It's hard to believe that a year has come and gone.  But here we are.
Today's running of the Kentucky Derby offers quite a few opportunities for value.

There is no overly hyped favorite, and the weather has been poor.  Of course the weather may not be too much a factor by race time, with forty-five minutes to post of the first race at Churchill Downs, Twinspires has yet to list track conditions and scratches.

Early qualifiers of the first are Maximus Beauty and Wholehearted.

My early leanings for the Derby are three- Girvin, Gunnevera and McCraken.

On a side note- in the last at Gulfstream, Tom Liz looks solid and Annie's Big Boy looks as though he may upset.

Churchill conditions- turf good, dirt sloppy as of 9:54 est.

Notable scratch in the 7th at Churchill- the scratch of Miss Temple City opens the door for upset run by Prize Exhibit with Linda up close.

30 min. to post, no changes in qualifiers of the first.  
​(you will need to refresh to follow throughout the day)

Race 1 is being bet pretty even across, and with no changes in Q's at the 4 minute mark I will go with those two in the double with Underpressure.

A dutch on those two as well will yield a decent return if one hits the front at the wire too.

Realized return on the dutch wager is 2-1 as Maximus Beauty hits the wire first.

Early Q's in the second race are Donwell and Awesome Saturday.  There are some viable overlays in the race as well.  Will wait and see how the wagering plays out.

No change thus far in Q's.  Getting about 5-1 on the exacta of Q's over my selection Underpressure so I will go that route being that the odds don't warrant a dutch.  I will also run a double with Flashy Jewel in the third.

Nice price on No Mo Dough as he knocks my exotic off the board.

​The early Q in the third is my selection of Flashy Jewel.  Again there are viable overlays, maybe I won't shy away from them this time...

Interesting that the over/under prices in the exacta with Flashy Jewel are within $3 for most horses save the two long shots.  

I will go with a win on Flashy Jewel and an exacta key box with Carve and Donegal Moon, and a double with Encrypt.

That's how it goes sometimes- last flash and Rocket Time Q's, without any real trend in the wagering it was hard to predict the late action.  Anyway he put away the rest to win.

Two early Q's in the fourth, Caviar Czar and Perfect Partner.   Odds too low to consider dutch at this time.  Will wait to see if the exotics with my selection, Encrypt, offer some value.

Last flash before closing in the fourth gave Souper Fly Over a Q.

My early selection ran third as two of the three Q's went first and second...

I went chalky in the fifth and sixth with Forge and Carina Mia.

The early Q's in the 5th are Forge and Cherry Wine.  At this point I will run them in the multi-race wagers with my early selections, and work on narrowing my derby key horse...

Nothing left for Forge when he got the opening.  No early Q's in the 6th.  Is there where everything starts to shift?  We'll see...

No Q's with 4 min to post so going to pass on this one and see what my long shot looks like in the 7th.

Roca Rojo is a heavy bet favorite and Q in the early wagering of the 7th.  My selection Prize Exhibit is 16-1 and Linda is, as I type now a Q as well.  If things stay as they are I will probably key my pick over and under with the Q's.

That's why they're long shots.... No early Q's in the 8th, but no surprise as there is 45 minutes to post.. 

What is going to happen now that the track is drying out? We'll see..

No Dozing Q's at 35 minutes to post.  

At the halfway mark Q's have paid on win 4/13, place 6/13 and show 7/13.
Per $2 wager that equates to $33 win 27.40 place and 21.80 show-  
profit on win wagers $7, on place 1.40 and a loss on show of (4.20).

Good Samaritan is the early Q in the 9th.  Oscar Performance Q'd late in the wagering.

No Q's yet in the 10th-

Beach Patrol is the early Q in the 11th.  

At this point I have decided that McCraken will be my key, but have to back up with Practical Joke who shows consistency that few in the race have had.  Unfortunately he drew the 19 post, a big minus.

The early Q in the Derby is Irish War Cry.  However there is still over an hour to go to post... Stay tuned...

Wind up with three Q's in the 13th- the entry, 2 and 5- using shorthand here.

​Going to sit the last two out, but will track progress none the less...

So to wrap it all up- the last two races had a total of 5 Q's and the final results are as follows:

23 Qualifiers  6 wins 10 places 11 shows

A $2 wager across the board on every qualifier would yield $150.80 on wagers totaling $138 for 9% profit.

Breaking that down further- wagering on individual places:

Win $50.80 / $46  10% profit

Place $54.60 / $46 19% profit

show $45.40 / $46  (1%) loss

Wagering win / place yields a 15% profit

A good day all around, despite the weather.





 
Todays running of the Florida Derby brings two undefeated contenders together- Nyquist (6/6) and Mohaymen (5/5).

Both are early favorites for the Kentucky Derby but only one, barring some weird photo finish, will trot away as the only undefeated horse left after this race..... Or will it?

Is there a horse that may upset the apple cart?  Could one of the others entered in todays Derby steal the cookie from Nyquist's or Mohaymen's cookie-jar?


I have to admit that I am partial to Mohaymen, mostly due to the 'been there done that' reasoning.  Nyquist might have the class edge, but that may not be enough to make up for the added half furlong in this race, though having never run the distance it's hard to know for sure.  I would be more optimistic if Nyquist had drawn away in either of his winning routes, as he had in his sprint races.  That being said I have to give the edge to Mohaymen.

That being said, there are a couple of interesting possibilities for an upset.

Fellowship has never raced the distance either and has come in third to Mohaymen in his last two races.  The improving colt is 25% at Gulfstream Park and put in a nice work on 3/19.  

Chovanes is coming of his maiden victory in a $50,000 maiden claimer.
Yes, it was off a drop in class.  Yes, he did shorten from 1 1/8 miles to 1 mile.
And yes, he did show a 150% improvement.  He may bounce off the effort, but he has had two really good works since- one on 3/19 and one on 3/27- both at GPW.  (formerly Calder).

