He was just beat by a nose.


7/23/16 – Race #4 – 6f on the dirt

#4 – Tree Top Lover – Bumped at the break, steadied and clipped heels, and stumbled twice. – Anything better than this and you might see a whole new runner.


7/23/16 – Race #6 – 5 1/2f on the dirt

#7 – Royal Copy – Ricardo Santana aboard and he looked like a sure winner. – He came up just a bit short down the lane after shipping in from Churchill.




7/23/16 – Race #3 – 1 mile on the turf

#2 – Dad Are We Here – Nick Meza in the irons and here is a playback runner. – Lacked room at the 3/16th’s pole and fanned four wide and still won by 1 1/4.


7/23/16 – Race #4 – 1 1/16 on the all weather

#5 – Mom’s Choice – Jose Valdivia up for Larry Rivelli. They won by a widening 4 1/4 under wraps. – Bet right back with both hands.


7/23/16 – Race #6 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#2 – Poker Player – Edgar Perez in the irons and was forced to fan four wide on the final turn losing ground to finish a fast 3rd.


Del Mar


7/24/16 – Race #3 – 1 mile on the dirt

#5 – Storm the Shore – Iggy Puglisi in the irons and this guy got caught up in a quick speed duel. – He still ran a game 3rd, but the clock may have done him in at the end of the race.


7/24/16 – Race #8 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#2 – Ambitious Brew – Flavien Prat had his mount in full gear down the lane and was just beat at the wire. – He’ll be a player next out.



Just keep your eyes peeled and get ready for them to fire right back. – See where they fit on the E-Z Win Forms to gauge their level of competition. – They had an excuse this outing and just be patient. They’ll be taking the track very soon. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !


They’re Always With You

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 26, 2016 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

If you had the opportunity to go to any track in the country and spend it with anyone you wish, who would it be ? The idea started one evening where I just got home after a day at the races and my friend called on his drive home from work. – He is always upbeat and pretty happy but in this day he didn’t have that enthusiastic voice. He was still my buddy talking horses but something was different. As the conversation took a break he told me this was the anniversary of his dad’s passing. – “He’s been gone three years and I still remember our last day together. – Man, what I wouldn’t give to have that day back again.” 

I got to thinking what their day was like. – Did they have a good day ? – Was there a memorable moment that made the day ?- Did they have a beer together and kick back and play the races as friends ? – He really didn’t say any farther than that, and out of respect for my man I wouldn’t dare ask a question about his final time with his father. There are just some things that don’t need to be shared, and that’s what makes them special. – But after we hung up and continued on with the day, his words stuck in my head in a haunting voice. If you could spend the day with one of your track friends who are no longer with us. – Who would you choose to spend the day ?

For me, I have a few that ring loudly. – My first would be my grandpa. – Norman Edward Bruce was a small town guy who loved the races. He was a plumber by trade and horse player by heart. He wasn’t a big player, but still loved to jump in the “machine” and drive out to catch the last three or four races. – My dad would ask if I wanted to drive out and bet the last three races with him and papaw. – There were no sweeter words ever spoken, and I would sit in the backseat as we pulled up to papaw’s house. He had a Dutch Master cigar in his mouth and would have the newspaper rolled up with his selections. – Dad would slip him a $20 and the guys were off to the races. – He would talk about who he liked and these were the few times he would talk like he was with the guys and not with his young grandson. Bawdy jokes, goofy stories, and the anticipation that filled the car all the way til’ we pulled in the parking lot. – The last time I saw him at the races he drove out by himself and bet the early double. – I was working in the parking lot as a young man and he walked about a 1/4 mile over to see me. His gait was slow and deliberate and was never in a hurry. “ Hey, number one boy.” – I was the first grandson and that was my nick-name. We talked about nothing much and he was happy just to see me working at the track. – Every job I’ve ever had at the track I think of Papaw. – He would have thought you were the best no matter what anyone thought. What they said didn’t matter and he was sure he was right. – I thought of him when I pulled into the parking lot to work in the lot. The day I started inside the track as a manager would have been a highlight. – When I did radio shows about racing he would have tuned in to every minute. – The first day you saw my face on TV talking horses he would have watched the screen with quiet joy smoking his cigar. – I thought of him when I stood under the Sycamore tree at Keeneland when I had the opportunity to work at the most beautiful track in the world. – When I started making the morning line odds and announced the races, I knew he was with me. – He’s with me when I win, and in my heart with the tough beats. – Sure miss talking with Papaw.


