The Thorofan Handicappers Corner. The Thorofan is an organization of horse racing enthusiasts representing horse racing enthusiasts. I'm proud to be a member and a contributor.
What I'm about to propose is risky, but the upside can get seriously large. I've handicapped and constructed a SUPER HIGH FIVE bet for the Classic. The Super High Five is not a regular option on the betting menu, but for Ye' Ol Turk, it represents my white whale, a glittering jewel that I like to claim not only for the money, but for the prestige as well.
The Base Handicap is as the name implies, my primary view of the field. With both color (Green-Yellow-Red) and with Letter Grades (A-D) my base handicap reorders the field into an expected order of finish. It's no different than what the morning line odds are doing except instead of generating my own odds line (which I tediously did for many years) I rank the horses with a grade below B- outside of the Exotic Pool generally. One of the more consistent comments I've gotten over the years is "Hey Turk, you're a chalk eater." I'm good with that, because I'm an exotic bettor mostly. I often don't really care who wins, as long as I have the winner covered in my matrix, the who's who of horses in the bet and out.
Now you can take the handicap and apply any sort of exotic bet over the top of it. The beauty of taking the time to build a base handicap is if a horse scratches, I'm only sliding horses up or down. Unless the field is devoid of pace, my base handicap allows me to calmly study the tote board before the betting windows close and make value decisions on who I put in the different slots to maximize profit. I'm really not a chalk eater, but I understand the criticism.
Criticism? Who cares. You're a handicapper, you aren't trying to convince everyone who's going to win, you have to convince yourself that your hard earned betting capital is worth putting at stake on a particular contest. You can think anything you want of me when this handicap is done. A handicapper has to have thick skin. It's sort of like a cornerback who just got burned by a beautiful deep ball from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson (ok bad example): you have to forget it before the next play. I've lost track of how many times one of my toss horses won a race. I don't focus on that, just the big picture overall, am I ahead or behind. Strive for consistency, in your handicapping, your bet construction and your capital investments.
Before I stop preaching, learn to walk away from a race. If this race was on Santa Anita's old fake dirt, with multiple European horses entered, I'd walk away in a second. I like to control the number of variables to as few as possible: I think the weather will be good, I think the track will be fast, I know every horse in the field well, I like my odds of separating the wheat from the chaff. What can't I control? The darn horses, they sometimes got a mind of their own, and nothing kills me more than seeing a neck or a nose separate a horse from the exotics from the also ran's.
Let's get after this before I bore you to tears!
Chalk eater or not, Game on Dude is 5 for 5 at Santa Anita. 5 of 7 in the money at the distance, Trainer Baffert, a 33% winner at SA, places Bejarano up, and the two have combined for 31% wins in 103 starts over past year at the Great Race Place.
Ron the Greek, and Bill Mott in general, have consistently left me a day late and a dollar short. Raise your hand, who saw Drosselmeyer coming last year? Two brilliant work bullets at BEL after a rare dud in his last outing. A Big Cap winner earlier this year gives him points with me but that field wasn't stellar. This Florida bred has consistently over performed and I'm counting him in here.
I love Richard's Kid. I'm shocked that he's 7 already. I hated what amounted to a lost year in Dubai but not my choice. I hated him getting yanked from Baffert, but again, not my choice. 3 of 4 in the money at SA, 5 of 11 in the money at the distance, 10 of 13 in the money over fast dirt, a strong late closer and I like how Trainer O'Neil has him going at 6f. I may be irrationally inflating his chances, but I like him in the top 5.
Nonios has been smokin' in the morning: :46 2/5ths at SA this week. No dirt wins, no wins at the distance and no SA wins for the 3 YO, and Pedroza and Hollendorfer are 4% winners together at SA. Ugh. I like his last race, I think he's on the upswing and I'm looking for value.
Flat Out was my pick last year. His last two wins were at Belmont. He's won at the distance twice, is a two million dollar earner, and he deserves exotic respect: 6 place or shows in last 13 and 9 of last 13 in the money.
Pool Play, the Hawthorne Gold Cup winner, 7 year old millionaire hard knocker. Strong late kick and I think he hits the ticket when it's said and done.
I tossed Brilliant Speed and Handsome Mike completely. If I get burned it will be by the group of Mucho Macho Man and To Honor and Serve. This is an expensive bet and you have to make choices on who you cover, hard choices.
My bet is laid out with three options and displayed at $1 and $2 dollar investments. Who and how much you bet is your business, but invest responsibly. This is a hard bet to hit, so scale the base handicap back to Superfecta or Trifecta to increase your chances of not making a big pile of money get suddenly smaller. For those about to rock, we salute you.
Have fun friends, Turk Out!