Diary of a Horse Player

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 2, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

It began as pitching pennies in the boys room in grade school. Learning the art of the “leaner” was better than a first kiss. – We started playing 5 card draw in study hall back in the day. The matchsticks we used had a value of 5-cents, and the teacher didn’t mind as she thought we were using basic math skills as a learning tool. – Shooting pool in someone’s basement became the best night of entertainment for a dollar-a-game. You know it always gets to $5 by the end of the night, and that’s when someone’s feelings got hurt. – Cutting grass is a great way to save for college. My efforts and hard work earned me money for a noble cause. Betting the ponies on the weekend. – Other kids in school used to read the paper for box scores and who was pitching that night. Not me. The library paper was a conduit on keeping up with who was winning at Santa Anita, Arlington, and Belmont. – Yeah, it’s fair to say. As far back as I can remember all I wanted to do was be a horse player.

 

I can remember the smells and sounds of the backroom bookie hall. Men would stand around listening to an a.m. radio giving the pre-recorded stretch calls from 20 after and 10 til the hour. – You could get a bet on at the bar, and most of the wagering was done on the cuff. There were not many kids back there, but the few of us that were just stood next to dad or grandpa and watched. You didn’t bother the men in the inner-sanctum. It was the holy place of wagering long before tracks wised up and the simulcast explosion took hold.

 

Big race days were like golden nuggets. The action of running around with the old man collecting bets from the family and neighbors on the street was exciting. They didn’t bet much, and everyone is a racing fan on Derby Day. – Most looked at the old man as a gambler all year long, but had no problem calling him three nights before asking if he could get them a bet. – The excitement was intoxicating, and the realization of how the masses viewed gambling would stay with me the rest of my life. When it was time to go to work in the industry, these thoughts helped me to bridge the gap and soften the view on gambling. It continues to work to this very day when I talk to folks about going to the track. I always lead with; ” You don’t have to make any bets. Just watch the folks around you jumping and yelling for their horse and you’ll have a great time watching the horses and people winning money. – BINGO ! – That was all it took and it wouldn’t be long before they would start asking how to make a bet. They weren’t going to sit on the sidelines and let the easy money go by.

 

As far as work, there was no better place in the world. How many people can honestly tell you they love what they do ? – Now take away the few that make big money and how many are left ? – That’s right, you could fit them all into a phone booth. – I had access to all of the handicapping information for free, started watching more than ever, and there were some tough days early on. In the end you’ll either learn to control yourself, or it will control you. – Tracks were the only places to get a bet on back in the day before the lottery, casinos, or any other form of gambling. Working at the races was an honor for the few that loved the game. You can always tell who they are just by listening to the stories and how the races have been shaping up. – By 5:00 pm on race day there was an energy that pulsed through the old building. – If you were a horse player, this was as close to heaven as you would see on earth.

 

Everyone has taken a shot at doing it for a living. They may not talk about it, but trust me I saw more than my share. – The “$2 Nellies” made a bet here and there and were out for the night. Old men smoking nasty cigars would be seen walking around stoically with a  Daily Racing Form rolled up in their pockets. It never failed to see at least three or four “stoopers” who would walk around flipping tickets on the ground with soccer-like accuracy. – There was a man and wife team who contacted the track about helping with cleanup (free of charge) at the end of the night. All they wanted was to sweep up the tickets and take home the bags and sift through them the next day. – The race track was a melting pot of humanity. You could see CEO’s talking with the track touts, and men of industry making bets with both hands. You’ll never see anything like it if you live three lifetimes.

 

But as time passes and your perception changes, you start to see the truth. Gambling has been one of America’s past times, and the stigma that was once associated with going to the track is now seen as a way to spend your discretionary dollar. It’s your entertainment, and who has the right to say this is wrong ? We don’t tell others to stay out of bars, stop shopping, or quit buying that fancy car you can’t afford. – The game that was the only one in town is now the bottom of the barrel choice. The new guard has sanitized the word to “gaming” so you don’t even think of it as making a bet. You’re just enjoying a few games like your kids do when they have that zombie look. – But I digress. If you want to make a few bets, be sure to educate yourself before heading out to the races. You can learn on-line and watch how-to videos. My son wanted to go out to the track with me one evening. He started watching videos three nights prior and had more than an idea of what’s going on. – If you’re going to bet more, I would suggest watching race replays, and follow the charts of a couple of select tracks. Anything more than that, and you’ll need a data provider that will assist in making selections as they do it day-in-and day-out. This will allow you to have an educated perspective on what’s going on. – For the whales and big time players the old saying still applies about listening to others’ words of wisdom. ” Wise men don’t need it, and fools won’t heed it.”

