Derby Day Handicapping

"The capacity to enjoy: so few people have it. A gambler may have as many periods of frustration as he does exhilaration, but at least he knows he's alive." - Andrew Beyer

Well today's the day. Handicappers from everywhere are making their bets for the Derby and I'm no exception. It truly is the Day where life changing scores are sure to be made, and for gambling geeks like me and many of you, it's exhilarating.

Last evening I was on the HANA Derby call (audio here) and it was great to hear good gamblers talk about strategies. We do not get that too much, in my opinion, because everyone seems to be about picking winners. If you are a bettor that wants to learn something about gambling the derby as well as handicapping it, I wholeheartedly recommend listening. Mike Maloney is a world class player who earns his living at the game, as does John Doyle. Bob Gregory is retired I believe, but he is quite simply one of the best tournament players alive. Jeff's no slouch either. Even gambling geeks will learn something.

It was interesting to hear Mike's betting strategy for the Derby, and he makes an amazing point. The Derby (and most gambling) is not about being "right", it's about getting paid. He's not out there trying to look like a genius by saying this horse has "no shot", or I am against this or that.

For example, he is not sure he's right or wrong about Bodemeister. He could go out, crush the speed and be something special, so he is taking supers with that in mind. He also, because he thinks the pace will be hot and that Bode could crumble if he's not something special, looking at closers like Daddy Nose Best. He will construct a second set of tickets with him in the top two slots.

As well, there was no talk of a chalk, spread, chalk, spread, horizontal. On Derby Day if you want to cash a ticket it's there for you. On Derby Day if you want to get paid you have to go against the conventional, because you can make a score. Making scores, if you are an exotics player, is the only way you can keep your head above water. If you're betting what everyone else is, the takeout will kill you. John Doyle did a great job on this during this call.

Anyway, I'm ready for Derby Day and once again, just like every year I am hoping to find something people don't like that I can make some money on.

Not that you asked, and opinions on the races are a dime a dozen, here are a few that I am using as pick 3 and 4 separator horses, and superfecta horses,to hopefully make some scores.

Race 2 I will lean on #6. If that starts off the pick 4, it could pay something.

Race 4 I am leaning to 5, but the boys on the call liked him as well. If you watch the replay I think you'd fall in love with him. 4, 7 and 12 are all prices horses that may have a shot, in my opinion. This super could pay and it is one of the best betting races of the day. (note I just see this race is off the turf). Crap.

Race 5 I may lean on Thermal Cat in horizontals because of the morning line. He will not be 6-1 or even close to it on the board, I think.

Race 6 I did like the way the two raced after being bothered, and is 8-1 ML. I will probably go deep here though. The ten was a monster last time.

Race 7 I'm going deep. I think Shack may win this, but he won't pay. 5 and 7 are bombs with a shot, in my opinion.

Race 8 I am living and dying with the 9 and 10. If one of those horses lose, my horizontals won't be pretty.

Race 9 3,5,6,7,9 - spread race for me.

Race 10 9 and 10 are my separators. There is no way Brilliant Speed should be that morning line, in my opinion. Al Khali could not have kicked home nicer last time.

Race 11, The Derby - There are a lot of horses who can win, so I am down with trying to figure out which one will allow me to cash a big ticket. That horse for me will be Alpha. I have never seen a horse off sixty days who uncorks a nice figure be so discounted by so many. He's all the way up to 21-1 and I'll take that. I'll likely use him with Union Rags, peppered with some alls in all superfecta slots. I almost made my life-changing score with Closing Argument in 2005 off this type profile with this trainer, and I think this horse is much more likely and brought to the race in a similar fashion.

Mike had some neat thoughts on the last race, and I may have a look at that since he mentioned it. Maybe I will start some pick 3's with the Derby landing on his action horses - 1,3,5

Anyway, that's all from me.

If none of the above longer ones win, I'll have a very bad day. But I know I'll certainly feel alive.

Good luck everyone. Enjoy your day.

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