Thursday, September 29, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for the Meadowlands (September 29)

The 15% across-the-board takeout and all turf Monmouth at the Meadowlands meet continues tonight with another six-race program starting at 7 p.m.  There are 68 horses entered tonight, so the fields will be large again as well.

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. 

I started noticing a pattern of favorable positions on OptixPlot during the races last night. It is too early to put a lot of stock into that theory with only six races run, and the small sample size, but it is something I will continue to monitor as the meet progresses. I upgraded some of my selections tonight to reflect that pattern. After comparing last night's Plot to results, horses that are positioned with factor/velocity less than 1.5 in Q2, and greater than -1.5 in Q3 are running well over the course. Of course the current weather forecast may change all of that and factors out of our control. 

Race 3 interests me from an OptixPlot standpoint. There is, and will be a heavy favorite in #2 J C’s NOT BROWN (3-2). This runner is positioned in Q3 and looks to be at a disadvantage. This “red flag” was enough for me to dig deeper on this runner and found a few other reasons and stats to support this is a horse to take a stand against.

Tonight is the first night of sprints and looking at past charts, speed/frontrunners have a huge advantage, as many races are won wire-to-wire. 


R1: 7-8 – (3,6,9)
R2: 7-6-4-2
R3: 5-1-4
R4: 6-9-4-10
R5: 2-7-5-4
R6: 4-6-5-9

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for the Meadowlands (September 28)

Wednesday starts the 14-day all-turf Meadowlands meet, and there is a buzz around it after it was announced that were will be 15% takeout across the board for each card.  Post time for Wednesday's card is 7 pm eastern, and the six-race card is packed with 67 horses entered. 

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.

Meadowlands opening day. Full disclosure, this is a circuit I am not all that familiar with, and one we just added to OptixEQ. Unlike Kentucky Downs with historical OptixPlot data, we are entering the meet without that information to start. I did study some charts, but honestly, and not because I am biased, comparing a race on OptixResults showing the “before and after” Plot and Graph is a much more efficient way to look at track profiles. 

My approach for a this opening day, and perhaps entire meet, is a lot different than how I would attack Belmont, a track I follow extensively. This strategy is one John Doyle and I have used in the past and framework for another potential OptixEQ platform. As I go through the field, I assess each horse with a label such as VULNERABLE, LEGIT, WEAK, VALUE etc. This allows me to be more flexible when playing the race in real-time, instead of being married to a particular horse. Looking over those charts from last year, there were more than a few generous prices.  To say the least, seeking out overlays will be the key. 

RACE 3 CLAIMING 5000B 8.5 furlongs TURF

This has to be one of the more unreliable conditions, and “no tea, no shade,” but most of these mares are getting up there in age.  Let’s take a look at the two lowest prices on the morning line and likely betting choices:  #3 FIRST ACQUITAL (3-1) and #4 JANE PETERSON (5-2).  It's a tale of two different scenarios with them. 

#3 FIRST ACQUITAL has a couple of things to note; while she has run well at this track, her recent races exhibit PLODDY, and note her record at the distance - 0 for 18. She is one I could see sucking up and getting a minor award at best; on the win end you have to take her on. 

#4 JANE PETERSON is one of those “win or run out” types. Her last race was uninspiring and she is winless on the year. Things she has in her favor that gives her “win” consideration is the second time at the low level, and more importantly the pace scenario. There is not much speed signed on, so she could make the lead and take them gate-to-wire. OptixRPM (run style) has her listed as the only “E” runner, but the speed rating is a 60, a higher speed rating that often yields to horses from off pace. She could see potential pressure from POOR ETIQUETTE stretching out. If she does take some pressure the chance of her running out becomes much greater and sets up for some potential big prices. 

#9 HOPEFAITHJOY (8-1) presents some value; most people will look at that last running race, which can be excused after getting caught wide and behind a soft pace on speed-favoring track.  Also, the jock wrapped up and never asked her for run in last half-mile, so that makes it an easy line-through race. You have to go back to those races on the firm turf at Gulfstream - any of those fit with this field. Even that last turf race at Monmouth, pulling on the soft pace, and the track might have had more water than the “good” listed in form. Even with the blinkers off, she's raced most of career without blinkers, and she is capable of sitting closer to pace and could be in perfect spot if/when Jane Peterson backs up. 