Dad would pick up his Uncle Don which made him my great-uncle. – Those were just words as he treated my brother and I like we were his only nephews and he had about 12. – A quiet man would be an understatement as he never really had much to say. More of a cerebral man who enjoyed reading and fit the rule of ” The ones that know don’t say, and the ones who don’t just talk.” – He would pack away mad money and wait for that call from my dad to head out to the races. When the wait was too long, he would quietly let him know he was ready to go out. – He loved to fish, cook, and tend to his garden. He lived in a modest small cottage with Aunt Millie, and they worked together and the house was always perfect. – When I owned a few cheap claimers he was always on hand to watch them run. Never a bad word when he lost, and wished he would have bet more when he won. – Don was the last of the good guys. – During the month of December, he would make a trip out to the races. There was more than just betting the races as he always gave my brother and I a few hundred bucks each. – Pretty big gift for a guy who saved all his life and wasn’t a man of endless means. I think the money was for my Dad, but he told him to give it to the kids. That started a yearly venture as he would pull in and quietly ask you to stop in later. You knew what was coming, and seeing him was more than just about accepting a gift of money. – “Don’t tell Aunt Millie,  make yourself a couple bets.” – We were the great-nephews and he treated us like his own. His quiet ways and gentle smile were always a welcome sight. With cigarette in hand and flannel shirt and work pants were a reminder of a simple man who was anything but. He read about ancient Chinese herbs, nature, and knew how to fix about anything.  He was a super athlete but would never talk about his days in the sun. That was just fine because every older gent who ever knew him told of his great days on the gridiron. –  He would just sit there and listen with cigarette in hand. – I sure miss Uncle Don, as men like this you meet once in a lifetime.


I understand what my friend was telling me. – He missed his dad and it was a void that would never be filled. Thank you for the call on your way home. It took me back to simpler days when things were easier. – Pick up the phone and make that call to the special someone you lost contact with. – Time is a tricky monster. You think you have all the time you want until you reach out to touch them they’re not there anymore. – What I wouldn’t give to take a trip back for a short while. They say the past isn’t a good place to live, but if the memories are sweet. Taking a trip back to the past is a good journey as long as you don’t stay too long. – When I walk into work this week and you see that smile on my face. I may be taking a short journey back to visit a few good folks. I haven’t seen them in quite sometime and I love just thinking they are with me dong what we loved.

A Tale of Two Good Guys

Think of this as a report card on what’s happening in the world of racing from a handicapper’s eyes and ears. – I listen to the players. I’ve always enjoyed that part, and the players have always been the best part of racing. – For years that’s been my stance, and it’s not to say there aren’t a few sweethearts who I forget what they say as soon as it pops from their mouth. But that’s only because it’s bitter and venomous. – I listen to what we’re doing wrong more than what we’re right. – If it’s good, we’ll keep bringing it, and if it’s bad we’ll fix it. – Thoroughbred racing is a unique form of gambling. It’s not like a casino where they just plop it out there and blind you with promotions. Racing is a game where you can test your wits and break down an event before making a wager. With that in mind, here is my summer report card from what I’m observing close to home.


Perry Ouzts is one of the best blue-collar riders in the states. You won’t see him riding in the Triple Crown, or maybe that’s in his plans for his 62nd birthday. – He hasn’t plied his trade on the marquee ovals much and stuck to his backyard. He lives in the area, raised his family here, and continues to ride like he’s 16-years-old. – Amazing comes to mind when I think of this small man with the heart of a lion. He is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. – When he wins a race, he is the last rider back to the paddock to unsaddle. It’s kinda’ like taking that victory lap around Indy when you’ve won the 500. He relishes every moment and each time he enters the winner’s circle you can see that wry little smile on his face. He loves that win as much as he did on his first winner in 1973 aboard Rablu. – I have watched the best, some of the worst, and everyone in between. But there is only one Perry Wayne Ouzts, and his 6,600 wins and counting makes him the 11th all-time leading rider. – Fans love him, trainer and owners adore him, and the other riders listen to his quiet wisdom. He’s good for the game, the bettors, and the riders who are trying to learn the sport. – Perry is a quiet ambassador for racing and I just can’t imagine what the sport would be like without him. But not to worry, he has no plans to hang up his tack anytime soon. – If you’ve ever watched “Scoot n Boot” ride like the wind when the gates break, you’ll know what I’m talking about. – If you believe that Perry would make an excellent addition to the HOF is 2017, please take a few minutes and read this.


