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Spa Season 2022

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Sarotoga opens on Thursday 7/14 to begin 40 days of the world class horse racing. My focus this season will be mostly on late pick 4s and pick 5s. This year's meet adds a new feature, the return of the longer "Wilson Chute" at the start of the backstretch. Last seen in the early 70s, this allows the return of 1 mile races at 1 turn which matches up Saratoga with the other NYRA tracks.

A couple of pre-meet notes:
- The first couple of weeks can be treacherous, as trainers have been saving up some of their best horses specifically for this meet. Have to ask yourself why a horse is in a race and sometimes when it makes no sense at all that's the one who's most dangerous.
- Typically early speed holds up OK on two turn races, while sprints play more fairly.
- The inner turf course with its tight turns plays well to early speed, while the outer course plays more fairly.
- In turf sprints downgrade the inside few posts, while in turf routes posts 9 and up have a disadvantage.
- Bill Mott's birthday is Friday, July 29th. He's usually good for a win or two on his birthday.

Good luck to all players!
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
7/14 Pick 4 – weather looks great, fast and firm

Race 7 – 3 year old fillies going the new 1 turn mile in a stakes race. Looks like three fit this one well.

#1 – Ran second in two straight grade 2s this spring then got bumped around in the Oaks and faded. Pletcher worked her all June at the Spa. She’s fast enough as will be coming hard late.
#2 – Chad Brown filly still lightly raced and getting better. Was not competitive in a grade 3 this year, dropped back to an optional claimer and won by a nose. Interesting but would have to improve.
#3 – Took five tries to break maiden, now jumps right to stakes level. Water is too deep here.
#4 – Ships in from Churchill and stretches out. Lightly raced and last effort would make her competitive. Outside the big 3 she is the next best.
#5 – Need the lead horse stretching out from 6 furlongs, figures to see pressure from #4. 2 for 2 in slop but 0 for 2 on fast tracks. Toss
#6 – Pletcher’s best of three here IMO, is 2 for 2 in one turn miles and was withing 2 lengths of Echo Zulu this spring. Was mediocre but not awful in the Black Eyed Susan which posted a nice figure, was kept at Belmont this spring and just gets to the Spa now.
#7 – Kept great company last fall finishing second then third to Echo Zulu and Juju’s Map in back to back grade 1s, including 7 furlongs at the Spa. Returned in June and ran well but wide in finishing 2nd, may have needed the race. Must use.
#8 – About 5 lengths slower than #7 and was offered up in claim last race. Eight race veteran can’t be expected to make the leap forward that is needed.
#9 – Has two wins and a close 2nd in last 3 one turn miles, so she could be a little dangerous. Moving up in class, will need to improve. Pletcher’s 3rd best in here.

A – 1,6,7 B – 4 C – 2,9

Race 8
– 1 1/8 M on turf for 3YO fillies. Looking for improving horses from good turf barns.

Clement has two, #1 on his third race who just missed at this level last out, and #3 who ran within 2 lengths of Consumer Spending in a grade at this distance.

Mott has the lightly raced #11 who closed well into a slower paced 7 furlong Grade 3 sprint last out.

#6 is a Chad Brown entry who won her maiden first out then had a stumbled start in the Penn Oaks on a tiring soft turf course. Back on firm ground in this one, with a sharp work, Lasix and 2nd off the layoff.

#2 is interesting as a Kitten’s Joy filly while #7 is from the Casse barn in ran well last time in a race where the winner and show horses both won again.

#9 comes back to turf after some high-class dirt races. Class rating makes him a possible upset.

A – 1,3,6,11 B- 2,7 C - 9

Race 9
– The annual opening day feature, 6 furlongs for baby 2YO fillies. This one is unique in that all nine have run exactly once, and 8 of 9 won their race. Have to lean on speed/class numbers here and hope the fastest stay fast in their 2nd race.

#1 – Only filly in the field that was not fighting for the lead early on and that ability to close has benefits. Also was the favorite and comes out of the highest class race. 5 ½ furlongs is a help too as many have only gone 4 ½.
#6 – Highest speed figure in the field, even though it was on synthetic at Woodbine. Willingness to ship in from Toronto is a plus.
#9 – Also won a decent level maiden race and won it going away. Sharp work last week improves her chances.

A - 1,6,9 No B or C

Race 10
– Brutal closer, 5 ½ furlong claiming race on turf for non-winners of two. Quite a bit of speed signed on, two E8s, two E7s and an E6, so ladies that can close into a hot pace may be the way to go.

#5 looks like the speed of the speed, which is unlikely to hold up, but you never know. #10 ran very fast on dirt last time but it hasn’t translated as well on turf.

From off the pace, #6 has the speed numbers and is turning back from 7 furlongs, which should help with fitness, and is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time.

Ward has a filly in here (#1) and is usual pretty good with young sprinters, but this one dropped into maiden claimers before finding a win, then ran an optional claimer and finished last before getting put back on the block. I don’t think he has much confidence in this one.

#2 has back speed numbers as a 2YO that would win here. She just missed at 7 furlongs closing into a middling pace, so the speed signed on here could make a difference.

A – 2,5,6 B – 4 C – 8

Betting strategy will come into focus once the morning line is released. A caveman $54 ticket of the A's is not unreasonable but I like to trim off the low priced sequences from my ticket.
 

BringInTheLefty

Well-Known Member
7/14 Pick 4 – weather looks great, fast and firm

Race 7 – 3 year old fillies going the new 1 turn mile in a stakes race. Looks like three fit this one well.

