It's only a matter of days now until the mid-January launch of my new Calibration Handicapping Subscription Service, which will replace my RAFF POWER Subscription Service.

Only current subscribers to the latter and subscribers to this free newsletter are getting advance notice of this great new service that will in my opinion ultimately be considered the best handicapping and making money tool available today.

Among the innovative data that will be supplied to all subscribers in the initial roll out will be:

• An easy to use free subscription software Viewer providing superior organization

• Automatic downloading of subscription data from the Viewer to eliminate unpredictable, sometimes long email delivery delays caused by a spam-overloaded system

• 5 or more tracks to choose from in package subscriptions

• Edge Notes: automatic highlighting of 7 factors affecting wager construction edge in any particular match up

• Improved Final Fractions: actual FF’s will be more precise because of the use of an algorithm to get more accurate beaten lengths at fractional calls

• Precision Turn Time and Golden 8th (2nd to last furlong from quarter pole to 8th pole) fraction calculations for all distances using algorithm implementation

• Precision Red-Scan Qualifying gain notations as per "Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level"

• All Calibration Handicapping data presented on up to 12 past performance lines

• New Supported Race Distances: 4 1/2F, 1 1/2 Mi., 1 5/8ths Mi. (as well as all in between the first and the last)

Coming SOON:

• Running Style-Pace Shape Labeling

• Pace Shape Analysis

• Clear and Automatic Identification of Pace Shape Advantage Contenders

• Quirin style speed numbers (which measure speed to the first call)

• Additional "moves-within-a-race" as defined in "Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level"

If you look through the list, you will see handicapping tools that you can find nowhere else, some made available by a sophisticated mathematical algorithm.

Where else for example can you find turn times for all distances?

How about Golden 8th fractions?

Both of these precise fractions can be important indicators of potential next out readiness.

Edge notes as defined?

Pace analysis with clearly identified superior pace advantage horses?

Red-Scan qualifying gains?

State of the art Viewer through which users download, view, manipulate and print data?

Precision fractional calculations will be included for each of the races showing for each entry, in up to 10 p.p.'s.

So much more will be included it would take me too much of this newsletter to tell you about it all.

There is a reason why I recommend anyone who may be interested in this fabulous new service to sign up now as a final month RAFF POWER January '04 subscriber.

By mid February I will switch over to the new service, which will have new subscription options that instead of covering one month at a time will be packages of race cards, 20, 30, 40, or 50 to be used when desired by the user with no time limit.

In other words at your convenience.

All subscribers to RAFF POWER's final subscription month, January' 04, for the duration of that month will at no extra cost be able to access as many race cards as desired from the 5 tracks that will be available (as per a 1-minute survey, in which you can participate by clicking here) in the new Calibration Handicapping Subscription Service.

If things turn out the way I expect them to, I visualize that this 21st century software and data will turn a whole lot of heads and pretty much revolutionize current standards of handicapping the thoroughbreds.

To sign up for the final couple of weeks of RAFF POWER data and be automatically locked in to as many track cards as are available for the remainder of the month after roll out at no extra cost, please click here.

If you play the horses and are not receiving money back on your wagers, you should consider using a reputable offshore wagering outlet that is simply the best in terms of giving player rebates.

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How about an unbelievable and unmatched 7% of all that you wager on any day given back to you in the form of a daily rebate?

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To find more details about this extremely rewarding rebate program, please click here.

The topic for this January '04 Horseracing-Info Newsletter is "Bet-Against Favorites."

There are some handicappers, knowing that the favorite loses about 67% of all races, who make it a point to try to beat the public choice every time they handicap and play a race.

The reason for this approach is obvious. You'll get better payoffs if you find the horse or horses that do beat the chalk.

I can't say I endorse the idea of trying to beat the favorite in each and every race we play, but there is no arguing the fact that bet-against favorites are very appealing toss outs from our win contender lists.

I think it's a great idea to look for vulnerabilities in the favorite in any race in which we have found enough of an edge to consider constructing wagers.

67 losing favorites out of every 100 races run is a pretty good reason to try and zero in on determining whether or not a favorite is legitimate.

Some reasons why they may not be legitimate and therefore bet-against favorites are:

• Sharp drop in class - many such horses go off at big underlays, when in fact the sizeable drop in class (claiming price for example) should most of the time be viewed as suspicious.

A savvy trainer who knows his horse is sore and probably in need of a fairly long break in action may drop his horse significantly to "unload" it on some unsuspecting stable in need of more horses.

