Friday, July 3, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Manhattan G1 at Belmont

Instilled Regard wins the 2020 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park
Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, a horse race handicapping blog that has been handicapping online since 2008.  

A big thank you to The Thorofan and the Handicappers Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today.

So much has happened in 2020 on a global stage.  I handicapped six races in January/February 2020, as I like to watch the turf racing in the early season in Florida and California as it helps me prepare for when the big races come and I'm looking for value.  While the world, and then the United States, went into a free fall beginning in March, my world went upside down with the death of both my Father in Law on March 12 and my own Father on April 8.  I had no interest in horse racing, I was forced to continue working alone in an office all by myself, and the best therapy for me was my work.  Day in and day out, 12-14 hour days.  My work got me through my grief.  It's time for horse racing to bring me back the feelings of pleasure.  Let's get after this!

My initial reaction was just how even a race this was, even with an albeit small field.  It's a four horse race by my fair line odds, with my top 4 consuming 80% of the win percentage while the Morning Line uses five runners on a corrected basis (the percentages divided by 100% + Takeout) to get to 80%.  I don't think weather will be an issue and expect firm turf.

Let's start with looking at some video.

Belmont Park; 6 June 2020; 1 1/8 Miles Inner Turf (Square around T for newbies on PP)  The Fort Marcy G2

Belmont Park; 4 June 2020; 1 3/8 Firm Turf (Circle around T for Main Turf);  The Tiller Stakes $80K

Fairgrounds; 21 March 2020; 1 1/8 Miles on Turf; The Muniz Memorial Classic G2

I feel a bit rusty.  I have been handicapping for, hard to believe, 35 years this year, so rusty is relative, but I'm torn on my position on this race.  That's not a bad thing.  When you watch racing long enough you start to spot patterns, archetypes, a recurring pattern.  This movie seems very familiar.  I'm also not the type of race fan or handicapper that bemoans the quality of the field; handicap what you are given to work with and if you don't like the action, walk away.  It's that sentiment that allows me still have a roof over my head and a twenty eight year year marriage. 

What to make of all this?  Instilled Regard is going to get bet hard.  Winning the Fort Marcy over this route of grass for Trainer Chad Brown who has Ortiz Jr up, does not hurt.  Brown sends three into a gate of eight, it almost doesn't seem fair or equitable.  I like Brown, I've been a fan of his for a very long time, but someone has to challenge is growing dominance on turf just to keep the dynamics of racing fair: 25% Graded Stakes winner in 241 starts, 27% Route Winner in 789 Starts, 26% Turf Winner in 666 Starts, 30% Won Last Start in 240 opportunities and 28% with the 2nd off a >45 day layoff.  Shocking numbers, and he dominates the top of the board here also saddling Rockemperor (Ire) and Devamani (Fr).  

Archetypes. Favorites for decades hovered as 30% winners from the gate.  That number is going up.  Does Instilled Regard come out of the gate, rate slightly off the flank and to the outside of  early speed Cross Over before handily passing and finishing by a length or two in front of a charging Rockemperor or Sadler's Joy? Admit it, you've seen this movie too.  Let's not be too jaded though.  Let's assume all Brown runners are allowed to compete fairly against each other, and we have no reason to believe he's dishonest (i discount his fine last year for back OT- the laws are slanted to protect workers, not employers, rightfully so, even if Brown was following standard practice on the backstretch), then is there value to be found in this race?  That's the only question a gambler has.  Yes, horse racing fans have other interests and concerns, but a gambler, the lifeblood of this sport, should have a narrow focus: Is there money to be made? Possibly, but not betting Brown horses Win Place Show.  

My base handicap is in the chart.  It confuses some, but just because I handicap a winner doesn't mean I'll bet the handicap, its not sound gambling practice.  I'm leaning, tote board dependent, towards Devamani (Fr) on top, my tepid chalk.  While coming up short against Instilled Regard at 1 1/8 miles in June's Fort Marcy G2, Instilled Regard has a pretty low Tomlinson (309) for the extra furlong and has only one try at it in 17 lifetime starts.  Devamani has a field best 385 Tomlinson and his Class is off the charts, bred by Aga Khan Studs and selling for $322,000 (against only $294,000 career earnings).  The gelding may be a late bloomer, although conditioned by turf genius, Christophe Clement and Rob Atras, he is very sharp now in Brown's barn.  I'm hoping for 3-1 or better.