 

I was having lunch with my dad. We talked about everything under the sun, and he started talking about giving up his old habit as he has lost interest. He even insisted that I do the same. – Now on most occasions he may have a glimmer of truth to his words. – But I love the game. It doesn’t matter if I have a $2 bet, or a giant pick-four ticket in the works. I love it. – These players are rare in the gambling world. How many people do you know have to keep the same seat in front of a slot machine for a certain game ? Or, how many bingo players only go to a particular venue without fail as it is their lucky place ? – Horse players are a select group. It is like the game show Jeopardy as it takes a cerebral approach to not only selecting the runners, but how to bet them is of equal importance. – Just like in school when the teacher would ask where do you see yourself in 10 years, or 15 years ? – I want to raise my son and prepare him for college. He’ll go on with his life as that is what we do as parents. When he is on his way and finds his calling, I’ll probably make my way to Las Vegas to live. I’ll be the old guy in the front row who gets there early, and has the same seat everyday. I’ll still be doing what I’ve loved all of my life, and what a life it will be. – I’ve seen so much it would fill an outdated phone book. I’ve had the opportunity to work around the industry I love. Radio shows, internet blogging and writing, on-air handicapping, racing seminars, creating player programs to grow a fan base, and having the distinct opportunity to call the races and be an odds-maker. The friends I’ve made along the way, and the incredible people who I had the pleasure of working with. – If you’ve never really known a happy person who loves everything about what they do. – You’re reading the words of one now.

Horses to Watch – 8/31/15

The racing world can take a deep cleansing breath knowing everything is going to be alright. American Pharaoh has been a blast of wind that carried the sport into the pages of history. – That will never change, and years from now when you read his name in some “remember when” article, you can think back to 2015, and how the sport was re-awakened by this son of Pioneer of the Nile. – The excuses and second guessing are not needed. There will be talk of retirement, the Breeders’ Cup, and what happens after racing. You can talk about how the Zayat family was  sky high on running, or about Bob Baffert’s hesitation for the Travers journey. – Either way, it is now a part of history. We applaud the winners, console the losers, and hope there will be a last attempt at setting the record straight in Lexington, Kentucky for the Breeder’s Cup.  – Around the nation there were plenty of top notch races taking place, and here are a few runners who need a little extra consideration before making your way to the windows.

 

Gulfstream Park – 8/29/15 – Race #7 – #9 – 7 1/2 on the turf

Imaginethatmom = Eddie Castro was reserved off the early running and circled six wide around the far turn. He broke from the #9 post and was wide. That had this guy somewhere between Miami and Cuba. He was picking them up and laying them down pretty quickly and we need to look for a favorable pace scenario to set him down the lane. Overall, this was a very good showing of things to come.

 

Saratoga – 8/29/15 – Race #1 – #3 – 1 3/8 on the turf

Good Response = Luis Saez had his mount taking flight and came up a dirty nose short of getting his picture taken. he took his time and waited, and did nothing wrong in this race. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is doing very well at Saratoga this meet, and maybe his return to the races gets him in the winner’s circle with a similar effort.

 

Saratoga – 8/29/15 – Race #3 – #6 – 1 1/16 on the turf

Neck of the Moon = Irad Ortiz for the Chad Brown barn has been as good as gold. She ducked out leaving the gate and never seemed to gain full composure. Ortiz did an excellent job keeping her from impeding other rivals, and when you’re busy fighting to stay out of trouble, you can bet we’re not seeing your best effort. All things considered, this was a strong effort that will be a sign of things to come. You can rest assured Chad Brown will have all the kinks worked out before post time.

 

Saratoga – 8/29/15 – Race #7 – #5 – 7f on the dirt

Kiss to Remember = Irad Ortiz bobbled at the start and settled out his mount. About the 5/16th’s pole he gave his cue and she found her high cruising stride. He had just past the leader and had the whip knocked from his hand by Room for Me. Rolling down the lane she looked as good as gold but was passed by Unbridled Forever. – The little things make up all the difference, and Ortiz is a strong finisher that may have needed to have his encourager to get that little extra step or two.

 

Saratoga – 8/29/15 – Race #8 – #4 – 7f on the dirt

Watershed = Joel Rosario had the call and was off a beat slow and had to drop back behind the field. He saved all the ground skimming the rail and tried to weave through traffic to find daylight down the lane. For this handicapper, the race appears to be a perfect excuse laden trip that left him plenty in the tank for his next out effort.

 

Belterra Park – /8/29/15 – Race #2 – #6 – 6f on the dirt

Star of Aspen = T.D. Houghton was in town to ride the stakes race, and was tabbed to be the rider for this day. “Star” broke much closer than usual, and the fractions were a bit faster. Good riders put themselves in a good striking position, but on this day she may have been a little too close to the lead. Her rally into the stretch was perfect, but came up just a bit leg weary to finish a solid second. They were shooting for three-in-a-row on this day, and she should benefit greatly from this “close but no cigar effort.”

