You Make the Call

This past weekend was chock-full of solid racing action. If you didn’t like the outcomes, that can be up for debate at any track, OTB or gathering of gamblers. As we draw closer to the big dance in Louisville, every passing week will be loaded with marquee events and top-notch action.


This past weekend there was a controversial DQ. It was the San Felipe stakes and has been on the minds of horseplayers from all walks. There is talk of this re-match coming back for round two in the Santa Anita Derby. If I were sitting in the owner’s box with my name on the program, I would dodge this dogfight at all cost. They’ll meet up again, and this last race was in need of a vacation for all involved. As soon as the race was over, McKinzie was a head in front only to be undone by the steward’s decision. – It happens, but this time it happened to this punter. – If you haven’t watched, take a look for yourself. – I bet McKinzie, and my runner surely deserved to be taken down. Bolt D’ Oro was pretty gutsy all the way when the real running began.- Take a look for yourself:



Before I talk too much smack, the call was correct in the eyes and wallet of this handicapper. Baffert will come out on top about 90%, and this was one he didn’t. Mike Smith will thank God more times than not in the winner’s circle, but just not this time. – The stewards got the call correct, and this handicapper will take it on the chin and smile. – That’s racing. – But if you’re a Beyer fan, you have to love the 101 for the top two. The race showed two tough guys square off and the road to the Derby will be a little more exciting if these guys stay healthy. – If all this comes to Louisville, I think we’ll be treated to an exciting rematch. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!







Free Weekend Selections – 3/10/18

Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch? – Winning Ponies likes to get you thinking about the weekend and dialing down the E-Z Win Forms and start handicapping for Saturday.  – With each passing weekend, we will be one step closer to making our way to Louisville. I can just smell the roses from here and they’re only 58 days away. - Best of luck from Winning Ponies!


Tampa Bay Downs

Race #10 – G2 Florida Oaks – 1 1/16 on the turf – 4:30 pm ET


#2 – Altea (7-2) = Jose Ortiz in the irons for Chad Brown. This is a daughter of Siyouni getting first time Lasix. She is 3/3 with her progeny and ships in from France where Brown wins (28%) with his new runners. She’s been off for 4 months and looks ready to fire a big effort.

#5 – Andina Del Sur (8-1) = Julien Leparoux in the saddle for Thom Albertrani. 3rd off exiting a smart win in the G3 Sweet Chant and gets added ground to handle. Rider change from Joel Rosario may help her causes.

#9 – Goodthingstaketime (6-1) = Joel Rosario chooses this gal as she ships in from Ireland. She gets 2nd Lasix and was an impressive winner last out.


Race #11 – G2 Tampa Bay Derby – 1 1/16 – 5:28 pm ET

#3 – Vino Rosso (4-1) = John Velasquez in the driver’s seat for Todd Pletcher winning 31% as a team. This son of Curlin is 2/2 ITM over the course making his 2nd start of 2018 looking to give a strong account stalking just off the pace.

#6 – Enticed (6-1) = Antonio Gallardo in the irons for Kiaran McLaughlin. He won the KY Jockey Club last November at Churchill and was a beaten chalk last out. He is making his 2nd start off the layoff and this son of Medaglia d’ Oro looks to be the real deal.

#5 – Flameaway (3-1) = Jose Lezcano for Mark Casse and this son of Scat Daddy won the G3 Sam Davis last out. Since coming from the turf his speed is getting tough to deal with. Look for a quick break from the starting gate.


Oaklawn Park

Race #8 – G3 Honeybee – 1 1/16 – 5:38 pm ET


#5 – Red Ruby (9-5) = Robby Albarado in the seat for Kellyn Gorder. A daughter of Tiznow has been working well in the mornings and exits a strong off-the-shelf win in the Martha Washington. She had a troubled trip and still managed a winning effort. She fits this field like a glove.

#3 – Cosmic Burst (6-1) = Richard Eramia for Donnie Von Hemel. She hopped at the start against “Ruby” last out and was heavily bet at the windows. We’ll give her a pass on that effort and look for some payback this Saturday. Look for a perfect stalking trip.

