Welcome to this week's Super Spectacular Blog. Not many have flamed me on twitter for things I've said on the SSB the past few weeks (other than the usual cranky suspects) so that's positive and I thank you all.
In addition, I have not received one of those tax calls where they tell me I am going to be thrown in jail unless I give them my social security number, so the Russian bots must be happy.
Let's try and keep these good vibes going!
The mysterious ITP was Chris's guest on his Bet with the Best pod this week. It was longer than Titanic, but as far as I could tell no one ran into an iceberg. I thought it was really good.
The one section focusing on finding value by throwing bad chalk out of verticals I found particularly interesting and informative.
An example from Monday at the Woodbine harness races -
In race 8 there were two 6-5 chalk, but one of them could be labelled suspect. The bumpy gaited four horse was heading back into his previous barn after being claimed two races ago and he was coming off a sub-par start. This horse looks like he may crossfire (hit himself) and is quirky enough where a barn change could've gotten him out of his routine. The other 6-5 chalk looked legit.
We often want to throw out one chalk but is there value in using one on top? There probably was, but it can get really good if you find something underneath. In this case you likely could.
The leading trainer at the track had a horse who was second off a layoff and classified well. The rest of the mid-priced horses were all fairly blah, or could not leave the gate.
We have a case where we can pitch a 6-5 shot right out of the super, and had a decent possible lean who was taking no money, but could fit underneath. Using this horse in the two and three positions with logicals (leaving our pitch horse right out) is simple in say a twenty cent super. It's not any more complex than a place or show bet, and there is no need to play scared because any player could spend as little as $15 or so trying it.
As luck would have it the bad co-chalk was bad, and ran out, while the legit fave won. The second off a layoff horse stormed home for second and the super paid $5,000 for $1 and the $2 tri paid $1,500.
We might look at this race as just a pick 5 "get by race", or leaning on chalk for a $10 super or tri. But one angle with a finnicky horse with a barn change and a little smart ticket making resulted in a score.
We have not pumped the Great Marcus Hersh on the SSB yet, so we'll do it this week three times.
Some horses bleed, some horses can be corrected somewhat without lasix and some horses can't.
Of course correlation is not causation & I don't know if one thing led to the other, but this Lasix on, Lasix off madness has to end. pic.twitter.com/cAh3Dl5zNE— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) April 11, 2023
Jim Lawson will step down in the fall from his post leading Woodbine. As Eric notes in his tweet, he hopes his replacement looks into paying track takeout rates for Canadian customers of US tracks. This practice that puts Canadians at a disadvantage to others is one of the more obscene in the sport, in my view. Eric has worked tirelessly on the issue, taking it as far as the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency to no avail so far. Let's hope something changes.
For those who watched the Modern Games Keeneland turf stake where a 23-1 shot went down to 9-1 last flash, yep, it's really hard to watch. David is right on, in my opinion. Tracks should display estimated off odds, just like many of you can figure out as seasoned players. It's not hard.
Future HISA President (update, not quite yet, but close) Chuck Simon had a great rant about it (his blog is a great read, by the way). He's right, and those who play the harness races see odds boards at 10 minutes to post that look absolutely nothing like one at 0 minutes concur especially.
But with people not playing on-track anymore, and with so much real-time track choice it is what it is. And it's not just the teams doing it. It's essentially why post drag works so well - people don't bet early, they bet when they see zero. Pools are not efficient until after the bell. Only an exchange truly addresses the issue.
Land is worth too much, racing is worth too little. Turf Paradise to be sold. They'll race one or two more seasons it seems.
Great thread on betting for a living (including horses).
A recap of the Bet with the Bet podcast at HRU.
Betting teams have to push volume as a business case, so they're going to be all over, including the win pools at Hawthorne.
The Yonkers $10,000 seeded pick 5 has not attracted the betting teams on Thursdays and we're seeing some value. This is likely due to not being in the carryover feed. Thursday's pick 5 attracted only around $30,000 with the $10k seed and paid over double parlay in a chalk sequence.