#1 – Ran second in two straight grade 2s this spring then got bumped around in the Oaks and faded. Pletcher worked her all June at the Spa. She’s fast enough as will be coming hard late.
#2 – Chad Brown filly still lightly raced and getting better. Was not competitive in a grade 3 this year, dropped back to an optional claimer and won by a nose. Interesting but would have to improve.
#3 – Took five tries to break maiden, now jumps right to stakes level. Water is too deep here.
#4 – Ships in from Churchill and stretches out. Lightly raced and last effort would make her competitive. Outside the big 3 she is the next best.
#5 – Need the lead horse stretching out from 6 furlongs, figures to see pressure from #4. 2 for 2 in slop but 0 for 2 on fast tracks. Toss
#6 – Pletcher’s best of three here IMO, is 2 for 2 in one turn miles and was withing 2 lengths of Echo Zulu this spring. Was mediocre but not awful in the Black Eyed Susan which posted a nice figure, was kept at Belmont this spring and just gets to the Spa now.
#7 – Kept great company last fall finishing second then third to Echo Zulu and Juju’s Map in back to back grade 1s, including 7 furlongs at the Spa. Returned in June and ran well but wide in finishing 2nd, may have needed the race. Must use.
#8 – About 5 lengths slower than #7 and was offered up in claim last race. Eight race veteran can’t be expected to make the leap forward that is needed.
#9 – Has two wins and a close 2nd in last 3 one turn miles, so she could be a little dangerous. Moving up in class, will need to improve. Pletcher’s 3rd best in here.

A – 1,6,7 B – 4 C – 2,9

Race 8
– 1 1/8 M on turf for 3YO fillies. Looking for improving horses from good turf barns.

Clement has two, #1 on his third race who just missed at this level last out, and #3 who ran within 2 lengths of Consumer Spending in a grade at this distance.

Mott has the lightly raced #11 who closed well into a slower paced 7 furlong Grade 3 sprint last out.

#6 is a Chad Brown entry who won her maiden first out then had a stumbled start in the Penn Oaks on a tiring soft turf course. Back on firm ground in this one, with a sharp work, Lasix and 2nd off the layoff.

#2 is interesting as a Kitten’s Joy filly while #7 is from the Casse barn in ran well last time in a race where the winner and show horses both won again.

#9 comes back to turf after some high-class dirt races. Class rating makes him a possible upset.

A – 1,3,6,11 B- 2,7 C - 9

Race 9
– The annual opening day feature, 6 furlongs for baby 2YO fillies. This one is unique in that all nine have run exactly once, and 8 of 9 won their race. Have to lean on speed/class numbers here and hope the fastest stay fast in their 2nd race.

#1 – Only filly in the field that was not fighting for the lead early on and that ability to close has benefits. Also was the favorite and comes out of the highest class race. 5 ½ furlongs is a help too as many have only gone 4 ½.
#6 – Highest speed figure in the field, even though it was on synthetic at Woodbine. Willingness to ship in from Toronto is a plus.
#9 – Also won a decent level maiden race and won it going away. Sharp work last week improves her chances.

A - 1,6,9 No B or C

Race 10
– Brutal closer, 5 ½ furlong claiming race on turf for non-winners of two. Quite a bit of speed signed on, two E8s, two E7s and an E6, so ladies that can close into a hot pace may be the way to go.

#5 looks like the speed of the speed, which is unlikely to hold up, but you never know. #10 ran very fast on dirt last time but it hasn’t translated as well on turf.

From off the pace, #6 has the speed numbers and is turning back from 7 furlongs, which should help with fitness, and is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time.

Ward has a filly in here (#1) and is usual pretty good with young sprinters, but this one dropped into maiden claimers before finding a win, then ran an optional claimer and finished last before getting put back on the block. I don’t think he has much confidence in this one.

#2 has back speed numbers as a 2YO that would win here. She just missed at 7 furlongs closing into a middling pace, so the speed signed on here could make a difference.

A – 2,5,6 B – 4 C – 8

Betting strategy will come into focus once the morning line is released. A caveman $54 ticket of the A's is not unreasonable but I like to trim off the low priced sequences from my ticket.

best of racing luck to you at Saratoga
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Morning line odd are out.....what I like to do in structuring multi-race bets is weed out the low-odds sequences, so every bet has at least one horse at 4-1 or higher and typically multiple. For example, on Thursday, the A choices have the following odds:

Race 7 - #1 is 3-1, #6 is 7-2 and #7 is 5-2. All are below 4-1.
Race 8 - #1 is 4-1, #3 is 7-2, #6 is 6-1, #11 is 9-2
Race 9 - #1 is 5-2, #6 is 7-2, #9 is 3-1. All are below 4-1
Race 10 - #2 is 12-1, #5 is 7-2, #6 is 5-2.

So I will structure my Pick 4 bets to take the sequence of 1.6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 5,6 off the table. The reason I do this is because the vast majority of NYRA picks 4s will have at least one horse that has a morning line of at least 4-1. And if it doesn't the sequence is going to pay very small, sometimes even less than the overall bet amount. I'd rather save those few dollars for another more lucrative opportunity, either a saver bet with B or C horses or another race sequence entirely.

So the bet for tomorrow is actually two bets:
1,6,7 / 1,6,11 / 1,6,9 / 2,5,6 <--------price horse needed in the 8th ($40.50)
1,6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 2,4 <-------since the first three legs are all low price horses I added a 2nd price horse (my B horse) to the last leg ($9)
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
FRIDAY 7/15 Pick 4 – weather looks great, fast and firm

Race 7 – 1 1/8M straight claiming race for non-winners of 3 races. Very even group so finding the key angles will be important.

From a class standpoint, #3 and #5 stand out as having run against better company, although neither has shown good form recently. The horse running well currently is #6, a Finger Lakes shipper that figures to be on the front end early. From a connections standpoint #4 has to be noted, with Irad riding for Brad Cox on a horse with only 5 races under his belt. The last effort was a dull one on a sloppy track that may be excusable.