#1 RMILLIONDOLLARBABY (4-1) her last three races at higher level were decent enough to think she can break through with a win here. Her last win came on this course, and watching her races she looks to be in good form. The morning line is not all that exciting for win bet; she will present value in multi-race wagers as third morning line choice, and of course in all gimmicks. 

#10 GIANT FUPEG (30-1) truth is she is too slow to compete with some of the others in here. What she does have in her favor is youth, and a couple turf races that weren’t horrible. Last time she tried turf was as a 3-year old. That one race earned a 47 Beyer, came off the layoff, and was followed by another layoff, meaning she was likely not running that race at 100%. She is a wild card for me. If you are using all in those underneath spots you will pick her up by default. 

SELECTIONS (adjust accordingly)
R1: 8-4-1- (5,10)
R2: 7-4-9-10
R4: 3-6- (8,7,1)
R5: 10-9-5-8
R6: 8-2-10

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Canterbury Park Handicapper Helper for September 15

Unfortunately, this is the final Thursday card of the 2016 meet at Canterbury Park, and even more unfortunately, Mother Nature has not cooperated again, with heavy rain wiping out turf racing.  Despite that, it still looks like an intriguing card with large fields to wager on.  There are nine races on tonight's program, with two pick 4's (starting in races one and six) and the pick 5 beginning in race five.  The first five races on tonight's card will be covered by TVG2, and the final four races will then be on TVG.

Don't forget, we also have a free guide to Canterbury, courtesy of Equinometry, with historical stats, racing styles, and other thoughts that should help you if you don't have experience playing there.  We'd like to thank Lenny Moon for putting the guide together.

All of us at HANA would like to express our sincere appreciation to the entire staff at Canterbury Park for their help with these posts through the meet, and to our regular contributors as well.  They would not have been possible without you.

Craig Milkowski (Chief Figure Maker for TimeformUS)

Lamazone (#7)

-TimeformUS Pace Projector predicts a fast pace scenario---Lamazone has the top TimeformUS late speed rating in the field
-Trainer Dan McFarlane is rated a 95 third start off the layoff compared to a 69 overall
-Last race had little chance trying to rally into a very slow pace against much classier rivals, still ran speed figure good enough to contend here
6-1 on ML

Brian Kohn (Canterbury Park Racing Operations Coordinator)

Race 1 Selections: 5/3/9 (before race was taken off the turf)
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 5; $2 Double ($4 total) 3, 5/10

Race 2 Selections:  10/7/1 (before race was taken off the turf)
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win Place ($4 total) 10; $2 Exacta ($4 total) 10/1, 7

Race 3 Selections: 7/1/2 (before race was taken off the turf)
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 7; $2 Exacta ($4 total) 7/1, 2

Race 4 Selections:  3/6/8
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 3; $1 Exacta Box ($6 total) 3, 6, 8

Race 5 Selections:  8/1/2
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 8; $1 Exacta Box ($6 total) 1, 2, 8

Race 6 Selections:  12/2/1
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 12; $1 Exacta Box ($6 total) 1, 2, 12

Race 7 Selections:  10/9/4
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Win, Place ($4 total) 10; 50-cent Pick 3 ($3 total) 4, 9, 10/6/6, 7

Race 8 Selections:  6/4/5
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Exacta ($4 total) 6/4, 5; $1 Trifecta ($6 total) 6/3, 4, 5/3, 4, 5

Race 9 Selections:  6/7/5
Suggested Wagers:  $2 Exacta Box ($4 total) 6, 7; $1 Trifecta ($6 total) 6, 7/6, 7/2, 3, 5 

Brian Arrigoni (Paddock analyst for Canterbury Park)

1:  7/8/2
2:  1/8/10
3:  7/5/3
4:  9/6/8
5:  2/12/10
6:  8/10/7
7:  1/6/10
8:  6/2/5
9:  3/7/4

Dave - The Track Phantom - cut his teeth as a handicapper at Canterbury and has been having an excellent meet thus far. Dave has agreed to provide this Thursday's sheet for free!

You can see it right here!

Thanks Dave. Please visit his site for more information, and to look at his other tracks.

Jeff Platt of Jcapper software also has agreed to post his core selections, directly from the software.

Here are his power ratings

1-3,7,12 (before races were taken off the turf)
2-10,7,4 (before races were taken off the turf)
3-7,5,2 (before races were taken off the turf)

Johnny Love's thoughts on the card from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune are available here.

