Brick and Mortar Contests ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 12, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

For years I made treks to Beulah, Louisville-Trackside, Churchill, Keeneland, Arlington, Turfway, and many others. The trip with friends and conversation was worth a million bucks. – As we would walk into large buildings prepared to put on the best contest possible. The top three would be going to Vegas, and the rest would be going home with a story and plan for the next one up. – That was my handicapping life for a long time. I qualified four times for the Horse Player World Series and the NTRA contest. The meeting of friends as we waited in line was like the weigh in for a heavyweight match. Plenty of trash talk with the promise of what waits ahead. – These have fallen by the wayside and they are getting harder to find. – When I think back about the drive to our favorite ovals, these were some of the best times of my life.

Last night was a drink and dial moment with a good friend. He is the kinda’ of guy who loves the sport and the people are starting to be the best part of his job. – That is a sign of great things to come. He knows the business inside and out and has always been interested in the contest scene, but his schedule kept him on the outside looking in.

For the record “Brick and Mortar” contests are held at the track themselves. Usually a large overhead with lunch and a program or a Daily Racing Form. – Players loved going and the day of activity was filled with prize giveaways and fun. Making any money was pretty tough and then came the advent of playing online. You could play from home without making travel plans, staying over night and plunking down the cash. At the end of the day, they could take a toll on your wallet. Now, think about playing on your computer from home. It was much more affordable to stay at home and still have the same shot at qualifying for Las Vegas and the life-changing payday. – The days of gathering and playing with friends were coming to a crawl and where we once would make 4-5 treks have been replaced with making one trip on the road and the rest at home.

That was until this past weekend. I was sitting in the race book with some very good handicappers. They missed the gathering at the track. There was something about making the trip and the camaraderie was one-of-a-kind. – It was an hour spent with friends that led me to think about some new ideas for reviving the old ways. – I wouldn’t want to see ten of these mega contests at a track, but two would be just fine. Just think, real horse players coming to your track again.

I picked up the phone and called a good friend of mine. – He’s involved in many behind the scenes operations and loves to get out and about with the players. When I first spoke of the idea he didn’t make much of our conversation. In the end, he could see himself running one of the best contests around. – I’m not one to blow my own horn because it’s a waste of time and breath. But, I have run some of the best contests in a 200-mile radius. I am first and foremost a player at heart, and if I can bring any ideas of having a contest or two in a calendar year, who knows? It could be a great deal of fun and a way to showcase your racing product. – I like to keep the overhead low, the takeout at zero and a contest where you have confidence in managers. – I know, sounds too good to be true. But really it’s not. – Having a contest is not about making money off of the players but rather a time to showcase your facility and gain player confidence. – Why worry about making a few bucks on fees? If players like the place, they’ll make some extra wagers and you’ll gain handle for the day. – That is my plan. Break even and allow your greatest asset to enjoy the races. – I know it doesn’t fit the business model for many tracks, but it could be a marketing tool that reaches out to real handicappers. And if all goes well, you can bet dollars to donuts players will start marking their calendars for next year. –  I told him I would help him get it off the ground and be right by his side. – ” No worries, we’ll create a contest where players trust the process and they’ll be back.” We’re not trying to make money once or twice a year, we’re investing that they’ll play the product a few more days a year and maybe grow to follow the circuit. – He likes the idea but now it’s up to you? – Would you play in a well-run contest with no take out and a prize structure? Toss in qualifying for the World Series of Handicapping and a travel voucher and let me know your thoughts. – Has this outlived its time, or would you make the trek to a track that cares about players and what they enjoy? – We’ll see what the player have to say….

The Happy Horseplayer – September 5, 2017

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 6, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

The winds of fall blow gently through the trees as the sweltering heat of summer fades into the sunset. The Happy Horseplayer readies for the fall racing season with dreams of cool days and autumn foliage in Kentucky. Maybe its the thought of going to Keeneland or the Breeders’ Cup around the corner. But the next season has been calling my name for awhile. – Summer racing overall was pretty good to me, but Saratoga dealt me some cards that were less than I thought. I made most of my winnings from a few pick-fours, and Del Mar treated me well for the first time in years. All in all, it was a great run.


