Morning

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 7, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Morning

The rain was lightly falling. Mist and morning fog filled the air giving it a ghostly feel. Steam rose from the river a stone’s throw away as a barge slowly made its way up the banks of Ohio. As horses walked to the track for morning works, you could hear in the distance the sounds of preparation. Grooms leading runners over; some being bathed, and others just enjoying the beauty of the morning.

Far away the sound of a train whistle was heard. The tracks clicking and clacking, but miles away. – Far down the stretch was the distant sounds of hooves smacking away on a sloppy track. Riders chirping to their mounts in communication only the two shared.

The sounds came closer. Slapping hooves against the wet surface. Like a child dancing in a puddle. Closer. Until the mist seemed to open like curtains showing the silhouette of a horse. That distant whistle was screaming out a warning of its impending arrival. The river separated the train and the track by three miles, but the heavy fog meshed the sound together in a morning symphony.

As the horses came into view with every stride, the bellow of a train was getting closer. It was as if they were racing. Both sounds getting louder and melding together. – A wet clapping of speeding horses in the slop as a haunting train was clicking and clacking down the tracks. As the horse came into view it looked as if he was breathing fire as his hot breath turned to steam in the cool morning air. – The whistle was starting to sound farther away as the train was speeding away to its destination.

The horse held close to the rail as the rider continued to smooch and drive into a full stride. A lonesome whistle could be heard echoing down the river as the race was over. – The sound was faint as the morning fog was being erased by the sun rising over the lush hills of Kentucky. A sip from a hot cup of coffee; surveying the beauty of the morning brought a deep sense of calm. A serene feeling came over me. It was the start of another beautiful day.

Three Reminders Before Betting the Derby

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 26, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Three Reminders Before Betting the Derby

The first Saturday in May is only just days away. Hard to believe after this past year, but good things are just ahead. – Before you hoist that first julep or head to the windows. Here are three reminders before pulling the trigger.

 

Churchill Downs

The 147th edition of the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” will take place on Saturday, May 1st.

 

Toss out any runner who has not run first or second in their last effort. – No more prep-time. The game is on and no more guessing. If they’re ready, they’ve been looking the part leading up to this day.

If you’re seeking value, you may have to toss the undefeated runner. -I know they look great and their record proves it. They may win, but they’ll do it without me. After all, how many times have they faced 19 other runners going 1 1/4?

Don’t fall in love with a quick workout. Some runners have that “morning glory” move and are all the talk Derby week. – If they’ve caught your eye prior to the race, this can be the final touch before they head to the gate. – If not, and they turn a quick blast in the morning out of the blue. Stick to your guns and let this go. If you look back on these fast final works. How many have given the performance of a lifetime on Derby Day?

 

At the time of this writing, I’m looking at pre-race pp’s and attempting to keep up on all of the last-minute details. So, unless there is a late defection, here are my top three selections right now.

 

Rock Your World

Hot Rod Charlie

Bourbonic

 

What Say You ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 21, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on What Say You ?

The Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park originated as a stepping stone that would “Spiral” up to the Derby. –  The race produced some good races, but in the ’80s and ’90s, there were some real runners. In the span of four years from 1990-1993 there were four classic winners. The local event was thought of as Northern Kentucky’s Derby beginning in 1972 from the vision of the late John Battaglia.

In 1988, there was a three-year-old son of Stalwart named Kingpost. The trainer was Diane Carpenter and the rider was local journeyman Eugene Sipus Jr. – Sipus was a solid reinsman and could heat up at any time. This was his biggest mount, and he rode like the wind winning the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. – As a young man watching this I was sure Gene was on his way to Louisville.

This is where the game gets tricky. – Do you ride the jockey that got you there, or do you jump to a more seasoned boot that has been there before? – Gene was bumped off and replaced by John Velasquez. – For years, it was known as the “Gene Sipus” treatment around my neck of the woods. Getting knocked down just when you were at your highest. Kingpost finished 14th from a 17 horse field in 1988.

Fast forward to 2021. – Rock Your World was 2 for 2 on the turf and trainer John Sadler made the decision to try the G-1 Santa Anita Derby. This son of Candy Ride romped home under a picture-perfect ride by Umberto Rispoli. – The same thing just happened jumping to Joel Rosario. – Hard to knock Rosario. Winning 19% on the year, and 52% ITM. Yeah, hard decision.

