Saratoga and Del Mar Free Picks

Nothing says summer to a handicapper like reading that Saratoga and Del Mar are opening. This year, Del Mar started yesterday, Wednesday July 19th. Saratoga starts this Friday. I like handicapping both of them, because they have the best horses, jockeys, and trainers in the US and from all over the world. Saratoga, especially, has the best turf racing of the turf season, I think. The large fields make for some large payoffs. There’s a reason that Saratoga is called “The Graveyard of Favorites” and I’m a longshot player. (Be aware, however that, overall, favorites win quite often at Saratoga. Maiden and stakes races have a high percentage of winning favorites.)

Del Mar is more laid back than Saratoga, starting with the video of the beach across the highway that shows up on the simulcast feed. Dogs fetch frisbees and people with boogie boards catch a wave or lounge on beach towels. It’s a completely different vibe from any other track and it has some world class racing too.

Both of these tracks have relatively short seasons and horses ship in from all over the place, which makes it hard to handicap the races. For this reason, I’m glad that both tracks have handicappers who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise, sometimes for free. I read the free pick pages at these tracks, not just to find likely horses to play that day. I also read them to get nuggets of information that I store away for future reference.

If you’d like to gain some knowledge about these summer venues, here are links to free picks at Del Mar . Some of the handicappers give out a full card of picks and some have a free pick to interest you in their paid picks.

For Saratoga, there are individual handicappers on different sites who provide free and paid picks. You might want to start with the NYRA site, which is the official Saratoga portal. When you’ve watched Talking Horses and read the Timeform USA picks, you might want to head on over to Kevin Cox’s website for some free information and picks. He lives “within a stone’s throw” of the Spa, as he puts it, and he knows a lot about the behind the scenes happenings that the average bettor just isn’t privy to.

One of my favorite Saratoga handicappers is Saratoga Phil. He’s come up with quite a few longshot picks that hit the board over the time that I’ve followed him, and specializes in NY tracks. His picks are free and he obviously posts them because he loves the tracks and the sport of handicapping.

One of these days I’d like to visit both of these tracks. Until that happens, I’ll enjoy watching the surf at Del Mar and the turf at Saratoga, especially if a few of my longshot plays come in.

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How to Play Every Race and Not Lose Your Shirt

One of the quickest ways to lose money at the horse races is to play every race. Anyone will tell you that. We all know it, but we still do it. Why? Because it’s really boring to sit there through several races, waiting for a race where you have a solid bet.

I used to bring a ten dollar bill with me and use it to make “side bets”, usually win or win and place, sometimes an exacta, on races where I didn’t really have a clue, but felt like “having something going” as I called it. Almost always, I went home with ten dollars less than I came with and sometimes more when the ten dollar bill ran out before the races did.

One day not too long ago when I was bored to tears while waiting for one of only two bets I really wanted to bet on at OTB, I realized that there was another alternative. I could play cheap ten cent super bets, something to keep me from frittering away two dollars or more a race. Here’s how I do it for less than a buck a race and still cover five horses.

I play a ten cent straight super with my top pick to win, my 2nd and 3rd picks for second, and my 3rd, 4th and 5th picks for third and fourth. It costs 60 cents and covers 5 horses. As long as my top pick wins, I have a very good chance of hitting the ten cent super and I’ve never seen one that didn’t pay at least 60 cents.

If you find yourself bored and spending too much money on side bets, you might want to try this approach. You can use the morning line, a public handicapper’s picks, or wait for a race where you really like one horse to win and then go with the crowd’s picks for the rest of your super bet.

I hit several supers last Saturday, including a $23.60 one at Delaware in the second race, using IHandicapWithPacePals picks. I use them because they’re much better at picking winners than I am and very often have the super in their first five horses. If you want to add a horse, you can play around with six horse supers and spend a little more, but I’ve found that 60 cents a race works for me.

It hits often enough so that I usually get my investment back. And if I don’t, I didn’t lose the farm. On a ten race program, I spend $6 and get a lot of bang for my buck. I have something going in every race and have a good chance of at least hitting something. And, of course, there’s always the chance for a big score. The biggest super I’ve hit this way paid $233 and change. That’s a LOT of 60 cent super bets for future programs!


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