A - 3,5,6 B - 4

Race 8 – 5 ½ furlong turf stake where the front runner will be tough to corral

#1 – Speed horse coming out of longer dirt and synthetic sprints trying turf for the first time. Pedigree is OK but trainer is 0 for 10 with grass debuts. Will need to be sent from the rail with two other speed horses just to her outside. A fast pace will make it tough for all of them.
#2 – Another gal coming out of dirt ranks, although she had one turf start that would be competitive here. 2 for 2 getting to the lead, 0 for 3 when others lead. With speed on both sides of her it will be a difficult task to get the lead and have enough left in the tank at the end.
#3 – Wesley Ward speed horse won the Breeders Cup Juvy Turf Sprint last year and has run 2nd and 1st in two turf sprints this year. Lots of speed in this race but she’s probably the best of them, certainly the most accomplished.
#4 – An Ascot runner last year, she’s fallen short twice to #3 in the last 13 months. Nothing suggests she’ll be better in this one.
#5 – Another speed horse making her turf debut, has come up short in two stakes sprints. With all the early fillies in this one I’m sticking with #3 as the top early horse and looking for closers otherwise.
#6 – Purest closer in the field should get a great setup and has succeed in turf sprints in the past, including a win at the Spa. Clement and Rosario make for nice connections too.
#7 – Lightly raced front-runner is 2 for 2 lifetime and won at the Spa last fall. Speed figures work, but is she mature enough?
#8 – Mott sprinter came from 6 lengths back in the last race to win. Her best speed figure was on a yielding course at the Spa last August, but there are firm course efforts that would be good enough. It’s either her or #6 as the one putting the heat on #3 late.
#9 – Another switching back from dirt to turf, her one turf effort at the Spa last year was so bad she was offered up in a maiden claimer the following race. She’s gotten a lot better but all on dirt. A bit mysterious as to why they’d go back to the grass now.
#10 – Another front runner, she’s coming off a poor effort and is not as classy as #3.
#11 – Outside post should help this green filly running in her 2nd career race, first time on grass. She’ll be in some deep water here.

A – 3,6,8 B – 7 C - 9

Race 9 – Grade 3 miler on the inner turf with a nice blend of speed and closers.

#1 – Classy runner has two grade 2 wins in the last year, including last race, and otherwise was competing in grade 1s. 10 for 20 lifetime, likes to win, must use.
#2 – Competitive in grade 3s but generally comes up short. Too many better options.
#3 – Just missed in the grade 1 Turf Classic on Derby day, also has a grade 3 win in March. Comes from off the pace which is right in Leparoux’s wheelhouse. Must use.
#4 – Winner of three straight sprints now tries graded stakes route for first time. Other routes in his PPs were not good.
#5 – Need the lead type that isn’t always able to get to the front, will find stiff competition getting there with #9. Won a grade 3 in January but form has not been that good since.
#6 – Chad horse is a 7YO who won a grade 3 at 5 and was 3rd in the BC Mile at age 3. Tried a grade 2 last December and was no good, then ran a stake in May and was rallying but came up short. Chad still loses 7 in 10 so I’m thinking this is one of those times.
#7 – This Chad horse fits much better, is 3 for 3 at the Spa and is a multiple graded stakes winner. Last effort in the grade 3 Poker was a close third. Can’t leave off ticket.
#8 – Prat hops on this Maker entry that has been within two lengths of winning each of his last four races, all grade 1 or 2. Would not surprise and should be a decent price.
#9 – Front runner carried a quick pace in a grade 3 last month and just got nailed in the last jumps. Could find himself on an easier than expected lead and if that happens he’s more than capable of wiring.
#10 – Just a step below in class than several others, the outside post figures to put him in a poor position early and will have a tough time rallying.
#11 – More used to sprinting, has a couple of 1 mile efforts and finished third both times, but it was at a much lower class level. Like #10, hard to see him getting good position with that outside post.
#12 – Stone cold closer so the outside post isn’t as big a deal as he’ll just go right to the rail. He’ll be running late but hasn’t won in the past 10, always seems to finish a couple of lengths short.

A – 1,3,7,8,9

Race 10 – A nice 6 ½ furlong optional claimer with some decent talent to end the day. Spread in the 9th means I’ll be looking to go short in this one.

I’m inclined to single #2 Rossa Veloce. Her best speed numbers are a couple of lengths better than the others and were run this spring. She was subpar in her last effort, coming off the claim by Bill Morey, but now gets a jockey upgrade with Prat climbing on. The sharp workout on 7/3 has me thinking she’ll be ready to roll.

Pick 4 ticket - 3,4,5,6 / 3,6,7,8 / 1,3,7,8,9 / 2
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Morning line odd are out.....what I like to do in structuring multi-race bets is weed out the low-odds sequences, so every bet has at least one horse at 4-1 or higher and typically multiple. For example, on Thursday, the A choices have the following odds:

Race 7 - #1 is 3-1, #6 is 7-2 and #7 is 5-2. All are below 4-1.
Race 8 - #1 is 4-1, #3 is 7-2, #6 is 6-1, #11 is 9-2
Race 9 - #1 is 5-2, #6 is 7-2, #9 is 3-1. All are below 4-1
Race 10 - #2 is 12-1, #5 is 7-2, #6 is 5-2.

So I will structure my Pick 4 bets to take the sequence of 1.6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 5,6 off the table. The reason I do this is because the vast majority of NYRA picks 4s will have at least one horse that has a morning line of at least 4-1. And if it doesn't the sequence is going to pay very small, sometimes even less than the overall bet amount. I'd rather save those few dollars for another more lucrative opportunity, either a saver bet with B or C horses or another race sequence entirely.

So the bet for tomorrow is actually two bets:
1,6,7 / 1,6,11 / 1,6,9 / 2,5,6 <--------price horse needed in the 8th ($40.50)
1,6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 2,4 <-------since the first three legs are all low price horses I added a 2nd price horse (my B horse) to the last leg ($9)
Big scratch of #11 in the 8th race draws in #13, a Chad Brown French import being ridden by Prat. She's a bit green with only two races, both on synthetic, but the races were classy enough, she won the last, and at 8-1 there's no way I'm leaving her off the ticket.