Umberto Ripoli is a super rider. Young, talented, patient, and most importantly humble. He is winning 20% on the year, and 51% ITM. If the race was held on turf he is even more dangerous at 26%. But, I digress.- Umberto is talented on the front end nursing the lead, or coming out of the clouds four wide. We’ll be hearing many good things from him in the future.

Rispoli was replaced and handled it with the utmost grace. He’ll have many more opportunities, but I’m talking about this year. If it were you, would you have replaced this up-and-coming rider, or stayed loyal after a beautiful ride to get you in the Derby? Tough call. Tough business.

Once upon a time, I saw Gene Sipus do the same humble acceptance speech. A good rider who delivered on the big day. He deserved a shot in Louisville. – Back to this year. I love Rock Your World, and from friends who work on the west coast, they have nothing but good things from what they’ve seen. – I think Rispoli deserved the chance. Rosario is great, but I think they added some extra karma weight to my horse. This could have launched Rispoli right into the stratosphere if the horse ran to form. But we’ll never know. Decisions made and details to follow.

 

Adjusting Your Sail to the Wind

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 18, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Adjusting Your Sail to the Wind

There is no mistaking. When you make errors that cost you the big score, it hangs on you like a cheap suit. But, you can take it off at any time. Many turn the page and move on, and others will punish themselves for the day. – Do you know anyone like this, or did it hit home close?

 

Dick would ponder and study the program. He was finally set on betting the #4, but when he came back he had a ticket on the #8.- Well, needless to say, we can all imagine the outcome. – Dick was a good handicapper but not focused. He would let a person sway his bet with a few words waiting his turn in the long line.

John liked to play speed. Blistering speed in a sprint or going 2 miles. Didn’t matter. – He cashed a few tickets here and there but left plenty of money on the table not looking at the race completely. He could find the speed every time, but when the bias tilted toward closers he was done.

Thom loved to chase the big pots. – Races where multi-race exotics would have swelled carry-overs. – But, he never played these wagers. If the carry-over was huge he became a pick-six player. Good handicapper, but was a money chaser that took him out of his game. – He could play his tried and true wagers and have great days. It was only when he tried to shoot the moon and take down a P-6 would he get mowed down.

 

The name of the game is cashing tickets and keeping your bankroll moving. “Stick to your knitting” and play the wagers you are most comfortable with. – If you don’t play supers, don’t start today. Use the wagers that you win with. It’s when you try to stretch out and get out of your comfort zone. – As we approach Derby weekend there will be a heap load of money in the pools. You’ll see more (7-2) shots go off at (9-2). Stick to the wagers that you use every day

 

Free Weekend Keeneland Power Plays – 4/17/2021

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 16, 2021 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Free Weekend Keeneland Power Plays – 4/17/2021

Nothing like trying to get that bankroll into tip-top shape before the Derby goes to post in 16 days! – Now, use these selections to whet your whistle for some red-hot Thoroughbred action.

Best of luck from Winning Ponies!

 

Keeneland

Race#2 – Alw $81,000 – 1 1/8 – 1:39 pm

#3 – Ashtar = This could be a “free spot” in your early p-4 wager. 2nd off the layoff for Todd Pletcher and the barn wins 21% off the layoff and was a beaten chalk last out where Pletcher comes back to score 27%. Joel Rosario (26%) for the meet in the saddle and add in a pair of bullet works to seal the deal.

Race#5 – Starter $50,000- 1 mile on turf – 3:18pm

#9 – News Break = is a son of American Pharoah for Mike Maker and Tyler Gaffalione. 3/3 ITM on the turf and made a big jump in class last out finishing 3rd. – He was claimed two races back and the barn comes back to score 22% two starts off the claim. He should be right on the pace and Tyler wins 20% of his early style runners.

Race#6 – Mdn Sp Wt – 6f – 3:51 pm

#4 – Derby Date = exits an eventful trip getting knocked around on the turf. -He cuts back in distance going from a route to a sprint where Jack Sisterson wins 18%. – Exits a key race where three runners have returned and two have won. 3rd off a layoff, less distance, and going turf-dirt looks to be more of a plan than just jumping into a race.