A drop of one level is often a good thing, but more than that could mean something is wrong with the horse, and the public often doesn't consider this while making the big dropdown horse with present or past strong speed figures the heavy chalk.

• A horse being asked to:

• Do something it has never done before - including win (maiden), win at a distance it has never tried, win on a surface it has never tried (turf, dirt, mud, slop), win at today's class level, and so forth.

• Win off a long layoff of 90 days or more

• Win after a lifetime best effort (in terms of speed figures)

• Win after a sub par performance, still having a good speed figure, but sub par in terms of other subtle indicators like a race in which its final fraction was much slower than it has been recently, and even exiting a race in which the raw final fraction was slower than all the others

• Unfavorable pace scenario. This happens all the time. A horse winds up in a pace shape as the lone speed or the dominant speed from among a minority of early runners and a majority of pressers and closers. It is able to get to the front with no problem, possibly going quickly during the first segment of the race.

But with few other quality speeds in the field he coasts for the next segment, getting a breather. By the time he gets to the top of the stretch, he's still got plenty in reserve for the final quarter mile run and is able to hold off any challenges from the late moving horses.

He wins by 6 going away lengths and (partially because of that margin of victory) earns a strong speed figure compared to the rest of the field.

Today that horse comes back and because it is stabled with a high percentage trainer it goes to the post at odds of 4-5, based on its last powerful race.

Only today the match up includes a couple of other quality early speed horses that can and project to push the favorite to a faster 2nd segment of the race, which results in no breather.

This kind of unfavorable pace scenario chalk loses races a number of times per week at each track.

• Unfavorable post position. No matter how good a favorite looks on paper, if he's marooned outside in the 10, 11, or 12 slots, he could very well be vulnerable for that reason alone, especially if he is not an E or EP runner.

And there are more reasons why favorites should be examined to try and determine if they are bet-against candidates.

On getaway day at Hollywood Park on the last day of that track's Fall meet, Sunday December 21, 2003, there were a number of beaten favorites 2 of which I would like to examine below.

Race 9 was the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet for 2-year-old fillies. It was a short field of 6 going 2 turns at a mile and 1/16th.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

I'll list the entries in post position order with running style, last-out Beyer speed figure, last-out raw/actual final fractions, and any last-out "moves-within-a-race."

1. Victory U.S.A. E 83 26.2/25.4 SRE

2. House of Fortune EP 91 25.2/25.1 --

3. Dixie High EP 73 25.0/27.0 --

4. Hollywood Story P 78 25.0/27.0 WIR

5. Rings and Things E 80 26.3/26.3 --

6. Rahy Dolly E 100 25.2/25.2 --

The last race in any match up is most important to me unless there is a reason to go back, and in this situation I focused on the last race for all but #4 Hollywood Story, who was bumped on the first turn.

Both she and #3 Dixie High were exiting the Grade 1 Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies race, and while Hollywood Story had won her prior Grade 2 race at the same mile and 1/16th trip with very good raw/actual FF's of 24.1/24.4, Dixie High did not have such credentials.

All the raw/actual FF's have been adjusted for those exiting last out sprints.

As can be seen by the running style labels, this was clearly a pace shape top heavy with early speed types, 5 out of the field of 6, with only Hollywood Story being a presser.

In such a pace shape we should look for one or both of two things.

The dominant speed horse if any, and what kind of late kick the lone non-speed horse has shown recently.

While one could make a case for a few of the speeds to get to the front, the main reasons why I thought #6 Rahy Dolly would be the pacesetter and possibly a dangerous one were that she was stretching out off a sprint (while being asked to do some things she had never done before, namely beat winners and win at a distance she had never attempted), and the 100 Beyer speed figure earned in her debut blow out score.

It's rare that 2-year-olds, let alone fillies, will get to that century mark so soon in their careers. Rahy Dolly looked like she could be any kind, and could be thought to do one of two things.

Bounce off that strong effort, or put in another strong outing despite moving from that maiden special weight win to a Grade 1 race.

Since this Grade 1 field did not include the likes of the majority of horses that composed the B.C. Juvenile Fillies race in October, Rahy Dolly could have been projected to run pretty well in this spot from on or near the lead.

Meanwhile the lone non-speed horse in the field, #4 Hollywood Story had shown a very strong come home time of 24.4 in her previous outing at the 8 1/2F distance she had covered in the B.C. race, which was the distance of this race also.

