Articles

Travers By The Numbers

A few weeks ago, we went to the Jersey Shore and looked at the Haskell Invitational by the numbers; now we’re off to Saratoga Springs, New York, and a look at Saturday’s Travers Stakes by the numbers.

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When Good Horseplayers Go Bad (Part 1)

Whether you are a causal horseplayer or you make your living playing the races, it is only natural to root for your horse. When he wins it is OK to celebrate a bit, with moderation of course. Likewise, if you lose a tidy sum of money on the race it is only natural to be upset.

Some horseplayers take their day at the track to the extreme.

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Photo Courtesy of the AP

Frank Franklin II

Thanks For The Memories Marylou & Birdstone

There are many who have left their mark on the sport of horse racing. If someone says Seabiscuit or Secretariat, you know who they are talking about. While horse names will be forever remembered for their accomplishments, there are many humans that have left their mark on the sport. Jockeys like Gary Stevens or Jerry Bailey are recognizable to the masses for the amazing races they have ridden. Even casual fans can spot trainer Bob Baffert’s white hair and sunglasses out of a crowd.

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Four Signs of Handicapping Burnout and How to Fix Them

Everyone gets burned out at some point. Whether it is at work, at home, coaching your kid’s sports team, or making your living playing the races, no one is immune to burnout.

What are some of the signs that you are suffering from handicapping burnout?

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Horse Racing Crowd

Photo By Ernie Belmonte

Horseplayers Are Alike All Over

You’ve noticed it. I am sure of it. If you’ve played the ponies at different racetracks you know what I mean. You see the same characters wherever you go. They may be older or younger, a man or a woman, have a different accent or build, but you’ll find that horseplayers are alike all over.

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Haskell 2019: Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

For my friends that sat in line starting at 8 a.m. to get the perfect table in the picnic area, this made a trip to the track into a 12-plus hour day for those that decided to stick it out.

With very little to do between the second race and the evening start of the stakes portion of the card, why hang around? I don’t think I could have made myself busy for the four plus hours in this kind of heat and wouldn’t have had enough water in my cooler to last that long. Since Monmouth has also restricted the size cooler you can bring and where you can have it, those in the grandstand would have been shelling out a good buck to eat another meal and stay hydrated. One more added expense to the average track-goer that has already paid a premium to park and get into the track. I would have gone home after the second race.

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Haskell Invitational And Kentucky Derby Winners

Kentucky Derby winner Country House won’t be running in the 52nd edition of the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Saturday, but the horse that crossed the finish line first in the Run for the Roses will. The Derby finish back on May 4 saw Maximum Security hit the wire first, but he was disqualified to 17th for interference and runner-up Country House was declared the winner. At Monmouth Park, Maximum Security will be out to redeem being upset in the Pegasus earlier in the meet by King for a Day. Just in case you were wondering, though, here’s a look at how previous Kentucky Derby winners fared in the Haskell – there have been 10.

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Haskell Invitational By The Numbers

I’m a Jersey guy. I spent my formative years on the grandstand apron of Monmouth Park with my late Uncle Dutch learning the sport of horse racing. Hearing Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind holds a special place in my heart, especially while walking out of the track with some serious folding money in my pocket.

Whether you’re a casual fan or you make your living playing the races, it’s time to have some fun with the Haskell “by the numbers.”

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10 Questions to Determine if You're Sabotaging Your Bankroll

Are you sabotaging your bankroll?

I bet you said “no.” I bet you said that emphatically, too!

Some of you may be winning at the races; some of you may be losing at the races. Some of you may even be making your living playing the races! Even if you are grinding out a profit, you could be doing better.

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My Most Memorable Stretch Drives (Part 1)

In the history of horse racing there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of great stretch drives. Some will be forgotten given the class level of the race, but many stakes races have produced stretch runs that are memorable and exciting to watch again even today.

Whether you are a casual race fan or you make your money playing the races, you have to respect some of the great races that we have been lucky enough to witness. Here are some of the most memorable stretch drives that I can remember watching live:

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How Nick Saban Can Help You Be a Better Handicapper

Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches in college football history. His ability to recruit and his brilliant football mind have brought tremendous success to the University of Alabama’s football program. Yet, it is his approach, or process, that is what can help you elevate your handicapping and even help you to start making a living playing the races!

Photo Courtesy of University of Alabama (www.ua.edu)

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5 Things Mentally Strong Horseplayers Do

Whether you make a living playing the races or pocket some serious folding money when you aren’t working your day job you need to be mentally strong. So what sets apart the winning from the losing horseplayers?