If you’re not first you’re last

I was working the other day and saw some friends going in the race book. – They were chatting it up and I could tell the conversation was taking a heated tone. – “ You don’t know what you’re saying.” – could be heard echoing down the hall. – I stopped down at the end of the day and made a visit with my old pals. – They were still arguing when the quote of the day was uttered: ” Listen, you old fool if you’re not first you’re last.” – It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was right and won the prize. If you’re needing the win, being second is always a loss. – Sometimes we sell ourselves being close is good; we’re in the right church and wrong pew. Sometimes all it takes is a few small words to sum up the day. – When I saw them walking out later they were buying a program for the next day and laughing. – He was right and that was the winner for the day.


Race Book Romance

No heated story of love and desire. This is where you want to be and where you want to do it. You know, it does take on a sexual theme. – Horse players overall are the least needy gamblers. No, really. – They seldom ask for anything. When a discussion was posed by a track manager he was astonished by my words. – He felt race trackers are the cry babies of the gambling world. – They are more verbal,  but how many people can stand at a slot machine and argue for 20 minutes? Once he thought about it he started seeing what my 25 years in racing understood. – ” Keep the place very clean, well lit, all of the video and TVs in top working order and have ample self-bets to clerk ratio. – Now, turn them loose and let them be. They won’t come looking for 20 minutes for a free hair brush set as that would be a time they could’ve been betting. – If you sprinkle in 5% of what you give your slot and video poker players, they will be even happier and more importantly loyal. – They spend quite a bit of time there and if you build it right they will keep coming.


The summer had some ups and downs at the betting window, but that happens. – It was pleasant and the weather good. I still think about a handful of bad beats, and just as I wrote those words. That is the last time I will ever speak of them. Gamblers can bring bad from the past to ruin the promise of the future. The gambler’s mantra should be easy. ” Wagering Gods please bless me with knowledge, passion and a short memory.” The first two are essential and the last one is law. If you think of the past as you embark on the future you are D.O.A. – As we start putting away the shorts and sunscreen look forward to what lays ahead. The summer was glorious and offered up some incredible action. Now just live in the moment and the future will take care of itself. ” So long summer. I look forward to seeing you in 5 months. Same place same feelings.”


Chasing the Dragon – Pick-Four Strategies

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 31, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

This is not the latest horror movie to hit the big screen, – These were the words I once heard during a handicapping contest in Las Vegas. ” If you’re playing the pick-four you’re chasing the dragon.” – I assume it was the difficulty of picking four winners in four separate races. When you start hearing the guaranteed pools start rolling out this time of year sometimes it’s worth the chase. You can’t win it unless you get in it.

Many like to make a “caveman” ticket where you cram as many into your ticket making a large wager that can skyrocket the cost. This is great if you have a pocketful of cash and don’t mind spending the money. – This is a plan for some, but if it is not for you don’t fret. Here are some ideas when it comes to building your ticket.


1. - Get all of the scratches and changes. Know the rules if a race comes off the turf and that leg becomes an “all” for your wager. There are more tickets discarded on the floor as people didn’t know it was an all in that leg of the wager. – Know the rules before you put pen to paper.

2. - 3’s are lucky. – Try using three runners in each leg. This is a good start for new players or those who are involved in a small group wager. = 3 X 3 X 3 X 3 = $81 for a $1 ticket and $40.50 for a 50-cent version. I have used this version for new players who are looking to keep it around $20 a piece and have a shot. – There are two bettors and they use one of the favorites and each player chooses a horse. This allows for your selection and communication for the lone favorite selected. – Good wager at a reasonable price.

3. - Steven Crist has changed the landscape by using the “A-B-C-X” method. – This involves using your “A” selections with other “A” selections and making a top choice ticket. – I like the multi-ticket wager and using some A’s with a B can allow you to spread out and get coverage. – There are the blockbuster B-C-C-C tickets that can allow for the big time payouts.


