A picture from the wonderful Sarah K. Andrew of Haynesfield, winner of the 2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup and the key horse that powered a Turk 1-800-Hammer Iron Cold Lock $2,595 Pick 4 win.
The Turk spent about 2 hours handicapping these four races and then another 90 minutes posting my blog entry. That's the sort of effort I can't put in while I'm sitting in the stands at the track but today, in my home study, I felt it and I played it.
As I say all the time friends The Turk never, never, ever brags. This game is humbling. I consider myself a good handicapper but what does that really mean? At the end of the day, nothing because nobody is right all the time. I hear often that the races are run on dirt (or grass) and not on the paper past performances. While true, the beauty of the Daily Race Form Past Performance (Yes I'm an unpaid and unsolicited spokesperson and my preference is Deluxe Formulators with full trainer stats, split times and works mixed in with race results, and I like the handicapper notes but not the morning lines) is that all the information is there to make informed decisions and good handicaps.
The Turk admits to his closet friends that I don't think you even need to watch the races to handicap well. I went years before Youtube/HRTV/TVG etc where I almost never saw video of the races I handicap and bet. The information is there on paper. Flukes happen all the time, but over the long haul, the best horses at the right point in their form cycle and entered in the right place in the conditions book win.
One piece of information I completely ignore and I encourage my readers to completely ignore is morning lines. Don't let the Turk, morning lines, anyone, tell you who is going to win before you come up with your own base case model. Sometimes I'll look after I bet, sometimes I'll look after I take my handicap final, but it will influence you and influence is the enemy. You're smart friends, you don't need bias. I also skip the hype filled articles chock full with BS quotes from trainers and connections about why their horse will win. The articles are a bias of the writer and they will screw you up. Enjoy the articles after you commit to a handicap, as the writing of turf journalists is very high quality and reflects well on the spirit of Mr. Joe Hirsch on the day we remember him.
What was the key today for The Turk? Losing my last two weeks Pick Fours bets most assuredly: Woodbine Mile day two weeks ago and Gallant Bloom day at Belmont last weekend. I'm competitive and I hold this blog and my handicapping to a high standard. My post race analysis is really a post bet analysis and what my post race analysis has been telling me is that I've been nailing winners but not covering enough. I've been on a heavy "less is more" kick and perhaps I took it too far. I had a $200 budget today and I covered who I thought I needed to and spent $144 dollars and then I placed a $20 bet on one horse to win, the horse I suggested was the horse to beat Blame, Haynesfield. Do I think he's better than Blame, no, but the NY bred loves NY dirt as much as Blame loves Churchill Downs. So that was my secret, I was pissed I lost the past two weekends and resolved to not lose again. If Blame wins, if Paddy O' Prado wins, if Unrivaled Belle wins, I'm talking about a Pick Four win that doesn't justify the betting risk. It takes luck too and luck isn't anywhere to be found on a past performance.
Belmont Park Late Pick Four Races 7-8-9-10
So what really was powering my results: I included Ave (bettor's sixth highest choice) in my bet even though I soured on her after the Beverly D. I mentioned pre-race my respect for Attfield/Castellano and I was rewarded. I got the obvious 8th Race right by covering Life at Ten (bettor's second choice) even though I was concerned the speed duel with Rachel Alexandra may have set her back. I rated Winchester high (second bettor's choice) even though I never expected the bettor's to rate him so high, but again the key was I refused to accept the fact that Blame was unbeatable, I refused to consider Rail Trip, and I believed in Haynesfield and I said so.
$2,680 gross earnings on a bet of $164 dollars. Good Stuff indeed.
Have Fun, Turk Out!