#6 – Amy’s Challenge (2-1) = Jareth Loveberry in the irons and she broke her maiden against the boys winning by 16 lengths going away. She is 1/1 at OP and looks to keep it rolling. Her speed may be tough to reel in and if you leave her alone she’ll put your lights out quickly.



Who Are You ?

Just like The Who song, we have plenty of questions to be answered. – Who are you? – Well, maybe it would be better stated as what type of player are you. Are you a “methodical player” who searches for that spot play or are you a “pick and punch” style gambler? – Believe it or not, it matters what type of player you’ve become. Matter of fact it may make all the difference in the game on how you’ll do in the long run.


Methodical Madness

You find yourself pouring over the data, and combing over past performances. You stare at the type on the page until it could almost disappear into blankness. – I’m sure you know of players who fit the bill and at the end of the day, they need a vacation away from handicapping. – I have to proclaim I’m this type of player when it comes to Derby Day and the Breeders’ Cup. There’s just so much money in the pools, and a pick four that could pay a $100 may yield up to $250. – Yep, I spend way too much time pouring over the data. – After BC, I take a month or so away from the game. I need some time down and it takes a toll. Makes me wonder if I’m doing the right thing after all. – I started using Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms to shortcut some of my homework and find the little hidden gems that cut back on my study time by hours. If you find some data that makes your handicapping time drop, grab and keep it close. – Why would I change my usual methods just because there is more money in the pools? I guess you are tossing out your tried and true methods and replacing them with longer versions. – So, are you doing the right thing by studying longer or are you wasting time where you could be deciding on how to use the data in wagers? – The jury is still is out for this handicapper, but there is something about putting in the time that justifies the amount of money I use as a bankroll. – Study long and study wrong my old math teacher would have told me in 8th grade. But what is the proper amount of time needed to really find the answers?


Pick and Punch 

Nothing like tossing the noodle against the wall to see if it’s done. Well, that’s how they told me to do it to see if it sticks for maximum readiness. – “Pick and Punch” is a player who dances around and loves the action. – There is nothing better than having the action of horses turning for home for this type of bettor. It’s not about winning the big score, it’s about having action. – They like to think of gambling like a Chinese buffet. The more you try the better chance you’ll find what you want. – Fun, but not very effective. P&P gambling is stabbing and grabbing. The action is the driving force and you may drive yourself off a short pier trying to turn a profit. – Win $20, and toss away $23. In the long run, you’ll find yourself going broke slowly and losing weight running to the windows. – I guess that part may be the answer to the gamblers diet, but it will drive you crazy in a hurry. – This is also known as “tap dancing” and “running and gunning.” – Leave this style in your rearview mirror.


Now, what type really works? – I would use a little of both. – Study enough to give you information, and make the right amount of plays to give you a shot. – If it sounds easy, it is anything but. – This is where I started using the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms. They cut back on my study time I would have been wasting, and this allows me to decide how I’m going to use the data to wager. If it sounds easy, it really is. Take the time you would have been overdoing homework and decide how you’ll use it. – The rule of thumb is if you study for an hour, you need to put in an hour to decide how you’ll use the data. – You can just toss that noodle against the wall and guess if it’s done. You need to put in enough time by using tried and true methods to decide how you’ll put it to work. – This is where Winning Ponies has helped me since 2008. – The E-Z Win Forms cut back on my time as they pull out the positive points and allow me to dig into my handicapping.

Find your stride. – Winning Ponies has been a helpful tool and overall a time saver which has allowed me to be more effective. – Go ahead and give it a try. Winning Ponies offers up free selections, stories, blogs, background tales from the players in the game, and a Weekly Radio Show on Thursdays. Never a better time than now to give it a try and as we start dialing in on the Road to the Derby Trail. Be sure to check back this weekend for some free plays and red-hot selections. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!



The Happy Horseplayer – Feeling Thankful

Sometimes we think of the big winner, the huge payoff or the score that continues to elude. But for this Happy Handicapper, there have been some really big goals on the table to chase down and cash in. – It was on Sunday, November, 26th that I started back at Turfway Park. I was going to work in the racing office and handle the photo finish and timing at night for the races. It was good to be back at the track and be around my race track friends. – That was until I started feeling a little green under the collar.