Wish You Were Here

Racing gets our blood pumping, and before you know it you’re a full-blown fan. The Travers Stakes at Saratoga was the cherry on the sundae of one of the best race cards to wager all year. The undercard was one-of-a-kind, and all eyes were focused on the Triple Crown winner who looked to continue his streak. The son of Pioneer of the Nile was looking for his 9th straight win, and you are in rarified company when you get this far. Matter of fact, if there was a waiting list you wouldn’t have to hang around for long. – But all of that aside, it was time to bet. I looked forward to wagering on the card. Every tipster, tout, data provider, and computer system was doing their best to show you the way. After the smoke cleared and the excuse breakfast was complete. Your friends at Winning Ponies sure hoped you dialed up the E-Z Win Forms.

 

I was working on this day, and didn’t have a bevy of time to pour over each race with long study time. So, I took the races which I thought were the cream of the crop. I began with race #8 and would end with race #11 – It sounded pretty good to me, and I wouldn’t have to wade through the early card puzzles and try and keep my bankroll intact. My plan was to examine who the E-Z Win Forms selected and why, and then I would apply the advice with a $2 exacta box and a $1 trifecta box in the four races. It would be $48 dollars per race, and $192 on the day. I had followed my data, made a money management play, and kept my bankroll in check. Sounds like a fun day at the races if I say so myself.

 

Race#8 – The (G-1) King’s Bishop – 7f

 

The top two tier selections ran 1-2, and one of my trifecta runners finished an honest fifth place finish. – The skinny = My $2 exacta paid $358.00 = +$358

 

Race #9 – (G-1) Forego Stakes – 7f

My tickets  didn’t win and the post time chalk won.  = minus $48

 

Race #10 – The (G-1) Sword Dancer – 1 1/2 on the turf

The top tier selection won and paid $4.00, and the fourth tier selection ran 3rd. = minus $48

 

 

Race #11 – The (G-1) Travers Stakes – 1 1/4

 

The third tier selection rocked the racing world to upset American Pharoah and paid $34.00  to win. Our top selection ran second, and the 2nd tier selection finished up the show spot.

= The $2 exacta paid $66.00, and the $1 trifecta paid $90.00 = + $156.00

 

 

 

 

 

I had wagered $192, and my winners equaled $514. – The profit was +$318 – Not a bad day indeed, and as my co-horts were enjoying the ice cold beer I bought after work, they asked me when I had the time to do that much handicapping. – This is where one could tell the tale, or bring your friend along with some sound wagering advice. – I told them about the E-Z Win Forms, and how I made a budget to utilize their selections. One liked it, and one kept arguing how he was glad to be where he was and didn’t want to follow anyone’s advice. I asked him wouldn’t it better over here at the end of the day, and his retort was about how happy he was being there. – I would love for him to have some great days, and enjoy a handicapping tool that enabled you to score. I can’t speak for my pal, but at the end of the day I can say it was a happy Travers Day for this handicapper. I hope he changes his mind someday as we hope many would utilize our wagering advice to maximize value. Your friends at Winning Ponies hope you were aboard, and if not you can always jump aboard for the big win. We’ll keep posting our results, and you decide for yourself. – Do you want the same results, or would you rather be over here at the end of the day ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take It Off The Streets

I love to make a bet on football. There is something about having a wager on the big game that brings the action to life. Gamblers are some of the most competitive people in the world, and most don’t even know it. According to an Inc.com article it is estimated to be about $400 Billion wagered illegally on sports each year. It’s a hard number to quantify, and I don’t know many big bookies who are glad to share names and numbers. So we’ll use this as a target number. – Now, casinos had all the trouble in the world expanding their presence outside of Nevada. Horse racing has a license for pari-mutuel gambling, a long standing history of being regulated, taxed, and are known for wagering. I don’t know many who go for the spaghetti, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere. – Long story short. Have legalized, taxed, regulated, sports gambling in a place that was the original legal place to make a wager. For the sake of argument, we’ll have them pay the track it is housed 5% for expansion and investment purpose of keeping racing alive. – I don’t see many problems with this crazy idea, and if you look at the great state of New Jersey. There are a few folks who feel the same way.

 

I was reading the Blood horse.com and it detailed the journey of trying to legalize sports wagering in the state.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled, by a 2-1 vote, that New Jersey’s 2014 law authorizing sports betting at casinos and racetracks is illegal. Judges Marjorie Rendell, Maryanne Trump Barry, and Julio Fuentes were on the panel. Fuentes dissented. The court in 2014 ruled that the New Jersey law violates the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibits states for authorizing sports betting. Only four states—Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon—are permitted to offer sports betting, and only Nevada can offer full sports wagering.

William Hill, an international betting company, partnered with Monmouth in 2012 to turn a room at the track into a sports book. That was the year the New Jersey legislature passed the sport betting law. “The William Hill Room has been ready for operation for more than a year now,” said Joe Asher, president of William Hill US. “It’s pretty clear to me that this matter is far from over. I remain convinced that legal sports betting will come to New Jersey. It’s a matter of when, not if. “There’s a massive illegal sports betting market that exists, not only in New Jersey, but all across the country. The sooner that market comes out of the shadows and into the sunlight, the better off we will be.”

