Getting Back in the Game

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 25, 2023 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Getting Back in the Game

A few blogs ago I spoke of taking a sabbatical. A little break from the bump and grind of betting on a bad streak or without the passion needed to score. I didn’t need as long as I thought initially and felt ready to ask the coach to put me back in. My plans are to take a little more time and start on the opening weekend of Keeneland in April, but in the meantime, here is a little starter for me to handicap the big weekend at Turfway Park. I’ve watched many of the runners all winter long and wanted to handicap the card with open eyes and renewed energy. – So, enjoy the big races at Turfway and be on the lookout for my Keeneland wagers. I think we’re going to have some fun!


Turfway Park

Race #7 – The $250,000 Animal Kingdom – 6f – 3:43 pm

#4 – Eye Witness = Kent Desormeaux comes back to Florence for Wesley Ward. The barn is winning 37% for the meet and his maiden win was under Desormeaux back in January and was impressive going a mile. Today he turns back to 6f and sports bullet works over the track to prepare. Ward wins 33% over the all-weather surface and Kent D in the irons gives me greater confidence. – Turning back in distance with a sharp work has him ready to come out swinging.


Race #8 – The $250,000 Rushaway – 1 1/16 – 4:13 pm

#4 – Santorini = is the son of Twirling Candy for Todd Pletcher with Irad Ortiz in the irons. Making the turf-to-dirt switch yields a 27% win clip for the barn and the rider and trainer win a robust 38% as a team. Look for an up-close tactical ride that plays to the course very well.


Race #9 – The $250,000 Latonia Stakes – 1 1/16 – 4:43 pm

#11 – Bellamore = drops down in class today for Simon Callaghan and Martin Garcia. Coming off a four-month break in the G3 Falls City at CD and the daughter of Empire Maker is 2/2 on the synthetic surface at GG. – Going dirt to all-weather yields a 27% win clip for the barn.


Race #10 – The $300,000 – Kentucky Cup Classic – 1 1/8 – 5:13 pm

#10 – King Cause = is a Mike Maker trainee coming off a 56-day break and is 2/2 ITM at TP. – He drops down in class today in the hands of Gerardo Corrales. Look for an up-close ride and track the pace to the winner’s circle.


Race #11 – The $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks – 1 1/16 – 5:43 pm

#5 – Botanical = is a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro for Brad Cox with Chris Landeros in the irons. She is a stalker and sports a 3/3 winning record at Turfway. She won the $50k Cincinnati Trophy last out and looks to step up her game and lay just off the pace and pounce.


Race #12 – The G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks – 1 1/8 – 6:25 pm

#11 – Wadsworth = hails from the Brad Cox barn with Chris Landeros in the saddle. He is 2/2 at TP and makes his 3rd off the layoff move where Cox wins 22%. – He’ll stalk off the pace and strike when ready.


This is just a toe in the water for this handicapper. I can’t wait until the opening of Keeneland and I can employ the power of the “place parlay” and pick-fours with big guaranteed pools. – To begin again as a handicapper is one of the best feelings in the world. After all, it was the love of our game that drew us in the first place. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!



Taking Notes

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 15, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Taking Notes

Go back to the days of staring out the window while your history teacher droned on about the historical happenings way back in the day. – When the bell finally sounded and you looked at an empty notebook, you know you’ll pay the price later when the test day arrives. – Same process as playing with the ponies. The secret to having the notes which will allow you to peruse back and plan your attack later.


  1.  Taking notes for a horses-to-watch list. – This goes back to the old days when bookies and big players would pay others to watch races and take copious notes about which horses may have had a bad trip, or faced tougher competition last out. Having a written account of trip notes will pay you off handsomely if handled correctly. Every race is not a bad trip and you’ll need to sharpen your eyes to know a bad trip from a wishful feeling about a wager you made. – Honesty pays off, and you need to watch the race live and go back and scan the replays. This will find your horses to play back next out and you’ll be happy you put the time into the process.

2.  Write down what you started with as a bankroll and bets made during the day. – Keep an accurate account of how you are doing and what percentage of your bankroll you dropped on a wager. – This will show if you need to scale back the number of races played and how much wagered. – When you find your best 12 for a marquee Saturday, cut them back to 10 events to bet. – Make your first bet, a 10% bankroll bet. If you have $200 for the day, make that first bet $20. Now, what is your type of wager? You need to stay away from bets you normally do not make and don’t chase the big multi-race wager if it’s not your cup of tea. – Keep to your 10% bet and when you identify your two best wagers, kick them up to 20% if your bankroll allows.