There was sweat rolling down my neck and the window was cracked open to keep me cool. I started feeling weaker with every passing call for entries, as I wanted my first day to be good. I’d been waiting for this important day and had nothing on my mind except starting back to work. – As the morning passed I started feeling worse. Sweat was saturating my collar and even my cohorts had taken notice of my condition. – One of my pals walked into my boss’ office and told him I was feeling pretty bad. “Maybe I should call it a day as we were just about done for the morning.” – I agreed and stumbled my way to my car. It seemed like a mile stroll that was fifty feet at best. – It felt like pneumonia, but who knows. I’m going home to watch football and rest. – That was the plan as I waited for my son to walk to work.- I knew my weakness was at a fever pitch and driving was going to be out of the question. I was waiting for him to leave so I could call for my first ambulance ride. It was my first as I always felt I could drive or get a ride. But on this day my condition was pretty sorry. – He walked out and I watched as he got 100 feet up the street. I went back and called for my ride and my mother and brother. I was sick and I was starting to worry.

As I said, seeking the big score was always on the mind of many horseplayers. But on this day, I just wanted to get to the hospital. – As the ambulance sped in with lights blaring and I was rolled into the ER, the panic began to set in for me. No more big score on my noggin, but just survival. – I was sick and knew something was wrong.

After a long wait in the triage room, a savvy doctor saw the flying sweat rolling off my face and asked me to stay for the night. ” I think you’re sicker than you think young man. We’ll do a complete work-up and we’ll have some answers in the morning.” – After asking the family to go home at 3:00 am, I told them I would call in the morning. It was a long night getting probed and prodded going through the gamut of tests. By morning, there was a team of doctors standing next to my bed. It has been a 5 1/2 week venture of sweating in bed and battling fevers. – The prognosis was not good. – It was leukemia.

Mostly I tried to battle through and blog, but that became too taxing. I was so weak and had to put that on the back burner. I kept my computer and tried to watch the live racing action during my time in bed. But even that became tough. I spent my hours sleeping and not eating very much. – Racing had become a secondary thought, and weakness and battling through my condition was my new goal. – I was told I would be taking 4 cycles of chemo to battle the disease and my prognosis was overall good. That my friends was the new big score. – I’m three cycles in, and by the end of March, I will be taking my final cycle. I’m sure there will be plenty of blood checks to keep me in check. – I’m looking forward to calling the races at Belterra Park in April and working in the racing office. – Funny thing, we are moving along at our usual pace and life looks to be on a normal run. We start to think of our “big scores” in different wins. – For this Happy Horseplayer, this has been one of the biggest wins in quite awhile. I can stand for some prayers and good vibes, and for you, I wish a clear path and appreciating what matters the most. – I’ll be blogging more and covering the sport I love. – Be sure and drop back and catch some hot picks, stories, and free Winning Ponies E-Z Win Form selections. – Best of luck from the HappyHorseplayer!!

The Happy Horseplayer

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 2, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

The New Year is underway and by now we’re starting to think about our favorite winter ovals. Mother Nature has been dealing from the bottom of the deck with wicked weather all across the nation. But, that’s winter. – The Happy Horseplayer is ready and chomping at the bit for the stakes that will lead us down the road to the roses. But don’t get too anxious as we have 98 days until we hear “My Old Kentucky Home.”

I like to play New York. For years I have I have spoken about my affinity for the circuit and it still continues. Oh, I enjoy Florida and Kentucky and finish up with California on good days but that probably fits many of us. – New York used to be a haven of early speed and the inner-track was a golden highway of early foot. – It plays much better these days and the bias that used to hold sway has been replaced. When Mother Nature allows racing to be conducted “The Big A” can be a good oval to start your day.

For some of the best value in daytime winter racing just head to Florida. No, not Gulfstream. But, it is starting to heat up the competition day-by-day. That we can always count on. I’m talking about Tampa Bay Downs. – Good field sizes which equal to better payoffs. A solid turf course which offers up good racing on the sod. Player’s seem to always bet a little more on the green and the bigger pools are the difference between having a 7-2 shot versus that 5-2 number in the win pool. – You’ll see runners coming in from Gulfstream that are looking to fit into a better slot and returning horses that relish the oval. Solid jockey colonies and trainers who point their charges toward TBD. – For me, this is a great place to spot play. I love turf racing and TBD allows you to rebuild your bankroll.