Other Twitter handles to follow for Canterbury:

Press Box
Bruce Meyer
Doug McPherson
Wes Reynolds
Andrew Malecha

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for Kentucky Downs (September 15) - Closing Day

OptixEQ's Emily Gullikson has been kind enough to provide one detailed race preview and picks for all of the other races for Thursday's card at Kentucky Downs, HANA's #1 rated track.  Thursday's card wraps up the live racing season at Kentucky Downs for 2016, but it was announced earlier this week that this meet has already produced new record handle before the final card even starts.

The Horseplayer Monthly from HANA also has tips, hard-to-find stats, and analysis for the meet at Kentucky Downs.  You can read that issue for free here. 

Closing day already! Thank you everyone that has been reading along, following, retweeting, playing, and picking up some tips along the way. I really appreciate the mission of HANA and all the volunteers involved that love horseplayers and are committed to the success of this sport. Thank you to everyone for all of your hard work. And of course OptixEQ for providing information that has been a separator.

The biggest advantage a horseplayer has with 2-year-old races like this one is watching the replays and taking trip notes. Not including the MTOs, this is a field of 12 horses with only three first-time starters. Most people will not take the time to watch the races, and that is often understandable because watching replays is very, very time consuming. A solo speed figure is often used to establish the favorite by the morning line and usually to determine the public favorite as well. 

The advantage to watching races is being able to see the ability of a horse, and if there is reasonable improvement. Taking trip notes for OptixNotes, we use a standard set of keyword projections to signal when a horse can improve. Improvement can come with experience, change in distance, change in surface, change in equipment, and/or change of rider. Making this visual assessment takes practice, and a time commitment, but this will, without a doubt, will give you an edge. OptixEQ users tend to instantly find value in the OptixNotes, and some of the top players like NHC champ Paul Matties are avid trip note takers.

Instead of labeling the two morning line top choices MONGO NATION (3-1) and VENTRY BAY (5-2) vulnerable or soft favorites, I'm going to label them as underlays. Both ran well in their debuts and a win from either would not shock me. Am I running to the windows to bet them? Not so much. Both of these horses are going to take the majority of the action, and that creates some opportunities on other horses that are not without a chance. I think both of these horses can be used in this spot.  Again, I have no real strong knocks to play against; value will be present with beating these horses in multi-race sequence and on top of vertical wagers. 

There are three first-time starters (FTS) in the main body of the field. For my personal handicapping process I will handicap the FTS after I have gone through replays of the horses that have run. If after going through the horses that have run and determining they are all below, I will look further into the first-time starters. Workout reports, the trainer's ability to get a horse ready to run a winning race, and then pedigree tend to be my order of preference based on level of confidence when evaluating a first-time starter. For this race I am going to pass on all three.

1 SONIC BOOM (12-1) broke out and raced very green on debut. He was kept outside and looked to be avoiding kickback.  Despite racing greenly, this colt showed enough run on debut to expect IMPROVE? next out.

5 QUALITY EMPEROR (6-1) ran well on debut and made a WIDE MOVE to finish a competitive second on debut. He is capable to take another step forward for a trainer that has improved horses in their second start with Lasix, especially here at KD. There is a good amount of trainer intent today. 

12 BAR TRICK (10-1) very solid debut; he was allowed to drop back early, made a BURST around the turn, then had so much momentum he carried himself WIDE entering the stretch. He continued to make up ground in a race with the first- and third-place finishers on or near the lead throughout. He is also listed as a first-time gelding, which is likely incorrect.  I can’t imagine gelding was the first thing on the mind of the connections after running a good second first out. Anywhere near the morning line makes him a solid play for me.

Both BRUNERSTOWN (20-1) and UNMOORED (10-1) are worth a watch in this race, both look to have some ability just still might be a race away.  AJ’S POSSE and MAHALO JOHN needed to show more to endorse for top spot.

R1: 11-1-3
R2: 13 (if draws in) - 2-6-8
R3: 10-4-9
R5: 11-2-12-1
R6: 7-3-10-5
R7: 10-5-11-1
R8: 8-5-11 (10-12 if bigger spread/likely better under)
R9: 10-8-4
R10: 3-9-7-8

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at, and you can also check them out on Twitter @OptixEQ.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for Kentucky Downs (September 11)

OptixEQ's Emily Gullikson has been kind enough to provide her picks for Sunday's card at Kentucky Downs, HANA's #1 rated track.

