Another Trip Around the Sun

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 30, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | 2 Comments >>

It comes around quicker these days, as it seems like yesterday I was just blowing out the candles. Well maybe that was last week, but you know what I mean. As you approach a birthday you take stock in what you have and what is no longer here. You count your blessings and relish the memories. This birthday like many others for this race fan is filled with gratitude and happiness. As we use to recall every bad beat and every photo that went the other way. I now find myself counting the wins by how many friends I speak with and family members that are still here to talk racing.

Working in Thoroughbred racing has been more than a dream come true. How many people do you really know love what they do ? – Me neither. – I can recount every job and every moment. As a kid I used to attend the races with my dad and grandpa, and I spent my time in the high school library reading results and entries at tracks around the nation. – I remember once playing in a high school football game and we were beating a team pretty bad. They let the clock roll, and that meant the game would be over 45 minutes sooner. As I walked past the ref I could see his watch and it read 8:00 pm. – I figured if we get off the field and I skip a shower, I could catch the last three races at Latonia Race Course. We did, and I hit the road with my tape still on my ankles.

I am grateful for so many that have helped me along the way it would read like a political speech. I’ll sum it up by saying thank you to you every wonderful person who continues to make my dream come true. – There are a few people who rise to the top. I would just like to give a little special “thanks” for all they did for me along my travels.

Greg – Thanks for giving me my first job in the parking lot many moons ago. This taught me the first people fans meet on the way in can be very important. Attention to detail, and learning to take handicapping to the next level happened during this time as a young man.

Bob – Can’t thank you enough for all that you did. You taught me to believe in myself, and gave me plenty rope to run with. You created an opening for me and let me design the details. You won’t see that many times in your work experience, and it helps me on a daily basis to this day. – Thanks, Big T.

Izzy and James – It started with a few emails, and since 2008 I’ve been a part of your team. Allowing me to kick off the Winning Ponies Internet Show and writing for your site has been a great joy. – Can’t thank you enough. I wear my black Winning Ponies cap with pride to this day, and you guys gave me a little extra to build my resume. – Thanks, guys ! – May all your photos be winners.

Brad - Thanks for allowing me to spend a year with the Yankees. Keeneland is the benchmark of what racing should be, and I appreciated your time and wisdom helping me see the big leagues. – Walking past the big iconic Sycamore tree in my daily trek was like walking past Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame.

John – Where does one begin ? – As you heard the best sales pitch to the GM at River as I sold myself for a job I already had thanks to you; Taking me in to be the 1A on the Regular Guy Show, or getting my foot in the door at Belterra trying my hand at something new. You taught me how to have fun with handicaping and working in racing. Never take yourself too serious, and enjoy a cold chill at the end of the day. – You are one of a kind to say the least, and I will always consider you to be the big brother who let me tag along. – Thanks, Colonel.

*Handicapping is a long road. Last week when I was asked “how long does it take to learn to read the Form ?” – There has not been a day I have not learned something new.  – Have patience. It is all about the journey.

*Treat the guests, patrons, or visitors with respect and courtesy. – Act as if your job depends on it because it really does.

* Bring a kid to the races; take a new person who didn’t think they’d like the game, or just spend time talking with an older player who likes to share stories about the game. The first two invest in the future and the latter respects the past.

* Share your knowledge. – It’s just more fun to help someone along the way.

* Bet with your head and not over it.

* Don’t argue with your better half about making a trip to the races. – It never turns out well. Trust me.

* Try and make it to the paddock once every trip. There are magical things that take place there.

* Be happy for others when they win even if you lose.

*If you lose don’t cry and if you win don’t brag.

* Enjoy the beauty and pageantry. There’s no other game like horse racing. – If you listen real close you’ll hear the hoofs beat from the past running down the stretch.

Well, another year in the books, and the race is official. – I find myself enjoying more and worrying less. Past memories are the reason you see that little smile on my face when I walk in the door to the track – Until next year, may all your photos be winners, and I’ll see you at the races !

What’s Going On ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 30, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Summer is always a busy time. Great weather, fire up the grill and watch the sunset. Racing has always been a big part of my life. From my years in the parking lot as a kid to the many incredible jobs as an adult. There is something about the beauty and heat of the summer sun. The days are longer but time goes by quicker. Just like the Kenny Rogers and First Edition song; ” I just dropped in to see what my condition was in.”