3. Identify which tracks are your strength. Do not deviate on marquee days or play a race card just because it has graded races. – If you’re a turf player, start scouting horses to follow. Hot trainers and bad trips. Look for a high percentage rider change, medication changes early in their career, and a rider/trainer percentage of 20% or better as a team. – Play outfits that are 20% or better of the year or the race meet, and look blazing hot pace trips that are suicidal for speed and sometimes tough to close into.

By keeping your eyes peeled, you’ll find your game moving upward. Put in the time instead of staring out of the window making “hot head” bets where you are hungry to get the first winner of the day. Patience and hard work pay off in the long run and you’ll enjoy playing the races more than ever. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!


Behind the Curtain – Photo Finishes and Placing Judges

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 9, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Behind the Curtain – Photo Finishes and Placing Judges

Horses thunder home and the wire is coming closer with every single stride. The crescendo of emotions is building like holding water back from the Hoover Dam. The excitement is building and the horses are nearing the wire. It’s going to be a close one, and the winner is…

Players waited with bated breath to cash a ticket, or have expensive stationery moments away. The photo sign gleams neon-red, and with each passing second seems like a small eternity of waiting for the mega-million balls to come rolling out. I digress. – The light goes off, and the decision has been posted on the board or matrix. – It’s final unless the stewards have a question about the running of the race. – Some will be high-fiving and others will curse loudly blaming everyone except the dog at home. But, not to worry. I’m going to give you a glimpse from behind the curtain of the decisions that are made high up on the upper floor. Without further delay, here’s what happens in the two minutes that have a weighty decision on how the gamblers will feel.

I have worked at five tracks and been in the placing/photo finish rooms during the course of the race. I will not speak once the horses load into the gate while the three placing judges countdown how many horses are still left to be loaded. – The photo operator has a trigger (like a toy gun) used as a backup timing start to what is in place with sensors and timing posts around the track for an up-to-the-milli-second time as soon as the gates spring open.

So, the horses are sent on their way. – One placing judge works the computer board which posts the top four leading the race. The other two shout-out numbers are to be typed into the board and changed frequently all the way to the 1/4 pole as we prepare to take down the entire correct number of finishers of the field. – The lights for the photo will be turned on at the 3/8 pole, and the photo finish operator has a plunger in his hand that when depressed and held will capture every horse that crosses the line. During the final process, there are no words spoken to ensure the three placing judges have an exact view from the finish line of the field. – The three judges ensure we will have a consensus vote, as we check against the photo finish operator’s televised view of the race crossing the wire. – The photo finish is used merely as an aid, and the decision of the three judges determines the official order of finish.

As the horses cross the line, judges quietly write down every horse as they see it cross the finish line. The room is quiet as a mouse pissing on cotton. – We convene to compare against the photo finish video and then read back one at a time who we see. – This is the part where the majority decisions rule, and in the event of a dead heat, we double down on looking at every ounce of separation to ensure the separation of finish. After all, this may be one of the most important aspects of the race order while down the hall three stewards examine the race with a laser-focused eye for any infraction during the race.

While some have their own opinion of what goes on during the race, this is what I have taken part in and watched during the running of the race. – For the minutes for each race worked, is an important part of the game where we want the integrity of the finish to be exact.

As I pulled back the curtain to let you inside what takes place in the judges’ stand, it is only a glimpse of what takes place as soon as the horses cross the wire. – Over the course of the year there will be many finishes called into question and decisions of the stewards haggled with. But, the integrity and transparency of the game are of top importance and all judges involved take their position very seriously. After all, there are many watching and wondering what goes on behind the curtains and we want you to fully understand what is taking place.


Taking Your Game to New Heights

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 2, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Taking Your Game to New Heights

We all want positive results, but sometimes we can’t find a winner without a search warrant. But I digress. – We need to do some soul-searching and check our ego at the door. To achieve a new sense of who we are as gamblers is a trip down the rabbit hole at times. Without further delay, here we go!

Sometimes we need a break. Yep, have a coffee break from gambling. This allows you to realign who we are and make needed adjustments. The time away is good for the noggin. You settle in and watch the races without making a wager. Think of it as a “scouting mission” and pay close attention to the little things. “How’s the track playing? Is the rail dead as fried chicken, or is it the conveyor belt to the winner’s circle? – Who is hot in the jock’s room, and are there any new trainers to be aware of?” – All good info, and without the distraction of making bets you can watch with an unbiased eye. Give it a try and see for yourself. I would advise a sabbatical of three weeks or more.

Once back in the game, you’ll want to employ your new powers. Patience, money management, and a knowledge of the tracks you are playing. – Nothing like being prepared.