If you can't tell, I'm not estatic about this race from a gambling perspective.  Too much Brown, too much good Brown.  It's not top say crazy things don't happen, it's just not this gambler's business plan to hope for crazy.  I don't think it's crazy to think Sadler's Joy is starting to fade.  1 win in last 12:  Last 12 back to June 2018:  1 Win, 2 Place, 6 Show, 3 6th place finishes.  No longer a Grade 1 horse (except in fields like this), perhaps i'm wrong, and I have been before on older Champions, but I don't like the pace of this field for him.  He will get bet though, that's good.  So will Instilled Regard and Rockemperor.  That's good.  I'm going to keep my betting conservative and put Devamani on top with Dot Matrix and Cross Border to Show, a $2 bet for $4.  Plausible, not crazy, is the business plan.

It feels good to be back.  Thank you Thorofan.  

Turk Out!

Three Generations of Turk at the Spa.  This was Street Sense's Travers Day

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Buena Vista G2 at Santa Anita

Carressa- Benoit Photo
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, established in 2008 to share horse racing handicapping and bet construction primarily.  Other blogs do a much better job of talking about the industry, the people, the events, I keep my view narrow and I hope my rabid fan base enjoys that.

The turf pickings were slim today. Yes, I am primarily a 4 Year old and Up Turf Handicapper.  It's the sort of racing I like, I'm good at it, and I love the amount of data I can find on these animals more than anything else.  I like data.  My past performance of choice is typically DRF Formulators but I have used Timeform US, including using them independently and simultaneously on races.  I'm not endorsed and I pay for my own products, and I just find the Formulator a comfortable fit.  I will shift to Timeform for certain meets and certain races, but I'm a mechanic at heart, I use the right tool for the right job.

While the pickings were slim, I like the makeup of this race, The Buena Vista G2 at Santa Anita, 1 Mile over firm turf.  By the way you'll find a link to track conditions and scratches and changes here.  I've seen mixed thoughts on the weather but I wouldn't expect soaking showers.

Let's get after it!

What's the first thing you'll notice?  I've spotted in my humble opinion a large underlay in the form of Jolie Olyimpica (Brz).  Hopefully the betting public takes the horse to 8-5 like the track handicapper did because a real opportunity presents itself there.  Let's take a look at some relevant video first.

The Megahertz G3:  1 Mile; Santa Anita; Firm Turf F and M 4/Up; 20 Jan 2020

Las Cienegas Stakes G3; 5 1/2 F Santa Anita; Firm Turf  4 YO and Up F and M; 11 Jan 2020

I love exciting new runners, but that's the fan in me.  The gambler in me doesn't understand how a filly making her second start in the US, coming off a small field 5 1/2 furlong race, gets installed as an 8-5 favorite.  Maybe she goes out and wins with daylight between her and rivals but I want to see results before I go fanboy.  Jolie Olimpica (Brz) should be a fun story this year, but today, I want her to stumble a bit.

I like Carressa to win.  2nd off break for Trainer Shirreffs and a last out winner in the above Megahertz at this distance and conditions.  Tactical speed, must maintain press with the leaders because there is much more late speed than she can handle.  Second turf start after switching surfaces.  Light chalk for me.

Brill on paper wins the class battle.  The $1 million dollar Medaglia d' Oro daughter is regal but so far the results are not there.  In the Megahertz she was in a great spot in the lane and had no response.

If you go two races back to the $82,000 Lady of Shamrock, 1 Mile over Good Turf at Santa Anita you see a more engaged Brill.

Boom or Bust.  Left Hollendorfer barn last summer after a not so good Black Eyed Susan on Preakness Day.  Trainer Chatlos is winless in 6 stakes over last calendar year and Smith jumped mounts to Jolie Olimpica.  Boom or Bust. 

