Free Selections – Friday, 6/7/19 – Belmont

There is some great racing leading into the 151st edition of the Belmont Stakes. – It’s never too late to add a few more dollars into your bankroll. Use these as an appetizer and be sure to download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms for the best view on how the race will take shape.

 

Belmont

 

Race #1 – #5 – Ahead of Plan = Didn’t give the best account against maiden special weight company at Saratoga last year but trainer Chad Brown wins 29% with runners coming off a long layoff. Javier Castellano in the irons and he wins 35% teaming up with Chad Brown.

 

Race #2 – #8 – Lead Guitar = Good works under her belt and she is bred for the grass. – Trainer George Weaver wins 14% of his turf runners.

 

Race #3 – #6 – Largent = Beaten chalk last time out at Pimlico and Todd Pletcher wins 23% with his runners making the 2nd off the layoff move.

 

Race #5 – #4 – Pacific Gale = Beaten right at the wire last out as she looks to make amends with Joe Bravo in the saddle.

 

Race #6 – #11 – Zapperini = Been off since February in New Orleans and Jason Servis wins 35% with long layoff runners – Irad Ortiz in the saddle and he is winning 23% on the sod.

 

Race #7 – #4 – Fore Left = Comes in from Santa Anita and trainer Doug O’Neill wins 19% moving to new surroundings.

 

Race #9 – #8 – Homerique = Comes over from Europe and trainer Chad Brown wins 23% with 2nd time Lasix.

 

Race #10 – #3 – Amade = Comes over from Lingfield for trainer Alessandro Botti with turf specialist Flavien Prat aboard.

 

 

 

The Happy Horseplayer – June 2019

Can you believe it’s already June? – The snow gave way to spring rains, and your favorite summer tracks are ready to swing open the gates. – Top it off with the “Test of the Champion” this Saturday with the Belmont Stakes and the H.H. is one happy camper.

 

May was a crazy month

The first DQ in 145 years of the Derby was filled with comments from the top racing scribes to the once-a-year fan. – The DQ lost me the pick four, but I agree with the final decision. – At the top of the lane in sloppy conditions, we almost saw a bad incident. Just when you think the smoke has cleared. There are lawsuits, co-winners desired, and a headache that needs three aspirins. - Horse Racing Nation posted audio of the film review. Give it a listen and see if you have any more questions.

https://www.horseracingnation.com/news/Listen_Go_inside_stewards_post_Kentucky_Derby_film_review_123

 

Round #2

After watching the Derby replay a thousand times and reading everything out there. – The second leg of the crown was not going to produce a Triple Crown winner. – I guess we’ve been spoiled the last four years watching some incredible three-year-olds. – For me, it was going to be a new day and a chance to put the Derby behind us. – Even this race had an awkward beginning giving the media some fun to poke. – But, if you watch the race you’ll see a strong winner emerge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMAk1_bcv90

 

Racing needs a doctor right now. – The horses are running too much. There used to be a “down time” on the Kentucky circuit where I grew up. The downtime was no racing dates and this allowed runners to rest, and bettors to build bankrolls. – When racing returned we were excited to go. – We need to examine the drugs. Plain and simple. We need to adopt a national program to which all tracks adhere. If you’re a trainer and have a bad positive with illegal drugs. You get a very stiff penalty. – If you doubt the effectiveness of penalties take a look at the Japanese racing system. Horses, riders, and trainers are quarantined. The human athletes are prohibited from communicating with media and outsiders. – The game is strong and they bet more on an average Friday card than we do on Breeders’ Cup Day. Oh, and the horses are guarded for safety. Add in fewer dates, and we may have a model to examine.

Be sure to get out this week and watch and wager on the Belmont Stakes. – Leave your computer alone and head out to the races. You may fall in love all over again. – Until next month, The Happy Horseplayer wishes you the best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine If You Will…

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 30, 2019 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

 

We all have a person in our lives who’s a few cards short of a deck. They see beauty where others can’t. – They may be a little out there, but one thing is for certain they aren’t boring.

A good friend of mine has rekindled my love of the old Twilight Zone re-runs. – I have a stack of favorites, but if I had to watch one every night it would be “The Last Night of a Jockey.” – Not being a spoiler, but it was about a washed-up jockey getting his wish while waiting for the results of a race-fixing hearing. – Mickey Rooney played it to the letter. Maybe it’s the gambling, the worry, or the reflection. But it’s one of my favorites.

Back to my friend. – He loves to talk about dreams, old stories, and tales of the one that got away in between races. His gambling life was an outlet. If I told you he was an engineer you’d probably have me hauled away by the silly police. – Some tales would captivate your attention, and others just played in the background. – On this day he asked me a favor. – ” Do me a solid and come up with something a little out there next time we meet. Maybe a story, or something that happened to you at the track. But the next time we see each other it’s your turn.”

I saw him a few weeks ago. – I didn’t even shake his hand when he asked me if I had a good story for him? – “Yeah, but it’s not a story. It’s a decision.” – Go ahead and fire away. I await the question, my friend.

You are in a room. I bring in a phone and tell you I have two numbers, but you can only call one. You may call the younger you to give some advice about things to steer clear or a path you should take. – The other, it’s an older version of you. You may ask if you’re happy, did you take a wrong turn, or what can you do to get the most from your journey.” 

He sat back and quietly applauded. – ” Good job, my friend. You’ve given me something to think about. Not sure I’ll have the answer the next time we meet as it deserves some deep thought.” 

Upon our next meeting, he said he still didn’t have an answer. – “It’s just too damn tough. Do I tell the younger me what to stay away from, or do I ask the older version what can I do to be happy when I get there. I just don’t know.” 