Sometimes the breakaway is self-awareness or imposed by lack of funds. Either way, take advantage of the time down. – Clearing the fog will make you hungry again to tear into a new day of racing. I’m on a journey as we speak because the Triple Crown is right around the corner. I am seeing things that may have eluded me when I had a $20 bet on the hook which may have skewed my perspective. – Just in the past few days; the Japanese runners are coming fully loaded to compete on the world stage, and a runner from the Rebel Stakes caught my eye and showed a degree of maturity not seen this early. More to come in the coming weeks.

Narrow your focus and set your sights. Just because a track has a graded race doesn’t warrant a bet. No tap dancing from track to track just to have action. Keep your cool and narrow your sights to where your strength is located. – By eliminating races just to have action can make your bankroll work for you. It’s a tough game turning a profit, but elimination is key to getting your average where you want it to be at the end of the day.

Taking time down is key. – After the World Series, the players get some downtime before heading back to rehab or starting the long road of training. Gamblers need the same time. It’s a mental game we are playing and it is paramount that we are in tip-top condition to make it happen. After a long meeting, there used to be some downtime before the horses would ship to the next track. Sometimes it was a week or more, and sometimes it could go a month. With the simulcast explosion long ago, players have so much action it can be tough to stay disciplined. Just take a breath and stay involved, but no wagering. The time will allow you to put your finger on what we’ve been doing wrong.

I know great handicappers and bad bettors just as lucky players who have no idea of why they bet. But when you take the time and meld the two. You’ve found the keys to winning.


One Day Pro Handicapper

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 24, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on One Day Pro Handicapper

The big marquee races hit the racetracks for the weekend and we love to see the big horses run. The swollen purses, the best riders for the top outfits. – We normally never even look at this track, but today we are going to hammer the big bets and take it down. – There’s a better chance of seeing a fat man in a speedo.

My waterloo has always been betting the Preakness card. I NEVER play the track, but for the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, I’m going to smash the races and bring home the dough. But, as I begin the day with a great big smile, the end of the day usually has a completely different result.

I’m not really familiar with the trainers and riders who dominate the early part of the races. “How hard could it be? It’s the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown and I’m ready to win.” – Not the case.

I trudge through the card and try to pretend I know about biases, connections, and all of the little things that add up to the biggest differences between cashing your tickets and tossing them on the ground. I usually have a nice pile of tickets that become the world’s most expensive stationery. – What was I thinking?

This weekend is the Saudi Cup. There is a whopping $31,500,000 in purse monies and the best connections in racing will do battle. – The wagering is so enticing and you can’t help yourself from getting in on the action. – So, what can you tell me how the track plays? – How about any biases that may have erupted? – The feature race is worth $20,000,000 and there are only 13 horses to choose from. – What’s a gambler to do?

If you’re a regular player and have a good feel for the oval. Fire away! – If not, just watch the action and go on a scouting mission for later dates when they will make a trek to the states for the Breeders’ Cup. – Stick to your knitting (Only play tracks you follow) and you’ll be much the better. Trust me. I started the day with excitement and a bankroll and more times than not I am broke and have a bevy of excuses.

Just like the Preakness card for me. A track I don’t play or follow, but on this marquee day I’m going to be a “One Day Pro.” – It usually ends up going south and I have more questions than answers.

Playing Turfway Park

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 7, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Playing Turfway Park

PHOTOS: Turfway Park getting multi-million dollar renovation




No matter the weather you can always count on the track condition at Turfway Park to be fast. – Tapeta is very similar to Polytrack. There’s almost no kickback and they say that it’s more versatile than Polytrack. It’s a very fair surface to race on and would be quite similar to a “Good” rating on a turf track.

Turfway’s new Tapeta main track is part of a larger renovation to the facility being undertaken by Churchill Downs Inc., which purchased the property in October 2019. CDI’s first order of business was to raze the aged grandstand upon the conclusion of the most recent meeting this past spring. It is slated to be replaced by a new structure that in addition to trackside seating will include a space for historical racing machines, which are casino-type devices that have proven a major boon to purse accounts in Kentucky.

The new Tapeta main track replaces the Polytrack surface that had been employed since 2005 and had shown deterioration in recent years. It has been in use for training since November and has drawn seemingly unanimous praise from horsemen. Among those are top conditioner Brad Cox, who will have a string at Turfway Park for the first time in more than a decade.

I am really looking forward to having horses stabled at Turfway Park this winter,” Cox said. “It will be the first time I have had horses stabled at Turfway since 2008 and this allows me the opportunity to race year-round in Kentucky. Our horses have been training for a few weeks over the new Tapeta track and it appears to be an excellent racing surface. We are excited to be there.”