Lady Prancealot (Ire) is a safe option at a good price possibly. Big Late speed.  4 of 6 in the money at distance, 10 of 15 in the money over grass, 6 of 7 in the money at Santa Anita.  Winner in December of 3 YO Grade 1 American Oaks at classic distance over grass.  Trainer Ballas wins 22% of time off of a break this size. 

Mulchy (GB) is interesting to me.  1st time lasix, 1st time North America, 1st time with Trainer Callaghan after leaving John Godsen's barn. Hot jock Rispoli is up, a 22% winner in 94 starts this meet.  I can't imagine a spot in exotic but very interesting to pay attention to. 

Mucho Unusal and Super Patriot round out my exacta possibles.  Mucho Unusal has good tactical speed and some sucess at the distance and over grass.  Place finish in the American Oaks I referenced earlier.   Trainer Yakeen and Rosario, up, have won 63% of 8 starts at Santa Anita.  In the money 8 of 11 lifetime. Super Patriot is Trainer Baltas other runner here, with Rosario hopping off for Mucho Unusual and Fuentes now up.  Late speed  but maybe a bit slow for this group.  7 straight in the money finishes.  Love the claimers aiming high. 

What to make of it?  I'll be paying attention to the will pays from the probables on Twinspires to assemble exactas.  I like:

$1 Bet  2-7-8-4-9 OVER 2-1-7-8-3-4-9 for $30.    I may eliminate some combinations but you get the idea.

Have fun friends!

Turk Out

Monday, February 17, 2020

Post Race Analysis: The Fair Grounds G3 Handicap- How to Use Probables and Will Pay

Factor This: Photo Amanda Hodges Weir
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

The Turk put up another successful handicap and bet yesterday, but with the whopping $1.50 net earnings, I better keep my day job.

Recalling I handicapped The Fair Grounds, a 1 1/8 mile firm turf race for four year old and ups at of all places, Fair Grounds.

I said the following pre-race:

"... I like Michael Stidham's Synchrony or Norm Casse's Dontblametherocket to win.  I gave the edge to  Dontblametherocket mostly because he won the Col Bradley here a month ago, has 5 wins in 8 FG starts, 11 of 13 lifetime in the moiney over grass and 4 wins in last seven starts. This is the gelded son of Blame's 2nd off layoff, a 26% Casse angle.  They are very close, so Synchrony wins the Base Handicap but I have Dontblametherocket current form as the key driver.

 Synchrony is 5 of 5 in the money at FG with 4 wins, 14 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass, 6 of 7 in the money at the distance and has 6 wins in last 15 starts.  As I mentioned this is the 7 YO son of Tapit's first start since early October but training at FG since early January.

I'll be building an exact and I have to decide for sure but assuming I include my three "B" horses and possibly my B- group as Place.  I don't want to over bet so we'll see.

My B group isn't overpowering but all have good trainer/jockey combos and all are the type of 5-6 year old veterans who hang around Place-Show-Exotic race in and race out.  I'm not really sold on the order.  Factor This conditioned by Brian Cox has early speed and Cox/Bridgmohan have won 30% of 50 races over past year at FG.  Cox is outstanding on turf/routes and graded stakes.  Bill Mott's Classic Covey is a 60K ish OC runner primarily with a career best 100 Beyer in a G2 in March 2018. Off since mid October.  Midnight Tea Time has 12 Place/Show finishes in 17 turf starts.  Could be coming at the end.

Sailing Solo, $100,000 Smart Strike colt has only won $102,000 in his five years.  I see promise but no production.  7 of 7 in the money in 2019.  Early Speed will flash like Col Bradley where he led before finishing 5th, 5 back. Extra 1/16th today, same jock.  I dunno.  Ontario Canada Bred Tone Broke is slow but I always like to mention Fort Erie Prince of Wales runners.  The 4 YO transitions from mostly dirt and is a huge wildcard.  Bombs away candidate but don't bet the mortgage..."