Race#7 – $83,000 Alw – 5 1/2f on the turf – 4:24pm

#2 – Brooke Marie = 2nd time out off a year layoff and was a beaten favorite last out. Jonathon Thomas trainee with red-hot Luis Saez in the saddle. This is the 2nd start from the Christophe Clement barn and sports a sharp work coming into the race.

Race#9 – G-2 Elkhorn – 1 1/2 on the turf – 5:30 pm

#10 – Red Knight = hails from the Bill Mott barn and coming off a four-month layoff. He is 2/2 at KEE ITM and is bred up and down to relish the turf. James Graham in the irons and he is 36% ITM on the turf. – Looks for a late run on the outside staying out of trouble at a distance where he is 4/5 ITM.

 

The Making of a Horseplayer

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 13, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on The Making of a Horseplayer

The first Saturday in May is a holy day for horseplayers. Nothing like it until the Breeders’ Cup comes along much later. Now we have multiple days to celebrate the equine. – I grew up in a small town. A mix between Mayberry and every town most of us grew up in. In my little town, there was an equal amount of churches and bars. I guess one offsets the other. I would awake early and hit the road with my dad for a day of action. Could there be a better day in all of the universe?

My neighbors, relatives, and many folks would turn their nose up at gambling; all contacted the old man to get down a bet on the Derby. After all, everyone’s a fan of this one day. – He would collect the small bets and take them up and get them down at a local VFW where men would take the bets. – Most of them probably saw the first race in 1875, but these old bookies could still perform magic.

I was about 11 years old and would tag along with dad. There was a radio that would have the dulcet tones of Paul Rogers calling the race with the excitement of being there. You could even smell the popcorn and mint juleps being sold in the stands. Nothing better.

They would interview celebrities and handicappers while you counted the minutes till the next race. – Eventually, that radio was retired to the basement where the bets were taken and a color TV would show three races prior to the Derby in real-time. Things could not get any better.

Dad used to let me make a bet or two, and as I got older he would limit my day to $20. My graduation to the upper level was a journey of learning along the way. – I liked to play closers as my dad loved pure speed. All-day long there were the cigar boxes filled with Derby runners for $5 per selection, bets are taken on carbon copy betting slips, and a steak dinner at the end of the day. – If you wanted to bet the Derby you had to make the trek to Louisville, fight the crowd, and pay big money for seats. That 110-mile drive may have been on the moon as far a young handicapper was concerned. Going down to the races was for the well-heeled and folks who wore seersucker suits.

This went on for years until high school. I would look forward to going, and as the years passed my level of play would graduate even higher. – Tracks were starting to make deals with Churchill for the race and eventually the entire card. – When the simulcast explosion happened you could bet every track from around the nation and beyond. Television got in on the game and offered incredible coverage for the entire day. – What a time to be a horseplayer.

I look back on my youth and trips with dad. I’ve been to Vegas more than you could count and played in every tournament around. But, I’d still like to have another crisp sunny first Saturday in May just one more time the old way. – My grandpa would sit close to the TV demanding total silence during the race. Watching my dad yell at the screen and when he won he would exclaim his battle cry of ” I love this game.” Yeah, the good old days were some of the best of times. If we won we’d hop in dad’s truck and make the drive to Lebanon harness racing for bottom-level claimers to cap off the day. I’ve seen the game change over the years. But one more time going back to that musty VFW would be a dream come true. Enjoy your trek to the Derby. There are only a handful of days until we hear “My Old Kentucky Home,” and the beauty and pageantry of the sport that will once again shine brightly.

 

 

Derby Drawing Board

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 13, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Derby Drawing Board

We all have one. If you’re a horseplayer you have had a list; doing adjustments as the marquee events pass. That is the way of the gambler. We watch and wager and go back and dissect our actions and the outcomes. That is the “Road to the Derby.”

I have been keeping a few to watch and below you will read my thoughts and watch the race for yourself. – We are 19 days away and it is time to start the process of elimination.

 

Known Agenda – Florida Derby – Todd Pletcher/ Irad Ortiz

A perfect ride from Irad Ortiz and the way he tipped off the rail was the stuff Derby winners are made of. – He was on the wrong lead for a few jumps but straightened out and got his head back in the game. I loved the fluid motion and late kick which will come in handy in the final 1/4 of the Kentucky Derby. Watch as he was locked on the rail and Pete Aiello caught this perfectly in his call saying ” he needs a way out.” – He did and the race was over.