Santa Anita is the jewel of the left coast. The sun is always shining and the place glistens with the San Gabriel mountains as a backdrop. There are the usual names and players who hold court. We’ll see them in claiming races and graded stakes. The track plays fair and the turf course is one of the best in the country. – “The Great Race Place” is a super way to end your day and if you find yourself looking for a full-packed pick-four pool look no further than a $500,000 plus guaranteed pool on Sunday. I always play and it is worth the try to end your weekend with a solid score.

It is the job of every horseplayer to find value. These are just a few examples of finding the hidden gold that awaits. – Be sure to download the Winning Ponies E-Z Forms to allow you to see how the race will take shape. With handy icons, past performances, Composite ratings and color-coded tier levels. The first time user to the hardcore handicapper will be able to use and take advantage of the one-of-a-kind information that only Winning Ponies can offer up. Best of luck from the Happy Horseplayer!

A Life Well Lived

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I’ve worked at the races since I was 18-yrs-old. I’ve had every job on the track minus selling tickets. – During this time you meet some pretty interesting people. Adding to the list was track photographer Pat Lang. – I first met him when I made my way down to get my picture taken for the media guide for Turfway Park. – As I walked in, a man I’ve never met said: “hello parking manager, who’s parking the cars if you’re in here?” – Good question, but I nervously ignored it as I had my shirt and tie all squared away. He cracked jokes with people in the room and asked if I was ready for my close-up? – That was my first intro to Pat. He had a relaxed feel and a Jimmy Buffet swagger without even trying. His dead-pan humor and relaxed nature made everyone feel at home in his little office which was open to the world.

His daughter and partner behind the lens; Emily Lang wrote some beautiful lines about her father on Facebook. – Announcing the passing of a man who made a difference can be difficult. – In my opinion, after reading her words he was more like an onion. After reading about the life of this man words couldn’t begin to sum up the life of such an interesting man. – Most people just plod along and enjoy some ups and downs. – Pat Lang was a citizen of the world and curiously looked at the world from many angles. To say he was one of the good guys is an understatement. He was a rare pearl and we were lucky just to meet him in our travels.

Patrick R. Lang, beloved husband, proud father, loving brother and friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully November 17, 2017. He was sent off gently, surrounded by his loving family with his best friend by his side.

Pat was a horse racing Track Photographer by trade. After 30 years of making photos from the finish line, he hung up his camera three years ago.

For over three decades, Pat had devoted his career to capturing the winning moments of the horses, trainers, owners and jockeys at River Downs, (New) Latonia which became Turfway Park and Keeneland race courses in Ohio and Kentucky.

Over the course of his career, Pat captured historic, memorable moments of some of racing’s most talented horses; Silver Charm’s and Wild Rush’s Kentucky Cup Classic dead heat at Turfway Park; Spend A Buck’s 15-length Cradle Stakes win at River Downs preceding his Kentucky Derby triumph; Alysheba’s maiden victory; Wise Dan’s maiden win at Turfway Park and graded wins at Keeneland before going on to back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Mile wins; Rachel Alexandra’s first win at Turfway Park; Animal Kingdom’s maiden victory at Turfway Park and his romp in the Spiral Stakes before galloping into history with his Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup wins; . Perfect Drift, Winning Colors, Brass Hat, Catlaunch, Harlan’s Holiday, Street Sense… the list of notable horses that have run into Pat Lang’s frame and across the finish line over the years goes on and on.

Pat also photographed the beginnings, milestones, and comebacks of many careers of racing’s most respected horsemen; jockey Rafael Bejarano’s humble beginnings at River Downs; jockey Julien Leparoux’s rise to fame at Turfway Park; the beginnings of trainer Ken McPeek’s career at River Downs; the start of trainer Dale Romans’ career at Turfway Park. Pat also documented jockey and local legend Perry Ouzts’ 5,000th, then 6,000th, career wins — placing him in a category that only 16 other men on Earth had ever achieved at the time.