Tickets are now:
1,6,7 / 1,6,13 / 1,6,9 / 2,5,6
1,6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 2,4
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Big scratch of #11 in the 8th race draws in #13, a Chad Brown French import being ridden by Prat. She's a bit green with only two races, both on synthetic, but the races were classy enough, she won the last, and at 8-1 there's no way I'm leaving her off the ticket.

Tickets are now:
1,6,7 / 1,6,13 / 1,6,9 / 2,5,6 $92.25
1,6,7 / 3 / 1,6,9 / 2,4
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
#3 scratched out of the 8th race so I'm replacing with the unknown quantity #11 running her second race, first on grass.

Friday's Late Pick 4 ticket - 3,4,5,6 / 6,7,8,11 / 1,3,7,8,9 / 2
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Outside post did not hurt City Man in the 9th, and he ran right back to that winning mile effort from Aqueduct. Mira Mission didn't run a lick.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Bad form on Rossa Veloce carried through. Khali Magic was a logical 2nd choice, although she stubbornly hated to win at this level until now, but the field in general was a pretty poor one with bombs running 2nd and 3rd. Perfect ticket $50 structure would've singled Lefty's best bet in the 8th or paired her with the favorite: 3,4,5,6 / 6,11 / 1,3,7,8,9,10 / 2,3
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Saturday late pick 4

Race 8 - Grade 1 Diana - the Chad Brown Invitational, Chad has four runners out of the six entered and Peter Brant owns three of them. The two non-Chads are decent but more grade 2 or 3 types. # 2 is the better one but doesn't have his usual rider on board. Of the Chad's there are two that will vie for the lead in #1 and #6, while #3 and #4 will be sitting off the pace and looking to pounce.

#1 - Comes out of grade 3 win at Pimlico, 2nd in a grade 1 last fall, 2 for 2 at the Spa, has 4 wins at 8.5 furlongs but 0 for 2 at the full 9.
#3 - The favorite, 7 for 7 lifetime with grade 1 win at 10 furlongs. How can you not use her?
#4 - French import has a grade 3 win in US but two grade 1 misses, although she showed grade 1 ability last year at Longchamp. Was a 3-5 favorite against #3 in May, now going to be around 3-1. The value is there.
#6 - The other front runner, faded in a solid pace scenario on Belmont day at 1 mile. Is getting buzz based on her workouts, has room to improve and gets Rosario to try to control the pace.

Hard to leave any of the out. A - 1,3,4 B - 6

Race 9 - 9 furlong turf optional claimer for 3YOs - favorite #9 looks legit but has never faced winners. #1A is the other Shug horse who was thought to be grade 1 material as a 2YO and will be a juicy price. #2 gets back on her preferred surface for Pletcher where last seen she just missed winning a grade 3. #3 has won 2 straight and is training well. #4 is the 2nd Pletcher entry and has won at this distance. #6 is a Chad horse flying under the radar, gets blinkers taken off and has been working well. #10 adds lasix and blinkers and was within two lengths of winning a grade 2 last time out.

7 contenders make for tricky choices. A - 1A, 2, 3, 6, 9 B - 4, 10

Race 10 - Sanford Stakes 6 furlongs for 2 YO - skull busting field of 12 where only three have run more than once and all but one are coming off a win. Basically using a grab bag of superlatives:

Pletcher wins this one often - #2 and #4
Top speed number - #9 (the buzz horse and Lefty's top pick gets special consideration)
Top class number - #4
Best multi-race horse - #12
Top early speed - #5

A+ 9, A - 2, 4, 5, 12

Race 11 - 8.5 furlong turf claimer for non-winners of two - with the 9th and 10th being such tricky races I'll look to go lean again in the last race, and there are two lightly raced horses that catch the eye. #4 ships in from Woodbine, drops into the claiming ranks and was just 2 lengths out in his last one. #9 moves from synthetic to turf for Chad, also dropping out of the allowance ranks. #6 is the another class dropper for Cherie DeVaux, also a Kitten's Joy filly. And #10 drops out of the allowance ranks as well and is generally fast enough to be right there.

A - 4, 9 B - 6, 10
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
With a budget in mind, ticket structure is really important today. The stronger opinions are with the #1A & #9 in race 9, the #9 in Race 10, and #4 and #9 in race 11, so I'll look to get 2 or 3 of those right:

1,3,4,6 / 1A,9 / 9 / 4,9
1,3,4,6 / 1A.9 / 9 / 6,10
1,3,4,6 / 2,3,4,6,10 / 9 / 4,9
1,3,4,6 / 1A,9 / 2,4,5,12 / 4,9

Total $68. Can trim it down even further by taking out all the low priced sequences.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
With a budget in mind, ticket structure is really important today. The stronger opinions are with the #1A & #9 in race 9, the #9 in Race 10, and #4 and #9 in race 11, so I'll look to get 2 or 3 of those right:

1,3,4,6 / 1A,9 / 9 / 4,9
1,3,4,6 / 1A.9 / 9 / 6,10
1,3,4,6 / 2,3,4,6,10 / 9 / 4,9
1,3,4,6 / 1A,9 / 2,4,5,12 / 4,9

Total $68. Can trim it down even further by taking out all the low priced sequences.
Post-mortem - In Race 8 the buzz on #6 paid off as In Italian wired the field at an elevated 8-1. Hard to narrow to much less than 6/1/4 though. #3 had poor form that I probably should have factored in more. Race 9 turned out to be as wide open as anticipated. Nothing short of a spread would do. Same with Race 10, although my key choice in the #9 ran well, Mo Strike lived up to his daddy's name with an impressive win. A sharp workout on the tab should've caught more attention. In the finale, there was some buzz that the #13 could be live if he drew in. Sure enough he was, although my two choices ran a solid 2nd and 3rd, so I can't hate it. Overall would've taken me playing a 3x5x6x3=$135 ticket to hit which is outside my desired budget range, although the $3335 payoff would've been more than satisfactory.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Sunday 7/17 Late Pick 4 - continue to see great weather, fast and firm

Race 7 - 1 1/16 miles on turf, state bred optional claimer - Chad and Clement have two logical choices in #5 and #9, both improving 3 year olds with only 3 races under their belts. #2 is coming off a nine month layoff with a solid work tab and should be quicker with past races that would already make him competitive, #11 is also coming off a similar layoff but from 2YO to 3YO which can be an even bigger jump. #10 fits that race in terms of class and speed but is 1 for 13 and 5YO, he's not getting better.