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2019 Belmont Stakes Pace Analysis

How does the 2019 Belmont Stakes pace set up?

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Two Turns to Glory - 2019 Belmont Stakes Analysis

A mile and a half. The distance I often make my son’s U12 travel soccer team run after practice. The distance it is to walk from my in-law's house, if you go the long way. The distance ten three year-olds will run in about two and a half minutes to see who captures the final Triple Crown race of 2019.

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Fillies in the Belmont Stakes

Previously I highlighted how fillies have historically fared in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but how have they stacked up in the Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes has produced the fewest filly starters of the three legs of the Triple Crown, yet does have both the highest winning percentage and percentage of fillies finishing in the money.

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The Belmont Stakes By The Numbers

After the controversary and history made in the Kentucky Derby with the highest win payout since 1913 and the first race-day disqualification of Maximum Security, plus an exciting Preakness Stakes, we are granted an extra week off before the Belmont Stakes.

How should you handle this extra time?

Take a break from trying to make your living by playing the races and check out some fun facts about the Belmont Stakes!

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For Bettors, There are Always Limits

One of the popular phrases we’ve all heard is that “there are no limits.”

A simple web search yields that the following things have no limits — churches, love, the outdoors, travel, your future, learning, fitness and many other things. This is the age of the overused acronyms YOLO (you only live once) and FOMO (fear of missing out), which are the battle cries of those looking to justify their “carpe diem” approach to life.

In this live-life-to-the-fullest mentality do we need limits?

As horseplayers, we most definitely need limits.

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Figuring the Pace of the 2019 Preakness Stakes

US Racing contributor Ray Wallin analyzes the likely pace of the Preakness Stakes.

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Hold All Tickets! 2019 Preakness Analysis

The 2019 Kentucky Derby was certainly…. Interesting to say the least. One of my pace scenarios almost held up. Well, it held up for about 22 minutes until they took Maximum Security down. Disqualification aside, he proved to me that he didn’t need to set a soft fraction to take a race wire to wire like he did in the Florida Derby.

Like many horseplayers, I just move on to the next race.

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Fillies in the Preakness Stakes

While the Kentucky Derby qualifying point system may deter a filly from running for the roses, is there hope for the girls looking to tackle the boys in the Preakness? Not this year, as the early Preakness contenders’ list is all boys again.

While 40 fillies have gone to post in the Kentucky Derby, there have been 54 that have started in the Preakness. Fillies have had a slightly better time in the Preakness, winning five of those starts with five places and eight shows.

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How to Find Longshot Winners in the Preakness Stakes

There have been some bombs to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Saturday, Country House became the second-highest-paying horse to win the Kentucky Derby at 65-1. The same has not been true of the Preakness.

Looking at the history of favorites in each leg of the Triple Crown tells a story. Historically the Kentucky Derby has produced the lowest percentage of winning favorites (35.9 percent) — this despite the fact that six of the last seven renewals have been won by the favorite. The Belmont Stakes has only a slightly higher win percentage at 41.9 percent, while nearly half of all Preakness Stakes have been won by the favorite.

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How to Find Longshot Winners in the Preakness Stakes

There have been some bombs to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Saturday, Country House became the second-highest-paying horse to win the Kentucky Derby at 65-1. The same has not been true of the Preakness.

Looking at the history of favorites in each leg of the Triple Crown tells a story. Historically the Kentucky Derby has produced the lowest percentage of winning favorites (35.9 percent) — this despite the fact that six of the last seven renewals have been won by the favorite. The Belmont Stakes has only a slightly higher win percentage at 41.9 percent, while nearly half of all Preakness Stakes have been won by the favorite.

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Back to the Drawing Board - 2019 Kentucky Derby Analysis

After my defeat in the 2018 Kentucky Derby I told myself I would spend more time watching the preps and getting to know the contenders before May came around. It must have been the tenth time I told myself that. Maybe in 2020!

Regardless, I had my analysis and various contributions ready to go until I saw the news on Wednesday afternoon that Omaha Beach had scratched. With deadlines to meet and a crazy work and travel soccer schedule ahead of me I was a little crunched for time redoing my analysis.

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The Kentucky Derby By The Numbers

Last spring we looked at the Preakness by the numbers. This year, we’ll take a look at some fun facts about the upcoming 145th running of the Kentucky Derby by the numbers:

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Handicapping the Kentucky Derby By Pace

Using the techniques of pace analysis to improve your Kentucky Derby bets.