“Through his craft, tens of thousands of great horses, trainers, jockeys, and owners have been celebrated,” said Chip Bach, General Manager of Turfway Park. “On a personal level, Pat has been a close friend to all of us and his smile and humor will be missed.”

Apart from the famous horses and nationally recognized trainers and owners, Pat’s warmest memories were the many conversations he had with regular clients and fellow photographers over the years. Often stopping to talk while dropping by the office to pick up their pictures; to grab a handful of peanuts, a cookie, a sucker; or to duck in for some relief from the searing summer heat at River Downs, the brutal winter cold at Turfway Park or the pouring spring and fall rain at Keeneland between races.

“Pat’s door was always open to everyone, whether it be a family of backstretch workers or a Hall of Fame trainer, everyone was greeted with a warm smile and respect and welcomed to the variety of treats and sweets he kept in plentiful stock,” said John Engelhardt, who worked alongside Lang at Keeneland and Turfway Park during the off-season at River Downs. “It was never really work when you were with Pat, more like being part of a comedy sitcom or a Fellini film. There were amazing colorful characters, constant action and laughter everywhere and Pat was the subtle circus ringmaster.”

Pat’s resume prior to his life in horse racing comes as a surprise, even to those who knew him well.

Pat, a New Mexico native, was born in Roswell and grew up in Hagerman. After attending New Mexico State University, he became a radio disc jockey in Las Cruces and was the co-owner of Flip Side Records, a chain of three record stores. Those who listened to his late-night progressive rock show would have known him, not as Pat Lang, but as Billy Pilgrim, a pseudonym lifted from a Kurt Vonnegut protagonist who traveled freely back and forth through time and space.

Pat did use his real name, however, for his second career as a radio journalist and news director for KOBE-AM in Las Cruces, as a TV correspondent for KOAT-TV in Albuquerque and as a reporter and cinematographer for KTSM-TV and radio in El Paso, Texas.

As someone whose career as a photojournalist involved documenting and reporting on people’s individual losses, from fires to accidents, Lang loved his transition to photographing horse racing at River Downs and Turfway Park (at the time Latonia) in 1982.

“Every day I got to photograph winners,” Lang said. “Being there for the wins and achievements, documenting people as they built on their success, for the milestones, even as they grew their families… In most cases, my clients became my friends. You rooted for them daily, on the track and off. It made for a happy career, where every day was better than the last.”

Patrick is survived by his beloved wife Karla of 32 years and his four children; son Jonathan Lang, daughter Emily Lang (Alex Ress), son Graham Lang, stepdaughter Rachel Hale (Michael), sister Barbara Lang-Gaulding (George), brother David Lang (Laura). He was preceded in death by his father Richard in 2001, his mother Rosezella in 2013 and his sister Delores in 2007.

He will be remembered by his family for his kindness, humor and prolific sweet tooth — which he made sure his children inherited by keeping the kitchen stocked with freshly made cakes, cookies, his signature pies, homemade eggnog or whatever he felt like baking that day. His clever and constant witticisms will be deeply missed.

Pat Lang will be remembered for a long time. – He hung up his camera three years ago, and it felt like he never left. – Some people just leave a lasting impression on you. – I’ll miss seeing his photo office filled with visitors. They would range from retired horsemen to a groom looking for a handful of candy and good conversation. All were welcome as his deep raspy voice echoed like a radio professional. He cared. He made you feel welcome. And when the horses were rounding the far turn Pat would slowly stroll toward to the finish line and make it just in time to capture history in the moment. – Thank you, Pat. It was indeed a pleasure to meet you in the travels of life.


Don’t Drink the Kool-Aide

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 22, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

For some gamblers, excess is the drug of choice. – I call it a drug because it can have a hypnotic effect on your day at the races. Impulse plays, tap-dancing or just making a little bet to have some action. Know what I mean? – Think of it like pulling a slot machine handle one more time or buying a quick pick lottery ticket when you only went in to get gas. – That little excess bet can cost you more than you think.