A- 2,5,9,11 B-10 C-3

Race 8 - 5 1/2 furlong turf grade 3 stake - two proven at this distance and in great form are #4, winner of four straight, and #8 for Clement, winner of 4 of 5. They also bookend the pace scenarios at #4 will be gunning it will #8 tracks and pounces late. Also of interest are #6 which is a barn mate of #4 and likes to win (4 of 5) and #7 from Wesley Ward who cuts back to the distance he excelled at in the UK.

A- 4,8 B-6,7 C-2

Race 9 - 7 furlong optional claimer - #4 and #5 stick out with their 100+ speed figures at this distance and are unsurprisingly the top two choices. At a price #2 and #7 both fit and are getting back to a preferred distance at a track they've had past success.

A-4,5 B-2,7 C-1

Race 10 - 1 1/6 miles on inner turf for state bred maiden claimers - #5 sticks out in this weak group with a decent 2nd at this level last time. Have to respect Chad dropping in #10 on the stretch out. #12 also looks clever coming back off a 9 month layoff at age four with a solid work tab. #8 is the other maiden dropper, showed nothing on dirt but the trainer has success with droppers and Lezcano is a crafty rider. Other's that could fit this weak field include #4 and #7.

A- 5,10 B-12 C- 4,7,8
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Ticket Structure: Fields in the 8th and 9th are small so I don't want to have a big ticket here. I'll stick with the As only in race 7, then use As and the price Bs in the rest, playing against #7 in the 8th. Structure will make sure I have 4-1 or more on each sequence.

2,11 / 4,8 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($8)
5,9 / 4 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($4)
2,5,9,11 / 6 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($8)
2,5,9,11 / 4,8 / 2,7 / 5,10 ($16)
2,5,9,11 / 4,8 / 4,5 / 12 ($8)

$44 total
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Ticket Structure: Fields in the 8th and 9th are small so I don't want to have a big ticket here. I'll stick with the As only in race 7, then use As and the price Bs in the rest, playing against #7 in the 8th. Structure will make sure I have 4-1 or more on each sequence.

2,11 / 4,8 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($8)
5,9 / 4 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($4)
2,5,9,11 / 6 / 4,5 / 5,10 ($8)
2,5,9,11 / 4,8 / 2,7 / 5,10 ($16)
2,5,9,11 / 4,8 / 4,5 / 12 ($8)

$44 total
Sunday postmortem - No way in hell I was sniffing out #4 in the 7th. Only thing going for Lady Thornhill was a return to having Jose Ortiz ride, but that was about it. 8th race was no surprise, 9th race was not impossible, class and speed figures fit but at 0 for 4 on the distance and with the weakest resume I discarded. Biggest mistake was not singling #5 in the finale, who I noted really popped on the paper, gotta take advantage when a strong opinion comes out. Not that it would've mattered with the 7th race upset.
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Wednesday Late Pick

No time for deeper writeups today, I will note I'm against the favorite in the 8th and leaving him off the ticket.

2,3,6 / 1-1A, 6, 9 / 4, 5 / 1-1A, 3,6,8 $36
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Thought #9 had the edge heading into the stretch but Carmouche bottomed out the speed horses in the 8th race and Lezcano was just a jump late with #6.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Firday Late Pick 4 - didn't play yesterday as the quick rain moved #10 off the turf and I didn't have time to reevaluate. Sometimes work gets in the way of fun...

Race 7 - #1 is the big favorite on the card, he's run nothing but graded stakes since the fall of his 2YO career. As a 3YO he didn't win but showed improvement in the summer, just missing in the Ohio Derby and Jim Dandy, before running an even 4th in the Travers. Comes back after 10 months off for Pletcher, has a steady workout tab since Memorial Day and a couple of bullet works. If he runs back to his form last summer he's better than 5 lengths clear of all but #6 and #7 here. #7 is the more interesting of those two as Chad brings his easy maiden winner up in class. He was dominant in the slop at Belmont and just got nipped after a rough start in his first race. #6 jumped forward in his last outing under a new trainer, feels like we missed the party here. #4 also has a similar story, moving up off the claim last out and winning for his new barn.

A - 1 B - 7

Race 8 - Four seem to stand out as the main contenders. #1 cuts back from 7 furlongs where he won last out, but will see a lot of speed to his outside in #2 and #9 that could compromise him. #5 has been a steady contender at 6 furlongs and Prat made him a game winner last out. Should be very involved here and runs well into hot paces. #3 and #6 should both be charging late. #3 comes back from a year layoff for Clement but has run well off the bench before. #6 has run well this year and almost won last out despite finding trouble a couple of times.

A - 3,5,6 B - 1

Race 9 - Last two races are real scrambles, beginning with this Grade 3 turf miler for 3YOs fillies.

