Life on Lockdown

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 30, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

In the meantime, we get to watch and wager on tracks that are still conducting live racing. Not bad. It could be worse; we could be watching re-runs of M*A*S*H for the 1,000th time. – So enjoy the races and build your bankroll. You’ll be glad you did once the world opens up again. I have a homework assignment for you. – Take a few minutes and think about what tracks you’ll be visiting later in the year. Will it be a major oval, or just a fun day at a county fair. – You’ve got some time, so put it to good use.

 

1. – Keeneland

 

I can’t wait! – It will be like walking into Yankee Stadium as Keeneland is unique and beautiful. – If you haven’t made the trek. Put it on the bucket list.

 

 

 

 

2. – Indiana Grand

My Dad and I used to go up and hit a night at the races. – I’m gonna grab him up and take him for live racing. – His birthday is June 9th and I’m sure we’ll enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

3. – Van Wert Fair

 

It will take place on September 1 – 7th and racing will be on tap. – I have heard from racing friends this will be a day well spent. – Friendship, food, and racing. What more could you want? – I’m hankering for a deep-fried corndog!

 

 

 

 

4. – The Red Mile

 

 

Established in 1875, the red-clay surface has seen some of the best in Harness racing take the track. – I absolutely love this place. So many memories and I can’t wait to return. Especially in the late summer/fall as you’ll see the best in the world with the Grand Circuit meet.

 

I’m gonna take more time to enjoy the sport. – No rushing around, but slowing down and taking it all in. – Life has changed for all of us and there is a feeling of gratitude. I’ve noticed it on little trips to the store, gas station, etc. People seem a little more kind and smile without looking at a cell phone.

Racing is a way of life for many, a career, and the most exciting sport to watch and wager. – Yeah, it’s fair to say I’m really going to take my time. I’ve always enjoyed the game but I can’t wait until the fans are allowed to return. For me, they’ve been the lifeblood of making the sport great. – If you find you have some time, download your E-Z Win Forms and watch live racing on FS1, NBCSN, or TVG. If you’re playing from home, the computer can put you right on the rail to enjoy the action. – Winning Ponies is ready to make your day at the races enjoyable and profitable. – So, plan ahead for this weekend and download your E-Z Win Forms to start building your bankroll. – Be well, be safe, and best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

Should We Close the Curtains?

 

 

After a stellar day of racing with the Florida Derby card yesterday. It was hard to believe we are living in the times of a pandemic. – The sun was shining and you could see the ocean far off in the distance. Everything looked perfect as announcer Pete Aiello called the horses onto the track. – One of the first things that caught my eye was the pony people wearing masks as they lead horses onto the track. – Just as I felt everything was normal; this brought the reality back into focus.

Normally, Gulfstream is “home of killing four extra minutes to post.” – You know, circle them one more time and watch the handle skyrocket. But, this was not the case today. The earlier races ran on time like the Italian train system. But, I digress. – The races were a needed break away if only for a few hours. – The day did not disappoint, as we watched talking heads handicapping races from home.  Everything was in full effect and all precautions are taken. – Yeah, it was a good day.

Many tracks are changing. – Aqueduct Racetrack once called the “Mecca”. Because it was considered holy land with such great racehorses like Kelso, Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Pebbles gracing this holy ground. And October 6, 1995, Pope John Paul ll blessed this sacred racetrack with a crowd of more than 75,000. – The New York Racing Association announced Saturday that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack is canceled for the remainder of the winter and spring meets with the building now set to serve as a temporary hospital site during the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. – On Friday, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York would seek the required federal approval to construct a temporary hospital at Aqueduct Racetrack to serve the borough of Queens with a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility. This action aligns with New York state’s goal to provide COVID-19 patient overflow facilities in each NYC borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. – The “Mecca” is still watching over us. It has served in many capacities and now it is taking care of so many who need it more than ever. This is not the first time race tracks have played a role in helping the community. – In 2001, Belmont Park served as one of the staging areas for emergency vehicles and personnel in the days following 9/11. Less than seven weeks later, on October 27, 2001, Belmont Park was the site of the first major international sporting event post-9/11 in New York when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup.