My buddy makes about 10 of these per day. – He takes his $100 and had his 8-10 races pre-selected and sticks to his guns. Except for the “fun” bets where he makes a $5 win wager about 10 times a day. – For the record, he does very well and wagers are well thought out. That is except for his “wild shot” wagers where he bets a $5 on a longshot. “No harm. Just a few wild shots looking for a big score.”

When I asked him how many won he said maybe 1 or 2 a month. – Now for a man who has restraint and keeps himself on a $100 leash. – Now that can be enough for the type of wagers he is making. He is retired and likes to make $10 place bets and roll them over three times if he can keep them moving. – I told him he has a good shot at making money except for the $5 wild bets.

“Do you know if you go 0 for10 on your wild price bets you’re down $50 on the day from your bankroll?” – He looked at me like I was wrong and then it hit him. – “You make your betting plan and stick to it with precision. You have very good days, and a few times I have watched you have a shot at a sweet score from place bets. It’s when you make the impulse wagers that you squander half of your daily bankroll on shooting at the stars.” – “He smiled and said it goes against the purpose of doing my homework and creating a plan. Why would I just give it away for the sake of having action?” – That’s the Kool-Aide.

He said he was going to give it a thought and come up with a different plan. – Great idea. If you are losing $50 on impulse bets you have to make that back on your betting plan just to break even. – This is where many good handicappers lose on the day. They are double sharp and can really zero in on who to play. The train comes off the rails when an impulse bet or a long shot bet is made. – The best-made plans can hit the wall when you deviate from the plan.

I must admit I’m guilty of making these wagers from time-to-time and it always turns up sour. – When you drop back and think about making non-planned bets you are half way there to protecting your bankroll. – Just give it a think and I’m sure you’ll start paying attention.

Small Town Secrets

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 14, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>



Small towns hold mystique and magic of a long-ago novel. They have small gatherings and friendships that last a lifetime. Kids played until the street lights came on and as you drove down any street you could see the inhabitants sitting on the porch listening to the ball game. – I guess it sounds like the place many of us grew up. But with every small town, there are secrets. Some were filled with gossip as others had another side completely.

I was talking to a jockey one day this summer. He was from Boston and grew up about 40 miles outside the historic town. One that was filled with good and bad elements which led his parents to relocate the kids to the country. Close enough for convenience and far enough not to find the streets. – We started talking about races and his career, and eventually, it led to the under-belly sort who imposed their will on how the races would finish.

” We all watched the mob shows about jockeys being paid or intimidated. Some even took quite a beating if they didn’t listen up. We were allowed to make bets on the riders we knew who was going to win. It was the 70’s and pretty much it was still the wild-wild-west. – We pretty much came to our senses and just played ball. It was in our best interest to listen. We were young, dumb and wanted to make more money than we would if we won?”

I’ve watched plenty of movies about the big fix or The Sting. I guess it had a romantic side and appealed to the inner-gambler in me. – My friend is in his middle 50’s and still rides there on occasion throughout the year. “It’s all gone now, Ed. There are plenty of watchful eyes who make it impossible to get by with any shenanigans. Oh, you might pull one off but they have you on a watch list and when you’re caught you’re done. It’s just not worth it anymore. – Anyway, I can still ride and make enough on the square.” – I walked away that day and couldn’t wait until our next conversation. During the summer he would be the first person I saw when I walked in as he had just finished jogging in the morning. It was at varied times we would pick up our conversation and my mob movie watching side was kept on the edge of my seat.

During one of our summer chats, he told me about his hometown. – ” It had a large VFW hall. It held about 2,000 people and was bigger than the three churches all in one place. They had bingo, slot machines and took sports bets from three towns that were local. It was kinda like a small Vegas without leaving home. They had dances for kids and sponsored all of the local ball teams with uniforms and equipment. This little town outside of Boston was a grandma’s heaven for gambling. Pull-tabs and keno and all before the state lottery was legal. – You didn’t have to worry about the cops in the town as they kept watch for outside license plates and strangers looking for fun. – It was the best-kept secret that I’ve ever seen.”

Once the lottery and casinos came within 100 miles of the little Vegas it just withered away. – The town was safe and it had the charm of Mayberry with a secret. – ” Small town folks can keep a secret, and you can bet dollars to donuts it would still be going on if there wasn’t  a bevy of other options within driving distance.”