 

What’s the problem, and why are we not willing to take our head out of the sand ? – I know there is always going to be a portion of the people who will not be happy with the decision. Some wouldn’t be happy if they passed out free money.  They would have wanted more. – Think about improving the existing structures that have offered gambling for decades. – Most believe there is a drug problem in the nation, but refuse to offer a needle exchange to stem the tide of disease and death. But they still want the problem solved. – We have homeless on the streets and we want them cared for, but not at any additional cost. It is someone else’s problem. – There are so many analogies that could be used, and still we are at a stalemate. – I’m not trying to invent Las Vegas on every street corner, I want to keep it in the places that have always housed gambling and keep it regulated. – The monies that will be wagered anyway can be used to fund existing racing which is having trouble staying afloat with competition.

 

If a gaming giant like William Hill was involved in New Jersey, there must have some real upside to having legalized sports betting. – I know they stood to make mountains of money, but the creation of jobs, taxes, and investment in racing would have taken the burden off the same people who will be eventually taxed more. – If illegal betting would disappear due to this decision, I would have understood. But it will continue, and gamblers will always have their “man” to pick up the phone and dial. It isn’t going anywhere, and if there are about 4,000 happy people in the Garden State they would be the bookmakers.

 

 

Is This For Real ?

We see things that make us draw a deep breath and shake our head. Did we see something special, or did we just hope for something great ? – Handicappers who watch race replays have to be very careful. If you get caught up in “wanting to see something” versus just watching the race. It can cost you more at the windows than ever expected. I have watched a few things in racing that have this handicapper pondering the outcome. Was it as good as I thought, or was it a good effort ?  – Take a look and let me know what you think.

 

I’ve watched some impressive fillies and mares in my 20+ years of handicapping. Every once in awhile you catch a glimpse of something so rare you question if it was as real. – When I first saw the glimpse of Rachel Alexandra it was hard to believe there could have been any gal better in history. – But when Zenyatta was at the top of her game, those same words came to mind. – I guess there are throngs of fans who could recite history, and the conversation at the bar would venture on until the wee hours of the night. – A race called the Pacific Classic took place this weekend, and I need your unbiased opinion. Is this one of the best races we’ve ever seen from a gal versus the boys ? – You be the judge.

 

 

 

New comers to the sport are no surprise. We have read the stud fees, and sales prices. We just sat with gaping jaws wondering who would pay that enormous amount of money for a product that was unproven. – There have been flops that would’ve bought your home 1000 times over. I was witness to one of the best performances I have ever watched in a long time by a new comer. This was not just any newbie. This young fella has some of the best parents that graced the ovals. Jess’s Dream is the son of Curlin out of Rachel Alexandra. This was what we wanted to see. – I know it’s way too early to start making plans for bigger race days, but could this be the next real deal ? – You decide.

 

 

 

Many players find themselves sitting behind a computer screen watching television coverage at the same time. – You can liken it to NFL fans sitting at the their computer listening to the last second injury reports from FOX Sports, or the NFL Network. – Gamblers like to get all of the info that is available, and sometimes it verges on information overload. But I digress. Here is some food for thought. – You are at your screen watching the talking heads go over the nuances of the race, and the live interviews where trainers hold their cards close to their vest. Your account is loaded, and you are ready to make one of the biggest bets of the year on Beholder when the worst thing possible happens to a gambler according to an article in the Paulick Report.

 

http://www.paulickreport.com/horseplayers-category/adw-company-says-cyberterrorists-caused-service-outage/

 

Ok, there are problems in our techno-driven world. But how much confidence will you have in your ADW provider ? It doesn’t matter the company, the rebate, or the so-called perks. – Do you have the same confidence you did before ? Things like this are happening in every sector of business around the world. We acknowledge this threat, and hope the powers-that-be are hard at work with a team of techno-wizards beating back the monster. – Gambling is one of the private things you like to keep to yourself. It is legal, regulated, and taxes are paid. Nobody said it was a shady backroom deal, but do you want others knowing what you’re doing on a Saturday afternoon ? – Most thought you were binge watching Breaking Bad, but you were hunkered down in your man cave betting the last race from Del Mar. – I have always enjoyed the ease of wagering from home, the office, or anywhere I can catch a Wi-Fi connection. – This time it was Xpressbet that was attacked, and even Twin Spires was the victim of an August 2012 security breach in which the names, email addresses, date of birth and encrypted Social Security numbers of about 20 percent of its customers were accessed by hackers. – I’m a member of Twin Spires, and they took immediate action protecting members with an insurance policy and complete coverage to limit exposure. – The bottom line, do you feel safe ? I remember working in the ADW game for a awhile, and this question tends to come up more that you realize. – If ADW’s are going to stay in business, they have to show protection and insurance coverage to quell the financial fear. The hard part is convincing players nobody will ever know their personal business or habits. – I’m going to give my ADW a break today. I’m going to try something new and see if I can get a date on Ashley Madison. What do I have to lose ? Nobody is going to find out what I’m doing.