One of the most frequent questions I have received from readers is how do I select a running line from each horse to create my pace scenarios?

If you ask ten handicappers how they select a running line, you will get ten different answers. But, since so many of you have asked for my opinion, here are my thoughts.

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How Dessert Can Help Handicappers Overcome Obstacles

Everyone loves dessert, especially when it’s the kind that can help you grow your bankroll and not your waistline.

Even seasoned handicappers who are making a living playing the races have periodic handicapping obstacles they need to overcome. Regardless of the problem, there is a strategy to overcome these obstacles and keep your betting in the black: D.E.S.S.E.R.T.

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Will We Ever See Another Filly In the Kentucky Derby?

40.

This is a number that defines middle age to some, when you wake up and something else hurts. It is also the number of days and nights that it rained after Noah built his ark or, if you live in New Jersey, the number of days in a row it will rain this spring.

40 is also the number of fillies that have started in the Kentucky Derby.

And that’s a number that isn’t likely to change for a long time. Of the 40 fillies to start in the Kentucky Derby, three have won, two have placed and five managed to show.

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Seven Tips for Better Handicapping Systems

For novice handicappers, there is often room for improvement in their handicapping as they try to start to track down the dream of making a living playing the races. Many, more seasoned, horseplayers may need a slight nudge to get them back on track. Either way, you can always strive to make your own approach or system better and gain a slight edge versus your competition.

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Down to the Final Derby Preps

The Kentucky Derby picture is starting to get clearer, but the last round of prep races will define the field. These races often offer strong wagering opportunities for both the casual racing fan, as well as those who make a living playing the races.

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Unwritten Rules of the Racetrack

I love going to the track. I especially love sitting out on the grandstand apron at Monmouth Park on a lazy, sunny Friday afternoon in the summer.

We are all there for the same purpose, to make a few bucks and have a good time. Yet there is one thing that can ruin a racegoer’s day faster than a pop-up thunderstorm — someone who doesn’t follow the “Unwritten Rules of the Racetrack”.

So, whether you play $2 show bets or you make a living playing the races, don’t be the guy that ruins the day for everyone else.

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Think Small, Win Big!

We are always told to “think big” or “think of the big picture” in our approaches to most things in life. What if I told you the secret to success is actually thinking small?

When I mentioned this to my youngest son, he was quick to tell me that I was wrong since his teacher tells them to think big all the time. He went on to tell me that she says they can all be astronauts, doctors, lawyers, the next Rail Guy — or whatever they want to be — by thinking big.

I disagree.

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Prepping For The Final Kentucky Derby Prep

This is a fun time of year. The 2019 Kentucky Derby field is starting to take shape, as horses are trying to win enough points to qualify for a spot in the Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May. The races are worth more points and the fields are getting more competitive. Whether you are a casual fan or you make a living playing the races, it is time to catch “Derby Fever”.

Week to week, the field changes. Horses get injured, don’t perform as well as expected, or come out of nowhere to burst into contention. The current Kentucky Derby picture is as clear as mud.

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Making the Case for Year-Round Tracks

The leaves are starting to turn. The hot summer days of relaxing on the apron at Monmouth Park are over. The horses have all shipped elsewhere for the fall and winter.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my home track, Monmouth Park. I put a lot of effort into my own record-keeping and stats that help me make a profit there year after year. Yet, once September rolls around, I have to play something else.

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10 Bad Habits of Horseplayers

Bad habits. We all have them, even those horseplayers that are making a living playing the races. Some are worse than others. The average time it takes for someone to create or break a habit is 66 days, with a range of 18 to 254 days. Some racing meets start and finish in that time!

The good news is that you can break a habit. I have faith that my readers can do it in the 18-day timeframe and not in 254 days, but you need to identify if any of these bad habits apply to you!

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(Photo by Manan Chhabra on Unsplash)

Recalibrating Your Handicapping Can Lead to Success

A recent study found that 80 percent of high school students thought that they are smarter than the average student. In another study, 90 percent of drivers thought they were better than the average driver. In a 1977 study, Patricia C. Cross found that 94 percent of professors thought that they were above average when compared to others in academia.

People overestimate their abilities in most walks of life. Handicapping is no different.

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How 'Via Negativa' Will Change Your Life

Via negativa.

Sounds like one of the fourteen entrants Todd Pletcher will have in the Kentucky Derby this year, right?

Via negativa is a Latin phrase that is often used to explain God by explaining what God is not, as opposed to what God is. Don’t worry, I am not about to bring God into horse racing — although I have heard Rail Guy both pray to God and use the Lord’s name in vain all in the same stretch run at Monmouth Park. What we can do, though, is improve our handicapping process by focusing on what factors don’t work and use that information to eliminate runners from our contenders.