I modified what I said just slightly and  bet a 6 horse 1 dollar bet for $30 in which I won $31.50, a 5% ROI, well below my desired 40% baseline.  My bet was 2-4-5-6-8-12 BOXED.    (4-2 won).

Should I have bet at all?  Let the Probables/Will Pay Table help you.  If you are like me, its really hard to track the "Will Pays" scrolling across the side of the screen, but Twinspires, my unsolicited and not sponsored choice of betting apps, makes this easy to see.

On the App/Website screen it looks like this:

I made it a bit easier to understand by picking out my bet from the chart.  You'll note the probable for 4-2 is exactly $31 on a $1 bet, and that is because I made these screen shots after the race started.  I bring this up because you will be looking at this before the race goes to post and the numbers on some of the late movers may change.

So this exercise is, should I have placed my bet?  Recalling the bet again

2-4-5-6-8-12 BOXED.

The bets in RED should NOT have been made.  If the bet was successful, I'd make less than the bet was worth, a semi persistent problem of mine.  The bets in YELLOW are marginal enough to not be bothered making.

I would say betting Synchrony/2 to win was a waste of capital. A Synchrony/Tone Broke/8 Exacta was possible and deserved a stand alone bet.  You could say the same about Dontblametherocket/5 and anyone but Tone Broke.

Factor This/4 with the 6 or the 8 would have been nice, with the 12 marginal but acceptable.

I think the take away is the bet wasn't worth the risk.  I felt pretty confident pre-race that Synchrony or Dontblametherocket would win and so did the betters sending them off $1.40 and $2.30 to $1 respectively.    I should have walked away, the favorites even in this field size were bet down too hard.  The scratch of early speed Sailing Solo didn't help.

My weakness is not as a handicapper but as a bettor.  I am a good gambler in general but in hindsight this was a bad bet and I got bailed out not losing anything when Factor This won.  What should I have done differently besides walk?  Break the bet up and not box it lazily is usually always the takeaway.   Always try to learn something.  Watch the trip of Dontblametherocket.  He was 3, 4 and then 5 wide.  Watch where he shows up next.

 About 10% through the 52 bet challenge and I have a 56% ROI and I'm up about $125 on the year.   I still expect to be break even or negative by the end of the year, small sample size and all, and making mistakes like today will not help.   I will focus much more and walk away when I see this pattern return.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Fair Grounds G3

Synchrony: Photo Michael Burns
Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog.  To those new to this blog, I started handicapping in 1986 and I've been blogging in a really dreadful fashion since September 2008.  I focus on races run over routes of grass primarily by four year old and upwards.  I don't really care about The Kentucky Derby or the Triple Crown except as a fan, I prefer the horses, geldings and mares who are just doing their best in relative anonymity in the dark times of racing.  It's very sad to me how far horse racing has fallen in the cultural lexicon and not even two Triple Crown winners could change that.  At the end of the day, the track owners, horse owners and the breeding farms all act in self interest and the ones that suffer  are the dwindling fans, backside workers and ultimately, the horses not worth much post retirement.  I digress.

I took a few weeks away from the 52 bets in 52 weeks series I am conducting as I just wasn't thrilled with the races available and the track conditions.  I preach walking away if you don't like the race conditions and that's what I did.  I will recap the series results at the end of this blog post, the Turk is off to a pretty good start in 2020 after the last race, the Pegasus Turf.

Let's get after today's race, expected over firm turf at 1 1/8 miles, The Fair Grounds Grade 3.

I'm not sure who set the morning line, but I saw the race very similar to the handicapper.  I don't look at the Morning Lines until my handicap is set, nor do I find them very useful these days with the ever increasing takeout skewing the odds, but what it tells me is I didn't really identify any overlays.  Sometimes boring means less volatility, less volatility means more predictability, more predictability with a larger field isn't a terrible thing for banging out low risk/OK ROI returns.  Not sexy, but a cash bulge at the end of the day is always more sexy than not having dinner money.