For me, I like to reverse handicap. I look at the races and find runners to eliminate. From there I go back and race by race I find my larger investment and a few key runners. It’s important to find a key horse if possible, and if you do your ticket cost drops much lower. – I like to cover two races and take a break. This allows you to stay fresh and not rush into finishing the wager. – If you have ever used or heard of the Crist method, the A-B-C ticket can be great for a larger bankroll. The idea is to have multiple tickets going and there is nothing like cashing a few tickets versus one.

Try and find that key runner. This will be your secondary ticket. – I like a bigger ticket and a smaller price wager to run alongside to protect my wager. This past weekend was a good example of how I used Drefong as a single. It carried me to profit as I hit the pick-four twice. Once with my bigger wager, and another with the smaller singled runner in one leg.

If I’m using small price runners, I like to think 10-15% profit is a good payoff. – I bet $20 and used many small odds runners. If it pays $200, I should feel pretty good. – For my tickets with blockbuster prices and if one scores, I’m looking for 30-40% profit for my ticket. Using a $100 investment, I’m looking for $3,000 or better payoffs. – Now it gets more affordable with 50-cent tickets and that can save you in many ways. The day you hit for $605 and have to fill out a tax form you’ll wonder why you didn’t make two 50-cent tickets. – Beat the taxman and you’ll keep more money in your pocket to make future wagers.

Don’t be afraid to get involved, and if you’re new grab a few folks to make a group wager to keep the cost down. – Nothing like a group celebration over a big score. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!



Kentucky Downs – Gem of the Bluegrass

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 31, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Kentucky Downs is located on the border of Kentucky / Tennesee. – No, really. You can see the last weigh station, where the 5/8th’s pole would be located at Kentucky Downs. Offering the highest average daily purses in North America at $1.68 million for 2017, Kentucky Downs attracts the best jockeys and trainers and some of the finest horses in the country. It’s low takeout (the amount is taken off the top of each dollar bet that goes toward purses, state taxes, and the racetrack) and with America’s largest average field sizes at 10.96 horses per race in 2016, Kentucky Downs has been rated the No. 1 track for bettors by the Horseplayers Association of North America for the third straight year. – The beauty and down home southern feel is one-of-a-kind. I have been a big fan from many moons ago, and as a turf racing fan, I couldn’t ask for more.

The idea of having entertainment has become a staple of every track. – No more are we just opening doors and hope they show. The facility is an entertainment destination. – Stop on over to “Lucky 7’s” diner and catch the feel of a 50’s style vibe. Who knows, you might even see Arthur Fonzarelli (The Fonz) hanging by the juke box. – There is a bevy of seating arrangements and the track has the feel somewhere between a country fair and Keeneland. – There has been a long road since having the “Sly Fox” restaurant and hot dogs and popcorn.

I’m a turf racing fan and for me, there is nothing better. The handle on turf races is always better for tracks and at Kentucky Downs is a European style track with an undulating configuration. – There is full card simulcasting and the track has something for everyone. With hundreds of historical horse racing machines, you’re sure to find a favorite at Kentucky Downs. We offer over 600 Exacta Systems terminals with a total of 46 unique game titles. Correctly predict the finishing position of as many of the horses from the three historical horse races as you can, and you could be on your way to a jackpot. Since 1998, Kentucky Downs has hosted charitable gaming operations for important community organizations in the Franklin-Simpson County area. Charitable gaming continues today at Kentucky Downs, as five local charities operate BINGO games six days a week. – Food, fun, gaming, bingo, and horse racing. What more could a gambler ask?

Here is the live racing calendar from the Kentucky Downs site:








First Post Approximately 1:25 PM each race day.




Grayson Jockey Club Day


Old Friends Day


Kentucky Turf Cup Day


College Day


Franklin-Simpson Day



There is a brand new wager on the menu, and I’m a big fan of trying new wagering for the public. Many tracks balk at the idea and enjoy being the conservative when it comes to offering up a new bet. Kentucky Downs is unleashing a new wager that may hold a great deal of fun for the casual to hard core bettor. Sometimes it’s hard to please both, but you’ll never know unless you try and Kentucky Downs is not afraid to pull the lever.

