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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From Horseplayer Monthly: State of the Industry Q & A with Jerod Dinkin

This Q &A appeared in the May/Track Ratings edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, including several more of these Q & A's and HANA's annual track ratings, please click here.

Q:  Are you enjoying the betting side of the game more or less than you were a year ago? Why?

A:  Each passing year that goes by, I enjoy the pari-mutuel game less and less for a number of reasons:

(1) The number of overlay situations has sharply decreased as there is less “dead money” in the pools. There are a myriad of reasons why this is the case, but that is a subject for its own piece.

(2) I would generally set aside 25%-30% of my yearly bankroll for the Keeneland Polytrack, which I found to be nuanced in a way that I understood while the balance of bettors did not. With the main track surface back to dirt, it’s just another run of the mill opportunity in terms of value. Nice fields, great track, wonderful place, but no longer advantageous from a betting standpoint for my personal strengths as a handicapper.

(3) Saratoga is also not what it used to be. The increased number of race dates has hurt the Spa from a betting attractiveness standpoint. Many of these fields are “Aqueduct North,” and the six-day a week schedule creates fatigue for all parties involved.

(4) There are countless other entertainment offerings out there that feature a lower price point and better customer service. I’m a glutton for punishment, but can only take so much.  

Q:  With more international racing being shown on TVG and elsewhere, along with important cards like Dubai being front and center, do you find you’re more interested in watching and wagering on it?

A: No, not at all. I really like International racing, specifically the English and French Classics, but do not know enough about it to feel I have any sort of edge nor are the post times conducive to a productive family life. Yelling for the 26 horse to win the seventh race at Moonee Valley at 3 A.M. generally doesn’t go over that well in my household.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2155466484705516802?source=hana

Q:  Jackpot bets, yay or nay?

A:  Nay, no, nein, nyet, meiyou, le, lo.

Q:  Do post drags ‘drag on you’, or do you feel they’re part of the game and you factor them into your daily or weekly play?

A:  Since Gulfstream now runs 30 races a day, 365 days a year, I just assume that every 32 minutes there is some sort of a race in Hallandale Beach no matter the day or time, so post drag is basically like death or taxes.

Q:  What’s worse, inconsistent stewards' calls, or tracks running on top of each other?

A:  Wow, that’s like deciding which of the Osmonds is most annoying. I’ll say steward inconsistency as those decisions have monetary consequences.

Q:  What were your impressions of Always Dreaming's Derby performance?

A:  Very solid, professional effort. Johnny V worked out a superlative trip and he was much the best.

Q:  Out of any of the possible Preakness "new shooters" (Conquest Mo Money, Royal Mo, Senior Investment, etc.) do any of them interest you from a betting standpoint?

A:   I think the Triple Crown races are epidemically over-handicapped. I find it difficult not to take some preconceived biases from intently watching all the Triple Crown preps which can be beneficial, but at the same time you can easily overthink it. As such, I’ll be waiting until the field is drawn to start any tangible analysis.   

About Jerod - Jerod Dinkin is a HANA Board Member, a former Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year, 6’3” small forward with suspect lateral foot speed, in the Top 50 Lifetime at publichandicapper.com, and loves nothing more than a comfortable spot on the couch to listen to the soothing stylings of Richard Grunder on the weekends.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Press Release: Kentucky Downs Again Leads the 9th Annual Horseplayers Association of North America Racetrack Rankings

Kentucky Downs, the Franklin, Kentucky, racetrack that races a short, all-turf meet each September, has topped the 2017 HANA Racetrack Rankings for the third consecutive year.

The rankings are based on an algorithm using factors indicative of horseplayer betting value, gleaned from both empirical and academic study. Key factors including takeout rate, field size, pool size, and signal distribution are analyzed track by track and weighted to produce a final composite score.

"With low takeout and a field size of almost 11 horses per race, Kentucky Downs continues to excite customers," said HANA President Jeff Platt. “Despite an abbreviated meet, the ratings algorithm does not discriminate when it comes to betting value: Kentucky Downs has it and horseplayers responded with another year of record handles.”