What in the world is going on with the announcers these days ? – When I was growing up and became a real handicapping fan, I thought being a track announcer was like being elected to the Supreme Court. You were elected for life until you quit, die, or drop a few profane remarks. – It has felt like a merry-go-round, and the events started when Trevor Denman hung up his binoculars to spend time on his country farm in Minnesota. Oh, he’s back for the Del Mar meeting, and there are no sweeter sounds to be heard. – But here’s the rub. Announcers are jumping around from circuit to circuit with voodoo dolls in hand to get the next step up. In the past you had to wait a short eternity to see an opening that would be flooded with resumes and CD’s with your best work. But, I digress. – There have been some major happenings that have answered some questions and brought more to the floor in the court of race-track opinion.

Pete Aiello was a young man who sent in a CD with some races he called at Finger Lakes as a back-up. John Englehardt and I sat in our office and listened to this gravelly voiced kid bring racing to life like the “A” leaguers. – It was a sure bet Pete would make an instant hit at River Downs. This little gem of a track gave opportunity to the likes of; Terry Wallace, Mike Battaglia, and late-great Kevin Goemmer. – Those race callers went on to bigger and better and little River Downs was a great stepping stone. – In rolled Pete Aiello in an old car, and like any young man he had a snap in his step and never a loss for words. He loved to handicap and was a welcome addition to the little track along the Ohio river. If the odds held true, Pete was (1-9) to be a fixture in Ohio. – He called for a few years until Hialeah Park came calling. His home was in Florida and the possibility of Thoroughbreds returning to the historic track looked like a good bet. – He found his way into Gulfstream Park during his downtime from Hialeah and called the summer races after Larry Collmus spotted his talent and love for the game.

Pete went to Oaklawn Park after Frank Mirahmadi bolted for a chance to audition for the job at Santa Anita filling the shoes of the legend Trevor Denman. You gotta’ love a bold move. Not for the faint of heart as there is nothing like chasing a dream. – The California scene looked muddled as Michael Wrona and Frank were splitting time between Santa Anita and Golden Gate. There were even a few international callers invited to toss their hats in the ring, but after the smoke cleared Wrona was the new voice. – Frank was offered the job at Golden Gate and tried it for awhile. But his heart led him back to Monmouth Park where he fits like a glove. – If I had to bet a Diet Coke, he will find his way back to Oaklawn at the end of the season. But that’s just a guess and far from an official call. – Larry Collmus resigned from Gulfstream Park and calls the NYRA circuit, Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup for NBC. He would only be out of work a few minutes if he doesn’t have a place, as he is the new gold standard of race calling since the departure of Tom Durkin. – That left a spot to be filled by my friend. According to one of my favorite reads on racing The Paulick Report. There was some great news for Pete Aiello. He has signed on to be year-round at Gulfstream Park. If you’ve been living under a rock or out of the country, here is the story.


These two stories are about two guys who put it all on the line everyday. Their jobs are different but related, their focus and determination is guided with laser precision. Both are so much alike but yet different. – The best part. They were at a little track called River Downs, and both entertained the public with their incredible talents. – I guess that’s the lucky part for fans and racing enthusiasts from all walks. We didn’t have to go to Del Mar or Saratoga. It was right in our backyard if you’re from this part of the country. If not, you watched and listened with the same excitement as being there in person. – I wish both the very best. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies.



Vegas Baby !

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 20, 2016 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>


I ran into a very a dear friend. We used to work together pretty closely back in the day, and he is one of the good guys for sure. – He had some great news to share and informed me he was engaged to be married. – I gave him a big hug and hearty handshake, and traded off the usual banter about taking the plunge. It was at this time my friend uttered the words that make every middle-age man shutter. – ” You are coming to my bachelor party aren’t you ?”