Kentucky Downs is launching another horse-racing innovation with Saturday’s debut of the Jockey7 wager, which allows the horseplayer to bet on individual jockeys and their mounts over each card’s last seven races.

The Jockey7 wager will be conducted over Races 4 through 10 throughout Kentucky Downs’ unique five-date meet that starts this Saturday and continues Sept. 7, 9, 10 and 14 over America’s only European-style grass course. The Jockey7, whose results are based on a points system for top-four finishes, will be listed as Race 11 but will be closed for betting before Race 4.

Win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta will be offered on the Jockey7. – No matter the outcome, you have to tip your cap to any track that likes to push the envelope. – Be sure to keep Kentucky Downs on your list of tracks to play. Turf wagering at its best and for some of the best purses in the nation. Hard not to like the little track on the Kentucky border. For more information, please visit the track website to make your plans:


Road to Success / Travers Day Next Stop

Image result for money bankroll pics


There are not many magicians who will take you back stage and reveal the truth behind the magic. – I’m not much of a magician unless you count making money disappear at the windows from time-to-time. – I set myself a $200 bankroll for last Saturday and I was wanting to build a bankroll for this weekend at Saratoga where there is an incredible card for Travers day. It was going to be my place wager bonanza and if I could snag a few winners, hopefully, a swelled bankroll awaited my reward.

I love the Spa and I’m a real fan of Saratoga racing. How could you not if you enjoy marquee runners dueling for world-class purses? – Here’s a picture of my last Saturday wagering at Saratoga. – I didn’t have much time to handicap calling the live races at Belterra and reached back for my magic mojo with the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms. – I was using the top two tier selections to choose from and made some $50 place wagers to build my bankroll. – It was a busy day and I used the best information on the market. I wouldn’t be able to play all the races, and I wagered $50 to place on the first 4 races of the day.


Race #1 – 2nd tier selection / Southside Warrior / 1 1/16 on the turf / $3.40 to place = $85 return

Race #2 – 2nd tier selection / Honorable Treasure / 1 1/6 on the turf / $4.40 to place = $110 return

Race#3 – 2nd tier selection / Wildcat Belle / 6f on the main / $4.40 to place = $85 return

Race #4 – top tier selection / Hello Don Julio / 1 3/16 on the turf / $3.70 to place = 92.50 return


I had $200 to use but only had to use $50. – The return was $372.50 at the end of the day with $150 of my original bankroll left to carry over to the Travers card this Saturday. That’s only $572.50 to use on the incredible card and the $1 million dollar pick-four guarantee. 


Winning Ponies does well every day, and has over $8,177,293 in exotic payouts to date. – That’s not bad shooting, and if you play your cards right you might have a very enjoyable Travers Day card to celebrate. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!





Make the Winning Move

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 23, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

The good, the bad, and the ugly. – This is one way of categorizing your day at the races. For the longest time, I’ve watched the cyclical trend of having a good run go cold. I look back and wondered what was the cause, or were there any signs I should have been on the watch. After years of pulling out my hair and staring at my wallet. I’ve come up with a short list of answers for this handicapper. Take a look and see if you fall into any of these traps.


1. - When I am up I tend to bet more races than I had planned. – I use to call this “tap-dancing” as players would bet any and all signals just because they have a minute or two to post. – Have you ever done this? I will admit for a fact that I’m guilty. Just when I did my homework and found a runner who won easily and paid the price I was looking for. It could have been an exacta or pick-four with a huge guaranteed pool. – Just when I see the bankroll amount on my computer grow, it hits me like a fever. I make that impulse bet. It’s only a few bucks, and I surely deserve a little fun. What’s the fun of winning if you can’t have a little action? – If any of this feels familiar, you have identified one of the biggies. – Say you are up $200 and make a $5 win play at XXX Downs. You didn’t look at the races and you’re just trying to keep the winning streak alive. – It loses more times than not, and if you do this 10 times during your day of wagering. That is $50 bucks tossed away. Using the $200 winning bankroll for the day and this includes the “grind.” You’ve just tossed away 25% more than you had planned. – Don’t try and argue the fact sometimes they win. In the long-run, they’ll tank and you’ll lose your momentum. – Keep your head about you at all times. – I was up $125 last night and started betting a small time night signal I never play. – I turned my $125 into $50 just on the “fun play” I was having.