 

 

 

 

Horses to Watch – 8/24/25

 

 

The summer goes by faster than when we were kids yearning for just one more weekend. – You know the end of the season is around the corner when you start hearing the words Travers Stakes. – If you didn’t catch the weekend action, or were living under a rock, you may have missed one of the greatest performances of the year as Beholder became the first female to win the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Trainer Dick Mandella is 64-years-young, and his runners do the talking. When you hear the words “she’s one of the greats,” etch that into stone and take it to the bank. – Around the country there were other races of note, and here are some runners you’ll want to keep an eye on when they make their next start. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !

 

Saratoga – 8/19/15 – Race #2 – #9 – 6f

Governor Malibu = Joel Rosario had the call, and was bet down to (5-1) and beaten by a solid (3-5) shot. This fits the angle of “running a winner’s race and finishing 2nd.” – Todd Pletcher does very well with second up runners and if the first race is any indication, I think we’ll see plenty of upside with his second outing.

Belterra Park – 8/20/15 – Race #6 – #3

Como Luz = There was a gate malfunction, and the #2 & #3 gates did not open on time. Como Luz was forced through the gates by his rider Christian Rojas after spotting the field about 15 lengths. He was far back in the field, and I dismissed the race to toss in the trash heap until they started nearing the 1/4 pole. – Como Luz had made up ground very quickly and finished strong to run third. This handicapper is waiting to see the Angel Quiros barn wheel the runner back to the races. He appears to relish the oval, and after he was declared a non-starter. I’m going to dive deep into multi-race exotics to find value.

Belterra Park – 8/22/15 – Race #6- #6 – 5f on the turf

Draw Nigh = First off the layoff, and the colt was cutting back in distance and making the dirt-turf switch where the barn wins (25%). – He was in perfect striking position and was fighting to work off the rail. Perry Ouzts kept him in the pocket forcing him to seek a spot along the rail that never opened. The rider choked up on the reins, and appeared to wait for another day. I think that day will be his next start on the greensward.

Saratoga – 8/22/15 – Race #6 – #5 – 1 1/16 on the turf

Life Imitates Art =  Irad Ortiz was in the irons for his go-to-man Chad Brown. They do really good work as a team, and this two-year-old led all the way around and was running green down the lane. – Ortiz couldn’t convince his mount to stop tossing his head about, and cocking it to the outside down the lane. He was bet down as the big chalk, and you can bet dollars to donuts that Chad Brown will have this all worked out for the next start. Oh, and after looking around and acting like a toddler, he only finished a neck back from the winner.

Saratoga – 8/22/15 – Race #10 – #4 – 1 1/4 on the dirt

I’m a Chatterbox = Florent Geroux had a rough trip, and his filly is ready for another chance to fight. – She lunged at the start and bobbled a bit, and in a quality field that can put out your lights quick. Once she got into the bit, she looked all systems were go until she was fanned out wide making her run. She lugged in down the lane and just couldn’t get to the winner on this day. – Most handicappers will dismiss her effort and look elsewhere. I’ll be keyed on her in a big way hoping for a better price and a cleaner trip.

Ready for Some Racing ? – Free Selections 8/22/15

 

As promised earlier in the week, here are some “free selections” from Winning Ponies. There is nothing like a free lunch, and with the E-Z Win Forms you’ll find yourself in the catbird seat today. – Sit back, enjoy the free selections, and download the entire card to leave no money on the table ! – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies.

 

Saratoga

Race #7 – The $100,000 Troy Stakes – 5 1/2f on the turf

#1 – Something Extra (5-2) = John Velasquez (22%) in the irons, and the handicapping icons are showing “Dropping in Class and Layoff of 45 Days.” – He cuts back in distance, and was a beaten favorite last out. – His Last Race Rating and Composite Ratings are 72 and 74 respectively, and his Turf Class Rating is a field best 27.7.

 

 

Race #11 – Mdn Sp Wt – 1 1/16 on the turf

#4 – Il Mulino (5-2) = Jose Lezcano in the saddle for Bill Mott and they are winning 25% at the meet. – Her numbers are the best in the field all around with: 17.4 Turf Class Rating and red-hot 66 with her Last Race and Composite Ratings.

*** There is a $500,000 Guaranteed Pick Four in races 8-11 ***

 

 

Belterra Park

Race #6 – Alw 10,800 – 5f on the turf

#3 – Manaus (9-2) = His numbers tower above the field with a 12.1 Turf Class, and a 73 Last Race and 68 Composite Rating. – Vanessa Ryall (29%) is aboard for Eduardo Caramori (33%), and they are a perfect 6/6 ITM at BtP. – Look for good things today.