This is my fourth year calling the races at Belterra Park. – There’s a new wind blowing, and I’m pretty sure it’s the winds of change. Advertising is starting to draw attention, full fields in most races, and fun events fill the day. The positive energy has replaced the nay-sayers, and communication is taking the place of direct emails on how things will be. – Every once in awhile a little change is welcomed be everyone. This is one of those rare times. – The best part, I think this is just the beginning of good things to come.

The races are exciting and the place is beautiful. If you look at the promotional schedule it is chock full of good stuff. A little something for everyone. – This year has replaced the stale and robotic with the fresh and new. Everyday I walk in is a good day. How many jobs have you had when you pull into your spot you feel like a little kid going to the amusement park ? – That sums it up for this lucky racing fan. Having a job you love is never going to work again. – I used to read that mantra for years, and there are no better words that could sum up my working life.

The other day I had the pleasure of seeing a couple friends who are horse owners. – No names mentioned, as they aren’t the kind who seek attention. The trainer is a professional man who is also horse trainer to complete a full and exciting life. His partner is a beautiful soul that could feel at home anywhere. – When they stopped up they always greet with a hearty hug. No stodgy handshakes here as they don’t know many strangers. – We talked about handicapping and their horse that was going to run that day. We spoke about the special feed they use and how their horses really take to the vitamins and nutrients. – I almost asked for a bowl for breakfast.

The race was two away and we parted with a strong hug and deep well wishes. They are the kind of people who leave anywhere they were a better place just by stopping by. – Energetic and positive vibes only, with more smiles than frowns. As they walked down the hall we agreed to meet again soon as they had some horses shipping in from Chicago later in the month. – Good things to look forward to. and chatting with folks who love the game. – When their race came up they were sent off the odds-on favorite looking like a million bucks on the track. Stalking perfectly in third just close enough to see the leaders as they passed the 3/8th’s pole. The rider had a handful and asked her for a little and she responded. – This is the part as a track announcer where you get the chills and get ready to wind up with a little action in your voice. – I said “she’s on the rail and ready to uncork a rally.” – The action was starting to build and you’re ready for the big run for home. – She started backing out of the action and as they turned for home, I could see the rider trying his hardest to throttle her down gently to prevent injury but that happened three or four jumps earlier. – I wish I had some good news for my friends who love the game with genuine affection. – ” Ed, she took a bad step and the injury was beyond the care of a surgeon. She had to be put down.” I remembered an hour earlier how the day held promise and the two most positive people at the races made the walk to the paddock. – They were saddened well past any words, and only time will allow this horrible day to fade.

The day started with hope and happiness and ended on a bitter note. But the game goes on. This is the way it has always been, and guess it always will be. – Mirroring life it has the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We remember the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future. – Here’s to the many people who make the game great and honor the most majestic creatures with time, love and care. – Until next time, I’ll see you at the races !

Faded Pictures Hold Beautiful Memories

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 20, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

The sun beats down on your sweat stained cap. – Not a seat to be found as the place was packed. You had to get there an hour early to nail down a chair. – We used to park in the horsemen’s lot a 1/4 mile away and jog to the gates. – Gamblers are funny. They don’t mind making a $5 bet, but don’t ask them to pay $2 to park. As we jogged to the gate our eyes searched in between cars for a thrown-away program or better yet a Daily Racing Form. Catching the last three or four races was an art. You had to time the traffic,  jog in, and make the admission gates opening for free. As you read you probably think this was a sorry way to spend your time. – What if I told you these were some of the best days of my life ?

Learning to be a handicapper was a long apprenticeship. I started off learning from my dad, grandpa, and my dad’s friend Fox. There were always a bevy of folks with an angle or approach, but these were my professors who taught me the art. I say art because you can’t get it from a book, and won’t learn it from going to night school. – You spent countless hours listening to races on the radio, and waiting with baited breath when a big race would be televised. – Yeah its fair to say these were some of the best days of my life.

My dad taught me that speed was king. He loves to jump out on the hook and play a little game called “catch me if you can.” I attribute this to his athletic prowess on the many fields of game. Once a competitor, always a competitor. He still looks for the early speed and likes to play low percentage riders. They don’t win often but when they did, your could bet your bottom dollar we’d be having a pizza from Burke’s that night. – My grandpa was a longshot player. His skills came from many a weekend at old Latonia as a young man. Plumber by trade, and weekend gambler by heart. He loved to bet the daily-double. Not many gimmicks back then, and if you hit the double you were on your way to a good day. – Fox was a professional man who dabbled in a little bookmaking. Don’t laugh, he put his sons through college matching off our bets for the 10% juice. Fox was a player who loved the sprinter going long, and would make two or three bets from the entire card. He had the patience of a stone, and would wait all day to make one bet. – Patience doesn’t grow on trees. It comes from making that long walk to the car broke a million times. You either learn the art, or just keep getting clobbered. – He gave be the best advice for betting. ” Don’t bet over your head. You’ll want to come tomorrow and if you go tapped you’re out.” – He was right then and right today. Thanks, Fox.