2. – Turn the damn thing off! – Yes, you heard it right here. – There was the target pick-four you wanted to play and you did your homework. Then after nailing the bet, you find yourself looking to make a bet or two to cap off the night. – I have done this more times than not and the only way to stop is to turn the computer off. – Close your ADW account and withdraw some funds if possible. This runs hand-in-hand with #1 and if you think about it it is just sloppy play.


3. - No wild plays on a small budget. – That means NO Fortune Six or Pick-Six action with a small bankroll. Forget about the player who took down a score with a 40-cent ticket. That’s nice, and congrats to the player. I could be wrong but when it said he hit the wager on two 20-cent plays. He’s either the best in the world or a lucky duck. – Doesn’t matter, and it’s just an example. Don’t get sucked into the “big dream” wager. – How many times have you read about the player who bet his last $50 into a hard to hit wager and it tanked? – Me neither. There are more that get skunked and fill the pool for the lucky duck to swim. – Leave it alone or grab a few partners to take a calculated shot.


4. – Don’t be the one-day pro. – You know what I mean and how many times are we guilty? – I was caught watching the third strike on Saturday and the track was one I NEVER play. – A big time trainer had a horse in the race and it looked like easy money. – Two minutes after the race I said out loud “I’ll never play XYZ Downs again.” – If you don’t watch and wager on a track. Don’t bet. You have NO idea about bias, trends, or what has been working. – No more one-day pro wagers.


We tend to think just because we’re winning the day is ours. – This was a pretty good week, but it could’ve been better. – This is not a “hoggish” statement as my dad would have claimed but a real admission of stupidity. So many times we study and prepare only to get washed in the first leg or get dusted on the day. – I did the best thing possible at the end of a good four-day run. I withdrew the funds and they arrived this morning in my bank account. – I can start again later this week if I like. That is the best part when you are winning. Give yourself a little down time to take it all in and see where you stand. – If you don’t believe me stand quietly behind any video poker player. They’ll be up to $80 bucks and down $75 in minutes as they tap the buttons like an old typewriter. Take your time, think it out and make your move. That my friend is the best advice for a gambler you’ll ever receive.

Faces in the Crowd

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 17, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Image result for father and son at the horse races pics










I stand up every race and look out the windows for a few minutes. I’m looking for the longtime faces that have been coming to the races as we both have gained a little age to our looks. – The fans are the best part of the game, and having my booth close enough to speak with players is always enjoyable. This past week was like many others over the years and I can’t say they are my best memories. When the familiar faces begin to fade and eventually disappear it is part of the process. – Not one of my favorites but one we all must deal with.

I’ve always kept names out of the blog as many would have not wanted to draw attention. They enjoyed the quiet down-low position. – Last year I was informed of a gent who had a form of cancer. I can remember over the years how he would park in the up-close areas and give us a tip. When you were a parking lot kid that was how you remembered patrons. – I thought he must have been a lucky patient as I still saw him at the races. He would sit in the same seat and I could hit him with a paper airplane with my eyes closed. Funny thing how players are creatures of habit.

He was sitting in the race book one day and had a dull look to his face. Oxygen attached and he raised a weak hand giving a wave as he saw me walk past. I never really gave him any thought until I was walking to my car. – The next day I heard he was back in the hospital and he drove himself right after the races. – I guess it’s a good thing to get to do what you love, and even as he was in a very weakened state he was still at the races. – It was a week prior that I heard he and his wife made the trip to Del Mar. He always wanted to see the house that “Bing Built” and even with his condition he made the trek. I heard he won over a $1,000 on the trip and his wife said he loved it. – It was just a few days later he passed away quietly with family and friends. – His face will be missed and the place will be a little more empty as I pass by the race book.