 

Del Mar

Race #4 – The (G-2) Pat O’Brien – 7f

#2 – Appealing Tale (8-5) = Joe Talamo (15%) is aboard and this guy is cutting back in distance and his numbers are head and shoulders above the field. – Last Race Rating 57, and the Composite Rating is 56. – The cut back, the numbers, and the rider / trainer are winning at 15% for the meet as a team.

 

***  The card offers up the Del Mar Classic and the Pacific Classic ***

 

 

Best of luck today, and be sure to download the entire card for maximum value. There are guaranteed pools, incredible races, and the payoffs should be sugar sweet. – Who says there is no such things as a free lunch; well maybe a world class appetizer ! – Have a great weekend, and make the best at the windows by downloading the entire card.

 

 

A Week in the World of Racing

It doesn’t seem that long of a time when you’ll hear and see things that make you go hmmm. – In any sport there are stories that are front page, and others that are just quick blurbs along the way. But this month has me introspectively looking at life. We are blessed with life, but it is in the hands of God of how long it will be. Since we don’t have the answers, and probably for the better we didn’t. – There are the ones who will not be with us when we pick up the phone to dial, and there are ones who dodged a bullet and have a new perspective on life. All things considered, we should take some time and reflect about what is going on around us. After all, when will we have another chance to do so ?

 

Weldon Taylor Cloninger Jr. of W. Farmington, formerly of Anna, TX, passed away Sunday, August 16, 2015 at Cleveland Clinic Hospital from a long battle with cancer. He was born July 16, 1969 in Dallas, TX to Weldon T. Cloninger Sr. and Carol Ann (Forbes) Anderson.  He was a Horse Jockey where he raced at Thistledown, Mountaineer, Presque Isle, Mahoning Valley Race Course, and Lone Star Race Park. He got his start in racing horses in Louisiana Downs at the age of 18.  Weldon’s passion other than his family and friends was horses and racing. He enjoyed traveling all over the United States. He was an avid golfer, loved all water sports, snowmobiling and just being outdoors.

He will be sadly missed by his loving parents and sister, Teresa Chance-McDonald, his girlfriend Kat Dregits, very beloved friends Neci and Jon Clark and his children, Shane and Cassidy Cloninger of Louisiana, Coby Pruitt of Alabama and Rudy, Destiny and Cheyenne Cloninger of West Virginia. He had 3 grandchildren and one on the way. 

A Memorial Celebration of his life will be held at Abundant Life Church of God located at 14662 Old State Road, Middlefield, OH 44602 on Friday August 21, 2015 at 6:30 PM. Thereafter, a food reception will follow. Weldon’s final resting place will be where his heart was, Texas. 

 

I didn’t play a round of golf with Weldon, or we didn’t share a beer watching the big game. – I was working for Keeneland at the time, and was asked to head up to Thistledown to promote our new ADW. – I wasn’t fond of making the trek to Cleveland, but did so with a painted smile. When I got to the old track, I was greeted by the familiar face of Rich Ruda who handled the on-air handicapping, group sales / handicapping seminars. He has a magnetic quality that was a throwback to the Sinatra days. His cool way of speaking and his rich Italian heritage showed with his every word. – As I walked into his office he was chatting with a slender, fit young man named Weldon Cloninger. Rich introduced me, and the talk just shot around like guys in a school locker room. ” Ed, Weldon is looking to get into the handicapping on-air stuff. Tell him he’s crazy !” – I would have liked to, but this is how I met Rich long ago when he made the trek down to River Downs to join John Engelhardt on his “Regular Guy Show.” – ” Go for it, Weldon. You’ll look good on air, and you’ll be a breath of fresh air compared to Rich !” – The talk went on for quite awhile, and Weldon said he had someplace else to be. He had a mount in the second half of the card, and needed to be in the jock’s room. – ” Good to meet you, Ed, I’ll stop down to Keeneland, and pay you a visit before the meet ends.”

We became friends on Facebook, and communicated a little over time. He was a vibrant man who loved the game, and I had been watching him ride for years. – ” Eddie, Weldon had a bad test. I think everything will be all right, but keep him in your thoughts.” – That seems like a hundred years ago, as Rich asked me to join him as a guest handicapper the next day. I declined gracefully, but was contacted by Engelhardt  later that afternoon. – ” Ed, you need to do this with Rich. He really likes you, and it will be a blast.” – Rich had called John and wanted me to join him. Later that night we found a watering hole in the hotel Rich set me up, and we had anywhere between 1 and 100 beers. That part gets a little fuzzy. – The part that is crystal clear is meeting Weldon. He didn’t show any distress and planned to win the last race on a cheap claimer that day. I’ve always enjoyed meeting the riders, and he had a knack for quick wit and a golly-gee attitude that would have been a perfect partner for Mr. Ruda. – When I read on Facebook he rode a winner months back, I started thinking he had beaten back cancer and was on his way. – But that was to be short lived. – Altogether, Cloninger won 1,538 of 11,737 races during his career, with his mounts earning $16,350,015. – I was glad to have made the long trip, and getting to meet Weldon was a pleasure. May you rest in peace, and my sincerest heartfelt condolences go out to the multitude of friends and family who are a testament to your wonderful life.