Oh the humanity. – Does he know I need about 10 days for a Vegas trip ? – Three days in Sin City, and seven days to recover. – His excitement and plans started rambling at a fever pitch, and I could hear my heart beating quicker with every passing word. I could see myself drinking foo-foo drink with little umbrellas and the banter about strip joints would begin.  -Oh, I’m just too damn old. – I won’t make it.  – I know I can’t do it anymore.  – Does he know how old I am ? – At the end of his tirade of joy I only had one question. –  ” When are we going ?”

I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than the law allows and mainly to play in handicapping contests. Oh, I’ve had some drunken nights in the old town of lights. But going for a day’s long party would be my first. – He said “I have a connection from work and our rooms are all taken care of.” – Nice to have friends in high places, my connections could get us an 88-cent shrimp cocktail after 2:00 a.m. – I started thinking as he was selling the idea of spending the days in the race book playing horses, and doing the town at night. ” Hell, doing the town for me was getting a bite and going back to the room to handicap for the next day.”

Finally I had to man up. It was harder than I thought, and after swallowing my pride I had to break the news. ” I don’t think I can make the trip my man.” – He started rambling off dates and how much fun it would be. “C’mon, man. You have to be there. I’ll pay for your flight.” – As good as it sounded and as happy as I am for my friend. Common sense had to take over and speak for me. – I love Las Vegas. I like to get up early and have a quick bite, and find myself the perfect seat in the race book. I’m close to the windows, can see the TV’s, and the sports odds board is a stone’s throw away. – I have all of my E-Z Win Form data printed out from the 24-hour business center, and I only get up to bet and find the gentleman’s room. Waitress service brings drinks and lunch from the deli, and tip money in a stack of $1 bills fills my top pocket. – I’ll watch the New York signal starting at 9:30 a.m., and work my way across the nation as the day rolls on. I’ll look for my spot plays as the E-Z Win’s have bailed me out on at least three trips. – There will be an occasional sports bet, a token bet on dog racing, and at the end of the long day I’ll be watching Jai Alai from anywhere they play. – Now that sounds like the Las Vegas I know and love. – I can’t see myself sitting in some club with middle-age dudes drinking bottles of watered down champagne when I could be sitting in my cushy seat enjoying life in the book.

At the end of our conversation he looked at me and said, “I understand my man. Four other guys pretty much said the same thing.” – I was off the hook and could still be happy for my pal. – My trips to Las Vegas are a trip to the holy land of gambling, not going to the clubs trying to relive my twenties. Come to think of it, I didn’t even do that back in the day. – I’m a guy who loves the lights, the sights, and one-of-a-kind atmosphere. But my plans are centered around finding that perfect seat and playing the ponies. It’s not for everybody, but neither is acting out a part in a cheesy Vegas movie. – I can’t wait to make my next trip, and even though I have no schedule. It will be there when I make the flight. The ten day rule still applies. Three marathon days in the race book, and seven days to rest up at home.

Problem Ponies – Horses to Watch – 7/19/16

Summer is officially here according to my horseplayer’s watch. – Del Mar rolled out the red carpet and Saratoga is set to go post ward. You can find your favorite track, ADW, or betting parlor to hunker down and handicap some of the best horses in the land. You better hurry, summer won’t last forever ! – You’ll want to start building your bankroll and here are some solid runners who didn’t get the best of trips last out. If you keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you, you just might make a real nice score the next time they hit the track.




7/16/16 – Race #8 – #6 – Lil Rum Tom = Carlos Marquez aboard and this filly made a sweeping move six wide at the top of the lane. Give her a little more distance and she’ll be tough next out.

7/17/16 – Race #5 – #5 – Speak Up Sailor = Mitchell Murrill in the irons, and his mount was the post time chalk when the gates broke. – She tracked the leaders perfectly but drifted out nearing the wire to get beat by a tough 1/2 length.



Gulfstream Park


7/16/16 – Race #4 – #6 – Teri’s Big Heart = Luca Panici was aboard this filly and made a strong move but was blocked badly at the 1/4 pole.