About two days later I saw an old pal. We are about the same age and he always greets with a hug and a handshake. – “How Ya’ doing, Eddie ? Been a long time and looks like Father Time knows just how to find us.’ – No truer words were ever spoken as my long brown hair has more salt than pepper and his thick black locks have retreated to the back of his noggin. – We talked about the races and work, and it was then I asked the question. – “How’s your dad doing? I haven’t seen him in quite awhile.”

His smile faded a bit and he told me he had been moved to a retirement community. – “He’s taken care of and doesn’t want for a thing. – He looks pretty much the same but can’t remember anyone. He has Alzheimer’s and it has been tough.” – I listened as he told me how the facility tends to his every need and how they eventually move into other wings when time dictates. It was a sense of sorrow filled with relief. – There wasn’t a time when I wouldn’t see them at the track together. They were “betting buddies” and the years rolled by with scenes of watching them root like crazy for a horse they both played. – The snapping fingers and whipping of the rolled program against their side will always remain. – I remember when his dad had a nice pick-four. He was so nervous and was cashing at the IRS window. – It may have been his first, or maybe he was nervous his betting buddy wasn’t there as he had to work. – The memories of watching them together and share the love of a sport will last a lifetime. – His son walked up and watched me call a race. We talked the entire time and we took a selfie together. – “Ed, I want to show this to dad. I always hope he might remember a face.”


Call that old friend, go the races, and enjoy. – Those are the words of wisdom for a life well lived as a racing fan….

This Week in Racing

Nothing like a cliff note version of what’s going on. Don’t think of it as a cheat sheet as there are many issues that deserve a fuller explanation. – But here are a few items that caught my eye and as usual, the opinions here are just that. Remember what your high school teacher used to tell you. 1. – Don’t take yourself too seriously. #2 – Take in all info before taking a stance. #3 – See rule #1….


Keeneland raises the takeout

Image result for Keeneland pictures












If you’ve been under a rock or incommunicado, the Brigadoon of the racing world has raised the takeout rate. The win-place-show will go from 16% – 17.5 % and some exotic wagers will jump from 19% – 22%. – Now before you start sweating and threaten to quit betting Keeneland. Here is a little excerpt from the Paulick Report: Racecourses in Kentucky are allowed to increase take out to the maximum percentages when daily on-track handle averages lower than $1.2 million, which has been the case at Keeneland for several years. Churchill Downs boosted its rates to the same thresholds in 2014, and records indicate that despite horseplayer backlash handle has continued to increase slightly over the past several years, from $501.3 million in 2014 to $511.8 million in 2015 and $516.9 million last year.

All this and a bottle of beer will make for some great talk. When the bottom line comes out. It won’t matter a hill of beans. That’s the reason they are raising the rates in the first place. – There will be threats a plenty from horse player groups, and many will start handicapping Ajax Downs instead. – Keeneland has given us full fields, incredible purses, and stakes that draw runners from around the world. – Yeah, I’m gonna’ quit betting that signal right now…..

Before you have my noggin examined. Here are some feelings from a handicapper who enjoys being called a gambler. – Keeneland is raising rates to bolster the purses. They are not putting it in their pockets, and just because it’s not raining now isn’t a good reason not to buy an umbrella. – I’m not a big fan of raising or even lowering the rate. Leave them alone. – If you remember the lowering craze of Canterbury Park you’ll have another reason of why we should leave the rates alone. I must admit they swung for the fences and the management tried to please their greatest asset; the players. Here is an article from the Thoroughbred Daily News with an Op/Ed piece from 1/20/17 –

I’m not crazy about the idea of having my win payoff drop from $9.80 – $9.20, but that’s just business. We’ve trusted in the leadership Keeneland has always provided. Don’t only be happy when it benefits you and poo-poo an idea if you lose a couple of pennies on the dollar. – If you’ve never been to Keeneland make the trip and see for yourself. If you’re on the side that is threatening to jump off the wagering wagon. Just sit back and have a nice Kentucky Bourbon. Sip slowly while you watch the thundering hooves round the turn for home. – Just think to yourself on Fall Stars Weekend how you’d rather be watching and wagering on Acme Downs in a state of confusion.