I played with two old bookmakers my dad and grandpa bet with. I was put on a $20 a week limit while in high school, and could call up and make a bet on the radio from Keeneland or Churchill. – This was better than anything you would have imagined. I was one of the guys now. – This went on until I graduated high school and went to work. From then on, it was all on me. – My apprenticeship was about to end and it was time to get in the game or head to the car. – I came up with a novel idea of trying to get a job at night working in the parking lot. – Sounded like a way to make a few bucks and be near the action I loved. – This was the start of a love affair that still holds my heart.

I worked through college, and slowly crept up the ladder. – The ladder is long and the perch is high when you have no real “in’s” to help you along. You either get in by family, or take the road less traveled. – I had the latter, but it was the road that taught me everything I needed to know. – I worked about every job at the track except selling tickets. I guess that may have been a lesson I didn’t want as it would have been too easy to bet. – I stopped looking for teaching job when I was offered a position inside. I ran the parking lot, worked in admissions, became race book mananger, and went on to be player development manager. This took me to on-air handicapping and radio shows in the Cincinnati market. – Long way from my $28 a day parking job, but I never forgot where I came from.

My thinking was if you wanted to bet you had to be there. Watch, wager, and learn. – There was no horse racing channel and simulcast had just taken off. Being at the track offered me a paycheck and evetually a position. – I started by watching others make mistakes. It didn’t help me to win, it just showed me the sure-fire way to lose. I saw gamblers play small, over their head, and everything in between. Gambling is for visitors who came on a bus trip, but making bets was like wearing a tie on Wall Street. In some countries they are called “punters.” I liked being a handicapper. A cerebral dance that wouldn’t interest folks sitting at the 25-cent slot machine.

This all started by looking at one picture. A picture of my dad, brother Don and myself. The three that jogged in together, and had more fun than the law allows. One picture took me on a journey that has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. – I could see the sweat stained Derby Lane cap on my head and look of youth in our eyes. I guess you just had to be there to really understand. – These were some of the best days of my life.

The Happy Handicapper / The 149th Belmont Stakes

Bob Summers would’ve been writing about his weekend at the Belmont Stakes. – He passed away on September 10, 2010 and his voice and racing insights left us wanting more. – I wanted to carry on his love of the sport and had the opportunity to meet him. I was very lucky to have him as a special guest on the Winning Ponies Internet Show on June 3,2010, and this would be the last opportunity I had to enjoy his stories. Once a month I will wear the “Happy Handicapper” cap and pass along my insights about the Sport of Kings.

The Belmont card was chock full of betting opportunites, and many races overshadowed the 149th running of ‘The Test of the Champion.” But the August Belmont Memorial trophy awaited the winner, and the race went to post at 6:37 pm. – It was a great day to get your gamble on with a card that offered 13 races, a million dollar pick-six pool, and a $1.5 million guaranteed pool for the all-stakes pick-four. – If there was some better racing I surely didn’t find it on this day, and all eyes would be glued to the field as they entered the starting gate for the big race.

My first score came in the 4th race with the (G-1) Acorn Stakes. – The Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman was back in and had Mike Smith aboard. The Oaks had a sloppy sealed track and she came off a bit awkwardly. When she hit her high cruising speed she circled the field in a “Silky Sullivan” style that gave the world goosebumps. – At Belmont there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the track was blistering fast. – Every good horse player should return with a “bet back” off a sweet win. Think of it as an homage to the Racing Gods. – When Mike Smith started rounding the far turn it looked like it was to be between Abel and Salty who both came in from Louisville. – Smith gave one of his best rides of the day diving to the rail saving precious ground as Salty tipped off four wide. Down the lane the masterful move by Smith proved to be the best decision. One that would notch him five victories in the day. When she paid $6.30, this was real value for such a talented gal.

The 5th race was one to watch and have a beer and a hot dog as Songbird sang her sweet tunes down the lane and just played with the field in the (G-1) Ogden Phipps. – She is more than special, and it won’t be long until the comparison talks begin among the last remaining scribes and handicappers. – Another masterful ride by Mike Smith.