Maybe one of the most interesting race track characters I’ve known. We didn’t have that close-knit feeling as I’ve had with others, but his deep thinking has always intrigued me. – He loves his exacta boxes and occasional pick-six wagers. – Always looking for the big score and sitting alone. – I seem to run into him every time I’m at the races, and maybe he’ll have an answer for me one day. – Either way, he makes a day at the races interesting.

 

Free Selections – Thursday, May 30, 2019

The weekend will be here before you know it. – Let’s get a jump on our bankroll building and use these free selections as a starting point. – Be sure to download the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms for the final answer on how the race will take shape. – Best of luck from Winning Ponies. 

 

Indiana Grand

 

Race  #1 – #1 – Stay on Shore = Comes in off the layoff for Tim Glyshaw and he did the same move back in 2017. – Capable barn at a solid price sounds like a trip to the windows.

Race #2 – #4 – Call West = Comes in for the Contreras barn and they have two in here. All of his races have been one turn and today gets added distance at a very nice price.

Race #4 – #1 – Silver N Lai = First timer for Thom Amoss and he gets his picture taken at a 32% clip. His past works looked like he was going to run at Keeneland but Indy will do just fine. The purses are pretty darn sweet.

Race #6 – #5 – Huckleberry Hill = I’m looking for improvement off past efforts and Prescott in the saddle is a bonus. – He should rebound nicely today.

 

Presque Isle

 

Race #1 – #1 – Rojo Rocks = Huge drop in class where trainer Eddie Clouston wins 40% and was beaten chalk last time out.

Race #3 – #1 – Noble Weed = 2nd lifetime start and was beaten by a neck last out. Before shipping in he was working well in Tampa.

Race #5 – #2 – Vilaro = Speedster making a 3rd off the layoff move under “Chilly” Willy Martinez winning 20%.

Race #6 – #3 – Caloric = He ships in from GP and goes back to the synthetic. – Makes the turf to dirt switch and should be dangerous today.

 

Mountaineer

 

Race #1 – #5 – Walkin Princess = Speedster looking for her 8th in a row from the Baird barn. This daughter of Stroll is 7/7 at “The Mountain.”

Race #2 – #8 – Ripinandatearin = Drops back down in class and has Charlie Oliveros in the saddle who is winning 28%.

Race #3 – #7 – Loyalty Spirit = Ships back from Suffolk and drops down two class levels where the barn wins 21%.

Race #7 – #4 – Dance With Stars = First timer state-bred whose dam has five starters and three winners. – Graduation day could be tonight!

 

 

 

The Boys from St. Croix

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 28, 2019 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | 1 Comment >>

Image may contain: 4 people, including Pede Prentice, people smiling, people standing and stripes

 

 

The sun was bright without a cloud in the sky. It was the kinda’ day we wish for when getting out of bed. – I didn’t waste this gorgeous day just sitting around the house.  If you bet $100, where do you think I was heading? – Yep, you’d be right.

I studied my horses and was going to sit in my car along the rail. – I was at the 1/8th pole and had a Sunday paper to read in between races. Just a perfect day enjoying the sun. – I saw a few folks who work on the starting gate and a gal perched high above on her pony giving me a smile and a quick wave. It was a turf race and the runners were circling on the dirt course before heading over. – I saw a rider in bright green silks and gave a little whistle. – He looked over and said; “Hey, Ed. How’s it going.” I smiled back with a thumbs up. – It was the Green Carpet Stakes at Belterra as riders filed over one at a time when the rain started to fall in big slow drops. – As Nevans loaded into the gate, little did I know this would be the last time I’d see a young man who had his whole life in front of him.

Life is like that. – Everything looks good with a thumbs up and the next moment everything can change. – Euclyn “Pede” Prentice was only 28 years-old. He was just finding his groove in horse racing and was one of the happiest people I’ve met. – God called this beautiful young man home in the early hours on Monday, May 27th, 2019.

The “Boys from St. Croix” were fellow Virgin Islands jockeys, Victor Lebron, Julio Felix, Kevin Krigger, and Kerwin John. With their guidance, his drive, and the entire Virgin Islands territory rooting for him, Pede’s success grew tremendously. – I spoke to a good friend of his and he thanked me for always driving it home over the speakers when he won. – It was fun just watching a man ply his trade with such love. – The pleasure was all mine.

As promising a rider on the track, he was even a kinder man out of the saddle. – He would never pass you without a big handshake and a hug. – ” How’s it going, Ed?  Everything all good?” – His smile was from ear-to-ear and infectious, to say the least. He seemed to glide through the world without a care. He was home everywhere he went, but his heart was in the Virgin Islands. – His many friends, clients, and fans are going to miss his smile. One of the good guys for sure, and meeting someone like him is rare. – Pede, to say you’ll be missed won’t fit the bill. You had so many that loved you, respected you, and enjoyed watching you ride. – When I saw your name in the program the next day it hit home. I had watched for the final time a young man do what he loved. – Rest in peace, my friend.

 

 

Free Selections – Thursday 5/23/19

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

 

Belmont Park

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

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

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

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

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

 

Churchill Downs

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Happy Horseplayer – May

by Ed Meyer

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

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

 

The Derby

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

 

Keeneland recap

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

 

Preakness 144

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

 

Winning Ponies

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

 

The Happy Horseplayer = Improbable / Borbon War / Alwaysmining

Memory Lane / Preakness Day

by Ed Meyer

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

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

 

I asked how the Preakness crowd was at their track?

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

 

Have you seen any of the old faces? 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Did You See That?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a little recap of what happened yesterday:

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

 

 

 

Let It Go – Let’s Move On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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