The most important thing when playing the ponies (or any other form of gambling, for that matter) is money management/discipline. As the song goes: "Youve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em..."
Weeks 1-3 of the 2001 Gulfstream Park meeting saw this writer cashing numerous tickets with some big mutuel payoffs. Last week, I correctly predicted that the large mutuel numbers that wed gratefully seen would not continue. Favorites had only won 20 percent of all races run in the first two and a half weeks of the meet, but that percentage rose into the 30s the past week and a half.
In addition, the "usual Gulfstream leading trainers" noticeably absent from the leading trainers list during the first two and a half weeks of the meet would begin to appear and appear they did. Week 4 saw the likes of: Mott, Hennig, Iwinski, Pletcher, Zito, Gomez, Walder, Badgett, Pilotti, Nafzger, Plesa Jr., Flint and Romans all figure out the directions to the Gulfstream Park winners circle.
Finally, the rail and speed biases, developed early in the meet and which gave me more ammunition in my frustrating battle with all you other horseplayers, have almost all but disappeared. Some remain on a daily basis, which provides another rule I follow: Watch an early race or two to see if any of the biases/angles that have developed over the previous day or days are evident on the present card.
Why did I refer to my battle with the "other horseplayers?" Because of the "pari-mutuel" wagering system in place at racetracks. The more money bet on a horse, the lower the odds and its respective mutuel payoffs. Likewise, if less money is wagered on a horse, the higher its mutuel payoffs. One advantage of placing a wager with a bookmaker is that the money wagered doesnt make it into the pools of the racetrack. Therefore, the odds are not compromised with dollars placed with a bookmaker. However, the consequences of such a moronic wager namely its illegality are far more detrimental than the benefits gained, as evidenced by the recent arrests of two men in New Hampshire one for taking illegal bets and the other for placing them.
So when you open your form and begin the arduous task of playing the ponies, tread with care. This is a difficult avocation we have taken upon ourselves. However, the thrill that comes from cashing that winning ticket and the knowledge that we were able to prognosticate the correct order of finish makes this game a part of life I couldnt live without. Salute the Romans, whom I believe were the first to use horses for such recreation.
Horses To Watch:
MEDIEVAL HERO Steadied entering first turn, blocked and steadied again in a 7-2 bet down. Another chance.
JUDGE RELIC KELIC Came up as good thing only to be bumped at 1/8th pole while closing like a French musical at Park Place resort.
K.T. SKATES Comes from Jake-the-Rakes barn and appears to be nibbling at cheesy prospects in prep for return.
SADDLESPUR While no match for winner, got off slow and rallied four wide, earning another shot for Jim and Phil.
CAMPANERONOTE Usually lags behind, but got off even worse after a strong bump. Could do better for new connections.
GLORY DOR Jostled at start, then steadied in turf start for Billy White, who usually excels on the sod.
SHINE AGAIN Lost desire at the break and has the ability to perform much better in an uneventful heat.
Week 5 is highlighted by the first major handicap of the season: The $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1). It will attract a field of at least eight, including last years 3-year-old starts: Albert The Great and Captain Steve. Other probables include: North East Bound, beaten by just a neck in the Breeders Cup Mile (G1); Pleasant Breeze; Sir Bear; Vision and Verse; Tempest Fugit; Rich Celebration; and Noble Ruler. On Sunday, Canfield, unbeaten this winter, will meet the first three finishers from the Jan. 15 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) Istintaj, Miners Gamble and Smokin Pete, in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap at 6Â½ furlongs for a guaranteed purse of $100,000... A pair of Elliot Walden trainees,Meetyouatthebrig and Phone Rulers, prospects for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 10, both worked Saturday at Payson Park. Meetyouatthebrig breezed five furlongs in 1:02-4/5. Phone Ruler went the same distance in 1:05 flat... Bam Bam Bull, once rumored to be the fastest filly in the country, worked six furlongs in 1:13 handily Sunday for trainer Jimmy Croll. Shes being pointed toward the $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (G3) at seven furlongs on Feb. 14... Chatted with former Partridger David Cassidy on Saturday here at Gulf. Complimented him on his performance in "At The Copa," which I loved at The Rio Hotel/Casino. Asked what he was up to. He said hes going on the road... Big disappointment for we generation Xers: Cheap Trick, scheduled to perform here Saturday, had to cancel at the last minute due to the bronchitis of their lead singer. Any possible turbulence that may have developed was to same quickly squelched by Gulf Prez Scott Savin and Marketing Boss Dave Rovine, who announced free admission for all that day. Almost 15,000 attended.