Now to the 4-5 favorite. Was she a bet-against vulnerable chalk?

The indicators said yes.

First of all, as I alluded to earlier, when a horse wins by open lengths its speed figure is "inflated" to a degree. In other words when a horse is able to coast to a lengthy victory the speed figure is higher than it would be in a closer finish.

Therefore the 83 Beyer earned by #1 Victory U.S.A. could be considered more like 80 or less, and that was a big drop off from her previous races of 84, 88, 93, and 94 (in the B.C. Juvenile Fillies).

Not only that, but look at the raw final fraction of her last race. 26.2, the slowest in the field other than the 26.3 for #5 Rings and Things.

Victory U.S.A. had won her last at 20 cents on the dollar, beating 5 inferior foes, off her good 3rd place finish in the B.C. Championship race.

Now in this match up she was again a strong favorite despite her "somewhat flawed" 7 length romp.

She was trained by high profile Bob Baffert and ridden by the talented and very courageous rider Julie Krone, who was winning at a good clip before her terrible accident.

But the figures I mentioned indicated that Victory U.S.A. could very well have been considered a bet-against favorite in this particular pace shape that included a horse with a strong prior outing final fraction and a big-margin first out winner with sharp early speed.

As can be seen by the result chart, #6 Rahy Dolly did get to the front, established a clear lead, and held the place spot safe as #4 Hollywood Story came from dead-last 6th to blow by the entire field and win by 2 3/4 going away lengths.

Victory U.S.A. came up a flat odds-on favorite beating only 2 fillies as a bet-against favorite.

Lesson to be learned: we can't compare apples and oranges when it comes to performances. The public backed Victory U.S.A. off her 3rd place finish in the B.C. and her lengthy last out score, not to mention her human connections.

But comparison of pertinent last out data showed her as coming off an effort that could easily be considered suspect compared her other recent races and also to some of her competition in this match up.

While she beat Hollywood Story in the B.C., she did not figure to do so this time around, and the overlay payoff on the winner was dramatic.

The $2 payoffs were:

4. $14.60
6. 2nd - 4-6 ex. $77.60
2. 3rd - 4-6-2. $254.20

Race 10 at Hollywood Park on 12/21/03 was another example of a bet-against favorite, this time in a field of 9 going 6 1/2F at the $10K claiming level.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here

Here is the field:

1. Apalachee's Native EP 73 25.2/25.0 T/M play

2. Mythyical Flyer EP 74 24.2/24.2 T/M play

3. Let's Face It E 80 25.2/25.2 --

4. Alnbill P -0- 25.2/27.4 --

5. Sky Strider EP 63 25.0/25.3 Profile play

6. Razik P 80 24.4/24.3 --

8. Proud Alvin S 66 24.1/24.1 --

9. Potri Burn S 48 24.1/25.1 --

10. Butte City P 50 24.1/25.3 --

The bet-against favorite in this match up was #3 Let's Face It.

Here was a horse that had not been to the post in 592 days and had a single race on his ledger, a win at the $25K maiden claiming level.

While it was certainly true that he was not meeting any world beaters since all entries had sale prices of $9K or $10K, my guess is that he was made the 5-2 favorite off his workouts and 20% trainer.

But being so stale and not having ever beaten winners were two non-trivial obstacles to consider.

What may have contributed to the public landing on this horse were the career slates of a couple of the major contenders in here, #1 Apalachee's Native (35/2-10-7) and #6 Razik (30/3-7-6).

Another lesson: underestimating horses with low win percentages can be dangerous when they signal that a potential strong next-out performance could be forthcoming, especially when there is a perceived bet-against favorite in the mix.

These 2 horses were what I call T/M plays, with each also meeting the Red-Scan Qualifier definition as per my book, "Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level", details of which can be reviewed by clicking here.

The other Red-Scan qualifiers were out of form horse #9 Potri Burn and #8 Proud Alvin, both of which were S runners (sustained closers in a pace shape composed of mostly early runners and pressers), and #2 Mystical Flyer.

The bet-against favorite, despite his good workout line finished 5th, while the Red Scan Qualifier 6, 1, and 2 horses filled out the win, exacta, and trifecta payoffs, each of whom were not being asked to do something they had never done before.

$2 Payoffs were:

6. $10.40
1. 2nd - 6-1 ex. $58.40
2. 3rd - 6-1-2 tri. $218.80

D/D 4-6 $67.60

Until Saturday February 7, 2004, I wish you Fair Skies and Fast Tracks.


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