Race #7 – The (G-2) Woody Stephens named for the HOF trainer who wrote the book on how to win the Belmont Stakes. – American Anthem proved to be the best and dispelled any rumors that Bob Baffert doesn’t do well when he travels to the east. – I got hooked on trouble runner #11 Petrov who saw every bit of the track this day going wide and wider. He still managed a solid 4th being 7 wide at the 1/8th pole. – Another reason why Mike “Money Man” Smith may be the best rider in the nation.

Race #10The (G-1) Manhattan was one of my best plays of the day. #4 – Time Test came in for the Chad Brown barn and was making his second start for the trainer. There are a bevy of stats that made me dig depper in my pockets this race:

  • Brown wins 21% 2nd off the layoff
  • 2nd time lasix yields a 17% win clip
  • Javier Castellano and Chad Brown have been winning (46%) the past two months
  • A trip over the track as a beaten favorite sealed the deal for me

Ascend grabbed the lead at the one mile mark going 1 1/4 and repelled the attack of everyone including Time Test who ran a beautiful second place effort.

Race #11 – The 149th Belmont Stakes – 1 1/2

I was sold on the Japanese invader Epicharis and he was to be even better than the previous runner Lani from the year prior. But he came up with some soreness and was scratched as lame in his right front foot. I thought all was lost until I dug a little deeper. - #2 Tapwrit caught my eye early in the year, and I bet with both hands as he won the Tampa Bay Derby. He was so impressive that I feared he may have peaked a little too soon, and that worry came true tossing in two clunkers in the Bluegrass and Derby. Time cures most everything, and this proved to be the answer winning the Belmont under the guidance of ultra-talented Jose Ortiz of the famed Ortiz brothers.

I also thought the one-eyed Patch would show up and he looked the part for awhile. Lookin At Lee just looked tired down the lane as he fought the good fight taking on all comers at multiple tracks. He may return later in the year with some well deserved rest. - Irish War Cry came back off the Derby, and showed once again that Graham Motion knows his horses and brought him back ready to score. He fought on bravely and we’ll hear more from him later in the year. – The horse to watch from race was Senior Investment. He came is as an outsider and took good money at the windows. He was bumped around and still managed a solid 5th place effort in this tough test. He’ll come back for Kenny McPeek and give us plenty to watch with a little luck from the Racing Gods.

That’s a wrap from the “Happy Handicapper.” – I’m sure Bob enjoyed the race watching over and rooting with some of the best scribes handicappers, and riders sitting by his side. Until next month, the Happy Handicapper takes off his cap and waits with baited breath for the next big event.






Sounds From the Past / The Happy Handicapper

I was taking a walk down memory lane. – Well, it started as a dream and evolved into a conversation with John Engelhardt. John used to suggest, help, and point me in the direction of some interesting guests when I was the host of the Winning Ponies Internet Show. It was on June 10, 2010 that I had the opportunity to have a special a one-of-a-kind guest that captured my heart and grabbed my interest. I had met this gentleman in our office at River Downs many moons ago, and I always looked forward to his yearly visit. His stories were thick with horse sense as his deep voice would take me on a trip back in time.

“The Happy Handicapper” was a weekly column in the Buffalo News. Mr. Bob Summers wrote and detailed his trips and mega-track ventures where he and Bob Engelhardt would jump in the “Bet Mobile” and hit as many tracks in 24-hours as possible. The only rule was to make at least one bet at every track and watch the race. – I had plenty of trips of the same, but none as interesting as Bob’s. – As he would finally make his visit to the Kentucky Derby and hopefully cash. The best part was when he would stop up to River Downs and visit with his friend John. I was like a little kid in the room and soaked up every word like a sponge. When Bob’s deep voice would speak the other sounds in the room would just disappear.

His stories were rich in detail and worth their weight in gold. I was like the younger brother in the room allowed to be a part of the conversation. Talk about a seat at the grown-ups’ table. – Bob Summers had a way of telling a story, and his rich voice made it that much better. The Derby, Belmont, Fort Erie, Scioto Harness, Wheeling Greyhound racing, and stops at tracks that are a footnote in the history of horse racing. – The “Bet Mobile” was his version of Batman’s car that would save the world from villains as Bob’s would make the trek to every track as humanly possible. Both noble pursuits and both had purpose. The only difference was that Bob’s was much more fun than Batman’s adventures. Bob didn’t save the day from the Joker, but he had one helluva’ time with his side-kick Bob Engelhardt as his partner in handicapping.