I'm not going to spend too much time on video today.  Only two horses enter off of a Graded Stake last time out, five come in off Col. Bradley $123K Handicap at Fairgrounds on 20 January. From a class perspective, this is a pretty similar group with just a few exceptions.  Aw heck, lets look at video of those five.

FG; 18 Jan 2020; 1 1/16 Firm Turf.  Col Bradley Handicap $123,000

I like Michael Stidham's Synchrony or Norm Casse's Dontblametherocket to win.  I gave the edge to  Dontblametherocket mostly because he won the Col Bradley here a month ago, has 5 wins in 8 FG starts, 11 of 13 lifetime in the moiney over grass and 4 wins in last seven starts. This is the gelded son of Blame's 2nd off layoff, a 26% Casse angle.  They are very close, so Synchrony wins the Base Handicap but I have Dontblametherocket current form as the key driver.

 Synchrony is 5 of 5 in the money at FG with 4 wins, 14 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass, 6 of 7 in the money at the distance and has 6 wins in last 15 starts.  As I mentioned this is the 7 YO son of Tapit's first start since early October but training at FG since early January.

I'll be building an exact and I have to decide for sure but assuming I include my three "B" horses and possibly my B- group as Place.  I don't want to over bet so we'll see.

My B group isn't overpowering but all have good trainer/jockey combos and all are the type of 5-6 year old veterans who hang around Place-Show-Exotic race in and race out.  I'm not really sold on the order.  Factor This conditioned by Brian Cox has early speed and Cox/Bridgmohan have won 30% of 50 races over past year at FG.  Cox is outstanding on turf/routes and graded stakes.  Bill Mott's Classic Covey is a 60K ish OC runner primarily with a career best 100 Beyer in a G2 in March 2018. Off since mid October.  Midnight Tea Time has 12 Place/Show finishes in 17 turf starts.  Could be coming at the end.

Sailing Solo, $100,000 Smart Strike colt has only won $102,000 in his five years.  I see promise but no production.  7 of 7 in the money in 2019.  Early Speed will flash like Col Bradley where he led before finishing 5th, 5 back. Extra 1/16th today, same jock.  I dunno.  Ontario Canada Bred Tone Broke is slow nut I always like to mention Fort Erie Prince of Wales runners.  The 4 YO transitions from mostly dirt and is a huge wildcard.  Bombs away candidate but don't bet the mortgage.

I think I'll assemble something like this:

  2-5 OVER 2-5-4-12-6-11-8   a $2 bet for $24.  Seems a bit pricey so I reserve right to reconsider and will post final bet in next blog.

And finally, the 52 Bets in 52 Weeks Series has another win in the Pegasus World Cup Turf on January 25.  Recalling from my blog the bet:

"...So what to do with it?  While it's not sexy, a $1 six horse boxed exacta of 12-2-3-10-11-1 for $30 should make money provided the top two horses on the tote board don't finish 1-2. "  

They finished 1-12 with Zulu Alpha at $11.80 to one winning over Magic Wand at $3.70 to one.  I said I needed a $30 bet to be justified with some luck and we got it.  The $1 exacta paid $88.30.

The ROI for the year is 64% with $124 in Net winnings.  

Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational G1

Magic Wand (Ire) 
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog. Our blog, now in its thirteenth year, focuses primarily on turf handicapping of the handicap division.   Today's post is written primarily for the The ThoroFan and the Handicapper's Corner.  The good people at The Thorofan have created the only nationwide fan- centric organization in the horse racing community.  God knows this sport needs a few things, like a sense of community and relevance and joining The Thorofan will allow you to find like minded people who enjoy your passions too!

Who doesn't like a good "whodunit", the classic murder mystery.  Handicapping is a lot like that.  You have all the usual suspects, you have backstories, competing motivations, strangers in a strange land, and drama. The Pegasus Turf offers all these things.  There is no real strong suspect, the race is held without race day medications being given (is it really so hard?), and you have a motley crew of veterans and up and comers.   To me, turf racing epitomizes horse racing, a sentiment I know my fellow American's don't really embrace, but as the years go by for me, it's the sort of racing that offers good sized fields and lots and lots of intrigue, the proverbial "whodunit", or maybe more appropriately, who will do it.