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4 Things That Will Absolutely Destroy Your Bankroll

Are you a good handicapper? Are you a great handicapper?

Maybe you are, but if you can’t manage your bankroll you’ll never make a dime off your picks, let alone make a living playing the races.

It is the downfall of many great handicappers who have winning systems and approaches. Sometimes, you don’t make the smartest decisions.

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Don't Fall Victim to Silent Evidence

In other words, we know much less than we think — dissecting the attributes of a winning horse after the race does offer some benefits, but only when you also analyze the losers. Otherwise, the factors pointing to the winner would not have been positives at the time you were handicapping the race.

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The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Gamblers

People that make a living gambling have a different mindset about gambling than those that play recreationally. When your bottom line is on the line, you approach your opportunities differently than the casual gambler.

How do they do it?

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5 Ways to Grow Your Bankroll in 2019

Lose weight. Eat healthy. Sleep more. Get a better job. End unhealthy relationships. Learn to speak Latin.

This year is going to be different. You are going to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, and this time you mean it!

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Physicality Handicapping: Don't Sweat It!

 It is the summer. It is hot and humid wherever you go. Call it global warming, call it climate change or just call it the hottest stretch of summer.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Pace - Part 1

Learn to identify different types of early speed horses!

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The Curse is Lifted! 2017 Preakness Analysis

Check out my thoughts on this race!

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Thursday 5/11/17 Penn National Race 7

Check out the pace analysis for this race!

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Figuring The Kentucky Derby Pace

A look at how the 2017 Kentucky Derby might set up — and which horses will benefit.

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Not All Favorites Are Created Equal: Part 1 – Strong and False Favorites

Many horseplayers live by the rule of thumb that favorites win about 33 percent of the time for a 17 percent loss per wager. While not too far off the mark, you need to consider that there are several different kinds of favorites to consider.For the sake of this study, the analysis of favorites excludes maiden races and races for two-year-olds, since I consider them to be among the least predictable. This left 16,065 races for me to analyze, focusing on the morning line favorite. I then divided these horses into three categories: strong favorites, false favorites (no qualifier), and false favorites (with qualifier).

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The Dirty Dozen: 12 Kinds of People You Meet at the Track

Normally, I write about more serious topics on how to improve your handicapping. Recently, I was having a conversation with my good friend and longtime track buddy Walt. We reminisced about the oddball crew we would run into on our weeknight jaunts up to The Meadowlands and weekend excursions down to Monmouth Park.
This discussion got me to thinking that all race tracks are parallel universes. The same regulars exist at each track, off-track betting facility and casino racebook. They may dress different, be different ages, but all exhibit the same characteristics.

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Where Good Horse Racing Systems Come From

I modified the title of Steve Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From” by replacing “Ideas” with “Racing Systems”. Many horseplayers still wonder how to develop their own system or method of handicapping or selecting horses. While there is no magic method, one point that Steve Johnson discusses will help both the novice and seasoned horseplayer.

Collaboration.

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4 Keys to Cracking Maiden Optional Claiming Races

Recently I received some great feedback and emails on my articles about how to approach allowance optional claiming races and starter allowances. One email, in particular, had a great question that I decided to answer in today’s article.

“If you can analyze an allowance optional claiming race in part by class, how should you approach a maiden optional claimer since none of the horses have established class yet?”

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Ray's Older Articles at USRacing

 

Click here to see all of Ray's previously published articles at USRacing. He covers a number of great topics from how to approach different types of races - claiming, allowance optional claimers, and maiden optional claimers; as well as many other fascinating topics!

Using Monty Hall to Handicap

I admit that I was at first a bit skeptical of the Monty Hall Problem. After all, I consider myself a sound handicapper. I know where my strengths and weakness lie. I have been a winning horseplayer for years and, while happy to be turning a profit, I am always looking for a way to increase my potential number of plays and profit. How could this Monty Hall analysis help my wagering?

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Interview with Dave Schwartz of Pacemakestherace.com

Dave Schwartz Interviews Ray Wallin: Winning Player, Blogger and Former Public Selector

  • Pace handicapper specializing in multiple pace scenarios.
  • Key to winning is record keeping.
  • Favorite Quote (from BASF): “We don’t make the product. We make it better.”
  • Selecting pacelines
  • Why you sometimes need multiple pacelines per horse.
  • Negative angles

Click here to listen!