Rock Your World – SA Derby – John Sadler / Umberto Rispoli

He was a turf runner with two starts under his belt. I liked that Sadler saw something this late in the game moving to the dirt. The bettors were on board not letting him get too far off as a big price but (5-1) was a gift. – His long strides and game attitude looked like he was playing with the field. Rispoli is a super rider and grabbed the lead in the first turn and toyed with this field. As an old gambler once told me years ago; “the road to Louisville travels through California.” He was right. – I loved the big striding runner doing his thing and he still looks like there is more in the tank with this lightly-raced runner. The early fractions of 22.2 – 46 – 1:10.3 have me pretty excited to see what’s next.

Hot Rod Charlie – LA Derby – Doug O’Neill /Joel Rosario

He grabbed the rail and took over into the first turn. They tried to come at him multiple times during the race, but to no avail, as he turned them back with only a few reminders of the encourager down the stretch. Rosario is an excellent finishing rider and seemed to fit like a glove. Holding off late runners at the long stretch in Louisiana will be a great tool in his arsenal heading to Louisville.

 

 

 

Reminders When Betting the Derby

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 11, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Reminders When Betting the Derby

On the first Saturday in May, everyone is a horse racing fan. Some wager, many watch, and even more do both. As a reminder, keep these tools in your arsenal. – At the time of this blog there are only 21 days until post time. Best of luck from Winning Ponies!

 

Forget trying to use the “last year angle” as a must for wagering. – That meaning you play a horse that won a prep that produced the 2020 winner. – That is in the history books and a new race awaits with fresh runners. You need to keep an open mind taking into account all of the facts. So, toss out this little habit and you’ll thank yourself after the race. After all, that prep may have been one-sided, and other important preps took place earlier in the year. Just take it all in and don’t wager off of last year’s playbook.

 

If there has been a late equipment change in the last race or two. Go ahead and toss this runner. – The trainer may be reaching to find the answer to a bigger problem with an equipment change. – The only change to this plan is if the horse ran a couple “lights out” efforts that sizzle the field. – For me, I’ve found this not to be the case. They have had plenty of time to find what works best for their runner. That last-minute adjustment is a wild guess trying to fix what isn’t working.

 

Look at each Derby as a new race. Toss out facts about how many geldings have won, and the few fillies who wore the roses. We see some runnings that are incredible and others a bit lackluster. Just take it all in and weigh out the facts. Each year is a new race and you would be cutting yourself short by not taking everything into account.

 

Play runners who have raced in 2020 and 2021. This is a horse with a solid foundation to improve. – Don’t be sold on one very quick work. “Morning Glory” runners can have a big work over the track and the past performances have been average. – I like to see runners who have had around four to five races. Each horse has so many races in the tank and don’t get caught up in the colt who has ten starts taking three starts just to break his maiden. – Look for efforts where they may have been closing late to finish a solid third or fourth. Look for a good work following as this is a sign of a horse on the improve. Most of the time you’ll get a square price when he goes to post. – Toss out any runners who have not run a 1 1/8 in their last race as they are going 1 1/4. – If there was a problem event in their last effort, keep this in mind if they recovered to finish up strong. – Use G1 or G2 runners for their last race. The field will all be bringing their “A” game and you don’t want to be outclassed when they turn for home. – If a trainer is making a switch to a high percentage rider off the last race win. Pay attention. They are looking for a jockey who has been there before and doesn’t make many mistakes on the big stage. – Keep up and do your homework. With 21 days until we hear “My Old Kentucky Home,” you need to read up daily on horses and how they are doing moving forward. It never fails. There will be a late defection, and a horse showing sharp works like he has never done before. Take it with a grain of salt and pay attention. – Don’t buy into the “post position” jinx about which gates offer a better chance. Many won’t play the #1 post and steer clear about the outside posts. Just keep an open mind.