I've found recent video on every horse in the field.  I think its important to look closely at the Race Charts in concert with videos.  It's very easy to brush through the PPs and see a horse hasn't won in three starts, but how many beaten lengths was he, what was the trip like, how impressive was the late turn of foot?  The paper tells quite a bit of the story but the video brings it color and sound.

Breeders' Cup Turf G1:  2 November 2019;  1 1/2 Miles Firm SA

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic G1: 5 Oct 2019; 1 1/2 Miles Firm BEL

The Fort Lauderdale G2: 14 Dec 2019;  1 1/8 Miles Firm GP

The Sea Biscuit Handicap G2: 30 Nov 2019;   1 1/16 Miles Good Turf  DMR

The Hollywood Derby G1: 30 Nov 2019; 1 1/8 Miles Good Turf  DMR

Hong Kong Cup G1; 8 Dec 2019; 1 1/4 Miles Good Turf' Sha Tin (HK)

Breeders' Cup Mile G1; 2 Nov 2019; 1 Mile Firm Turf  SA

Arlington Million G1; 10 Aug 2019; 1 1/4 Miles Firm Turf   AP

It appears the weather will be dry.  You can find the scratches and changes along with track conditions here.  I'm handicapping expecting firm turf. 

The mare, Magic Wand (Ire) just jumps off the paper in terms of pure class and ability. Look at the Hong Kong Cup video above and just watch her explosion in the last 1/8 of a mile as she comes out of traffic and surges. $4.1 MM in earnings.  Only 3 wins in 22 turf starts.  Only 1 win in 10 starts at this distance.  Trainer Aiden O'Brien ouch: 0 of 24 starters last rolling year in Graded Stakes NA, 0 of 28 Turf Starters.  With the bloodstock he has access to, that is staggering.  I know its a challenging trip but wow.

I have a group of three after the Mare.  Arklow is first back after Breeders' Cup, a 61-180 day layoff that trainer Cox does well with, 24% winners on 87 tries. 5 of 7 in the money in 2019 as a 5 YO but only one 1 win,  a game Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 1 1/2 mile.  First GP start.  12 of 24 life time starts ended in Win-Place.  Without Parole (GB) is first back off the Breeders' Cup Mile. The distance seems to be the biggest question for him although his breeding implies he should handle it, he is one of only two here with a Tomlinson Number >400. Chad Brown Trainee put up bullet 5f last week.  No Wins in 3 starts in 2019.  Mo Forza is a wildcard.  4 YO son of Uncle Mo should be faster than he's shown.  Peter Miller's trainee has won four straight.  7 of 9 in the money over turf and the only other +400 Tomlinson Distance Rated Number in the field.

My exotic/show horse group is four deep and of that two I suspect are better than the other two.  Sacred Life (Fr) is 11 of 13 Win-Place finishes lifetime.  Chad Brown trainee.  Game and gritty.  Loses class battle and he's never seen a field like he will today.  Late speed and effort could propel and long tote board odds make me consider him in back half of exacta.  7 YO Zulu Alpha first back from Breeders' Cup Turf.  5 straight 100+ Beyers.  10 of 18 in the money over past two years.  16 of 26 in the money over grass.  Won at this distance here in March 2019.  What you see is what you get.  The same can be said for 7 YO Sadler's Joy.  Trainer Albertrani skipped the Breeders' Cup and found a win in the G3 Red Smith at AQA in late November and now first time back.  18 of 26 in the money lifetime.  Channel Cat is Todd Pletcher's lone entry.  Trainer Pletcher was in a downturn last year around this time winning "only" about 22% of the time.  That has slipped to 10% Graded Stakes wins in 129 starts over the rolling year.  This 5 YO loses class but has enough intangibles to be considered in tickets. 

For better or worse I'm tossing everyone else because you can't cover them all. I could have made a case for Next Shares in the exotic group, and Henley's Joy will get better but the water is deep here. 