7/16/16 – Race #10 – #4 – Frosty Friday = Eddie Castro aboard and his filly ran into traffic while tracking intently, and when she went three wide she encountered more traffic finding her best stride.


7/17/16 – Race #3 – #4 – Star Contender = Jesus Rio was the pilot and was off slow from the break but showed a good turn of foot down the lane getting minor awards.


Monmouth Park


7/16/16 – Race #1 – #5 – Saint Bernadine = Antonio Gallardo had the call and hesitated badly at the gate break. Once she recovered, her quick turn of foot in the stretch caught my eye.

7/16/16 – Race #7 – #5 – Shea D Girl = Nik Juarez in the saddle and she rated very nicely to finish a very honest third.  – This was the kind of run where runners come back and just get better.

7/16/16 – Race #8 – #1 – Fortunate Night = Nik Juarez aboard and she was off slowly from the break and came flying late in the lane to show promise for next time out.


7/17/16 – Race #2 – #5 – Valedictorian = Paco Lopez in the irons and his mount broke through the gate prior to the start. Once wrangled back in line she showed great speed and was bested down the lane to get 2nd money. That little antic before the start may have cost her the race.

7/17/16 – Race #5 – #7 – Steve Says No = Paco Lopez in the saddle and was a beaten favorite this day who showed good speed and will greatly benefit from this effort.


Just keep your eyes peeled and be sure to always check the runners out on the E-Z Win Forms. This will allow you to see where they fit into the next race and having a little excuse last out may make them a nice thing at the windows. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !



Pick-Four Mania – Saturday – 7/16/16

Ever have a hankering to get involved in the pick-four. Me too. – This weekend I am shooting at a couple of my favorite tracks, and a little pick-four wager for both tracks are in order. – If all goes accordingly to plan, there should be a good bankroll to play with for the Sunday races. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies.




Highs in the lower 90’s / sunny


Race #7 / 4:41 p.m. – mdspwt – 6f on the turf

#8 – Asscher (2-1) =  J.J. Castellano for Todd Pletcher. 2nd off the layoff (28%) and this filly by Harlan’s Holiday lunged at the start as the beaten favorite.

#3 – Consulting (10-1) = Jose Lezcano for Tom Proctor and they go with first Lasix and the barn wins 18% with first turfers.

#7 – Lull (5-1) = Manny Franco has a first time starter for Christophe Clemente from the bloodlines of turf fighter War Front.

#5 – Fly Swift(4-1) = Irad Ortiz in the saddle for Clemente and she owns a sharp work and her breeding suggests she’ll love the turf.


Race #8 / 5:13 p.m. – The $150,000 Forbidden Apple – 1 mile on the turf

#1 – Force the Pass (3-5) = John Velasquez in the saddle for Alan Goldberg. He is 10/10 ITM on the turf and drops in from (G-3) company. – I’m hoping this is a “free spot” to make it a pick-three.


Race #9 – Claiming $12,500 – 1 mile

#1 – Finding Candy (6-1) = The rail post is winning 19% and has the services of high % rider in Castellano.

#4 – Point Hope (7-2) = Irad Ortiz in the irons and they came in 3rd off the layoff on the class drop.

#10 – Luckbox Sam (10-1) = Johnny V for Michelle Nevin and he was claimed two races back and her barn scores (23%) two off the new claim


Race #10 – MC $40,000 – 7f on the turf

#4 – Love Blues (8-1)

#6 – Irish Actor (6-1)

#8 – Electrified (5-2)

#5 – Subtle Lady (7-2)


Ticket Cost = 4 X 1 X 3 X 4 = $48 for a $1 ticket and $24 for a 50-cent ticket



Indiana Grand

Moderate temperatures and good conditions


Race #6 – The $100,000 M.H. George – 1 1/16

#1 – Lady Fog Horn (4-1) = Albin Jiminez in the saddle for Tony Granitz (21%). – 2nd start of the year for filly for the course 9/10 ITM.

#7 – Brooklynsway (4-5) = Robby Albarado in the saddle for Bernie Flint and they cut back in distance and take a drop in class. Top it off with some bullet works and she looks a solid 4-5.