#1 - Tries dirt for the first time for Joseph, was a flat 4th in a grade 3 at Delaware. Pedigree doesn't impress.
#2 - Longshot comes off a close win in a stake in Indiana, won there at 36-1! Previous to that was tried in a grade 1 at Keeneland and lost by 42 lengths at 101-1. No thanks.
#3 - Not the worst horse in the field, finally broke her maiden in her 5th try last out. Has been competitive against non-winners but now the water gets deep. Can never say never with Mott but the next 6 all have better resumes.
#4 - Was the favorite in the BC Juvy Fillies Turf last year at Delmar and rallied in the stretch to finish with 2 lengths of the winner. 2nd and 3rd place ladies have both won this year. Comes into 3YO season off an 8 month layoff, had a sharp work last week. Must use.
#5 - One of two good looking fillies for Chad in this one, a grade 3 winner on the lawn this spring, has been competitive in two graded staked in Kentucky. Don't see how she could be left off ticket.
#6 - The other Chad comes in as the favorite after winning at Belmont last month. Was competitive in the grade 1 Natalma last fall. Must use.
#7 - Sneaky good competitor at 12-1 morning line for Joseph, has a stakes win a Gulfstream this summer. Loves to lead and may get it pretty easy here, and that makes her viable.
#8 - Improving filly from Shug has back to back show finishes in grade 2 stakes. Prat moves off but Rosario jumps on, may be the finisher she needs. Bullet work last week shows she's ready to roll.
#9 - Stone cold closer steps up in class and might be at a disadvantage with the short route distance and the limited number of front runners in this one. Went from 8th to first against a slow pace last out so there is talent there for this Irish bred filly.

A - 4,5,6,7,8 B - 9

Race 10 - Field of 14 scratches down to 11 in this 6 furlong race for NY bred ladies. #8 is a logical favorite for Pletcher who broke her maiden in try four but has shown steady improvement each time and has speed ratings that win this. The 2/2B entry has a chance mainly thanks to #2 who comes in on a 5 race win streak at Finger Lakes. She'll be forward placed early and could be a headache for #8. The other early horse of interest is #5 who's 2022 form is dirty as hell yet her 2021 races as a 2YO would put her right in the mix.

#10 draws morning line respect for Clement but has figures that have flattened. A jump forward her would per her in the mix but not sure why it would happen here. #4 comes off a huge win at Finger Lakes but seems to only show up every other race. #11 us a 20-1 shot that's run her best at Finger Lakes but has been no better than fourth in last 4 and comes off a 5 month layoff. #7 switches barns and gets a jockey upgrade after running a competitive 2nd at this distance last out. #6 gets blinkers added which should draw her closer to the pace, she's closed well her last two times at this distance.

A - 2e,7,8 B-5,6,10

With a single in the first leg we can spread for prices everywhere else, and we'll need one or two to get a decent return.

1 / 3,5 / 4,5,6,7,8 / 2,7,8
1 / 1,6 / 4,7,8 / 2,7,8
1 / 1,6 / 5,6 / 2,5,6,7,10
1 / 3,5,6 / 9 / 2,7,8

$38.50
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Favorite/2nd choice/2nd choice/Favorite pays an unappetizing $36.50. Nothing clever was needed today. to find the winners.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Difficult late pick 4 on Saturday, expecting some prices to show up.

1-1A / 1,2,7 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,6,8
4,7 / 1,2 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,6,8
4.7 / 7 / 3.5 / 1.6 8
4,7 / 7 / 1,4 / 1,6,7
$54
 

jimbo1311

Well-Known Member
Hey Gandolf, question for you. Do you have any favorite handicapping books to recommend? Have been handicapping for years, but rally just learned on my own and utilize the racing form on my own. Just wondering if there are any good systems to use. Thanks in advance…Jimbo
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
My favorite handicapping books:

Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century by Steve Davidowitz is a good general book with lots of ideas.
Bet with the Best: Expert Strategies from America's Leading Handicappers is similar.
Thoroughbred Handicapping: State of the Art by William Quirin gets more into pace analysis, which is sort of like reading between the lines of the racing form.
Lefty might recommend Modern Pace handicapping by Brohamer, which I've read but had trouble applying. It gets into pace, velocity and energy details.

There are so many directions one can go in how they handicap horses, that's part of the beauty of it. It's like solving a puzzle where you get to choose the pieces too. And every race has different factors that prove to be essential, whether its speed factors, pace, class, experience, connections, equipment changes, breeding, etc.

Then on top of handicapping the race the proper bet must be applied. Steve Crist has a classic book on betting exotics that's worth checking out.
 

jimbo1311

Well-Known Member
My favorite handicapping books:

Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century by Steve Davidowitz is a good general book with lots of ideas.
Bet with the Best: Expert Strategies from America's Leading Handicappers is similar.
Thoroughbred Handicapping: State of the Art by William Quirin gets more into pace analysis, which is sort of like reading between the lines of the racing form.
Lefty might recommend Modern Pace handicapping by Brohamer, which I've read but had trouble applying. It gets into pace, velocity and energy details.

There are so many directions one can go in how they handicap horses, that's part of the beauty of it. It's like solving a puzzle where you get to choose the pieces too. And every race has different factors that prove to be essential, whether its speed factors, pace, class, experience, connections, equipment changes, breeding, etc.

Then on top of handicapping the race the proper bet must be applied. Steve Crist has a classic book on betting exotics that's worth checking out.
Thanks Gandolf, appreciate the info
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
(Adjusted post scratches)

8/3 Late Pick 4 - weather looks great for today and tomorrow. Friday looks like an off the turf day, boo. Was looking at this as maybe a pick 5, the 6th race is a maiden race where 5 of 7 are first time starters and the two returnees showed little in their first efforts. So I'll be watching the odds board to see where the money goes before deciding whether or not to add that leg.

Race 7 - 1 mile optional claimer for NY bred horses. #3 is close to a standout here, with a last race that beats most and a best effort that handles all of them. Also 2 for 2 at the distance and has beaten better company in the past. #6 has a shot with the class drop, both will be sitting behind the early speed and ready to pounce.

A - 3,6 B - 2

Race 8 - 7 furlong claimer with a lot of options. #5 could just wire the field, has done well at 6.5 furlongs. #3 just missed winning at this level last at, merits respect. #1 and #8 have both been keeping better company and fit here well. #9 will need to improve but gets a trainer upgrade that should help.