Many have canceled and called it a race meet. – It makes good sense and it’s a wonder why it took so long to pull the plug. – I’d go to the races during a hurricane. But, there are circumstances that just outweigh the sport. I have to admit when Turfway Park called off its last three days. It hit hard financially on many. – No cancellations for the first time in memory and the winter climate was mild. I really thought we going to make it. – But, the Governor weighed in with common sense and safety practices for all. It was time to close the curtains for now. It will return bigger, brighter, and ready to race later in the year.

Thoroughbred racetracks in action Saturday include Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and northern California’s Golden Gate Fields, all operating behind doors closed to the public.

Given the ever-changing status of racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders in southern California hope to have Santa Anita Park back on the schedule soon. In an email distributed late Friday, the Thoroughbred Owners of California informed the membership that Santa Anita’s sudden halt to racing “remains a fluid situation.” It was upon an order from the LA County Department of Health that Santa Anita was mandated to cease racing operations minutes before the first post time Friday. – Hope spring’s eternal trying to keep life as normal as possible. But, for me, its safety first. We know the spread continues and the numbers continue to climb. Maybe this once, the only game in town should close the curtains and care for those who live to tend to the horses and others associated with the game.

After watching some great races and worrying about the people who come into contact during regular work routines. We should close the doors. – We are resilient and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. – Give it a little time and allow the medical community to do its part in keeping down the spread. – There will be better times. Believe it or not, racing and life will return to normal before you know it. – I’ll be seeing you at the races very soon!

 

The following tracks have either suspended or canceled their meets:

  • Aqueduct (remainder of the meet)
  • Birmingham (through April 6th)
  • Buffalo (resumes May 2nd)
  • Charles Town (indefinite)
  • Dubai World Cup (March 28th)
  • Evangeline (undetermined start to meet)
  • Fair Grounds (remainder of the meet)
  • Fairmount (at least March 30th)
  • Flamboro (until March 31st)
  • France – all meets (through April 15th)
  • Freehold (through March 21st)
  • Harrington (resumes April 1st)
  • IRE Flat Racing (through April 19th)
  • Keeneland (entire Spring Meet)
  • Laurel (undetermined)
  • Louisiana Downs (remainder of QH Meet)
  • Mahoning Valley (indefinite)
  • Meadowlands (undetermined)
  • MEX-Caliente (indefinite, beginning March 25th)
  • Monmouth (meet will now start May 23rd)
  • Monticello (through March 29th)
  • New Zealand (indefinite)
  • Northfield (through March 27th)
  • Northville (at least two weeks)
  • Parx (two weeks)
  • Penn National (undetermined)
  • Pocono (at least two weeks)
  • Pompano Park (undetermined)
  • Rillito (through March 22nd)
  • Rosecroft (undetermined)
  • Sam Houston (remainder of the meet)
  • Santa Anita (indefinite)
  • Saratoga H (indefinite starting March 23rd)
  • South Africa (March 27th-April 17th)
  • Sunland (three weeks)
  • The Meadows (undetermined)
  • Turf Paradise (remainder of Meet)
  • Turfway (remainder of the meet)
  • UK Flat Racing (through April 30th)
  • Woodbine-Mohawk (undetermined)
  • Yonkers (through March 18th)

 

 

 

Racing in the Time of Corona

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 25, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

What will you do? – Back to the old grind or begin a new chapter? – I think we all ponder these thoughts but hold them under our breath. That’s all good for many, but not for me. It’s going to be a whole new time for this fella when the new day arrives.

As we live in the times of Corona, we’ve had to take a big step back. – Our lives have changed quite a bit. – We live in a smaller version of what we once had and are grateful. Now, I know it’s for the good of all keeping the enemy at bay secluding ourselves in a small bubble. But that’s what the doctor ordered. –  For now.

I’ve started to keep a journal about what I’m going to do when the smoke clears. – First, I’m going to stop at that little Mexican restaurant in Lexington. I’ve always driven past, and never took the time to stop and enjoy the fare. But, this time. I’ll take the time to enjoy the day.

Second, these past few years have been filled with a few health challenges. – I’ve been kept from going to my favorite track; Keeneland. – I’m going to contact a friend who can help with some nice tickets and enjoy a day at the races overlooking the paddock. – Beautiful place. Guests dressed up and enjoying a day at the races. – You know, the way it was meant to be. Not rushed and hurried, but rather savored like a fine wine or a Cuban cigar. – Speaking of that cigar. It’s been donkey’s years since I’ve smoked. – I’m going to buy a Maker’s Mark hand-rolled cigar and enjoy it on the apron with the sun on my face. – Nothing like it.