Race #7 – The $100,000 Schaefer Memorial – 1 mile and 70 yards

#8 – Geothermal (8-1) = Robby A has the call and rolls in 3rd off the layoff and just missed by a nose last out.

#5 – Rocket Time (4-1) = Corey Lanerie is the pilot and this is the first start off a brief layoff. The barn wins (20%) on this move and she’ll fit right in the mix.

#1 – General A Rod (5-2) = Luis Saez is the reinsman and this runner may have seen his (G-1) days past, but he’ll rock and toll in a $100,000 event if given half a chance. The drop in class makes him attractive and he looks like a big fish in a small pond.


Race #8 – The (G-2) Indiana Oaks – 1 1/16

#3 – Mines and Magic (10-1) = Robby A in the drivers seat and she is looking for three-in-a-row for a sweet payday.

#7 – Family Tree (7-5) = Julien Leparoux aboard the most likely winner of the race as she exits a win in the (G-3) Iowa Oaks.


Race #9 – The (G-2) Indiana Derby – 1 1/16

#2 – Cherry Wine (5-2) = Luis Saez in the saddle for Dale Romans. Tons of speed in here, and cuts back in distance. Toss out the Belmont, and you’ll see a colt who has been on the rise. – Romans even has a “rabbit” to ensure an honest pace to run after down the lane with #4 – Takeittotheedge.

#8 – Whateverybodywants (12-1) = Robby A for Kellyn Gorder and shooting for three-in-a-row and has worked two straight bullets in the morning.


Ticket cost  = 2 X 3 X 2 X 2 = $24 for a $1 ticket and $12 for a 50-cent.


Del Mar is open and I’m going to take a watch approach for few days. – Rest assured, I’ll be in the mix as soon as possible. – Saratoga opens next Friday, and the Spa is a great meet but a wait and tread lightly approach will be the same. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies and be sure to check the above tickets against the E-Z Win Forms for 100% confirmation.





Problem Ponies – Horses to Watch – 7/12/16

There’s nothing like a little shortcut to the winner’s circle. Think of it as a free lunch of sorts when you have a trained set of eyes watching races and combing over replays. – If I had to quote what handicappers wished they had done more, most would answer “go back and watch the last race or two.” – Well, here are some runners you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for and you didn’t have to sit and watch replays until your eyes were tired. – Trip handicapping is just one part of the puzzle and using the E-Z Win Forms to see where they fit in on their next race day is ultra-important.




7/9/16 – Race #4 – 1 1/16 on turf

#2 – Al’s Gal = Corey Lanerie’s mount was bumped soundly and carried out wide leaving the gate.


7/9/16 – Race #5 – 1 mile on the turf

#7 – Bump Bump = Mitchell Murrill had the call and his mount clipped heels at the top of the lane and was held up.


7/9/16 – Race #8 – 1 1/8 on the turf

#1 – Oscar Nominated = Lanerie’s mount was 3 wide at the 1/4 pole and bumped soundly.


7/9/16 – Race #9 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#12 – Sunset Knoll = Hopped at the start and still drew off by three for most of the way. That little antic at the gate break may have caused her to get 3rd money.





7/9/16 – Race #3 – 5f on the dirt

#1 – Righteous = Nik Juarez’s mount was off slowly and pinched back as the odds-on favorite but still managed to finish a strong 4th.


7/9/16 – Race #10 – 5f on the dirt

#6 – Tizcano = Jose Ferrer’s mount led all the way and scored by 1 3/4. – You can play right back with confidence as he was bumped soundly leaving the gate.





7/9/16 – Race #2 – 6f on the all weather

#1 – Cavalletta = Eurico DaSilva’s mount was off slow and rallied four wide and finished up quick.


7/9/16 – Race #9 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#7 – Interject = Patrick Husband’s mount was blocked leaving the starting gate and made a strong late rally to finish 3rd.



Keep these runners on your radar screen and be sure to check them with the E-Z Win Forms to see where they fit in the field. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !






Goals for the Second Half of 2016

If it has the ring of a boring financial report don’t worry. We visit the doctor for a wellness visit, and we make needed appointments for our vehicle maintenance. – This is the time when we revisit our goals and see where we’re heading. If you’re on target and doing well, we wish you nothing but the best and continue doing what works. – If you need a little tweaking to your game, then sit right back and take account of what you’re doing.