Throw the book at him

Athletes have been trying to gain an edge since the fig leaf was removed in the 1st Olympics for the sprinters. – We all have tricks used to give us that little extra something. But, sooner than later the sporting police catches up with you and exposes you to the light of truth.  Indiana Grand has suspended Didiel Osorio for being in possession of an illegal electrical device following the fifth race at Indiana Grand on Thursday. – According to the Paulick Report;  According to senior state steward Stan Bowker, Indiana Horse Racing Commission investigator Toni Sperle conducted a search that began in the winner’s circle while Osorio was weighing in after the fifth race and ended in the jockeys’ room. Electrical devices, made from small batteries, wires, and electrical tape, can be concealed in a jockey’s hand during a race and are used to shock or stimulate a horse. Commonly referred to as buzzers, batteries or machines, they are illegal in racing and can lead to lengthy suspensions.

This isn’t the first time a “machine” has been used to give that little extra umm-pff to a runner’s effort. They are homemade for the most part and look like they’re built at the kitchen table with grand dreams of beating the system. – The first time I saw one was at a farm where my horse was turned out. They had a small training track with an old starting gate. I would see old nags come flying out of the gate with their tail on fire.

Osorio was removed from his remaining mounts at Indiana Grand on Thursday and a summary suspension was issued Friday that will be reciprocated in other states. An initial hearing has been set for Aug. 22. The summary suspension, pending completion of an investigation, cites a violation of IHRC Rule #71 IAC 7.5-6-5 (d) (4), and states that “possession of an electrical device on the grounds of an association is conduct that is against the best interest of horse racing or compromises the integrity of racing.” Osorio, a 23-year-old native of Panama, has been riding at both Indiana Grand and Ellis Park in Kentucky, where he ranks third in the current jockey standings, with 13 wins from 80 mounts. Osorio was leading rider at Ellis Park in 2015, winning 25 races from 171 mounts. He began his U.S. riding career in 2013 and has 235 wins from 2,037 mounts. Bowker said the maximum penalty the stewards can assess for possession of an electrical device is a one-year license suspension and $5,000 fine, but the case may be referred to the commission, which has the authority to issue additional sanctions.

After reading the report I just shook my head. – Indiana Grand has great purses, exciting races and a future that looks bright ahead. They don’t need people like this in the sport and more importantly calling into question the integrity of the track. I hope the book is tossed at him and they build a room under the jail for this guy. – Sorry, Didiel. I enjoyed watching you ride. – You had some talent and a bright future, but now we’ll never know.

Going Back to the Basics

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There are good days, great days, and ones you would rather forget about. For me, the most painful losses used to be getting snapped right at the wire. You know the feeling where you have the lead and even start believing you may hang on as the wire is coming. Only after what seems a small eternity the photo sign goes down and your number is in 2nd. – The early gray hair started coming in quicker and before you know it you start looking like the longtime trackers who make it day-in-day-out. The photo pain takes a toll, but the one time you hang on in the shadow of the wire it makes you forget a hundred losses. Victory is such sweetness.


Lately, I have given myself a new nickname. – Ladies and gents, pleased to meet your acquaintance. “I’m Mr. 3 outta’ 4.” – This has been going on for a couple of weeks, and I’ve started to question everything I’ve been doing. – I was just about to give up and take a break when a buddy of mine gave me sage-like wisdom. – ” When you are in a slump or barely miss you play your way out.” – Now, this I have heard, learned, and have employed over the years. – But this time it was for big bucks every time and you find yourself being flinchy when the punches start to fly. This is normal and you can only take so many shots before you start doubting your own moves. – It’s not as bad as the old movie shown above, but that movie poster fits my mental state of mind as of late.