So what to do with it?  While it's not sexy, a $1 six horse boxed exacta of 12-2-3-10-11-1 for $30 should make money provided the top two horses on the tote board don't finish 1-2.  Even then, it should still pay about 2/3's the cost of the bet, sop gambling that the order and the value pops favorable may be the uncomplicated play. 

Alternatively, I'm inclined to $1 exacta 12-2-3-10 OVER 12-2-3-10-11-1-4-5 for $28. 

Final Alternative, I'll be watching Arklow closely.  If he's 4-5 to 1 I may single and bet a few horses under him in exacta.  Lots of options.  Arklow may represent the safest Win bet.  Cox is on top of his game and Brown's runners here aren't world beaters. 

I'll be thinking about this right up to post when I get a look at the odds.  A win bet on Mo Forza at the right price isn't out of the question. 

The Turk began his 2020 handicapping challenge, entitled 52 bets in 52 Weeks.  Through the first three weeks of 2020 the ROI sits at 40.6% with winnings of $227 on $162 dollars wagered.  It's a small sample size, plenty of time for the Ol' Turk to screw the pooch.  Last Week I took a shot on a race I knew I should have passed on, the Sunshine Millions Turf.  As you can see, my base handicap was dead on but this was the result the betting public overwhelming picked.  The straight trifecta I handicapped cold paid $3.65 on a $1 bet.  Ugh.  I bet an exacta hoping that someone other than Beautiful Lover would finish in Place.  Close, but ultimately class prevailed.  I turned $10 into $4.60.  The stuff of legends.

Have fun with this friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf $150,000

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog.  Today I wanted to be excited about the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park, and I'm not sure excitement is the right adjective.  I'd describe the race as a good young filly, a solid older Mare and a collection of allowance and claimers.  I could have gone to California and bet in the Santa Anita Unusal Heat Turf Classic but I opted for the track I play more often, with horses, trainers and jockey's I'm also more familiar with.

When you place a bet, there are no conditions placed on it.  Sure if there is a late scratch your bet may get tossed, but no one will ask you if you were happy about the field or if you felt good about your bet.  It's neither appropriate nor does anyone care.  It's your sole job as a handicapper to rank the horses in terms of percentage chance of winning and then your sole job as a gambler to decide if there is a bet worth constructing.  Don't be seduced by the talk of "action bets" that many a horse player talk about in their books.  Go buy a lottery ticket if you need action.  Is the race worth betting?  I can answer that question from my perspective, you need to be able to answer it for yourself.  I've spoke of the opportunity costs of racing many times.  Let's assume you aren't independently wealthy for a moment.  Your disposable income is valuable, yes?  I want to make 25% on my money.  For every $100 I wager I want to make $125.  Yeah, I can make 2% in a savings account, 5% on average in equities, but I want 25%.  Why?  Because I'm going to lose, its inevitable.  Currently in 2020 I am I above that mark in my 52 Bets in 52 Weeks series, but I will lose.  Is there a bet worth making here?  Lets get after it.

You'll find updated scratches and changes and track condition here.  Assume Firm Turf.  Raki by the way is carrying 119 not 118.

I have 71.4% chance of Starship Jubilee or Beautiful Lover winning.  That's an enormous percentage of a turf 8 horse field Win odds.

I really don't see how one or both of them will finish worse than Place.  Of the remaining runners I see as having a chance to be in the money, I only have 16.8% chance of winning between Vow to Recover and Bienville Station.  Four Runners, 88.2% of the win odds.

Therein lies the opportunity.  You'll notice I saw the race about the same as the DRF handicapper and his morning line, which I remind you I have disdain for most Morning Lines and only look at them AFTER I set my fair odds and base handicap.  Can someone surprise at a good price?  Of course, it's horse racing, but is it likely?  I don't see it all.  Watch the tote board closely to see if there is any movement as post time approaches.  Only horse players are wagering this time of year, they know smart from dumb money. 