A - 1,3,5,8 B - 9

Race 9 - 1 1/16 mile on the turf. Chad seems to have this one wired with his double entry. #1 is the better of the entry but 1A might appreciate the cutback in distance and shouldn't be ignored. #2 has a fighting chance as the controller of the pace but in general this one is a single.

A - 1/1A B - 2

Race 10 - Another wide open 7 furlong claimer for non-winners of 2. #11 is 1 for 1 at the distance and will win if that effort is repeatable. #2 and #9 are class droppers that look logical. Then there's other class droppers in #3, #4 and #7 that could show up against lesser company. #8 wildcard, actually moving up in class off the maiden win and stretching out. Needs to step up but the light bulb may have clicked on.

A - 2,8,9,11 B - 3,4,7

Four As ($16, $12)
3,6 / 1,3,5,8 / 1e / 2,8,9,11

3As/1B ($40, $29)
2 / 1,3,5,8 / 1e / 2,8,9,11
3,6 / 9 / 1e / 2,8,9,11
3,6 / 1,3,5,8 / 2 / 2,8,9,11
3,6 / 1,3,5,8 / 1e / 3,4,7
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
No pick 5 bet....5 and 7 are taking money but its tepid. Seems like the public doesn't know what to make of this race (6th).
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Late pick 5 - A couple of key scratches made this one pretty playable. Singling Matareya in the Test as she looks several lengths better than the rest at the 7 furlong distance. Pletcher's Tapit horse also looks logical in Race 8 with a lack of early speed present. Scratch of American Revolution makes for three logicals there, #2, #4 and #6. Trying to beat Classic Causeway in the Derby as there's plenty of speed present to make life difficult this time. Spreading a bit in the last two and hoping to get paid.

5,8 / 1 / 2,4,6 / 4,6,7,10 / 2,4,7,8
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Late pick 5 - A couple of key scratches made this one pretty playable. Singling Matareya in the Test as she looks several lengths better than the rest at the 7 furlong distance. Pletcher's Tapit horse also looks logical in Race 8 with a lack of early speed present. Scratch of American Revolution makes for three logicals there, #2, #4 and #6. Trying to beat Classic Causeway in the Derby as there's plenty of speed present to make life difficult this time. Spreading a bit in the last two and hoping to get paid.

5,8 / 1 / 2,4,6 / 4,6,7,10 / 2,4,7,8
Disappointing day. Also got nipped by a nose in the 5th to miss the all-turf Pick 3. Pick 5 ended up going Fave, Upset, Fave, Fave, 2nd choice to get almost $4k. A result that gets more and more typical on these big days.....favorite after favorite comes home except for one or two longshots to spice up the returns. I could #6 winning in the 9th with a wire to wire score but never expected Matareya to get outfinished. Oh well.
 

KJ

Mayor of Nap
There was a Handy horse today and I bet him WP but my brain's so scrambled I can't remember if he cashed. Was a 7 horse.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Back at it on Sunday.....playing a tight Turf Pick 3, Races 4, 7, 9: 1,2,3 / 2,3 / 1

Late Pick 4

Race 7 - Scratch of the new blood in #4 really tightens up the options. #3 has a clear pace edge and will try to carry them all the way around. #2 is well meant for Chad and should be close to the pace in this small field.

A - 2,3

Race 8 - #4 and #5 both up and comers for the two heavyweight trainers, while #8 is a threat to carry them all the way around thanks to the lack of early speed in this one. #2 looks like an interesting longshot who has a win at the distance and maybe the best finishing kick.

A - 4,5,8 B - 2

Race 9 - Highly competitive field where a case can be made for all eight. Being run on the inner that typical favors early speed by but with no one in the field that regularly likes to go to the front. #4 has gone to the front twice in her last four runs and attended fast paces in the other two, going 2 for 4. Franco is a good front running jockey. #5 is a favorite I'm looking to beat, Todd has been training her to work from off the pace and the results have been mixed, although last time in a field of six she made a big middle move and was able to hang on late. #6 is dropping down from fast grade 2 races into this spot. She was very competitive, finishing third and second in those efforts. Chad has two in here with #1 and #2. #1 is the best closer in the field and could benefit from way may be a surprisingly quick pace. #2 has been running better since returning to Chad's barn, winning last time out but will now face much better.

A - 1,4,6 B - 2

Race 10 - Non-winners of two with another favorite worth taking a stand against, this time the #10. who's been OK but has been out finished in his last two. #11 is a gelding that has been intended for two his last two, both were rained off the grass, and he should be on the lead. For my money there's nobody better than Johnny V at nursing a lead all the way around to the finish. #5 is dropping from allowance level where he led heading into the stretch of a 9 furlong race before tiring. The shorter distance should help. #3 enters the Maker barn and had a rough trip last time at this level. Improvement should put him into the mix. #1 is yet another Chad horse who was getting competitive at this level before disappearing for 9 months. He's back now with a dozen work tabs to his credit. I feel like I'm discounting Pletcher today but #2 is another one who's interesting comes out of much weaker competition.

A - 1,3,5,11 B-2

Pick 4: 2,3 / 4,5,8 / 1,4,6 / 1,3,5,11 ($36)

Too clever by half play: 1,5 / 2,4,5,8 / 5 / 10 ($4)
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Pick 4: 2,3 / 4,5,8 / 1,4,6 / 1,3,5,11 ($36) Won $116

Too clever by half play: 1,5 / 2,4,5,8 / 5 / 10 ($4)
Good to get a win on the board, although the races were all on form with 1st or 2nd choices on the board winning. Four Star Dave week coming up, kind of the calm week before the big push to the end of summer.
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
8/10 Late Pick 4

Race 7 - scratch of the favorite throws this one wide open. #5 looks logical based on most recent effort, but there are three closers, #1, #6 and #9 who can threaten at this 7 furlong distance.