“Kentucky Downs is once again honored to be recognized as HANA’s number one track for the third year in a row," added C.J. Johnsen, the Director of Broadcasting and Wagering at Kentucky Downs.  "Our team has worked hard to give horseplayers the best value for their wagering dollar, and it is extremely gratifying to see such a positive response. We have the utmost respect for HANA and their rankings and look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

The algorithm ranked Suffolk Downs’ micro-meet (race dates this year are July 8-9, August 5-6, and September 2-3) second, based almost solely on their North America-low 15% across the board takeout rates.  Major tracks Keeneland, Saratoga and Del Mar rounded out this year’s top five.

For a list of all tracks rated one through 64, full ratings coverage including statistics and analysis, please visit a special 'Industry Issue' of Horseplayer Monthly, our free e-magazine at this link. http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanamonthly.html.

For a web copy of this release, please visit here: http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/

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The Horseplayers Association of North America is a 3,000 strong grassroots group of horseplayers who are not affiliated with any industry organization. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. Joining HANA is free.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anatomy of a Rules Change

On March 05, 2016 the last race at Santa Anita came off the turf and was made an ALL per the rule they were using for the single jackpot P6.

A poster named CJ summed it perfectly with posts #1, #6, and #10 on this thread at Paceadvantage.com:


Post #1:
"Last race comes off turf because jockeys say it is dangerous. First, they didn't tell anyone until after the 7th even though there were no intervening turf races. 
But the real problem is in the P6 rules. Santa Anita pays out 70% to those that hit all 6, 15% to consos, and carries over 15% if there isn't a single winning ticket. But they made the last race an all, so there is NO CHANCE of a single winning ticket. Yet they are just carrying over the 15% anyway, essentially stealing it from bettors.
It is published beforehand, so buyer beware. That still doesn't make it right. These jackpot bets open up way too many cans of worms for me."


Post #6:
"The right thing to do would be pay out all the money that was bet yesterday in this situation, not every day."


Upon reading CJ's posts in the above linked to thread - I did the unthinkable.

I picked up the phone and contacted the CHRB. I directed them to CJ's thread - and explained to them why players believe the current rule is a bad rule.

Then I asked: "What's the best way to get a bad rule changed?"

My contact at the CHRB advised me that the first step would be to get Santa Anita involved. He explained it to me like this:

"Jeff, if you can get Santa Anita on board in asking for a rules change - at that point I think the CHRB would be willing to go to bat for you."

So from there I contacted track management at Santa Anita by email. I directed them to CJ's thread and explained why I thought the current rule was a bad rule - and that I thought it could be turned into a better rule by following CJ's suggestion:

Post #10:
"I'd write the rule so that if any race comes off the turf, resulting in an "all", the entire amount bet that day is paid out. Of course any carryover from prior days wouldn't be included in that."

Track management at Santa Anita got back to me right away and we had a phone conversation. They told me they were open to getting the rule changed and that they would be getting in touch with the CHRB to figure out how the rule should be reworded and to discuss the path of least resistance for effecting a rules change.

On Tues March 14, 2017 the HANA Board met via conference call.

Two of the items discussed on that call were the March 05, 2017 incident at Santa Anita and a proposed boycott over the incident.

Because the CHRB and Santa Anita had both already agreed in principle to work together (on behalf of horseplayers no less) to get the rule changed:

The HANA Board decided to take the CHRB and Santa Anita at their word and to not boycott over the March 5th incident at this time.

Now you know why the HANA Board decided not to boycott.

It took a few days longer than expected because Santa Anita had to wait for the tote company to get the rules change programmed into the tote system.

Last night, Sunday April 2, 2017 - DRF reported that the rules change had been finalized.