In addition to Cox there are several other new trainers expected to have a presence at Turfway Park this winter. They include Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Mike Tomlinson, Jonathan Thomas and Eddie Kenneally. Among the mainstays returning are leading 2019-20 trainer Mike Maker and Wesley Ward according to Horse Racing Nation.

Riders to play; Gerardo Corrales – Tactical rider who will get very busy down the lane when the real running begins. When he is locked in battle dueling it out, you can bet dollars to donuts; he’ll best the other rider as he knows just when to push the buttons.

Fernado De La Cruz – Once a Tampa rider has found himself a home. Very solid and you have to factor him when making bets.

Luan Machado – Talk about a rider who is on fire and doing well. Here he is. – Versatile in the saddle and dangerous when the real running begins.

Look for runners who can hang in mid-flight and be no more than 6-8 lengths off the lead. Closers can win, but make sure there is a plethora of speed that will cause a pace collapse.

The fields are chock-full and you’ll see more full fields than not. – Playing anything outside the 8 post can get a little troublesome. The rail can play “dead” at times and you’ll want to use runners who can play in the 3-6 posts. Keep in mind if playing a stalking sort, they can get a great trip stalking just off the pace.

Playing Turfway can give you a great deal of value during the winter months. Long ago, the Turfway signal was mainly cheaper claimers, but today the purses are swollen and prime for picking as everyone brings their “A” game to town.


As always, best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies! – We’ll see you in the winner’s circle.


Is Less Really More?

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 3, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Is Less Really More?

I was sitting in the grandstand for the 1pm race card at Latonia Race Course. Ten live races, and a heap load of excitement to be had. – Ushers came around and asked fans to leave at the end of the card. We walked to the car and drove to McDonald’s for a burger and fries and dinner talk. – After an hour, we made our way back to the track. We paid to park a second time, and used our last passes to save our cash for buying another DRF and program. We had better hurry as we were on our way back to the grandstand for another 10 live races to complete the doubleheader. Life could get no better…

Racing in Northern Kentucky was 5 days a week with 10 races daily. Full fields and mainly a diet of cheap claiming races. But the action was more than the law allowed. – These days were the best of times. It was like having Las Vegas right in your backyard. But sadly, these days are long gone.

If you get three to four days each week, consider yourself in the lucky zone of horse racing. Count on an eight-race card for the most part, but you’ll still relish the action. I never thought there would be so few races with a reduced number of entries. The days of 12-horse fields are a rarity except for a couple of tracks.

I can remember hearing about tracks doing away with the long meets and going to abbreviated racing. The talk of “12 super tracks” ruling the landscape seemed like a horror story that would never come true. But after we lost Beulah Park, Bay Meadows, Calder, Hollywood Park, and Arlington just to name a few, it seems that tracks are falling by the wayside and racino interests have changed the priority of racing. Many states are breaking long-standing commitments with tracks. If you doubt the move, take a look at Dog Racing in Florida. It’s a memory.

So, is less more? – Do we need to peel back the long meetings and move to a shorter lucrative season? – If so, what happens to the small outfit horseman? – There are more questions than answers and racing is definitely getting a standing eight count.

Keep an open mind and enjoy the sport while it’s in session. – Things can change in the blink of an eye and before you know it can go the way of the dinosaur. – Racing may need to have quality meets, fewer racing dates, which would lead to better purses which attract bigger outfits. – For now, this is our model. Just look around and take a close look at the meetings that are in session. I see less being the new rule of thumb when a racing meet is to take place. Just sit back and watch.

What say you? – Any ideas or thoughts on the matter? – If you don’t speak up now you may not have a voice later.

Make 2023 the Year to Be a Winner!

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 20, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Make 2023 the Year to Be a Winner!

As 2023 arrived, it’s time to take stock of where we stand as horse players. It is a good practice to take your temperature before making your way to the windows.  This is a good lesson to see what worked in the past and what we would like to see in the future.

First, let’s take a look at your wagers. – Are you playing what you’re best at or still trying to hit the double-whammy pick-ten? – Stick to your knitting and stop playing wagers you don’t excel with. How many times have you watched yourself try a pick-six when it has a big carryover even though you never play the bet? This is a sure-fire ticket to walking to the car early. – Trust me, for the one time you hit a pick-six split 500 ways, you’ll be glad you just stayed in your wheelhouse.

Stop playing tracks you don’t follow just because there are 3 minutes to post. – If you must, be sure to download Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms and take a shot with some solid wagering guidance. – Betting in the blind is not a wise move that will keep your bankroll growing in the long run. Having a solid wagering tool may be the answer to allow you to play outside your usual comfort zone.