The Horseplayer Monthly from HANA also has tips, hard-to-find stats, and analysis for the meet at Kentucky Downs.  You can read that issue for free here.


R1: 4-8-9-1 (upgrade 13 if draws in)
R2: 3-10-5
R3: 2-9-10
R4: 11-6-4
R5: 6-9-3
R6: 6-1/1a-9-2
R7: 11-4-12
R8: 8-7-10
R9: 9-11
R10: 6-11-10

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at, and you can also check them out on Twitter @OptixEQ.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapper Helper for Kentucky Downs (September 10) - Pick 5 Carryover

OptixEQ's Emily Gullikson has been kind enough to provide one detailed race preview and picks for all of the other races for Thursday's card at Kentucky Downs, HANA's #1 rated track.  We will be posting these for each race date.  Today's card features four stakes races, including the Grade III Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, and a $52,090 Pick 5 carryover, which begins in race six (approximate post 4:04 p.m. eastern).

The Horseplayer Monthly from HANA also has tips, hard-to-find stats, and analysis for the meet at Kentucky Downs.  You can read that issue for free here. 

Studying the ResultsGRAF, and using the OptixPLOT Result tab helped out dramatically in Thursday's results. One of the areas of improvement was paying more attention to the way the track was playing and putting an extra emphasis on pace handicapping. The card today looks a bit more “formful” in the sense that I think the favorites are good or legit, not many races have a big favorite that I am really excited to take on. I included a few in my selections because they are worthy to include, and worth using underneath more decent price horses in exotics.

Race 10 looks like a good spot to take on couple short prices and play against for the top spot. 

#3 MISSISSIPPI DELTA (5-2):  Since this spring I’ve been waiting for this filly to break through, and it just has yet to happen. Her last race sold me on it. She was against the race flow and ran rather one-paced and even. There is actually another horse in this race that also comes out of that Woodbine Grade III that I am more interested in. In OptixGrades she’s a consistent B- and typically a B grade is considered a winning race. She has not done enough for me to get involved as a post time favorite.

#7 LATE SPRING (4-1) is a complete toss to me. Watching her races, it is obvious to why connections have kept her at 5-5.5 furlong sprints. She is very small and compact. I do not like her with this added distance.

#4 MISS DOUBLE D’ORO (3-1) has a better record since the cutback to sprinting. Of the three, I prefer her the most, and she's the most likely to hit the board. Her trip looks a bit suspect and wins have been with closing setups.

#2 RAPID RHYTHM (10-1) exits the same Grade III at Woodbine as Mississippi Delta and preference is given to Rapid Rhythm out of that common race. She did not get the best trip/ride and has more upside making her second start off the layoff.

# 10 MY YEAR IS A DAY (8-1) looks best as a sprinter.  Her last effort is forgivable after setting a quick pace and wrapping up late. Trip looks favorable.

#9 ANUSARA (15-1) raced back here early in her career, and I went back and watched the race.  It was not a bad effort, a decent third. There is not much pace as far as “need the lead” types. It's possible she is controlling speed or forwardly-placed to take advantage of a potential pace scenario.

#1 RUMBLE DOLL (6-1) had no chance in last two, wants longer, and has progressed with each race. She will need an expert trip, which makes her less than exciting at 6-1, but she's a contender nonetheless. 

R1: 5-9-11-12
R2: 4-3-5
R3: 5-11-8-1 (no real strong order of preference)
1 – solid debut SLOG, CLOSEd X_FLOW
5- purely a prep, looks meant for this start PREP?, CLOSE, X_BIAS, STRETCH?
8- similar work tab to another Cox debut this meet, ran a 64 Beyer, and similar debut matches with this field
11- visually impressive debut, lone “B” grade TRAFFIC, WIDE, MOVE, X_FLOW
R4: #8 KNIGHTS KEY (8-1 best bet) good prep in last, has TURF? keyword from debut
R5: 12-7-11-2
R6: 1-4; 7 (soft favorite, could get trip) and 9 (use underneath)
R7: 6-3-1
R8: 1 (second best bet) – 6 (class, may want longer?)– 5 (cross entered at DEL as 7-2ML fav)
*Play against #3 ANNULMENT (5-2)
R9: 3-7*-5 (7 DA BIG HOSS is legit, run style potentially vulnerable on track, and if playing against use forwardly placed runner)

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at, and you can also check them out on Twitter @OptixEQ.