I always loved the story of the sleepy little town with a secret. It had a charm all of its own and didn’t have the big town problems. – Anytime I see him I always enjoy a chat. Sometimes it’s just about racing and sometimes the story continues.

Did You Boycott ?

The hullaballoo of boycotting Keeneland was the topic of the fall. There’s always going to be a subject up for a vote or an issue being talked about. – According to the Paulick Report:

The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) and have jointly announced that a horseplayer boycott of Keeneland is underway, citing an increase in takeout despite a revenue windfall from Historical Racing machines located at The Red Mile as reasons for the boycott. “Keeneland decided to hit horseplayers with a takeout increase,” HANA President and spokesman Jeff Platt said. “Keeneland claims they are going to use money raised by the takeout increase to boost purses. But higher takeout in the name of bigger purses has been tried before and it has failed, big time.”

Did you take part? – Is this an agenda you subscribe? – Will this change the trend? – Did I take part in the boycott? – The answer to all of the above for this horseplayer is simple – No. – I believe too much tossed around power puts the stranglehold on the tracks. I guess it works in some markets as mentioned in the 2011 article:

Platt cited past takeout increases as examples:

“For the first 6 months immediately following the takeout increase at Los Alamitos in 2010 on-track handle was down 27%.

Horseplayers boycotted Santa Anita and Golden Gate in the early months of 2011 as a result of takeout increases there. Instead of bigger purses, the result was purse cuts and layoffs. In October 2011 the local paper in Arcadia, CA where Santa Anita is located reported Santa Anita was cutting one-third of its staff.

Churchill had a takeout increase for their spring 2014 meet. Handle fell by 25% outside of the Derby and Maggi Moss reported on her Twitter account that Churchill had quietly announced a 20% purse cut for their fall 2014 meet. – I guess they feel happy they put the hurt on the sport they love. – Do you know how long it takes to make a comeback from a meet like this? – Sometimes never.

Now, that’s all fine and good if you like to climb up on your soap box and crow loudly. – How about the cutting of jobs and layoffs people had to endure? – It looks like numbers on paper, but have you ever watched someone walk to their car after being handed a box and cleaned out their desk for the many years of service they provided? – In my humble gambler’s opinion when you have outside interests directing or trying to influence your business plans. The trouble has just begun. – Trust me. The tracks know good and well what a takeout increase does to business. Do you think they are trying to put the choke hold on themselves? – Sometimes there are moves to stay afloat and be competitive. – When all you can see is your win bet paying $8.40 instead of $8.60 you are looking at the short sided model.

Beginning Friday, October 6, 2017: Takeout for WIN-PLACE-SHOW wagers at Keeneland will be 17.50%. (An increase of 9.375% vs. last meet’s takeout rate of 16.00%.) Takeout for all EXOTIC wagers at Keeneland except the pick5 will be 22.00%. (An increase of 15.79% vs. last meet’s takeout rate of 19.00%.) ?

HANA and are asking horseplayers to consider the idea that horseplayers are consumers and that every handle dollar bet at Keeneland is a vote for higher takeout everywhere. HANA and are asking horseplayers to send a clear message by not betting one track, Keeneland, for one month, October 2017. That’s it. – “Join us. Together we can convince Keeneland to reverse their decision.” – According to the Paulick Report article.

After hearing this did you stop playing? – I love Keeneland and wait with baited breath to see the “Brigadoon” of racing open the gates and conduct racing. – I didn’t stop playing. Keeneland didn’t shut the doors and after reading a statement from the Keeneland President it became clear that they were going to stand behind the decision. – Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomasson issued the following statement: “Keeneland, since its inception in 1936, has operated toward a singular mission to invest all profits above what is necessary to operate our company back into the industry to benefit all who are part of it.  We have never wavered from our founding principles, and we will never do so.  This price increase, the first in decades, keeps us within the five lowest blended rates of all major U.S. racetracks and is necessary to continue to fulfill our mission. Keeneland’s mission stands for fan development, safety, and welfare initiatives, developing racing across the world and delivering the highest quality and most competitive racing product to our horsemen and fans.

