Welcome to the premiere edition of Horseracing Info Newsletter.

Each issue will be archived and can be found on a private web page available only to subscribers of this newsletter at

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Today I will be discussing a number of things, but turf racing will be my primary focus.

I think many of you would agree with my contention that the most important handicapping factor regarding races on the grass is closing ability. And the best measurement for that is the final fraction.

In dirt racing the internal fractions of the race, which I often refer to as "raw" splits and actual splits, most often are progressively slower from start to finish.

Raw internal fractions are simply those that are set by the horse or horses in front at each call point of the race.

To calculate a particular horse's actual fractions, we can add or subtract for lengths lost or gained during a particular segment.

Here is a fairly typical example of a 6F dirt race with splits:

23.0 46.3 59.0 111.4

Again, these splits were set by the horse in the lead after a quarter, a half, 5F and 6F. The quarter and half-mile splits are at the 2F and 4F points of the race.

To calculate the "internal" fractions, we have to do some simple subtraction. To obtain the 2nd quarter raw fraction we subtract the 2F time of 23.0 from the 4F time of 46.3 and get 23.3.

As we can see, the 2nd quarter (2 furlongs, or 440 yards) of 23.3 was run .3 or 3/5ths slower than the first quarter of 23 seconds flat.

And the 3rd or final quarter was run slower still in 25.1 seconds, calculated by subtracting the 4F fraction of 46.3 from the final time of 111.4 (which can also be written as 71.4 because of 1 minute being 60 seconds and the remainder of 11.4 seconds added to that equaling 71.4).

That's just the nature of the beast, so to speak. When horses break from the gate in dirt racing, those with early speed running styles usually shoot out of the gate in an effort to position themselves either on or near the lead.

The pace is fast during the first few furlongs, before slowing down some as the riders and horses try to conserve as much energy as possible before the stretch run.

As you can see from the above example, that 3rd and final quarter of 25.1 was a good bit slower than the first 2 quarters of 23.0 and 23.3.

The main reason for this much slower final fraction is the de-acceleration effect. When we see horses closing with a strong late rush, it is as much due to the fact that the leader is slowing down rapidly as it is that the closer is moving real well.

In essence, it's a bit of an optical illusion when we see horses closing because we can't really see the leader or leaders decelerating at the same time.

As you can tell by now, part of my focus in handicapping thoroughbred horse races is on internal fraction calculation and comparison.

Locating a horse with a standout last race final fraction advantage is often a very good angle. If that horse is a good price, this advantage in and of itself can be a reason to bet it to win.

If it is a good priced best FF horse (possibly due to a jump up in class) and also shows the best last-out Beyer speed figure (what I call a D/P or Double Play horse) it is an even better bet.

A very nice recent example of a D/P horse (whose chances were very much enhanced by being a last-out T/M play and SRE play) who won for fun was Evening Attire.

As many of you know, I had this one listed on top as an SRE-T/M-D/P horse last Saturday September 28th, and he came through with his first Grade 1 victory, the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup, at a payoff of $21.

I was wrong about him not going to the Breeder's Cup Classic. He is scheduled to run three weeks from today, and he will be one of the top contenders off his last couple of scores.

I of course will have analysis and selections for all of the B.C. races from Arlington Park on Saturday October 26th, only on the private subscriber web page.

Since the best last-out Beyer speed figure horse wins somewhere in the vicinity of 33% to 35% of the time, I would guess the D/P horse has a success rate of somewhere in the neighborhood of 40%, a very good win percentage play in and of itself.


Turf racing is pretty much an entirely different game, simply because such races can have splits that are contrary to the norm in dirt racing, and some are outright strange to say the least.

Races on the grass can and sometimes do have faster final fractions than earlier splits. It's fairly common to see good turf horses run the last quarter in less than 24 seconds, and on rare occasions even less than 23 seconds, which is anything but the norm in dirt racing.

Because of the nature of grass racing, namely the customary cavalry charge from the middle of the final turn to the wire, my primary focus when handicapping these races is on final fractions.

Of course there are other important factors that should be considered carefully, such as class drops or hikes, running styles, and for sure last out "moves-within-a-race." But it's the FF's that I will weigh most heavily in the majority of cases.