Speaking of Yonkers, the NAHU guys do a pod for Monday night's stakes races and Ray Cotolo promised me @ryanwillis1 will guest star in his next film if I promote it each week on the SSB. Done!
A jackpot bites the dust to be replaced with an 11.99% pick 5.
BREAKING: Acknowledging horseplayer concerns, @ericahalstrom announces that @HSIndyRacing will eliminate the Jackpot P6 wager and introduce an 11.99% takeout Early P5.. @RacingRachelM pic.twitter.com/DxQWKevLCp— Steve Byk (@Steve_Byk) April 11, 2023
Lots of chatter about takeout this week, including the hikes at places like Keeneland. I've always felt the corporate view of pricing hikes - i.e. squeeze for the short term until there's no squeeze left - is good for the quarterly report, but bad long term. And I'd suggest the cratering of retail handle the last 20 years is evidence of that.
The sport never really has had a Ford, who looked at the health of bankrolls as an indicator of the market for cars. The Massachusetts state lottery has that view, and lowered juice on scratch tickets from well over 60% to (in some cases) below 20%. They've created a lottery culture in the state and this has consistently lead the nation in lottery play at $933 per capita, 77% higher than nearby high lottery takeout New York. For contrast, per-capita horse racing play in Australia (that North American racing is envious of and often cites) is around $871US.
The Marcus Hersh Game Plan is on fire. If the man loved football I'd call him Marcus the Greek. But, hell, I might anyway. All hail Marcus the Greek.
ITP-Joyce Buddy Movie Update – Last week our dynamic duo was at Aqueduct for the big triple pick six carryover. ITP boycotted because of the higher rake on carryovers, but Mike fired big time and just missed when his single in the last leg got herded into the ice cream stand on the tarmac. No inquiry.
They arrived at the Beem estate ("pod hits must be good" said Mike, as they drove in), and were quickly ushered in by Beem himself, who was wearing a silk robe.
"Nice place", said ITP.
"Thanks McBaffert. It's modest but it's home," replied the man who took over from a legend.
As Beem showed them around the many rooms, ITP and Mike shared stories of seeing Andy Serling in the Hero Sandwich place in Jersey and Mike's near miss because of the NYRA herding. The Southbound writer listened only as he can. Then he had an idea.
"I sense anxiety, so let's paint!" he offered.
They made their way into the palatial painting room and saw there were three easels ready to go.
"Alexa, smooth jazz," Beem bellowed.
"Right away Mister Beem," a tiny woman said as she ran in and placed an album on the turntable.
"Now, close your eyes, relax, breathe deeply, and paint what makes you feel good; makes you feel happy, what makes you, you,"
A half hour later it was time to unveil what the three men came up with.
Beem turned around his easel to show what looked like Gabe Prewitt in a wig holding a puppy.
Mike sheepishly turned his painting around and ....... he had painted ITP.
ITP, now blushing, turned his painting slowly to face Mike. It was like looking in a mirror. They painted each other.
"You two make each other happy! Now let's eat and watch some of my greatest calls on the DVD player", Jason said.
The bond between Mike and ITP appears complete.
Next week our dream team will be tested when they visit Frank Stronach at Gulfstream. He has a task for them.
Les is a very good horseplayer and I thought this tweet was great. How should we analyze favorites? It's a mindset.
One of the hardest things for players is deciding when to pass or play a pick 4 or 5.
One rule of thumb I'd offer is - check the tickets of public handicappers that we know blanket or pick logically. If we're wanting to go three deep when they do, or single what they are, or spread where they are, we might want to sit it out.
This is not a shot at the public cappers who are doing what their bosses are telling them to do for the most part. But I think that leaning on their AB's when we have the same AB's probably tells us we're not seeing the ball well on that particular pick five.
There's nothing better than back to back Jonathon Wong play-on-words tweets when he wins and pays $100.
There's an online censorship bill going through in the Tundra and it appears the PTP Blog is caught in its web. A guy named Bill from the government called last week and told me I need 36% Canadian ad content or my blog will be going the way of Racing Roulette. Thankfully I scared one up. Please watch this episode Sunday at 8 and let them know you saw the ad at the PTP Blog.