1. - You need an edge over the competition = I’ve had the opportunity to work with gamblers on all levels. Some fly by the seat of their pants and hope they win today. The best players look for an edge that allows them to stay at the top of their game. – The bigger bettors and better handicappers spend most of their time deciding on how they will wager with their bankrolls. Hence, they utilize money management as much if not more. They have a data provider that allows them to use this time more wisely. I’ve seen every site that has a huge monthly membership charge and gives you an idea of potential winners. They are based on years of trends and some of the info is good. But you’ll have to spend hours pouring over the info and it takes a great deal of time just learning to use the data. I have never seen two players use it the same way. – Winning Ponies allows you to see in easy-to-use color coded tiers showing where runners fit into a race. They have all of the info you’ll find in any and all past performances, jockey / trainer stats, meet statistics, and they do work as a team. – The E-Z Win Forms allow you to change the weather tab if the weather gets sour and for no added charge you’ll have updated data at the click of a mouse. – Most providers put out data 72 hours in advance and let you play who they select. Did they take into consideration weather, last minute changes, track biases, or rider changes ? – No. It’s out there and they hope you score. – Winning Ponies offers up-to-the minute real time data, and you can follow along and see how the E-Z Win Forms are doing. As soon as the race is official, you’ll see the tier selections and how they did. – Many data providers charge the same amount for one race or the entire card. If you get a late start at Winning Ponies, you’re only charged for the races that are left to handicap on the selected card. – Use your time wisely. Use your edge to give you more time to decide how your going to put your data into action.


2. – Watch the races closely = When we have a wager sometimes we find ourselves looking for excuses during a race to make notes. – This is one of the worst moves you can make as you may be deceiving your senses. – You need to spend some time and go back with an unbiased eye to re-watch the races. – There won’t be ten notes per race, and if you keep an open mind for runners who are not getting the best trip. You’ll find yourself being more familiar when it comes time to sit down and handicap.


3. – Money management = You have to employ restraint. I know it’s hard, and I fight this battle from time-to-time. The wagering percentage I’ve watched the best gamblers use is the 5% rule. – Bet no more than 5% of your bankroll. No matter if you have a $100 or a $1,000, stick by the rule and watch yourself start turning a profit. – As your bankroll grows, so does your 5% wager. This allows you to protect your bankroll and stay in the game.


4. – Take Notes = Your teacher was right. Take notes and you’ll look back and remember what you were doing. – Be sure to take copious notes on who and how much you wager. This will allow you to go back after the fact and determine what you need to change or keep doing.


5. – Don’t rush, take your time = Don’t fly out the door with coffee in hand and drive 100 mph to make the daily double. This is a sure-fire way to have empty pockets in the long run. – Do your homework prior to wagering, keep tabs on the weather, and know how much you’re going to wager on the day. – Eliminate distractions, and keep your cool. Being prepared, beginning early, and spending more time on how you’ll wager is a recipe for a winning day. Give yourself a chance to win, and don’t just run and in and plunk down your bets.

Problem Ponies – Horses to Watch – 7/5/16

The fireworks may have been dampened in some spots of the country but the sparks are just getting ready to fly as summer racing is here. – It won’t be long until you’ll be playing your favorite ovals and the marquee races that can tame the humid summer heat. – Keep these runners on your list of horses to watch, and as always be sure to check them against the E-Z Win Form selections to see where they fit. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !




7/2/16 – Race #4 – 6f on the turf

#4 – Kabang = Jose Ortiz had the call and his mount was off slow and went four wide into the final turn all the while showing good late kick.


7/2/16 – Race #8 – One mile on the turf

#9 – Neck of the Moon = Irad Ortiz in the saddle and he was three wide getting the lead and was bested right at the wire.


7/2/16 – Race #9 – 1 1/16 on the main

#5 – Lewis Bay = Irad Ortiz stumbled badly and swung wide in the stretch to get second money.





7/2/16 – Race #4 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#6 – Talent Show = Jose Ferrer was moving well and forced to steady at the 1/16th pole. After regaining his stride he finished up solid for a 4th place finish.