 

Corrie Boyd's photo.

 

 

There are close calls and there are knockout punches in racing. The participants who mount up and brave the sport are as tough as a nickel steak. When we hear of a rider, valet, or assistant starter injured or worse doing the job they love, the real fans of the game draw a deep breath and hope for the best. Here is a story from the Paulick Report that details one of the close calls that go on everyday in the sport of racing.

 

The fourth race on the Wednesday card at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino was cancelled after jockey Sophie Doyle fell from Katei Amour in the stretch of the third race.

Doyle was filling in for Erin Walker, who was originally scheduled to be on the first-time starter in the 1 3/8-mile turf contest. Three-year-old Katei Amour appeared relaxed along the rail for most of the race but clipped heels with rival Folded Wings just out of the final turn and was forced to duck in, unseating Doyle, who tumbled several times over the turf and landed underneath the rail.

Folded Wings, piloted by Didiel Osorio, was found by the stewards to have come over on Katei Amour, causing the interference, and was disqualified from first to fifth.

Doyle was attended by medical personnel on track and transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, according to Indiana Grand spokesperson Tammy Knox. Agent Cory Prewitt said that Doyle never lost consciousness and as of Wednesday evening, was “extremely sore” and still undergoing x-rays.

“[It’s] definitely not as bad as it could have been,” said Prewitt via text message.

Doyle tweeted early Thursday thanking her fans for their concern over her condition.

 

 

I first caught the new name in the program at Turfway Park, and wanted to know a bit more about the new jock. Sophie Doyle is from England, and comes from a family deeply entrenched in racing. – I had the unique opportunity watching her up close, as she hung her tack at Belterra Park before hitting the road to Ellis Park and Indiana Grand for the bigger money. – Why not ? She rides like the wind, and can rate speed and close from the clouds when necessary. I knew right away she wouldn’t last long on the circuit, just like fellow “Brit” Jack Gilligan did the season before. – Small tracks are a testing ground to get your business going, and the savvy agents and trainers see what you have to offer, and the calls start coming in. I was glad to hear Sophie is bumped and bruised. It means she’ll be back in action before we know it. – Best of luck Sophie from your friends at Winning Ponies !

 

John C. Engelhardt's photo.

Photo: John C. Englehardt

 

 

I can’t leave on a sour note, and would like to say something positive. With that in mind, here is a horse to watch that will deserves a big-time play next out. Yesterday at Belterra Park, in Race #6 there was a double non-starter with #2 and #3. – Como Luz was the #3, and his gate wouldn’t open. Christian Rojas forced his mount to break through the gate after spotting the field about fifteen lengths. – He was so far off the pace, and I could see him starting to pick up ground and dismissed him to a  horrible start. As they swung for home there were three or four runners in the top flight, and I could see the hot pink silks of the Angel Quiros barn beginning to take flight. When they hit the 1/8th pole I called him flying from out of the clouds. – He finished 3rd, and the stewards immediately threw up the inquiry sign into the start of the race. After he was declared a non-starter, he was taken off the board. – The runner was +6 lbs. over the weight, and had the worst start imaginable. Como Luz showed a competitive edge that is rare in racing. You may want to use him in exotics and multi-race wagers. I don’t think he’ll be 30-1, and if he gets out clean, watch this one start moving about the 3/8th’s pole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday at the Races

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 19, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

I was sitting around the house and had an itch to play a few races. We had dinner reservations and I wasn’t going to be able to hang around all night. That was probably a good thing, so I dialed up Winning Ponies and downloaded the E-Z Win Forms for Indiana Grand. – I follow the races there, and had a crisp $100 burning in my ADW account. After downloading the data, I decided I was going to do a two-three bet place parlay, or until I was summoned to get in the car.

Indiana is a good bet on a Tuesday night, and sometimes you’ll catch some of the “big name” trainers and riders stopping by for purses that are swelled from the racino end of the business.  Anytime you can bet some solid action on a Tuesday, it makes waiting until the weekend that much shorter.

Race #1 – Claiming $5,000

#3 – Tax Breaker (6-1) = The runner was the top tier selection choice and showed the dropping in class icon and owned the best Composite Rating in the field. Since the number represents the last three races, I had good confidence this would be a good first play. The change of riders to Francisco Torres (20%) sealed the deal and away to the computer I went.  = $100 to place, and he ran second and paid $3.60. – The place parlay survived round #1, and now the bankroll is holding at $180.