Each year Winning Ponies has been your one-stop shop for all things Derby. They are ultra-effective year-round but really shine on the marquee days. An easy-to-use color-coded tier system that can be used by the first-time player or a seasoned professional. It allows you to see how the race will take shape and make your day a winner. – Be sure to tune into the “Winning Ponies Internet Show” every Thursday, or catch it on the podcast at your leisure. John Engelhardt will be talking with the best handicappers in racing bringing you the inside scoop. – Check back these next few weeks for blogs, updates, and free selections. Nothing like building your bankroll leading up to the big day and there’s no better time than now! – So, what are ya waiting for? – It’s almost post time!

 

 

Returning to the Scene

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 9, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Returning to the Scene

bluegrass

 

They say I’m crazy but I have a good time. – I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime. Life’s been good to me so far.”- Joe Walsh

No, I didn’t hit the lottery or knock off the Piggly Wiggly. – For the first time since 2017 I made a return to Keeneland yesterday. The best part was sitting next to one of my very good friends soaking up the sun, talking horses, and enjoying the scenery. Man, life could not get any better and I hadn’t made my first wager

Race 1

Here was our first wager. We had the #3 on the outside. – No matter what happened, I wasn’t going to be shut out. My man Kenny started off pick three’s and had a solid winning day. How much I had missed this beautiful place. “If Heaven has a race track. I bet it looks a lot like Keeneland.” 

The Road Leaving Keeneland. In summer royalty free stock photo

From the drive into the bucolic grounds to showing my friend the old Sycamore tree in the paddock. We were enjoying the day. I have been there a million times. – I used to skip my last college class and make the 78-mile drive. They were open for 15 days and I was there at least twelve. – Watching my horse run 2nd at Keeneland years ago was like winning at Royal Ascot. – But today, it was all about two friends sharing the day. With the sun on our faces and a few winners to boot. We would be hard-pressed to ask for anything more.

It’s been a long time since my last visit, but yet it only seemed minutes ago. – Our only question was “when could we make another trip?” – That question along with talking about the beautiful day was talk for the ride home.

I introduced a new fan/friend to Keeneland. Over the years I have said that is the best part of racing when you share it with someone new. But, I have to admit. After a day in the sun and cashing a few tickets my only question is not will we go back, but when? – We better hurry as there are only a handful of days to return. What are we waiting for? It’s almost post time!

 

It’s All About the Journey….

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 2, 2021 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Uncategorized, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on It’s All About the Journey….

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

 

Many moons ago I was a kid in the parking lot at River Downs. A nice summer job with friends I still have today. Hard to believe it’s been that long ago. But on a hot summer day, my thoughts drift back to sweating in the sun with kids who were just starting life.

All of the fellas were good folk. Pitching quarters and talking about horses we liked in the double. – It was at this time I met a small red-haired young man. He was quiet and mainly listened more than talk. He would chime in from time to time mainly reading the Daily Racing Form passing time sitting in a mail jeep we used to peruse the lots. A ballplayer who had graduated that year working a summer job attending college. Not a bad job for a young man from Cincinnati. His dad used to sell tickets in the clubhouse when he retired from teaching and coaching. Good place for fellas who enjoyed the races and talking sports. This is when I met Mick and Hep Cronin.

As I watched with sports fans from around the globe watching UCLA play a white-knuckle-down-to-wire game. – I kept thinking about that young man who would quietly read the DRF keeping to himself.- Over the summer we got to know each other and our conversations got better over time. I finally had him chattering with me about everything. No better way to stay cool in the heat.

As college and working became the majority of our time. You tend to lose touch with people you met long ago. – One of the first places I heard Mick traveled was a local high school breaking down films and cutting his teeth to be a coach. As time flew past he was a college coach in the blink of an eye. The rest is in the sports pages.

Mick was destined to be in the game. As a young man, he carried himself with an older man’s confident swagger. Not cocky, just sure of himself and the path he chose. – Hep was a well-respected coach from the Cincinnati area. He has stories upon stories of the incredible young men he brought along. Like Mick, a man of few words who did his talking where it counted.

As time expired I watched an old friend thank his players and how they believed in him as their coach. – Most of all he thanked his father. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Love you, Dad.” – In all the years I knew these fellas this may have been the only time he didn’t refer to him as Hep.

As UCLA stamped their ticket to the Final Four; I will be watching with sports fans from around the nation. – From those far away days of talking horse in the sun at River Downs to watching him take his team to the Final Four. I’m still a fan. I was long ago as he embarked on his life’s journey, and will be when they tip-off this weekend.