Did you take anyone new to the track this year? – I sure hope you took the time as many others did with us long ago. Afterall, that’s how we fell in love with the sport. – Spend the time to take a newbie. Go on a company bus ride and school the new players to allow them to enjoy the day. – Make some group wagers where winning together is always better than cashing alone.


The old tried and true place parlay. – For years I have been extolling this as a tool that will quietly allow your bankroll to grow. – You example:


$20 to place #3 – He hits and pays $3.20 = $32 bankroll.

$32 to place #7 – Boom! – Another winner who pays $3.80 = $60.80

Take out your initial wager of $20 – You now have $40 for the next wager. – If it sounds fun, it most surely will be a great way to sneak up on the day and leave a winner. – Just notice taking out your initial wager in round #3. – Be sure and decide and stick with how many races you will play in advance. If it is 3, stick to three. – If it’s four, then it is four, and no more.

2023 is the year you take your game to the next level. – Trust me, this is your year.






What Once Worked Could Soon Again

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 18, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on What Once Worked Could Soon Again

Long ago in Ohio, there was a “7 and 7” race card. – Seven races from River Downs and seven races from Thistledown. At the end of the day, bettors were treated to a 14-race card for the Ohio signal. It used to be a lot of fun.

But as tracks are owned by new casino entities, it seems that everyone wants it all for themselves and working together is a long-ago memory. – Trust me, this could be a unique way to keep the ball rolling.

Right now, field sizes are small and there is trouble filling races at most tracks. That is with the exception of the CDI tracks which have a chock-full purse structure from the advent of Historic Racing Machines. But competition has always been around, and even though you won’t have the purse structures of the big boy track, you could find yourself watching and wagering on fuller fields that get a fair share of the handle.

With a “7 and 7” card, you run a race at one and have 8 min to post at the next. – Just what the betting public wants; rapid run races that could bring a bit of new attention to the Ohio signal. – All that it takes is working together and focusing on growing together. – If the “7 and 7” cards won’t work, try a “6 and 6.” – Still 12 races and the exotic wagers roll from track to track. Rapid fire and plenty of excitement may be just what the game is lacking, but locking up together could bring a higher handle with bigger fields. – Think of the racing office having to card two or fewer races per day. This could be a big difference and help the field sizes grow as horsemen would have two fewer races to enter per day.

This old idea still has teeth, and in times of having trouble filling races, this may be a nice answer until we get the product rolling again. – Just think. Working together, trying to maximize handle, making it easier to fill races, and larger fields all the while drawing attention to the Ohio racing signal.

Sounds like this old dog still may have a few tricks left after all.


Eve or Day?

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 30, 2022 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Eve or Day?

I’ve had this on my mind the entire holiday season. – When it comes to getting your money in play; do you want to head to the races on New Year’s Eve, or start 2023 with a sparkling start with a big day at the windows? I guess I would have to summon the ghost of Charles Bukowski who was not only a hall-of-fame writer but a loyal racetrack aficionado who enjoyed plenty of libations while rooting for his ponies.

Without being able to contact Buk, I chose three of the best horse players I know. They love having the days off during the holiday parade and taking their shot at the windows.  I asked the question and then gave them two days to give me the answer to what they wanted to do with their day off.

Player #1 – Longtime bettor who mainly plays from home and tournament play. You could say he is well-versed in his craft and has qualified many times for the big dance in Las Vegas. – ” I would rather wrap up the year. Good or bad, the results are in for the year. I like the idea of starting off fresh when I get my chance to go back.” 

Player #2 – Almost a carbon copy of #1. – But he has scored on the big stage and won good monies in the contest arena. – “ I like to start off the New Year properly. Put the past where it belongs in the rearview and take my game to the next level. I like the idea of a ‘Hail Mary’ score on the final day, but it seldom makes the final numbers in the black.”

Player #3 – Now, this is going to sound like horse ca-ca. But this one is me. – I have worked in racing, played and won tournaments, and had some decent scores for an average Joe. I thought long and hard and came up with my best answer. – I don’t believe in magic powers or carrying a mojo. – Why not go to both? – Hit the final day, call it a winner, and swing into the next day on a roll. I’m not much of a four-leaf clover bettor, but why can’t we have it all?

After breaking up the data and speaking with players I respect. – I like the #3 answer the best. Take the winning day and start off 2023 swinging for the fences. I like that one, and it seems to fit my betting tastes. – Whatever you choose, know that Winning Ponies is on your side. We’re right here with the best in handicapping data and look forward to many winning days with you. – So, here’s to a big New Year filled with luck, happiness, and a bankroll that could fit on the back of an elephant. – Best of luck!