It has been a month, and the numbers have been argued back and forth and some even believe there were small increases in handle. – I’ll never just follow the words and dictate to any organization to do something to damage business at any track. – ” We’re just not going to bet the signal for one month.” – Well, that’s all they ran and if there were any questions about handle and purses prior. Do you really think Keeneland is just going to back off and say “thank you, sir, may I have another.”  – Open dialogue, trying to work with the track, and encouraging players to get behind a track may have been better served. But what do I know? I’m only a member and more importantly a player.

As I close I’ll give you a little glimpse of what I was faced with. – I was betting with a “specialty tier” ADW and was getting rebates that would choke an elephant. – After realizing I was getting the monies that would have been funneled to the tracks or they would have received a piece of my handle. – I stopped and went back to my old ADW as they benefit the tracks and purses. It was a small move but a big financial decision that was hurting my wallet. – But that’s a decision this player had to make to support the game I love.

Before joining the masses. – Be sure to know all the rules and don’t just take part because you think you’ll make a track to benefit your agenda of the moment. – Let’s see if Keeneland drops the takeout rates for next meet. – I have trusted the little slice of Heaven they have always provided, and far be it from me to try and hurt the track I support. There are a million other ways to have your voice heard but taking on a track’s plans for increasing business is not on the agenda.

What Now ?

These two simple words were uttered by my neighbor over the fence. – It was on Sunday after the Breeders’ Cup and he wanted to know where to bet. – I’ve been talking to him over the fence for years and he’s a curmudgeonly handicapper. He loves to bet from home, jump around and play multiple signals from opening bell to the last race. Believe it or not, he’s done pretty well over the years.

When I get to work I get a text. It comes like clockwork. “What’s the track look like? – Can you take a picture of the tractors harrowing the track?” – I fire them to him as he looks for an angle. No problem, he loves the ponies. – He’s always complaining about not being able to keep up with work and asked if I had any shortcuts. – Well, I don’t know if I’d call it a shortcut but it will keep you in the know without feeling like you’ve read War and Peace every day.

I introduced him to Winning Ponies and he loves the site. “It saves me tons of time as they do the work and I decide how to use it.” – That’s been a few years ago and he loves to dive into the tier levels. – “I don’t just play the top tier number. I jump around and seek out the ones with the highest odds and use the top five tier selections.” – I have told him over the years the top selection is not always the favorite and sometimes you’ll be plenty happy if you seek the double-digit odds. – But he has his plan, and that is fine. Winning Ponies works for him and that’s great. He loves the icons and detailed information about riders and trainers. – He has everything all in one place and it fits his needs.

Later in the day, he hollered over the fence as we were letting out the dogs. – “Hey, I wanna show you something.” – I have heard this voice many times and it was time for him to show me his winning moves. No problem, it’s always good to hear some good news about winning.

As he approached with a giant smile I knew this was his big hit of the day. – “Hey, take a look at this little winner. I boxed the top five tier selections as the TV handicappers kept talking about how this race was wide open.” - It was Race #6 – BC F&M Sprint = ” I boxed the top five in a $1 exacta per the tier levels, and did a 50-cent part wheel using the top five with the top five and a few prices I liked. – The payouts were sweet and he was a very happy camper.


1st – Bar of Gold (5th tier selection) = $135.40 / $44.20 / $21.60

2nd – Ami’s Mesa (top tier selection) = $16.20 / 11.00

3rd – Carina Mia (12th selection – He liked the Chad Brown / Castellano tandem at a huge price)  = $11.00

The $1 dollar exacta = $1,030.20

The 50-cent trifecta = $6,926.75


This was his big hit for the Breeders’ Cup and was proud as a new papa to share his victory. – I’ve always had a gamblers’ mantra. ”
If it’s important for you to tell me, it’s important for me to listen.” – He talked about some bad beats and small scores but did well on the day. When you’re playing as many races as he does you better have some good scores. – I guess I’ll see my tin of season popcorn arrive about two weeks before Christmas. I guess it’s his way of saying thanks for the track pics all summer long and introducing him to the Winning Ponies E-Z Forms. – I’ll keep sending them he’ll keep downloading. – I’m always glad to hear a good story and it’s our way of talking horses over the fence.