7/2/16 – Race #5 – 5f on the dirt

#9 – Nonna Mela = Victor Lebron for Todd Pletcher and this 2-year-old grabbed the lead and never looked back. This is a very nice filly by Arch, and you can play this one right back off a 7 1/4 length win.



Belterra Park


7/2/16 – Race #6 – 1 mile on the turf

#11 – Vivid Storm = Rodney Prescott in the irons and breaking from the 11 post was no bonus. He made a very strong move after tracking just off the leaders and was bested in the shadow of the wire.


7/2/16 – Race #8 – 5 1/2f on the dirt

#6 – Southern Warrior = Eddie Zuniga had the call and was perfectly placed the entire trip and made a solid closing bid against a strong speed bias that day.

Turning For Home

Mother Nature rained down on many parts of the country and my neck of the woods was good and soggy. The 4th of July was one of those days  when my family would meet under the old oak tree at River Downs and have our family picnic. The big three; Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Right about now we are at the 1/2 way point of what my family considered the family days at the races. – But this day had me thinking back to the old days for my long drive home. The times we thought would never end as these days in the sun would last eternal.

John Engelhardt did an excellent job writing a nice story about a longtime jockey who passed away. I can remember Steve Neff like it was just a few minutes ago. He always gave his best and it wouldn’t be an oddity to see him ride four or five on the card. – When I read his article and saw the picture, my thoughts drifted back to the good old days. The times we thought would never end.


John C. Engelhardt's photo.


These are the days I remember. – Steve Neff in the winner’s circle was no rarity as he is accepting a leading rider award from River Downs general manager Jack Hannessian. – Here is an excerpt from John’s article: – Retired Jockey Steve Neff, who won several riding titles at River Downs and Latonia (now Turfway Park) in the late 1970’s and ‘80’s passed away earlier this week from complications of emphysema and dementia according to his close friend and former rider Clifton “Skip” Schwing.
Neff is listed in the top 100 riders in North America with a record of 3,678 wins from 27,951 career mounts. Eight times from 1976 to 1987 he won over 200 races in a season. He rode in the Inaugural Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1984 aboard Ohio’s Horse of the Year Smart and Sharp, racing in the colors of Fleming B. Fraser. Neff retired from the saddle in 1995 and went to work for ComAir at the Cincinnati Airport. He did work for a season as the Clerk of Scales at River Downs.  The current Clerk of Scales at Belterra Park (formerly River Downs), jockey-turned-trainer Felix Chavez has nothing but praise for Neff. “We won over a dozen stakes races together,” recalls Chavez. “When you told Steve how you wanted a horse ridden you didn’t have to worry when you gave him a leg up. He would follow instructions perfectly every time.”  – This was Steve receiving the leader rider award in 1986.  – Photo credit / Pat Lang.

Steve Neff accepted a mount aboard an old gelding who was beautiful to the eye, but not much in the ability department. If it were a beauty contest he would have won by ten. – He listened to my instructions as my trainer was a pretty quiet fella, and I have a mouth that likes to take part in the conversation. – We finished 5th that night as Neff did everything he could possibly do. – When he came back he stood and talked to us about his trip. We were there so long the runners were coming onto the track for the next race. – We weren’t in the Derby, it was a $4,000 claiming race. This rider could see my enthusiasm and took all the time in the world. – That was the Steve Neff I remember.

When John asked if I knew Steve Neff had passed away, I thought back to that night along the rail at Turfway Park. Two new horse owners with dreams of greatness were being advised by a rider with the words of a gentleman. He was right, as we headed to Beulah for the next race and sold him shortly after. – I can recall days in the hot sun at River Downs watching Neff reel off winners by the bunches. – When he had a mount in the 1984 Breeders’ Cup, that was the confidence owners had about the rider. – I watched with my grandpa, dad, and countless times on my own as he waltzed into the winner’s circle. – Neff wouldn’t been a fixture on the Santa Anita circuit or had countless trips with the (G-1) races. He rode with integrity and gave every owner a fair shake at getting their picture taken. – I can’t thank you enough for the golden advice you imparted to two horse owners, you made my love for the game grow to even greater heights. Rest in peace, Steve Neff.