JC / Railbird

Handicapping

2012 Breeders’ Cup Links

11/2/12: Mike Welsch’s Breeders’ Cup Clocker Saturday report card

10/31/12: Official programs with full PPs for Friday (PDF) and Saturday (PDF) / Hello Race Fans cheat sheets for the Ladies’ Classic and Classic / Mike Welsch’s Breeders’ Cup Clocker Friday report card

10/30/12: Breeders’ Cup entries, with morning line / Breeders’ Cup stats site / Breeders’ Cup Challenge race replays

10/24/12: Breeders’ Cup pre-entries (PDF) / BC Friday pre-entry PPs (PDF) / BC Saturday pre-entry PPs (PDF) / Steven Crist’s pre-entry cheat sheet

Tough Cup

Jay Cronley:

The problem with the Breeders’ Cup from a handicapper’s perspective is: Few if any horses are hurt, or sore. Few trainers are incompetent hacks, or probably crooked. Few jockeys are bums. Oftentimes during the two-day event, all the horses appear remarkably similar in ability. What it often comes down to is eliminating horses that shouldn’t win because of personal handicapping preferences, long layoffs, surface changes, jockey changes, running styles. That should pare each field down to eight or nine that look exactly alike.

The Breeders’ Cup: A test for handicappers as much as horses.

Unfair

Mike Watchmaker on the Super Saturday Santa Anita main track bias:

Look, horses like Game On Dude and Executiveprivilege were probably going to win Saturday whether or not there was a bias, so I don’t think they should be penalized for riding the crest of the way the track was playing. I am less convinced about Love and Pride and Power Broker. But I do know that the way the track was playing, well bet closers such as Richard’s Kid, Include Me Out, Amani, and Capo Bastone had absolutely zero chance. And that’s not fair.

Come the Breeders’ Cup, will we have reason to miss the Santa Anita synthetic?

Belmont Bombs

Andrew Beyer mentions something that’s been on my mind as I start thinking about how to play this year’s Belmont Stakes:

Forget about handicapping; if you bet every starter in every Belmont Stakes for the last 15 years you’d have almost doubled your money.

Last year, I looked at the win payouts for each of the Triple Crown races and the five Grade 1 Kentucky Derby preps over a decade, and the Belmont was the race that offered the greatest opportunity:

Only one favorite has won the Belmont Stakes in the past 10 years, and that was Afleet Alex in 2005. Handicappers look for longshots in the Derby, but the Belmont has delivered a higher average price ($43.61) and a healthy ROI in recent years — if you had bet $2 to win on all 110 Belmont starters since 2002, you would have almost doubled your money.

There’s a lot to like about I’ll Have Another on Saturday, but the Belmont is the classic race to look for an upset with a rewarding payoff.

This Again?

OMG:

“They’ve turned the Kentucky Derby into a guessing game,” [Thoro-Graph proprietor Jerry Brown] fumed. “The introduction of synthetic tracks has created mass confusion among handicappers. In the Derby, you’re left to guess whether a horse can handle dirt after running on synthetics.

“This is an absurd situation to create for people who bet the game seriously. It’s tough enough to beat it with good information and rational thinking, but now you have situations where it turns a race into pure guesswork.”

Actually, the synthetic-to-dirt surface switch seems to be one of the more predictable elements in handicapping the Kentucky Derby in recent years.

1:30 PM Addendum: Dean smartly notes on Pull the Pocket that when it comes to assessing surface changes, handicapping principles still apply, but “the questions you have to analyze just might be a little different.”

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