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.
KENTUCKY DOWNS 9-11-16
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.
MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT 6 FURLONGS TURF
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.
R2: 13 (if draws in) - 2-6-8
R8: 8-5-11 (10-12 if bigger spread/likely better under)