Race 8 - Taking a stand with #2 Awesome Gerry, who's 2 for 6 at the distance and should sit in pouncing mode right behind a trio of early runners. #3 has a hell of a closing kick but is more suited to mile and up races.

Race 9 - Pretty wide open turf mile allowance for NY breds. Agree with Lefty that #3, #5, #6 and #11 are most attractive but I'll also add the #8 Pletcher horse at a tepid 7/2 as well.

Race #10 - Long turf race for maidens. #2 has actually gone longer and has numbers that compete here. Chad has two in here that are both against the typical running style you'd like to see here but they're both fit and I can't push them off the ticket. I'll try to beat Mott's #9 who's making his turf debut and could just go to the front and lead all 9.5 panels. #3 is also interesting with great connections but has burned money the last two races so if he wins I lose.

1,5,6,9 / 2 / 3,5,6,8,11 / 2,7,8 $30
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Saturday Late Pick 5

Race 7 - favorite scratches, gives the only runner with experience, #1 a boost. #1 ran fast early then folded, the retry at the same distance should find him more fit. #5 has the pedigree and sharp works we look for. #2 has a super sharp gate work that's hard to ignore. #7 has a solid pedigree but the works do not wow me.

A - 1,2,5 B - 7

Race 8 - Chad's #1 has a clear class edge and draws inside on the inner turf, which is where you'd like to be. If he doesn't get it done there's a bunch that could be of interest in what should be a race with plenty of pace.

A - 1 B - 5,7,10,11

Race 9 - Todd's double entry have similar solid work tabs and a pedigree for the lawn. Chad also has two in here uncoupled that can't be ignored. #2 is well bred for the lawn, while #4 gets blinks in her second try and should be fit. #10 for Mott has a past effort that gets it done here and is 3/4 ITM.

A - 1,2,4,10 B - 7

Race 10 - Fourstardave features only five and Chad has the best one in #3. He also has #4 who will get to sit on the leader's flank and hopefully keep the pace honest. #1 has his fan club but I see him a notch below.

A - 3,4 B - 1

Race 11 - Rough group of maiden claimers to finish the sequence. #3 is likeliest as a first time dropper to the claiming ranks, but #7 and #9 fit the pace scenario well and have been close at this level. #10 looks like the best of the early horses but if they run to form this one should set up for the late runners. #1 is the mystery horse....new barn, dropping to claim, off 10 months, stretching out and getting lasix. In a race like this the mystery horse is intriguing.

A - 3,7,9 B - 1,10

Sequence is not expensive, trip up spots are obviously the single in the eighth, Casa Creed between the Chad's in the feature, or a pace horse or the mystery #1 springing the upset in the last.

1,2,5 / 1 / 1-1A, 2,4,10 / 3,4 / 3,7,9 $36
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Very gettable sequence and it paid $1862 too, geez. At least I didn't have one break down on the track this time, so that's progress....
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Fri Late Pick 4

Race 7 - Turf sprints this meet have not been kind to front runners but #10 for Clement gets blinkers added so she'll go and not look back. Chad's #5 broke her maiden in her fourth try and was close in the other three. 2nd place finisher flattered by winning next time out. #6 is 1 for 9 lifetime but all three tries at the Spa have been her best three, so the horse for course angle is strong. #2 for Ward gets Johnny V back aboard and will get sent, has a first and two 2nds when she's been able to poke a head in front. Mott's take over the #9, she is stepping up but workouts don't show anything positive here.

A - 5,6 B - 2,10

Race 8 - Hoping #2 boosts the pace a bit and lets #7 do her thing with a late charge. #3 has multiple graded stakes wins at Churchill and invades hear with Leparoux coming to town to ride. #5 is the lightly raced buzz horse in this group, still improving with each stretch out. #6 is trained by the winner of last nights finale at 26/1. Has back class and battled Clariere and Malathaat last time. This group is step below that level. #1 also has battled those two but that was last year. Last time out she struggled at Monmouth. Pretty wide open so I'll use the fresher faces and the best closer.

A - 3,5,6,7 B - 1

Race 9 - Inner turf route races have been surprisingly tough on front runners this meet with only 1 win in 24 races. #6 fits the race profile well, gets a trainer switch and is lightly raced so there's room to improve. #8 has the best record at this distance, has won 3 straight and will be in a stalk and pounce position. If the pace breaks down then #3 and #4 should get ground saving trips and come running late.

A - 6,8 B - 3,4

Race 10 - Babies sprinting on the turf in a stake to close the card. #4 has the best speed but has not yet tried the lawn, although pedigree suggests it shouldn't be a problem. #3 looked impressive at 6 furlongs and now moves into Chad's barn so he must be respected. #8 is another Chad horse that won his debut at the Spa last month so you have to consider.

A - 3,4,8 B - none

5,6 / 3,5,6,7 / 3,4,6,8 / 3,4,8

Add the Lefty's #2 as a logical single for a reasonable $48 pick 5

Race 6 Grand Slam - 2,9 / 5,6 / 3,7 / 6,8 $16
 

Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Travers Day All Stakes Pick 4

Race 8.- A - 1,6,9. B - 8
Race 9 - A - 1,3,5. B - 2
Race 10 - A - 1,3,6,10. B - 7,9
Race 11 - A - 1,6 B - 7

Trying to catch at least one 3rd choice or better on these tickets:

9 / 1,3,5 / 1,3,6,10 / 1,6
1,6 / 1 / 1,3,6,10 / 1,6
1,6 / 3,5 / 6,7,9,10 / 1,6 $67, pretty formful, #10 Mira Mission almost got home at 18/1 to quadruple the value.
1,6,8,9 / 2 / 3 / 1,6,7
 
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Gandolf

Leader of the Van Buren Boys
Late Pick 5 Labor Day at Kentucky Downs (all races on turf)

4,5,7,11 / 3,5,7,9 / 7 / 1,4,6,7,12 / 11
 
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