Santa Anita alters pick six rules when late surface switch occurs:
Link - here:

"ARCADIA, Calif.- Santa Anita recently received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to change the rules regarding pick six distributions in the event of a surface switch after the bet is underway.
The new rule takes effect on Thursday. In the event of a late surface switch, the 15 percent portion of the net pool typically dedicated to the single ticket jackpot provision of the pool will be redirected to the portion of the pool distributed to ticketholders with six winners, or into a carryover.
In that scenario, 85 percent of the net pool would be paid to tickets with all six winners, or into a conventional carryover, and 15 percent to the consolation pool.
On a day with a late surface switch, it will still be possible for the single ticket payoff provision to be paid out, if there is a single winning ticket. That is less likely to occur on a day with a late surface switch, since any races affected by a change in surface are considered a winning leg for all bettors, regardless of selections, essentially making the pick six a pick five.
The rule change was requested following a situation on March 5 in which the day’s final race was moved from turf to dirt because of excessive early afternoon rain."


Look. I'm certainly not a fan when it comes to the proliferation of single jackpot bets.

But if you are a major racetrack and you are going to insist on having a single jackpot bet for your P6:

The very least you can do is get the best possible rule in place.

And this is a case of a racing jurisdiction doing just that after listening to horseplayers.


--Jeff Platt, HANA President



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Friday, March 3, 2017

Apparently, Florida horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY

HANA has reason to believe that horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY in the State of Florida.

Link to an article – here: 
http://floridapolitics.com/archives/232597-senate-amend-gambling-bill

The bill is Senate Bill 8 and you can read the latest analysis put out by the Florida Senate on Page 35 here:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/8/Analyses/2017s00008.ap.PDF

There’s no way to sugar coat this:

Apparently Florida horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY. The bill would not be worded the way it is if that were not the case.

There’s still time to save ADW wagering in the State of Florida – but you need to act NOW.

HANA is asking all Florida residents – horseplayers or not – to take 5 minutes out of your day – and WRITE your Florida State Senators and Florida House Representatives:

TELL THEM YOU ARE STRONGLY OPPOSED to the anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are VERY MUCH IN FAVOR of PRESERVING  ADW WAGERING FOR FLORIDA RESIDENTS.

We ask that you not just send an email – but that you also do it the old fashioned way:

Mail your Florida State Senators and your Florida House Representatives a POST CARD or a hand written LETTER. Include your name and address. And tell them very succinctly you are strongly opposed to the Anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are very much in favor of preserving ADW Wagering for Florida residents.

Get your friends and family members to mail in POST CARDS and hand written LETTERS too. (Because stacks of post cards and letters are really hard for them to ignore.)

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and CALL. Chances are you won’t get to speak with your State Senators or House Representatives directly - but you CAN voice your opinion to their staff consultants. 

Be polite. Be brief - and get right to the point:

Simply tell them you are strongly opposed to the Anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are very much in favor of preserving ADW Wagering for Florida residents.

If you will conduct yourself in the manner described above:  The staff consultant will more than likely say Thank You afterwards - and tell you that Your Opinion MATTERS.

Look, you can sit on your hands and do nothing. 

Just know that if you do that there’s a really good chance the Florida Horsemen and track management will get their way – and ADW Wagering will become a FELONY in the State Florida. 

Don’t think it can’t happen. Horsemen did this to horseplayers in Arizona back in 2007 and it took almost eight years to get the law overturned.

Only YOU can save ADW Wagering - ACT NOW,

Jeff Platt
President, HANA




Effective Communication with your Representatives:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/contentViewer.aspx?Category=PublicGuide&File=About_The_Representatives_Effective_Communication_With_Your_Representative.html

Florida House of Representatives Home Page:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/default.aspx

Find Your Elected Officials in Florida Page:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

Florida State Senate Directory:
https://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/sdir.pdf

Florida House of Representatives Directory:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx


Main Switchboard for Gulfstream Park: Phone (954) 454-7000

Main Switchboard for Tampa Bay Downs: Phone (813) 855-4401

Florida HBPA Main Office at Gulfstream: Phone (954) 457-3516

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Make Your Voice Heard on Pari-Mutuel Tax Withholding

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has set up an automated response form for horseplayers to send to the United States Treasury Department in support of proposed changes to tax withholding on pari-mutuel wagering, and we at HANA would like to encourage you to add your voice.