Third. I have a few pals who always ask but I seem to find a way to wriggle out of taking the time to hit the track. – No more. If I really want to go; off and away I’ll travel. – Nothing like enjoying a day at the races with folks you enjoy. – Savor the day and remember each moment.

These are just the things I’ll do on day one. It will be the first of many for the second chance we ask. – This time has refocused me on the things that matter. – As I’ve been working at Turfway Park these past months, I’ve enjoyed learning a whole new facet of the racing world. – For decades I’ve worked on the front side in a marketing / handicapping role. Radio, TV, and handicapping seminars. – Working in the racing office has been a whole new day. Learning the ropes of how the game comes together has been enjoyable. Seeing the trainers and grooms on the front side is a different game. I’ve had the opportunity to see them in their world up close.

During the time of quarantine and social distancing, we’ve appreciated the little things. – There are no sports being played with no more wagers at the sportsbook you use to enjoy. – But a handful of tracks have been allowed to race. Once again, it’s the only game in town if you want to get your bet on. – It’s kinda like going back in a time machine when casinos were only allowed in Vegas and Atlantic City. Sportsbook operations were a faraway dream, and racetracks were the only legal way to wager. – These were glorious times and we’ve been treated to a little blast from the past.

Full fields, and heart-pounding Thoroughbred action. – Even the TV handicappers work from remote locations as races are run with no cheering fans in the stands. – Eerie watching the first race, but it allowed me to enjoy the game like it was my first trip. You watch and wager by computer and mobile device and the handle has been through the roof.  This short term gain for the sport has really made me stand back and take it all in. – I despise the reason for the handle spike, but it’s been interesting to see.

As monies swell the pools it makes me wonder what we’ve been doing wrong. – You know, losing out to the competition.  In a world of rapid-fire fast-paced gaming, there’s no patience for a 20-minute lull between races. But, when it’s the only game around gamblers love it. – I think we need to address these areas when the fog lifts and we’re back to a new day. Give the fans what they want. After all, it’s their game to play. – No more charging for valet parking, long lines for stale food, and outdated places to sit and watch. – We’ll have a second chance to fix what ails the sport we love.

If you haven’t been watching, some of the major sports networks have been showcasing racing. Except for the one who showed the rock skipping championship of 2004. But, I digress. – We need to look forward and not dwell on this time. We are resilient. It will come to pass but not for now. – Do what is being asked and relish the small treat of enjoying the races from home. – Get to know your family and friends again via electronic assistance and take a deep cleansing breath. Make plans for that restaurant you’ll visit when you’re allowed and take the time. – Call your Mom, walk the dog more, and go see relatives we’ve been too busy to visit. – I’m making plans, but in the meantime using this time to reboot. Clear my head and enjoy the small things we’ve taken for granted. – I hope when the new day arrives we stop staring at cell phones with a table full of friends or family. We’ll watch children play and enjoy the errands we use to call to-do lists. This time is scary and uncertain. But it has allowed me to slow down and pay attention to what matters.

Yeah, when the smoke clears. – Oh, and if you’re looking for me I’ll be the guy driving with his sunroof open to his favorite track. – Until then, I’ll see you at the races. Soon…

The Sound of Silence

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 16, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

 

 

 

I was dressed and ready. My DRF in hand and lucky ball cap on my head. We headed to the track early and stood in line just to get in the doors. – By leaving early you had a good shot at finding a standing place or enjoy a seat purchased in advance. Either way, I was ready to do battle with the day’s event. – Smoke wafted through the air, and the hum of humanity talking horses was the background music as you waited to wager. This was a big day at the races. – Until yesterday.

As the world is hearing more and more about Covid 19 known as the Corona Virus, we are finding ourselves having few options to attend large sporting events. – Governors are banning any event over a hundred people to keep the possible spread of the virus under control. – For the first time ever the marquee day at Turfway Park was going to be run without the cheers of the fans. Only limited staff, stewards, judges, and TV crews were allowed in. – There was no wagering on-track for the public and only a few windows for the owners and connections of the horses running.

I walked down and took a look at the paddock. It had the look of a Thursday afternoon, and you could count the faces in the saddling ring. – The track apron which would have been jammed packed was eerily silent with no one to cheer the competitors. – It had the feel of a Twilight Zone episode where you were one of the last people on Earth. – This wasn’t a cheap claiming race, it was a $100,000 stake race in the paddock.