So what to do with this?  I'm going to single 7-1 to Win with 7-1-11-8 to Place, a $2 bet for $12.    The worst case scenario is they go Win-Place but I won't lose to much under that scenario.  The best case is one of them slips to Show or worse.  The absolute worst case is somehow both lose and I miss an opportunity for a home run.  I don't see it.

Pretty Simple bet, low risk, low reward.

Enjoy the racing.  Turk Out!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Post Race Results for the Marshua's River Stakes and a Week 2 Update on the 52 Bets for the 52 Weeks of 2020 Series

Welcome Friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog.  Whenever I see images like the one here, I think of the emotions of the horse player.  When I use to be a more frequent, albeit never irresponsible,  gambler, I would ride that roller coaster of emotion race to race, the highs, the lows, the incredulity, the shame, the guilt, the euphoria, wash, rinse repeat.  That's the game.

I'm not going to tell you people don't make a living a professional gamblers, I know a few, but I am going to tell you, that's no way to live.  It's straining, it's stressful, its downright soul crushing to ride that wave and risk it all, easier when its just you, harder when a little one depends on you for everything.  The Turk took money out of the game years ago.  I have a pot, but my race track investments are limited.  I love to handicap, but it's been many years since I gambled with any materiality.    I work a job that requires seriousness and professionalism, and above all else, fiduciary integrity.  Nothing shouts louder "don't tryst me with money" than being the office horse player.  The real reason I went cold turkey is I found I just enjoyed the game more without the stress of money, and I kept statistics.  Stats, that dirty little word that gives quantifiable data to you about how the game is really treating you.  Sometimes people will ask The 'Ol Turk why the Morning Line odds don't add up to 100%.  These aren't horse players mind you, just normal people.  The easiest and most honest answer for me is that the 30% or so above 100% those odds add up to is the the difference between the game making a living or you making a living.  The takeout is just too damn high and it leaves very little room for error in gambling.  With the takeout, and Stats, I realized I was skilled enough as a handicapper to carve out a positive ROI, but I had to play and play alot.  Not for me.  So I used the stats to hone in on where my best ROI came from.  It was obvious to me, the low hanging fruit, wasn't what I was good at, but what I was taking a killing on.  I was downright atrocious on the Triple Crown prep races and even worse on 2 YOs.  I cut those races out of my betting palate.  Next, I realized I was really bad on 1 1/2 mile distances any surface as well as 6.5F or less any surfaces.  I cut those out.  I was really poor at a few tracks and eliminated those.  The exercise showed me what I was good at handicapping, but the corollary was I found it also showed me what about horse racing I liked the most: 4 YO and Up, primarily Turf racing.  My ROI is pretty good, good enough to bet consistently, not good enough to bet Little Turk's tuition.

I conceived this year's blog theme to be 52 Bets in 52 Weeks, a small sample size of what a handicapper with over 35 years experience can do and document it, good bad or ugly.  So far so good as both week's Base Handicaps produced winning results.  While I did not place an actual bet in Week 1, I did yesterday.  Why?  I thought the race was an honest to goodness no brainer.  7 horse field, no scratches, three horse were given no chance by me nor did they get a chance on the tote board.  The only downside? The top four were all bet down pretty hard, especially the winner. With a little luck the Win-Place are reversed and the 4-1 finishes over the 2-1, but that's OK.  I bet and bet big when I see no brainer's, $10 exacta for $120.  Now, my eye after 35 years doing this will or may be different than yours, so in the words of Han Solo, don't get cocky kid and start to see no brainer's everywhere.

Through two Weeks, The Turk has won $71.20 net of my total investment of $152 with a return on investment of 136%.  Don't get use to it.  I'm still predicting that I'll take a big pile of twenty's and turn it into a smaller pile of twenty's when 2020 is concluded, but also remember the sample size of  52 is pretty small.  Actual bets will always be supported by records and when I don't make actual bets we will use the theoretical ones made in the Blog Post as well a  $2 Exacta based on my Base Handicap described in the footnotes of my chart below.

The 'Ol Turk's Twin Spire Account

I'll be back this week with more Turf running from the handicap division.  Turk out!