"With horse racing's all-important Triple Crown season fast approaching, the NTRA urges Treasury and the Service to adopt the proposed regulations as final regulations as soon as it is administratively feasible," said NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop. "Horseplayers, tracks and other industry stakeholders, including governments, are eager to begin reaping the benefits that will result from these updated withholding and reporting rules."

The form is available to fill out at https://www.ntra.com/comment/.  There are a few boxes to fill, such as name, city, and state, and is then an area to write your own message of support, or you can simply use what the NTRA has pre-filled it with.

Thanks for reading,

Your HANA Team

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All

Just wanted to wish all horseplayers everywhere a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, and Profitable New Year.

May your selections be live. And may you find the winner's circle often.


--Jeff Platt

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Racing Industry Needs a Growing and Viable California

By Andy Asaro

If Organizations like the NTRA, the Jockey Club, Americas Best Racing, and the Breeders' Cup believe that California racing is vital to the industry, they can help promote California racing as a "Test Jurisdiction" for selling horse racing as a Gambling Game of Skill.

What does that support look like?   It looks like social media promotion along with weekly monitoring of handle/revenue under the new changes.

As most of you know the new changes are meant to grow the game by promoting high churn lower takeout wagers like WPS and two horse exotics.  We believe that WPS breakage should pay to the penny, and as a trade-off to the industry the minimum payoff on Show wagers should be reduced to $2.05 to help with minus pools.  Takeout on exacta wagers should be reduced to 16%.

As part of the promotion the alphabet organizations, TVG, and other racing media outlets would help by constantly telling people who are new to the game or who only bet a few times a year that the best way to learn the game and the best chance of winning is to concentrate on high churn wagers. A $1 three horse exacta box and $2 WPS on the longest shot of your selections is an example of a high-churn strategy and to get the new Customers coming back. As people bet and cash they will learn to adjust these wagers for a more optimal outcome, and just as important they will learn to read the PP's and learn to recheck their wins and losses, just as we all did at one time.

California Racing is in trouble.  Field size will likely drop in 2017, and handle has trended downwards.  The drop in field size makes it all the more important to pay to the penny on WPS breakage and lower exacta takeout to 16%.  People will bet on shorter fields at the right price.

Here's the deal.  Prominent Individuals and organizations like the CHRB, CTT, TOC, and the CTBA need to come together and ask the industry for their help to promote horse racing as a Gambling Game of skill AND use California Racing (Del Mar, Santa Anita) as a test jurisdiction.  It would be much easier for California racing to succeed with the backing of the industry.

The only motive I/we have is to see the game grow by making pragmatic decisions with long term growth of handle/revenue in mind.  We know individuals who actually earn a living playing on the Tournament circuit who would be more than willing to lend their names to the "Gambling Game of Skill" promotion but only if the changes listed above are implemented. Think about it.  For the first time the Industry would have individuals who were winning 100K to 500K or more per year telling real life stories about their profession.  If that isn't powerful I don't know what is.

California racing should also reinstate the parlays in this manner.  You don't need to print parlay cards; all you need is to put a parlay and a "round robin" parlay button on the self-serve machines and on ADW's.  With penny breakage on WPS we should see an increased interest in parlays, especially show parlays which are high churn.  Having the option to make or not make parlays should be up to the Customer and the most important point is that California racing would be projecting itself as an industry leader once again by offering options that other jurisdictions do not offer. 

One of the ways we can give back to the Industry is to have an option on self-serve machines and ADW's to donate either to a backstretch workers fund, an Aftercare fund, and a permanently disabled Jockeys fund. As I've said before I believe that quite a few people would give anywhere from the odd 60 cents all the way up to hundreds of dollars after a big score.  I believe giving back is an essential part of growing the game.

What Say You?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Handicapping the Meadowlands Pick 5 Carryover (October 17)

The Meadowlands has a double pick 5 carryover this afternoon, and Gregory Edwards has some selections and thoughts that might help you with your handicapping.