“Bob was a solid, well-rounded newsman with diverse skills, as was evident by his transition from the business desk to sports copy desk and columnist. He was an old-style journalist who could do it all,” said Margaret Sullivan, editor of The News.” – Bob loved covering horse racing, whether it be at Buffalo Raceway, Batavia Downs, Fort Erie or the Triple Crown races,” said Steve Jones, sports editor of The News. “He made friends on the rail and in the lines at the betting windows. As the Happy Handicapper, he relished the chance to be Everyman in the sport of kings.” – For me there couldn’t be a more noble profession. It is a rare gift to take your readers on a journey in the Bet Mobile and his stories had you a back seat ticket for the best advetures in the business.

I began my handicapping venture with Bob Engelhardt’s little brother John almost eleven years ago. – It was a few days before Labor Day, when he asked me to join him as a guest handicapper on the taped Regular Guy Show. We would tape the show in the morning as John was busy doing P.R. work throughout the busy day. He was a photographer, writer, PR man and ambassador for River Downs. – My pay for this labor of love was two tickets to the V.I.P tent which I would take my dad as my guest. It was on this day I met my longtime gal, which to this very day I still blame John.

As he was about to complete his Saturday night shift on the sports copy desk of The Buffalo News, Robert J. “Bob” Summers announced that he would treat the staff to pizza next Saturday. What’s the occasion, he was asked. “I’m going to celebrate receiving my first Social Security check,” he said.  – A few hours later, Summers died of an apparent heart attack after he was stricken at the Seneca Niagara Casino and taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital. He was 66.

After going back and listening to the podcast with Bob Summers as my special guest, it gave me an idea. – I called John Engelhardt and asked if it would be a good idea to carry on with writing a special once a month article under the name of “The Happy Horseplayer.” – An homage to Mr. Summers and his love of racing. One that could never be duplicated, but only appreciated by the inner-race fan in all of us. – John agreed, and once a month I will do a blog as The Happy Horse Player. – Bob loved the Belmont Stakes and this will be my first article.

In 2003, he won a handicapping competition at Fort Erie and advanced to the national finals in Las Vegas. Just last week, he attended Fort Erie’s Legends Day at the track. “He was a great supporter of racing and Fort Erie Race Track,” said Darryl Wells, former director of communications and track announcer at the Ontario track. “He was always joking and smiling and had a story to share.” – In the photo accompanying his column, Summers’ face was obscured by a pair of binoculars. “He always watched races live with binoculars, never watching TV,” Wells said.

Bob Summers lives on with the annual edition of the Bob Summers Memorial held at Fort Erie. – I won’t try to speak in Mr. Summers voice as my words would be a poor attempt at such an accomplished writer, handicapper, and one heckeuva’ guy. – I’ll just pass along  the same love of the game and I’ll start with the Belmont Stakes this year. – The Happy Handicapper lives on, and I hope that Bob will be in my corner when it comes time to making a wager. – You can visit the Winning Ponies archives, or just click here and take a trip in the Bet Mobile back to a fond memory. –

The Test of the Handicapper

As we close in on the third jewel of the Triple Crown take stock. Just as we examine the horses who go to post, step back and take a look at yourself. Are you making the strides you wanted as we kicked off the year ? How is your overall handicapping ? Are you watching more and betting less ? How is your resolve to be a better handicapper overall ? – What got me thinking about the process was the incredible card at Belmont this weekend. As we plan on watching and wagering the Belmont Stakes, I ask if you’re wagering on the best race of the day ? – I began the past few weeks counting the days, but as we can count the hours to post time, there are plenty of better races to watch and wager for our bankrolls.

Race #4 – The G-1 Acorn Stakes – 1 mile

#3 – Abel Tasman = Mike Smith and Baffert come to New York. Baffert usually has better luck everywhere in the world, and now he brings the Oaks winner to the “Big Apple.” – She is a maturing gal who deserves respect. Churchill Downs had a sloppy / sealed track and she came from the clouds after a comprimsed beginning. She is much more than a deep closer and look for Smith to utilize her ability to keep her a bit closer. You’re going to have to dig deep to find value and there is plenty of ladies in here that will fit perfectly underneath in the gimmicks.

Race #5 – The G-1 Ogden Phipps – 1 1/16

This may be a free spot in multi-race wagers and a great race to watch.