The only wagering was limited to ADW’s and off-track parlors where small gatherings of people we’re still allowed. – But, if you thought the handle would suffer, think again. – The on-track handle accounts for about 3% of the total handle and the rest comes from people wagering from home. – As you witnessed the swelled win pools you had an idea that people were chomping at the bit to bet. After all, it was the only game in town as casinos, sporting events and other forms of betting were closed. It had the feel of the early ’90s again as racing was the only place to get your bet on.

No concessions, no long lines. – No clerks punching tickets and security was stationed at every door informing patrons. – It was like a ghost town. But, there were going to be twelve incredible races on tap. – As stated before, the bulk of wagering comes from players betting from home or anywhere that had mutuel windows open. Inside you’ll see hundreds of empty grandstand seats and VIP sections gathering dust. – Players wanted to come out as this will be the last live racing meet of Turfway Park since 1959. Churchill Downs is going to tear the old building down and bring us a state-of-the-art facility complete with popular historical gaming machines. It will be a sparkling new casino complete with top-shelf dining and wagering areas. The new entertainment destination will put Northern Kentucky back on the map for racing and gaming. – The future looks bright ahead.

As I walked to my car thinking about the old days of waiting in an hour’s worth of exiting traffic. There were 12 cars in the parking area. – The races were run, and the winners were crowned. Handle exceeded all expectations, but something was missing. – There’s nothing like hearing fans cheer for the horses when they turn for home. I’ve always said the people make the sport and on this day it was more evident than ever. – I’ll miss the old track but look forward to the future facility. I took some pics to remember the track. When I saw the empty parking lots and barren apron. There was a lump in my throat remembering the good old days.

 

No photo description available.

The Happy Horseplayer – February

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 4, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Your friend the Happy Horseplayer is starting to take aim on finding his Derby hopefuls. The marquee races are starting to heat up and it seems like every other week is chock-full of preps. – But, that is the way of the racing world. It starts in the winter and each passing weekend has us a step closer to the Kentucky Derby Trail. – Just stay tuned to Winning Ponies as I’ll be starting a list and checking it twice.

 

Derby Planning

 

It’s 60 days until the Derby and there is still plenty of time. – Now you’ll start focusing on the weekend preps and go back and comb over the replays and comment lines. – Stay informed how they come back and what the plans are for the next race, work, or where they’re being shipped. You’ll want to start a list of 12 horses to start the process and whittle them down as the weeks draw closer. – I can smell the roses in bloom right now!

 

Don’t leave money on the table

During the run for the Triple Crown / Derby Trail, you will see some incredible preps and the undercards offer up some super value. – One of my personal favorites in the pick-four with a super-sized guaranteed pool. – These pools can be worth the investment and you’ll sure leave money on the table for not taking a shot. – If the pool gets over six digits and you hit. That $100 usual payoff could be a swelled payoff to help your bankroll. – Many just overlook these, and that is leaving money on the table.

 

The Ironman Commeth (back)

Perry Wayne Ouzts is the 7th all-time rider in Thoroughbred history. – With over 51,218 mounts and 7,065 wins, he is a racing treasure. – Last season he had a bad spill and has been on the shelf just biding his time. – He wanted to return on his own schedule and has been defying the odds for quite some time. A quiet man who would rather do his talking in his the saddle worked his first horse this morning at Turfway Park.- He’s getting ready for the upcoming Belterra Park meet and this is the first step of his journey.

Image may contain: Perry Ouzts, smiling, riding on a horse, horse, sky and outdoor

This is your old buddy The Happy Horseplayer wishing you nothing but the best! – May your winners be many and your photos be few! – See you next month!

Speed Thrills

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 4, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Uncategorized, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

 

 

We live in a rapid-fire world. Phone in hand with a device not far away. The speed of modern convenience has put the world at our fingertips. We are used to 197 channels, on-demand, 24-hour food delivery and Amazon Prime delivering the world in 30 minutes.

We used to wait, watch, and wager on nine live races over three hours. – We thought life couldn’t be any better. Well, times have changed and we better get with the program.

Slot machines, VLT’s and a plethora of rapid-fire machines are putting us out to pasture.  Slow just won’t go anymore. People want action every second if possible; and even then they want it quicker, brighter, bigger and better. How can we compete with that?  With this in mind; give it a think and see if any of this works.