After Jackie Davis booted home two in-a-row, lighting up the Big M board at 70-1 and 9-1, there will be a double pick 5 carryover of $48,106.06 Monday 10/17.  Here’s some horses I’d consider on a ticket.

Quick note: I am disappointed that a hard-knocking $800k pro, Compliance Officer, has not been retired; instead he's entered at the Meadowlands 10/18  for bottom level 5k.  Reach out to Castle Village Farms if you can help

https://www.facebook.com/Castle-Village-Cares-1597169513851647/

Race 2:

#3 Lucky G back on the scene after packing it in midway at Saratoga.  Drops into a very comfortable spot while entering top form cycle.  Horse showing improved works under new trainer Perri, capped by 10/12 3f 36.4.  Hernandez doing well here with limited mounts. 
#4 Game Night goes first-time turf, which gives us some ceiling.  Uske a rider who always gives her all and is due for a photo at the Big M.  Simon/Uske a connection to note.
#9 Let’s Go G Men - Keeps Bocachica for the stretch out.  Flat sprint form into a route always a solid angle. 

Race 3:

#2  Hannibal Lecter seems to struggle with staying on the track, but now shows a nice series of works Sept-Oct capped by bullet 35.4 10/12.  Drop in class to lowest level and move from NY a nice mix
#8 Supersecret keeps talented apprentice Castrenze.  Delaware turf sprints very competitive   Connections frequently hook up for the score
#3 Red Creme drops significantly today and will be difficult to ignore.  Jacobson horses almost unpredictable as to form, but clearly the one to beat.

Race 4:

If I was going to the the “ALL” button it would be here.  Deep and intriguing field.

#1 Maya Elizabeth draws Jeremy Rose out to Jersey for the repeat.  Drops in class and stretches out to preferred distance.  Speedy horse can take max advantage of the #1 post
#6 Our Sweet Legacy gets quality Penn rider Rodriguez to travel in.  Goes turf for only the 2nd time but has sneaky good pedigree backed by good poly form.  Last race on dirt and against much tougher the kind of line that guarantees outrunning a big price when back to preferred surface today.
#7 Rhythm Queen Drops to lowest level for sharp turf claiming trainer Cibelli.  Absence of Paco Lopez today makes Bocachica the top rider of Meadowlands meet and gets the call today.

Race 5:

#8 Ocala Jim enters this race as the horse in best form, and that's a typical winner's profile for the starter allowance class. 
#3 Celebrity Warrior also comes in on top form and continued solid workouts back that up

Race 6:

#9 Shining America Stretches out off flat sprint form so look for this one to pop going long. 
#3 Juliets Key ships in for Delaware and gets a positive trainer change to Simoff.  A repeat of last effort, combined with drop, could be enough. 
#7 Vale Ridge gets my new favorite apprentice Castrenze, see above, drops in class for live connections

Thursday, October 6, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for the Meadowlands (October 6)

Racing continues at the Monmouth at the Meadowlands meet tonight with six turf races and 15% across the board takeout.  72 horses are entered and weather conditions are perfect.

To show our support for the across the board takeout reduction, we will be posting handicapper helpers, courtesy of Emily Gullikson and OptixEQ, for each card. 

MONMOUTH at the MEADOWLANDS 10-06-16
Relatively chalky results on the win end last night, but the “vulnerable favorite” race came back with a very healthy straight trifecta. IAN SMITH (race 5 #7), the horse in yesterday’s Handicapper Helper, was a play against based on a “PREP?” scenario. The replay is worth a watch; the horse had legit trouble and ran on very well through traffic late.  It was a very useful prep, and he is a horse to follow out of that race.

http://www.optixeq.com

RACE 4 MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT 5F TURF
VULNERABLE FAVORITE? :
Race four tonight will have a very heavy favorite in the #1 FLY SWIFT (3-2). This is a tough horse to make a vulnerable favorite because she has things going in her favor:  speed figure-wise she is the fastest, she was facing much tougher company, and she has run decently in both starts. 