Race #5 – Claiming $10,000 N2L

#12 – Reid Collins = Another top tier runner, and he owned the best Last Race Rating and Composite Rating in the field. He sported the “layoff of 180 and moving up in class icons.” Switching to Malcolm Franklin caught my eye and it was getting close to post time and she was starting to give me the cue it was time to go. = $180 to place on #12, and he won and paid $4.20 to place. – My new bankroll that started at $100 was now at $378. – Not bad for killing some time and enjoying a few races. The E-Z Win Forms carried me through and turned what would have been guess work into a targeted attack.

Off we went to dinner, and she asked if I did any good? – ” Well, I won a few bucks, and I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.” – ” Good, you can pay the check.” – I guess even the E-Z Win Forms don’t have an answer for a guy who talks too much ! – Best of luck, and I’ll be shooting out a few free selections later in the week for Saturday. So be sure to check back in, and whatever you do don’t tell anyone you had a good day before heading out to dinner !

 

 

 

 

The Eyes of Chicago Are Upon You

 

I love Arlington Park. You have to get there at least an hour and half to walk around and examine the manicured grounds, and see the beautiful artwork and statues. Keep this one on your bucket list before CDI (Churchill) has this one-of a-kind venue holding $4,000 conditioned races. But I digress. – I’ve had the best and worst of times in Chicago. It all started in 2003 when I made my inaugural visit to the Million and had the best day of my life. I practically picked the entire card and had it all rolling in pick-three’s, pick-fours, and a huge win bet on a runner named Storming Home. ( This was the year he almost won, and tossed Gary Stevens right at the wire to be disqualified). – I dusted myself off and retuned next year, and walked into the Million with optimism and a chance to redeem myself. – Once again, I had one of those ” Let it Ride” days where everything I touched was perfect. Once again, all of my winnings were running into one horse in the Million. There was a talented young jockey on my horse, and I knew his youth would etch his name into the history books. Well, he won, but when they popped up the inquiry sign, I felt my heart sink into my gut. It was “Deja Vue all over again.” – This time I was disqualified with a runner by the name of Powerscourt. – It was one of the longest rides home in the history of gambling. Powerscourt did come back the next year to prove he was the man, but I was watching at home and had a medium win bet just to watch the race. – Fast forward to 2015. I made a few pick-four tickets ($24 each) and I went home to watch the races as we were not racing live this weekend. – All was looking good until the deluge of rains came and the turf went from firm to yielding. I was alive in the first two legs, and came back to a runner by the name of Secret Gesture (GB). – When he drifted out nearing the wire with a cruising win, I thought I was home free and would finally break the voodoo spell. – He was disqualified and the rider was none other than Jamie Spencer. – I think from this day forward I will watch and enjoy the Arlington Million card. By the way, the 50-cent pick four paid $1,674. – We’ll get em’ next time !

 

With the bevy of racing last week. I started charting runners to follow back for a wager as they may have had a compromised trip, or just a poor effort looking forward. – Here are some runners you’ll want to examine on the E-Z Win Forms next time out.

 

Saratoga – 8/10/15 – Race #9 – #11 – 5 1/2f on the turf

Sanfiera = Joel Rosario aboard for Wesley Ward and this usually produces good things. The daughter of Sunriver looked good at first asking, and she was part of a pace that turned 21.4 and 44.3 in the early fractions from the outside post. She was beaten by a fast closing Aussie Prayer, and with a better post the barn wins 20% with turf runners. Keep your eyes peeled for this gal to come right back and run big

 

Monmouth – 8/14/15 – Race #4 – #3 – 5f on the turf

Sterling’s Maximus = Trevor McCarthy was dead last going short and began to put together a run that made him look like he was about to overcome the poor beginning. This run was put on hold being shut down along the rail at the 1/8th pole and will fit under the “beaten favorite” angle for handicappers next out. A clean trip has her mowing them down in the stretch.

 

Saratoga – 8/14/15 – Race #4 – #1 – 5 1/2f on the turf

Tiz a Chance = Irad Ortiz and Graham Motion had a nice runner here, but the bumping and checking made it impossible to get into stride. Doesn’t sound like much in the big picture, but the race was decided by a head. 2nd time Lasix next out and a top notch barn gives him wings down the lane.

 

Gulfstream Park – 8/14/15 – Race #4 – #2 – 5f on the turf

Whisperonthestreet = Tyler Gaffalione broke through the gate before the start with this filly and that is usually a bad omen for gamblers. She was fresh off the claim from the Wesley Ward barn, and came off a beat slow to hustle up in between runners. Once she was in position, she dropped the anchor down the lane for another day. At (5-2) the public was on her like a cheap suit and she’ll reward her backers when she gets loose on the lead and shows heels and hind quarters next out.

 

Gulfstream – 8/16/15 – Race #11 – #3 – 1 mile on the turf

Overseer = Eddie Castro was forced to steady into the first turn and settled his mount out nicely. He made a nice run around the 3/8th’s pole and encountered traffic problems once again nearing the 1/4 pole. He still managed to work a solid effort into the race by finishing second, and with a little better trip this runner will scold the field next out for keeping him in the pocket.