 

Speed up the game, people have short attention spans.
It’s the main reason baseball struggles. – Too slow for the desire of the “now I’m bored era.”
How about borrowing an idea from harness racing? – Have a race behind the paddock in holding to hit the track in ten to twelve minutes as soon as it’s official. – No waiting, just blazing action coming your way. – Talk about having a mainline adrenaline rush. – The entire card run and done in about two hours.
Now before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make sure we’re prepared with safety.
How about two sets of valets getting silks ready and tending to the needs of the riders?- The track crew works the track, the ambulance is there already, and you can have two sets of an outriding crew. – Can you see the game picking up speed yet?
Instead of players searching for an “impulse play” waiting on your live racing, they’re getting ready for the next race. – Real handicappers come to the track-ready and the rest will enjoy the fast-paced action.  New players will love the red-hot pace, and think of your audience in simulcast world. They’ll be glued to playing your signal as it comes up every ten minutes or so.
Speed is the name in gaming. – It started with jitney bingo and skyrocketed to the stratosphere. – This may not be the panacea, but racing needs to pick up the pace to stay in the running. – You’ll go to the movies with your date for two hours. You’ll listen to your favorite band for two hours and wish for more. – Would you enjoy watching and wagering on a full race card in the same time?

 

Turning For Home

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 27, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

“We’d drive out with great expectations. There were races to play and a fortune to be made. Or, that’s what a young man would think on his way to the track. Looking at my Dad, and listening to stories of the big winner. It not only made the ride a little quicker but grew a love for a sport.”

 

This is the old Latonia Race Course. It was located on Winston Avenue in Latonia (Covington) Kentucky. – It saw Black Gold the winner of the 1924 Kentucky Derby run and gave legendary rider Eddie Arcaro his start in the saddle. – It was also the place my grandpa met my grandmother. She and her friend Virginia Kordenbrock took in a day at the races and met a stocky plumber with a flair for talking to the ladies. – A year later they drove to Churchill Downs to watch the Kentucky Derby. They made a stop in Carrolton, Kentucky at the justice of the peace and the rest is history. – I still have the 1938 program from his luckiest day at the races. Lawrin won, and our family began.

 

The old track lasted until financial difficulties closed the doors for good on July 29, 1939. – There would be no racing in Northern Kentucky until 1959 when the new Latonia Race Course opened in Florence, Kentucky. – Racing was back and many greats showed their talents over the years.

 

 

Over the years there were harness races in the summer and Thoroughbreds in the Winter-Spring. – Racing under the lights set the stage for excitement as I spent many an evening with my Dad and grandpa. – The track was sold to Jerry Carroll in 1986 and renamed the icon, Turfway Park. – That was the year I began my employment at the races as a parking lot attendant.

 

The track allowed me to work my way through college and offered me many opportunities. – My love for racing began here. It continues to grow, and to this day I’ve never strayed too far away from my first love. – In the Spring of 2020, the race meet will come to an end and so will Turfway Park. – It has been purchased by Churchill Downs and they are going to build a state-of-the-art facility with VLT’s, the best in simulcast racing and top-notch live racing on a Tapeta surface.

The next chapter is about to happen and I get to share my love of the sport with my son. He loves the thought of making a wager and watching the excitement. – Nothing like it for this fan, as I hope to spend some evenings with friends and family here during my life.

I’ve seen many changes over the years and look forward to the future. – There’s nothing like going to the track. It was my first love and continues to this day to captivate my inner-fan. – Here’s to wishing the New Turfway Park a great start and many fantastic finishes!

 

Old Dog, New Tricks

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 19, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | 2 Comments >>

I’ve been watching and wagering on the races since I can remember. – Pretty much, I had a good idea of what goes on at the races. After all, I’ve worked in every capacity at the track. – But this all changed in late November at Turfway Park.

Starting in the parking lot as a kid was fun and I got to watch the races. – Move up a rung or two and manage the same lots. – Then with a stroke of luck, I made my way inside. I worked in admissions, racebook manager, ADW coordinator, marketing manager, track announcer/morning line oddsmaker. Yeah, I thought I had seen the sport inside and out.

November 2019 was the beginning of a new experience. – I was going to work in the racing office and become a placing judge at night. – Old dog new tricks. – I have to admit it was something I thought I wouldn’t enjoy. But, it’s never too late to change your mind.  After a couple of days, it’s been an experience I have really enjoyed.