Still iffy? Then look at his trainer, J. Navarro, who is 30% at the meet.  The jockey J. Zayas's first time on Chovanes was for the win and who, when coupled with Navarro, hit for 24% for this meet and 33% year to date.  Hard not to include.  For me, anyway.

Then there's Takeittotheedge.  This will be his second time out after a driving win in a $50,000 maiden special weight at 7 furlongs at Gulfstream.  He has had steady works since of four and five furlongs.  

The stretch out is an unknown as well as adapting to the class level but the combination of Gaffalione and Romans is intriguing.  

Gaffalione was aboard for Takeittotheedge's debut win and the jockey's association with trainer Dale Romans has produced 13% wins thus far.  Not great at first glance, but looking at the positive ROI puts a positive spin on this colts chances.

What it comes down to?  I will be looking to key Mohaymen in different exotics with Nyquist, Fellowship, Chovanes and Takeittotheedge.  But I will be using the latter on top in some of them.

A debate can be had for just about any horse in any race at any track.  This race is no different, and that is what makes this game so great, and at times, so frustrating.

Great days to all!
 
What a great way to start the new season of racing off!  Anyone who watched the Dubai World Cup on Saturday saw why California Chrome earned horse of the year honors in '14.

Staying three wide for most of the race, and even four and five wide at points, California Chrome surged to the front top of the stretch and lugged in to capture top prize.  He left 110% on the track in a gutsy championship performance.  Congratulations to everyone involved!

Now our sights turn to the Triple Crown tip off only weeks away.

After winning the Louisiana Derby Gun Runner is the current points leader.  There is a lot of talent and a handful of preps remaining.  It will be interesting to see who makes the cut and what the field looks like.

​At any rate, it looks like it is going to be a great year for racing!

 
So, with all of the info just slamming into the handicapping world like a tidal wave I decided to back Firing Line.  He is my early pick, but one that will be incorporated in anything I decide to do wager wise.
It looks like this year will be a great one for great payouts.  Good luck to all!
I will update tomorrow as the race gets closer.  BTW my plays thus far for preplays are:
Oaks/ Wood/Derby P3- 5,6,13/5,6,8,10/8,10,18
Oaks/ Derby Dbl- 5,6,13/ 8,10,18

 
For me this is the most exciting time of year in horse racing- The Triple Crown Races- kicked off by the Kentucky Derby!
There are other great racing events, but I am decidedly partial to these.
As we get closer I will post my thoughts on the race for those who choose to take the time to read them, probably on the 1st.


For now- here is another spot play to consider:
Males only- Optional Claimers- look for those with a morning line less than 6-1 who are in the money at both track and distance and who had a stakes race run in one of their last three outings.


It is common to have multiple qualifiers, especially in the higher pursed races.
one way to separate is to look at the finish of the stakes race and using the horse that did best, or look to the last race and use the the horse that finished strongly.


Sometimes when there are many qualifiers it sets the race up for an outsider, a long shot, so be vigilant for the opportunity to strike a good one.


Best of luck!
 
Wow, February is a short month!  Missed it completely, so here are two spots to make up for it-
In claimers for males only look for those with a morning line of less than 6-1 and a win or place at that track and distance entered.  NO TIES.
In claimers for females only look for a bullet work since the last race and that the last race should have a finish of 1st thru 4th or less than 5 lengths, with a win at the track and distance entered.
Good luck and have fun!
 
In the maiden special weight ranks I look for two different scenarios based on gender-
For males I look for one of the last two races to have been finished within 5 lengths of the winner, any position, as a beaten favorite.
For females I look for the morning line to be 5/2 or less and the last race to have been finished within 5 lengths of the winner, any position.

I typically use these plays in exotics and multi-race wagers as they are often at lower off odds, however sometimes there are nice layovers.
 
I have decided to share some of the spot plays that I use over the course of the next year.  I will start with maiden claimers.

The play is for any maiden claimer and is simply the horse with the lowest morning line that has had a race over the track that it is running on today.
The cap for the morning line is 6-1.

This works best if there is only a single qualifier, but the percentage only drops a little with multiples.  Target odds should be 3-1 and over, no cap for final odds.  If the odds are lower you may want to look for an exotic play would offer better opportunities, or simply pass the race.


 
I cannot believe that it has been so long since the last post!  So much has been going on both personally and professionally that I must have lost track.  For that I apologize, if there is anyone out there who actually cares. 

But for those of you who occasionally land here I would like to ask you a question: How often do you handicap, yourself?

I don't mean that you do the number crunching on your own, I mean that you look to your records and your processes.  

I recently fell upon a site, derbywars.com, and instantly became hooked.
I also found myself in a unique circumstance where I was expected to handicap races that I normally would pass on.

Much to my chagrin I realized that some of those races were actually strong holds for my win percentage.  So I started to handicap myself. 

Rather than looking at specific races that I thought would hold the best opportunities, I looked to the races that I faired best in.  Those races that I seemed to be able to come up with the best competitors most often.

This process led to much better decisions regarding money management, which has lead to a better profit margin.

It's true that you should revise the methodology you use every so often in order to stay ahead of the curve, but you need to be aware of where your strengths truly lie, it may even surprise you.



 
We may see history today as California Chrome attempts to win the Belmont and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

I am rooting for the colt to pull it off, but my wagering strategy will be guarded.  

Commanding Curve is back after skipping the Preakness and should be fresh and ready. So are Wicked Strong, Samraat and Medal Count.

Ride On Curlin gets a new rider as Rosario shifts to Tonalist. 

Could it be a repeat of the Derby?

I guess it's wait and see.