This time I decided to follow the old pee-wee football advice. “Don’t get too fancy, just stick to the basics.” – This is when I reached into my black bag of handicapping tricks and came out with an old friend that has helped me outta’ of the corner many times. – I started making small to medium size place bets. You won’t get rich but you’ll start paying a little closer attention to details you may have forgotten. – When you make a larger pick-four or pick-three ticket you have to have a sizeable bankroll and be ready to go all-in. When you start making the manageable place wagers your confidence begins to come back. – Think of it like a baseball player who is not doing well at the plate. He goes back to the basics and wants to make contact with the ball. Then you try and place the ball. After that, you go back to swinging away. Every once in awhile we all need to go back to the basics and find the groove.

The place bets started rolling and was going home with a $50 – $100 more on the day. I’m getting back in the groove and I think I’m going to keep this pace for awhile. I have been enjoying the races, and I’m feeling my groove again. – The marquee races fill the weekend and the big runners will be going to post soon. This capper will stick to his knitting and stay on course. – I’ll know when it’s time to pull the trigger. Nothing like looking for the big score in a $1 million dollar pick-four pool, but I’ll keep to task and be ready when the mood hits.


Best of luck, and may all your photos be winners….




The Happy Horseplayer / August 1, 2017

Another month in the books and “The Happy Horseplayer” enjoyed every minute. – The eternal optimist looks forward to more fun in the sun as racing is just starting to heat up. The past month left me with fond memories, nice scores, and a few bad beats. But all in all, I wouldn’t trade it for a pick-four on Derby Day. Well, let me think about that last part again.


Perry Ouzts


I watched Perry ride when I was a young man. How young? – My dad was driving, and getting a license was a dream in the distance. July 7th had Perry Ouzts turning 63-yrs-young, and there was a special day honoring him. His 43-yr career is far from over, and this is one of the most fierce competitors I have ever watched. He treats a $5,000 claiming race like it’s a stake. There is never a dull effort from “Scoot n Boot,” and I love the way he jogs his horse back slowly to the winner’s circle. I have the best seat in the house watching, and the look on his face savors every second like it’s his first win. – I’ve watched racing all of my life and never has there been a rider who loves winning as Perry Wayne Ouzts.

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The month continued to heat up and on July 22, 2017, he became the 10th all-time winningest rider in Thoroughbred racing as Perry passed Hall Of Fame retired rider, Jorge Velasquez. – The day started early as Perry was walking the track about 90 minutes to post looking over the course and thinking about his day. When he won the first race and needed three more I called down to let them know to get the sign ready as Perry rolls them off in bunches. – When he won the 3rd race and was two away, I started thinking about his journey in the saddle. He had a couple more mounts for owner Maggi Moss and trainer Tom Amoss. It was almost too good to be true as they were dropping in class and looked to fit Ouzts like a glove. He won on a first timer by Kettle Corn who had his 1st starter on the track as a winner. As he readied to ride the next one, I would have bet dollars to donuts this was the magic win. The photo below shows Silverdollardreams striding away giving Perry Wayne Ouzts his next milestone. Photo credit: Coady Photography

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Congratulations, Perry Ouzts! – Long may you ride…..


When you think of match races you’ll conjure up images of War Admiral and Seabiscuit. – The race was taken off the turf, and officially it wasn’t a match race but it was down to two horses. It had the seasoned veteran Perry Ouzts versus the up and coming Cory Orm. – They didn’t get more than a half a length apart the entire race, and Ouzts was in front only one time during the race. It was about five feet before the wire.

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I won’t cry too much on my bad beat of the month. – It was the Haskell Invitational and I came back to McCraken for a $700 pick-four payoff. – I had the gamut of emotions that only racing can provide, and boy did it deliver chills down the arm. After the race, I mumbled to myself for about two minutes before I started working on a pick-four for Del Mar. – I finally cashed a nice ticket for $1600 for a 50-cent version. But just relive a moment in time as you watch the Haskell one more time.



Until next month, this is “The Happy Horseplayer” signing off and hoping all of your photos are winning ones!