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What a Weekend of Racing

If you are a horse racing fan you have a lot to talk about concerning yesterday's racing, and I think it proves without a shadow of a doubt how interesting the game is.

Here we go.
  • Live horse racing to a willing customer-base who are treated right is not dead. Oaklawn jams 62,000 fans in for the Arkansas Derby. Their average of over 11,000 fans per day is as good as some pro teams get in traditional "sports".
  • I am never one to be hyper-critical of announcers. In fact, because they have a tough job (and it is) I cringe when one of them makes a mistake because it will light up chat boards with barbs thrown by folks, some of whom probably make 15 mistakes a day in their job. However, yesterday's call of the Arkansas Derby was pretty awful. Terry Wallace makes mistakes, has for some time, and there is no way to get around that.
  • The Factor is no factor. Immediately after the race I felt he was simply not a tractable horse, but hearing some of the rumors of a flipped palate, that does make sense. This is a very talented horse any way you slice it, but I think (even before this last race) you needed to re-check the capping to be betting him to win the big one. Time will tell what Baffert does, but one would expect a layoff, or Preakness.
  • I have been a fan of Archarcharch for some time. He deserved to win. He had an excuse in his last, and it was confirmed, because he is better than the backing up third he was last time.
  • Sway Away will be heard from this year, there is zero doubt in my mind. He is one of the better 3 year olds we have in horse racing. I was slightly perturbed with the switch to blinkers for yesterday's race, but I don't blame anyone for that; they had to try and roll the dice. I would think they will go back to open after that display, though. While standing in the gate he was looking around, and when he broke he broke really rank, got bumped, got shoved extremely wide and looked like he was unable to settle. He made a huge 4 wide move for the lead and really did not get as tired as he should have, but still ran in and out in the lane, looking around. If this horse was in the Derby in an open, I would be betting with both fists.
  • St Elmo Hero was defeated last evening for the first time in his career. This ends a super bad week for the connections, who lost their daughter earlier in the week (although one would suspect this loss means very little to them when put into a life perspective). If it is any solace, harness tracks that get sticky due to rain can throw some completely curious results. Some horses regress badly on them and throw in bad races. I suspect if that track was true-fast yesterday there is no way this horse loses. He is fast, gritty, talented, and is better than the horses who were close to him last evening.
Notes

The press seems to be in a tizzy about this seasons Kentucky Derby. I think we place to much pressure on horses, and I think we have too few real bettors in the press. We want to compartmentalize, make blanket statements (like the far-too-often-used catch phrase "he can't get the distance"), and have everything fit into a tight little box. That works in NASCAR, but rarely works in racing.

Speaking of announcers, I listened to Mountaineer last evening as I am one to do. Is there a better announcer in racing than Peter Berry? He's accurate, he's funny and he knows which horses are bet and well meant. He is 100% pure class and he should be at a top track, like yesterday.

Tom LaMarra twinkies this: "Good racing source not convinced Big M deal is dead. Thinks there will be meeting of minds soon. ... We'll see." Follow Tom on twitter.

Nick Kling twinks about what he finds was a closer bias at OP yesterday (I agree Dance City was very good, but keyed up horses can sometimes last and never repeat the performance), and adds one on Castro's ride on the grey in the Charles Town Classic. That horse raced awesome considering.


Nice call Sidfernando!


Bill Finley says Gural says it's 50/50 if the Big M closes.

This is one tough game and success for scores usually teeter on hairline betting decisions. I liked Sway Away and Arch yesterday and I walk away with zippo. Bad betting perhaps, especially when I look at a model I have for blinkers on for this type of horse in a route.

I should probably be fading a non-public 0.53 ROI move, with a bunch of blinkered horses and a hot pace index, but I did not. It is what it is, and next time it might work out, but I think I played that race wrong, fundamentally.

I was speaking with a pro bettor this past weekend and it is such a difficult game.  He was having a good year in March, up a good amount. In four days he almost lost every penny. We all go through swings like that, even when you are sharp and playing well, because we work on razor thin margins. Most people can not, or are completely unwilling to lose $50k in a few days, and it holds people back (rightly) from ever trying our game as a professional.

Woodbine hit the $100k last night for the second time in three weeks. If you have not been taking a poke at the pick 4 on Saturday, you are missing out. The fields have been excellent to handicap, and even with the brutal takeout, there is some value to be had, in my opinion.

How great would have yesterday's Derby been with Betfair alive here? The Factor was trading a pile at even money and there was great action. Archarcharch could be had at 50, Sway Away at 13-1. For faders or longs, traders or handicappers, there was something for everyone, and if the US market was able to play yesterday, the volumes would have been staggering.

I am not going to be making any money in Derby futures this year. Longs: Sway Away and Premier Pegasus, shorts, Uncle Mo and the Factor. I hope yours are faring better!

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

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