The racing office gathers and begins the process around 8am. This is the start of how the races come together. – The room is filled with others who’ve spent their entire working life taking entries, hustling horses, and acting in many capacities. Talk about being over your head. – But, after some hand-holding and patient leadership, I’m starting to learn. Oh, I have about a million miles to go, but the journey has begun.

You have a condition book that is created by the racing secretary. It’s a book varied with about every type of race needed. It’s their job to communicate with horsemen and management. Think of it as a magician who spends the right amount of money on races that will fit the needs of horsemen looking to race. – Races are written for horses looking to fit a condition that fits their needs. – Maiden special weight, claimers, and allowance just to name a few. – This position is versed in knowing all rules, keeping abreast of national news and horses, and keeping the beat for clockers, outriders, stakes coordinators, vets, trainers and grooms. They work closely with the stewards on regulations and daily problems. – I think after seeing this job a little closer it should come with a big bottle of aspirin. But, lucky for me I’m working for someone who handles everything in stride. Never to anger and always has a plan. This is rare in any job and even more of a unicorn in racing. – In their downtime, they get to handle payroll, budgets, and planning. It’s a job only a handful of people could pull off. – Thank you, Tyler Picklesimer, for allowing me to see behind the racing curtain to learn. Your zen-like calm keeps the office running like a machine.

The phones start ringing at 8 am sharp. – You’ll hear trainers or agents entering horses as you type them into a fixed system. – You ask for the name, verify who trains and owns, rider, claiming price if necessary, and medications. – Sounds, easy huh? – I’ve only asked about a million questions and they still come on a daily basis. – We have a good staff who works well together. Everyone helps everyone. – Once all info is in you send it on to print out a hard copy for the assistant racing secretary. She is amazing. Handles everything in stride and like a third-grade teacher who can multi-task about five things at once all the while answering questions. – Once the phones start ringing it’s high energy for about three hours. All the while you get to know trainers and agents with a quick chat before hitting the phones again. – Believe it or not. This high energy morning has become enjoyable. Getting to know people has always been a plus for me, and this job offers this and much more. – Thank you, Tia Murphy, for answering around a million questions and more to come.

As we move along through the meet you’ll see a daily count above the assistant’s desk. – It’s how many days of taking entries are left in the meet. It only took me about a month to ask “what’s that daily number that changes?” – After a few laughs and a little ribbing, you get a full answer to what is happening. Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks?

At night there are three placing judges who have an office with a couple of TV’s. – One is for the live races and the other for football or hoops in between races. – We watch the break and two of us call out the top four runners while one person enters them quickly into the computer that generates them for video and the tote board. – Once they get past the 1/4 pole we take them down and all stand up. – In hand is a notebook as we quietly watch the horses cross the wire. We feverishly write them down and have a quick comparison before looking at the photo finish system. – This all happens in about 20 seconds as the horses cross the wire. – Once we establish the top four or five we call tote so they can cross-check the finishers and begin calculating payouts. – Then we go back and check our notes against the photo finish rundown. – After numbers are verified, we call video, horseman’s bookkeeper, and jocks room. – Once everything is in and the “official” sign goes up. You get ready for the next race and go back to watching football for about 20 minutes to the next race. The whole process took about 2-3 minutes. Players want to know the finish and payoffs and time is of the essence. I work with two gents who have a combined 80 years of experience as a racing official. – Thank you, Jean Chalk and Randy Wherman for all of your help.

As the meet rolls along and the racing days dwindle. – My experience and understanding has grown a bit. – I never saw myself on this side of racing, but it has become a great learning experience. – I look forward to what’s around the bend for next year. – Thanks to all who have taken a newbie and made them feel at home. Answering my questions over and over and helping me learn the process. – Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? This dog has had a great time learning the sport from a whole new perspective. – For anyone who questions how much care and love goes into caring for the animals. Spend a day just watching and you’ll see the salt of the earth folks who put on the show. – This year has been a great deal of personal satisfaction. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, and the racing office was a pleasant surprise. – Just when I thought I had a grasp on what was going on in our sport I realized just how much I didn’t know. Thanks for the opportunity and looking forward to next year already.

 

Convenient Memory

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 11, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

 

I can remember bad beats in vivid detail – But recalling big winners can be a little tougher at times. – I wonder why I’ve been having this trouble for all these years.

