Greyhound and Horse Racing Tricks and Treats for Friday, October 31st 2014

It’s all go this weekend at the dogs and horses. Naples-Ft Myers Greyhound Park opens for their winter season with an early matinee program on Friday. Here are programs for their Early Matinee, Late Matinee and Evening cards.  Orange Park has their $50K Derby Stakes on Saturday night. TMC’s Sweety Pie has a perfect win record so far in this contest. But can this little girl do it again? I think she can, but she has some stiff competition.

The Breeder’s Cup races start on Friday and continue through Saturday at Santa Anita. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re handicapping them. Watch out for European horses on the turf and horses from Argentina in any race. Also keep in mind that the downhill turf course is unique at SA. It starts on turf, crosses the main track with a bit of a right hand turn and then finishes on the turf again.

Outside horses have somewhat of an advantage because of the right hand turn, as do horses that have won on the course before. My best bet on Saturday, as far as I’m concerned, is #10 Home Run Kitten on the downhill turf course in the 7th race. For a longshot, I like #2 Biorhythm in the 3rd race with hot jockey Drayden Van Dyke at 12/1. The horse has won over the course before and Van Dyke is doing very well at Santa Anita this season. I also like #10 On The Backstreets with Paco Lopez riding for Peter Miller, at least in exotics, in that race.

If you’d like to enter a free handicapping contest for Friday and Saturday’s Breeder’s Cup races, this link leads to one at Equibase. You pick the horses in selected races and they give you a mythical $2 to wager to win and place on them. It’s all hypothetical and you’re not really wagering, but there are prizes of up to $3,500 for the top finisher, so what do you have to lose? I’m in.

Don’t forget that BetAmerica has brand new handicapping pages with 7 different ways to look at each thoroughbred race. If you haven’t checked them out, why not try them out on the Breeder’s Cup races?

 

 

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Dog Racing or Horse Racing: Which is Harder to Handicap?

Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I’m a dyed in the wool dog racing fan. They’ll also tell you that I’m a stubborn old so-and-so but one who is willing to admit it when I’m wrong. (Well, if you hit me over the head with proof or get me to see your point of view to the point where I can’t deny you’re right, that is, I’ll admit I’m wrong.) So, okay, when it comes to horse racing not being as exciting, rewarding or playable as dog racing, I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind. Or, I guess I should say, had it changed for me.

The reason I’ve decided that horse racing might be almost as good as dog racing, is partly because I haven’t been able to make it to a dog track on a regular basis for months. I haven’t seen any live dog racing for almost a year. Old Man Time caught up with me and health problems are forcing me to stay in New England for the time being, so the only live racing action I get to see is horse racing. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from watching greyhound racing at the NH tracks or handicapping them. I’ll never stop watching greyhound races or trying to improve my handicapping skills.

Luckily, I have a good friend, Bill Peterson, who has gone to the track with me for years, playing the dogs with me, but also steadily trying to win me over to the sport of kings. Even though I resisted, he just kept plugging, pointing out good bets in his Daily Racing Form, while I pondered the 3/8th races at Wheeling and wondered if the 1 box would stay hot or not. One look at the long form that is horse handicapping was enough to put me off. With a dog program, you have 8 dogs with 6 lines and some stats off to the right. You have the kennel name and the kennel stats and that’s about it.

With thoroughbreds, there are all these mysterious symbols and more numbers than there are in a stock market report. I didn’t want to learn about Beyer figures and fractional times and jockey/trainer stats. One of the things I love about greyhounds is that they don’t have jockeys to slow them down or steer them the wrong way. You put 8 greyhounds on a track, turn on the lure and they’re off, going as fast as they can and running the best way they know how.

With horses, who knows what the trainer tells the jockey to do with the horse? Who knows if the horse’s fractions will hold up in this Allowance race, based on what he did in a Maiden Claimer he won two weeks ago? I don’t, that’s for damned sure. But, patiently, Bill just kept pointing out little things that show that a horse is ready to win or be in the exacta.  One day, a few months ago at a simulcast venue, I went up to bet a dog in the 7th at Palm Beach and found myself telling the tote that I wanted $2 to win on the 1 at Aqueduct instead. And it won, just like Bill said it would. At odds of 8-1. I was hooked.

Have I given up dog racing? Not likely. It’s still my first choice and I find it a lot easier to handicap for the most part. However, with Bill’s help, I’ve been improving at this horse handicapping game, finding some shortcuts and noticing that it’s not quite as complicated as it looks. And that’s a good thing, because I’m all for simplifying everything, including finding winners at the track, whether it’s a dog track or a horse track.

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