#5 – Songbird = Mike Smith in the irons and this gal is a head short of being a perfect 12/12 with wins. Her works are sparkling and the trainer wins (26%) off a beaten favorite effort. The cutback in distance may be what the doctor ordered and the rider finds a way to get his picture taken frequently when the money is on the line.

Race #7 – The G-2 Woody Stephens – 7f

#7 – Wild Shot = Corey Lanerie in the saddle and exits a strong win in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill. He cuts back in distance and has some honest works coming into the race. – He has faced some of the big guns: Classic Empire, McCrackin, Tapwrit, Practical Joke and Lookin At Lee. – With a resume of doing battle with the big names all season long is enough to seal the deal. Add in he is (4-1) and you may have a solid price to build your wagers.

Race #8 – The G-1 Just A Game – 1 mile on the turf

#1 – Dickinson = Paco Lopez aboard for Kiaran McLaughlin and the rider is a good player on the turf winning (17%) and (46%) in the money. 1/1 at Belmont and owns some nice works at Greentree Training Center. – The rail is winning (28%) and exits a super effort in the G-1 Jenny Wiley beating Lady Eli. She has been away from the races for 56 days and looks to be one of the tough gals in the field.

Race #10 – The G-1 Manhattan – 1 1/4

#4 – Time Test = This is my best bet of the day – He shipped over from York for the Chad Brown barn and they ran a great race in the G-3 Fort Marcy over a yielding turf course. He closed stoutly and was beat in the shadow of the wire. – Now they go from a 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 and he is 4/4 ITM with three wins at the distance. He fits the perfect Chad Brown angle of 2nd off a layoff (22%), 2nd time lasix (17%) and the rider / trainer angle is white hot winning (40%) over the past few months.

Guaranteed Wagers (June 10) $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 on Race 1, $250,000 Guaranteed Pick 3 begins on Race 3, $1 Million Guaranteed Pick 6, $1.5 Million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on Race 8 – This is enough to get any racing fan chomping at the bit !

As far as the Belmont Stakes. I could go a hundred different ways. – For my handicapping bankroll I’ll rely on the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms. This race can be a guessing game, and how many times will these runners go a 1 1/2 after a grueling year of knocking heads and battling to keep in tip top shape. I’ll defer to a handicapping tool that fits the bill and has proven to be effective in the long run. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies, and be sure to tune in to the Winning Ponies Internet Show as we’ll be talking all things Belmont with John Engelhardt.


Looking Back on the Belmont Stakes

If there’s a bad day at the races, or you nailed the big winner. They stay inside your heart forever if you’re a true horse player. You can recount the bad beats with the utmost accuracy, and it seems like it happened just minutes ago. As we are five days away from the third leg of the Triple Crown here are some of my favorites and some that stick out like a bad dream. – Either way, I still love each and every one, and the stories they’ve given me will last a lifetime.

Every once in awhile even the best horse players fall in love with a horse. We try to keep these feelings away as they cloud our gambling vision. In 1989, I had a crush on a runner that I would have bet everyday. I never gave up no matter how tough, and he finally had a chance to strut his stuff on the big stage.

It seems like yesterday when this three-year-old ran. – I first had my first opportunity to see him at Turfway Park as a two-year-old and he was schooling in the early morning. We were doing the “Turfway Track Talk” radio show and I saw this monster. At the break, I went over and asked if he was running in the Kentucky Cup Classic. ” No sir. He’s only a baby. He’s in the Juvenile today.” – I bet him with both hands and he didn’t dissapoint. – He lost the Derby this year as Gary Stevens said he moved too soon on him costing him the race. – I got over the hard loss and never lost faith in this guy. Here is the 133rd Belmont Stakes to showcase one of my all-time favorite runners.

It was the 136th Belmont Stakes and I was rolling all day long at the windows. We all have days like this if we play long enough, and on this day I had plunked down all of my winnings closing out pick-fours, pick-threes and every gimmick under the sun. The payoff stood to be a bit of a lifechanger, but “Big Sandy” had other plans. -Just watching still brings back the pain as Smarty Jones turned for home and Stewart Elliott found out the stretch at Belmont can be a heart-breaker.

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a little touch of history. Horse players have ice water in their veins and feelings buried behind the Racing Form. If you didn’t have chills as the roar of the crowd welcomed home this winner. You might want to check your pulse. – The 37 year wait made it that much sweeter, and all bets were off for this gambler as history stood in the balance.







Horses to Watch – 6/5/17 – Winning Ponies

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch ? – Well, you surely can’t dine on these runners but if they come back off a troubled effort you may find yourself buying for the whole gang.