Now, I can tell you about some of the big winning days, but the losers stick out like a sore thumb. – The winning days are fun and fruitful. You get to root and cheer and celebrate with friends. I’ve been searching the world over and think I found a clue finally.

When you lose you learn a lesson. “What did I miss? Is there a figure I didn’t take into consideration? The trainer has great stats fresh off the claim.” You get the idea. – Losing is like a bee sting. Hurts for a while then you take care of the wound. – Same things go for losing wagers. You tend to the hurt by trying to figure out what you missed.

This can be a tough effort, and if you keep an open mind. It will be time well spent. – I’ve had some beats that would make the toughest of players fall to their knees. – But, if you go back you’ll find clues for fixing the problem. – If a horse falls, gets checked up strongly at the break, or gets caught in a pocket. You can toss this out on a bad trip. Not much you can do except wait until the next time they run and double down. – It’s worked plenty for me and sometimes we come up short. But watching the races for troubled trips and bad breaks is time well spent.

I like to go back and examine the trip. Was is solid or jumbled? Did your horse get a bad break at the start?  Were they caught in between runners with no place to go? – All good ideas and I would add in going back and watching the races a few times. – Give bonus points if they have a hot rider in the saddle from the last race. A smoking morning workout. Maybe the post position will benefit today as it fits the horse’s style of running.

A couple more focus points for me: Was he/she a beaten favorite last out? – Dropping in class or a change in the distance? – All good thoughts when looking for answers. – Handicapping can be a fine mix of art and science. – If you keep an open mind and don’t press that last race into making something happen that didn’t. You’ll be much better off.

Losing teaches lessons and winning makes you happy. – Both can be very helpful tools in taking your game to the next level. – Winning builds confidence and losing makes you work harder. They both have merit and should be used accordingly. After all, they are both helpful tools in keeping your bankroll growing.

So the next time you have some close losses or a bad beat. Go back to the drawing board and look closer. I think you’ll start looking through a whole new set of eyes.

Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies! 

 

 

The Happy Horseplayer – January 2020

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 6, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

It’s your old friend the HH! – January came and went and most of us have flopped on our New Year’s resolutions, or at least I have. – In my neck of the woods, it has been a mild winter; and with that being said it will snow 12 inches on Derby Day.

 

Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil strutted his stuff among his friends in Gobbler’s Knob. He didn’t see his shadow and that means we’ll be playing our favorite spring signals with sunny weather as the legend calls for an early spring. I sure hope so as it’s been donkey years since I’ve seen the sun.

As the cult movie, I feel like I’m living the same day over and over at times. – Sometimes no matter how much we prepare we find ourselves having the same results. – Win $12 and lose back $8, rinse and repeat. – There will be days like that as Mom used to tell us. – But, if you stick to the last of your New Year’s resolutions. Keep working on your handicapping methods and put as much time into making your wagers as you did finding your winners. – See you in the winner’s circle.

 

Gulfstream Park

The sun does shine in Florida, or at least that’s what the big yellow ball in the heavens looks like. – I love this time of year and it seems like the weekends are getting better by the race. Mischievous Alex drew off by seven taking down the G-3 Swale Stakes. Also, toss in Green Light Go who was flying late as a beaten favorite.

The G-3 Holy Bull is a signal for me that the big races are coming. – This past weekend we got a glimpse of Tiz the Law by Constitution. He was tough to settle and had to be wrangled back under stout restraint. He steadied at the 6f pole and cruised on past to kick clear by an easy three lengths. – I’ve been looking forward to GP for quite some time and I’ll be playing there more and more!

 

Checking in on you

Have you taken that youngster to a day at the races? – How about reconnecting with old friends who used to be regular pals at the races? – It’s already February and I’m as guilty as anyone who hasn’t taken the time.

The past few weeks I’ve caught myself talking for hours at night to old handicapping friends. We used to play in contests long ago and since then life has taken over. Kids, grand-kids, and that long walk from the car for some. – But, we laugh and make plans for a semi-yearly trek to Keeneland. It’s been a couple years for me and I’m really looking forward to seeing that big Sycamore in the paddock. Yeah, plans with the boys. We’re getting a little older and Father Time is undefeated, but the time spent with my buddies is golden. – My Dad has become a little too comfortable watching races from his “office” in his den. I think I’m gonna kidnap him and make the drive to Lexington. But just don’t tell him.

Best of luck from your friend the Happy Handicapper!