There are a couple things in her OptixNotes from both starts that merit a pause, though. On debut, the note is PREP? STRETCH? - If unfamiliar with keywords, she needed the start and will move forward with more ground. She made her second start at Saratoga going 5.5f, did not stretch out (made her a play against that day), and she did have a very rough trip. The keywords were TROUBLE_START, TRAFFIC, TROUBLE, and SCARED. SCARED is a keyword used for horses that are timid.  Her extended comment reads, “had legit trouble, steadied in the stretch, prior to that had the chance to split horses and did not want to.” Using the OptixNotes and her rail draw, there is a potential she could get intimidated again inside. As we have seen in sprint races this meet, horses on the lead continue to dominate.  She has yet to show that dimension, and that's another reason that might make her vulnerable. 

There are scenarios where Dylan Davis sends her from the rail, she makes the lead, and the fastest horse wins the race. He could also potentially work a trip, though.  Watching him ride on the NYRA Circuit, he is not known for his TACTICS+. Here are a couple other positive trip scenarios: there is a lot of speed to her outside, the jock is able to get her outside and never risk being intimidated, break well, sit patiently behind the duel and get first run, or save ground and have the rail open on turn and get a clear inside run, securing perfect trips. 

She is a risk leaving off all tickets, but maybe a horse that is not completely the “single” she looks on paper. 

SELECTIONS:
R1: 7-6-4-3
R2: 7-9-1-4
R3: 6-7-(5-8-9)
R4: 7-10-5
R5: 4-6-9-1
R6: 9-8-(3-5-7)

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for the Meadowlands (October 5)

After cancellations on both Friday night and Saturday night last week, racing resumes for the Monmouth at the Meadowlands meet tonight at 7 p.m.  Six races are on tap, with a total of 68 horses entered.  In case you haven't been following the meet up until now, they have 15% across-the-board takeout.

To show our support for the across the board takeout reduction, we will be posting handicapper helpers, courtesy of Emily Gullikson and OptixEQ, for each card. 

MONMOUTH at the MEADOWLANDS 10-05-16
It’s good to be back at the Meadowlands after last week’s cancellations. As alluded to close out the last racing week, OptixPlot was very helpful, especially in route races signaling on horses that were positioned favorable to that track profile. Sprint results played out similar to last year, favoring horses on the lead. The track took some water and may play differently, of course we won’t know until once the races have started.

http://www.optixeq.com 

VULNERABLE FAVORITE
RACE 5 #7 IAN SMITH (3-1) looks like a play against in this spot as the morning line favorite. I do question whether or not he will be the post time favorite, but he still should be an underlay in the multi-race sequences. There are a lot of factors at play that scream “PREP?”.  After a failed attempt to start his 3-year-old year, he was laid up another eight months - this is not something I find favorable and signal a horse that has issues and is not completely reliable. During that time away he received a barn change (same owner); this barn change is acceptable and would not consider a downgrade, even moving away from Pletcher. The Abbott stable operates on a smaller scale, the trainer is more personally hands-on, and does especially good work on the turf. 

Compared to the rest of the field, IAN SMITH only has one career win, whereas the rest of the runners sport multiple wins. As for running style, both of his starts in sprints were on the lead, which is favorable on this course, but he will have to deal with the pressure of others in here that are confirmed frontrunners and will be fit enough to fight the battle and win the war. 

Another question with him is whether or not he is a true turf sprinter. After breaking his maiden, the former connections continued to stretch him out around two turns. His posted speed figures are on the slower side but do remember those are 2-year old numbers and reasonable age improvement puts him on par for level. Again, this looks like a prep race, perhaps using this race for conditioning for a future start or stretch out.  He looks like a runner worth taking a wait-and-see approach, especially at a short price. 

SELECTIONS:
R1: 9-2-7-5
R2: 9-7-6-1
R3: 5-4-7-8
R4: 7-8-9
R5: 2-4-10-6
R6: 3-1-5-8-10

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