With only five days to the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown the Belmont Stakes, we can always use a winner or two that will get our bankroll back in fine fashion. – Just keep your eyes peeled and get ready to double-down the next time they hit the track. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !




Race #2 – Blenheim Pass = came five wide and had a dead heat for the win. Next out he’ll be a solo act in the winner’s circle

Race #3 – Monster Mash = Knocked heads with the eventual winner and tired out after the duel. Heavily backed at the windows and he’ll be ready for a wire-to-wire effort next out.

Race #6 – Lido = She came flying late going 5 wide at the top of the lane running third.

Race #7 – Lucky Town = Knocked around at the half and forced to steady sharply.

Race #8 – Kissin Cassie = She swung out 6 wide at the top of the stretch and came flying late to be second.


Churchill Downs


Race #1 – Sky Alert = Stumbled badly at the start ending all chances to recover

Race #2 – Mia Bella Rossa = She was caught in tight at the 1/2 and forced to take off heels. She rallied to be second after the bad racing luck.

Race #4 – Miss Cobblestone = Saved ground and split horses down the lane closing sharply to be 3rd.

Race #5 – Thunderon the Nile = Heavily backed at the windows and circled 7 wide making a strong late gain.

Race #8 – How’s My Bud = Bumped hard twice down the stretch and weakened a bit after the beat down.


Gulfstream Park


Race #3 – Nutty Boy = He swung five wide into the stretch and made a strong late move.

Race #8 – Axtell = Steadied at the 3/8th’s pole and still managed a big run down the lane.

Race #10 – Escapist = He was far back in the field and came rolling late in the lane

Race #4 – Bumped hard at the start forcing to take up – Still managed to stalk and grab the lead finally gave way to the winner who had a cleaner trip.





Santa, the Easter Bunny and Hot Tips

We listen to the people who hang at the bar and talk about the real hot horse in the feature. The groom betting his weekly check at the windows with a halter hanging over his shoulder as we crane our neck to hear the inside scoop. – If you had to choose one of the above which has the best chance at being real ? – Go ahead, give it your best shot !


There is no way one man can fly around the world with a sled full of toys. We stopped believing right about the time we didn’t get our Red Ryder BB gun as we would have “shot our eye out.” – Santa lives in the North Pole dressed in a full coat; how could he stand the heat of India, Africa and Saudi Arabia ? – And the capper that seals the deal. How many fat men can slide down a chimney ? – The end result there can be no Santa.

Easter Bunny

First off this guy gives me the creeps ! – How many bunnies are 9 feet tall and hop around the world delivering our favorite candy without a large bag ? Did you ever see a picture of him with one over his shoulder ? Me neither. – There can be no such animal.

Hot Tips

If you had a secret that could make you a great deal of money would you share it with many others to drop the price you stand to gain ? – No way ! – Why would others hanging at the bar putting in long hours tell you for the low-low price of free ? How many people in your life have shared a lifetime of hard work give you a hot tip just for the asking ? – The answer is none. It only makes sense.

But there is an answer that will give you an edge. It’s not a secret, and available for all to use. – You’re right here and don’t need to go any further. Winning Ponies does this for a living and the rewards are strong. We are in the business of helping you break down the race and use the Winning Ponies data to make your day a winner. – There is no such thing as a hot tip and I have worked at five different tracks. How many people have you known think they have no chance and are out to lose ? You can’t pay the bills with running poorly and you won’t be in the game for long. We have eliminated Santa, the Easter Bunny and now Hot Tips. – They aren’t real and can’t be trusted. – But one thing you can trust is Winning Ponies:

  • Easy to use color coded tiers that show how the race will take shape
  • The E-Z Win Forms can be used by seasoned gamblers and new players at first glance
  • Handy Icons that draw your attention to details that sometimes elude our handicapping
  • Full past performaces with rider / trainer details and winning percentage numbers
  • Tier levels that show how the runners match up with the rest of the field
  • All info is in real time and you’ll get results, scratches, changes in track conditions as they happen
  • The change of weather tab allows you to adapt to the weather to get a brand new set of E-Z Win Forms for FREE if the track comes up muddy, sloppy, or off the turf for NO additional cost !
  • You are only charged for what you use versus many others who charge one price no matter how many races used
  • There are stories, blogs, free selections, the Winning Ponies Internet Show bringing you the best names in racing to keep you up to speed with what is happening
  • Free handicapping contests, free race replays, and results posted as soon as the race is official to see how the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms are doing on the day


You might as well bet with the most reliable system for horse racing. – Winning Ponies wants to prepare you for your day at the races. With over $3,751,025 in exotic payouts to date, why would you look anywhere else ? – Winning at the races takes preparation, and let Winning Ponies do the homework while you decide how you’ll use the data. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !


Word on the Street

Nothing like the ramblings of the word on the street. You can’t learn the word from night school, and it doesn’t come in a book. So we have to rely on the whispers and rants from the folks on the scene. – Just remember you heard it right here as we make our way down the back alleys to find the best info. Or, just cruise the grandstand or Race Book and you’re sure to hear the truth.

Hit it with your purse next time

Now this may be a little too much at times; but it may be the rare occurrence when it fits like a glove. – Julien Leparoux was riding the second choice Classic Empire in the 142nd running of the Preakness. He was sent off at (2-1) and broke from the gate with gusto. He was on the outside shoulder of Derby winner Always Dreaming and never let him have a breath. – As they hit the 3/8th’s pole he ranged up and put a head in front. This is when the wagering world took a big gulp and swallowed their wagers as the writing was on the wall. Classic Empire, the two-year-old champion was back and it was going to be good to see him score. – They hit the top of the lane and he drew off by a couple and looked good as gold. Well, except for the fresh-leg runner Cloud Computing who was being ridden like he broke out of jail. – Leparoux sat chilly and gave some swats to keep his mount running. Most of the time this would have been good enough to get the job done but the colt chasing was being ridden by top-money rider Javier Castellano. Julien rode with soft hands and simple strokes of the crop as Javier looked like his tail was on fire and he was in hurry to get to the wire.

I’m not one to go on about a rider’s skill set, but this was a weak ride in my opinion. – Put Jerry Bailey on and he would’ve won by three; Irad Ortiz would have drifted out a bit and swung the stick like Jack Nicholas. Gary Stevens would’ve been heard chirping from the next town and going to the whip. Calvin Borel would have dropped to the rail and stayed low like a “lizard on a log.” – You get the idea. There were a 1,000 others who would’ve gotten the job done. When a horse is beat by three or better he may have been facing a  better runner. But when it comes down to a head-bob it falls in the hands of the rider nine outta’ ten times.  He may have taken too much gas out of the tank staying close to Always Dreaming, the track may have been too fast, or the sun was starting to shine. Whatever excuse you choose it comes down to the “Flying Frenchman” not being aggressive when the real running began.


Betting the smaller tracks

I love to bet New York racing plain and simple. The only track I don’t play is Finger Lakes ( no offense please). – I enjoy wagering on Gulfstream and Fair Grounds in the winter, and Santa Anita or Del Mar anytime they run. The big purses, the rider colony and some of the best trainers in the country. You get the message. –  But I’m here to tell you first hand there is some real value to be had wagering on the small tracks.

The smaller ovals offer runners on the way up, on the way out, or looking for easier company. Most of the colony is made up of riders who fit the same as well as the trainers. – They usually have full fields of cheaper company but who cares ? That means better payoffs for you and me ! – I love to see the full fields, and the small six horse affairs. Both offer good value. – I’ve caught more (5-2) shots in short fields, and many races that can be used a “free-spot” for pick-fours. – The pools won’t set a national record but some of the small tracks are showing solid gains in handle. – I enjoy a full field of cheap condition claimers, and what would normally be (2-1) is now (7-2) and higher. I call that value everyday. – If you saw $7.20 laying on the ground wouldn’t you pick it up ? Yeah, me too.

Nothing like going to Keeneland, or watching historic Saratoga. But the bang for my buck has been playing the small tracks. – This past weekend I was watching Pimlico like most horse players and how many times do we play that oval ? – The smaller tracks have solid meets and runners looking to score. I don’t know many smaller trainers who are giving their horse a race to target a purse in two months. – I was getting smacked around early betting Old Hilltop, and the little track kept me in action with a few winners. – Why not hunker down and stick to my knitting ? – I fell into the trap of being a “One Day Pro” wagering on Pimlico. I won’t make another bet no matter how many days they run, but I’ll be on hand when a field of 12 goes to post going a 1 1/6 on the turf at the smaller oval. Give it a think and see how you feel. Are you going to bet the track you never play because they have the Preakness, or play the oval you follow ? – I have a friend who is a great track announcer. He would pass on the G-1’s and jump right into the mule races at Ferndale. Stick to the races you have a good winning percentage, and shy away from drinking the cool-aid for one day. – You’ll thank me later.