Let's take a look at a recent turf race, for which I have the p.p.'s available for you to view, but not the results chart. It's a case in which there was a very clear final fraction advantage horse, and he didn't disappoint, with a payoff of $7.60.

That's not a get-rich-quick payoff, but when a horse has such an obvious advantage, with my line being 8-5 and the near-final odds being 5-2, it's the type of overlay I will go with every time.

I've heard it said by some savvy players that to make money at this game as strictly a win bettor, you had best not be playing horses that go to the post at less than 3-1.

For the most part, I do agree with that notion. While the big scores that can make up for a lot of losses generally do come from exotic betting, make no mistake about it, one can stay ahead of this game as a win bettor.

But without the medium to large periodic exotic payoffs that one receives from exacta and trifecta plays, one must be playing to win at high enough odds that will allow for the losses while still maintaining a positive R.O.I. (Return On Investment).

So I would have to agree that 3-1 odds are the minimum standard win bet for those relying solely on that type of wager. This does not, however, in my opinion mean that those odds are etched in stone and that we cannot take advantage of strong-looking overlay situations that happen to be at lesser odds.


To view and or print the p.p.'s for Belmont's 7th race on Sunday September 15, 2002, click here.

I'm only going to look at the winner here, but trust me, #10 Thunder Chief's last-out final fraction of 22.3 was the best of this group by 6/5ths, or more than a whole second, a huge discrepancy in horse racing.

The raw splits for his last race were:

23.0 23.1 23.4 24.1 6.0

Thunder Chief's actual splits were:

24.1 24.1 24.1 23.2 5.2

Using the turf conversion chart in my book, Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level, that 4th quarter fraction was reflected as 22.3 rather than 23.2 because it allows for the final 16th also, which in his case was a very quick 5.2.

With this kind of FF edge along with displaying what I refer to as an SRE "move" in that last race, Thunder Chief was a solid win play despite taking a hike up the claiming ladder from $35K to $50K. In that regard he showed a couple of recent allowance wins anyway.


The next turf race I want to review is one for which I posted selections on September 20, 2002, the 7th at Belmont Park. For the p.p.'s of this race, you can click here. For the results chart of this race, you can click here.

#6 Supposedly is another good example of a strong FF advantage horse as her last-out 22.4 was 4/5ths faster than the next best 23.3 for the 4-5 favorite #8 Sunstone. She was also what I call a T/M play, which made her an even stronger choice in my mind.

Here is another point to consider when handicapping turf races vs. dirt races. I believe we can go back further into the past performances (p.p.'s) for turf races than we do in dirt racing.

For both, I strongly feel that the last race is the most significant as long as there is not an important reason to omit that running line. Such reasons include wrong class, wrong surface, wrong distance, and trouble encountered, among others.

When analyzing turf past performances, I will definitely go back further than I do for dirt racing, for which I stress pretty much the last and prior races.

On 9/20/02 my posted selections for this race were 6-8-5. The best last out FF's (again using my conversion chart) in order were:

#6 22.4, #8 23.3, #2 23.4, #7 23.4, #3 24.0, #4 25.1, #5 25.2, and #1 25.4. The choices of #6 and #8 followed the best 2 last-out FF's precisely, but how and why did I have the 5-horse as my 3rd pick with a last-out turf FF of 25.2?

The answer is her 3rd race back. #5 Terri's Toy had run her last in an off the turf race so I went back one race to get her most recent FF on grass. That effort was a sub par 25.2 fraction that was earned on a yielding course.

I then went to her previous turf race which happened to be on Belmont's Inner course, the same surface on which this field would compete in this match up. Her effort in that outing was the one that made me put her on the short list of contenders.

On the same course at a mile and a quarter (this race was held at 1/8th of a mile longer at a mile and 3/8ths) she recorded a 23.2 final quarter while winning that race, which moved her right up into 3rd place on my list.

Additionally, in that win she beat my top pick Supposedly, which gave me another reason to consider her as a prime contender with these.

As can be seen in the results chart, Supposedly won handily paying $11.00 with Terri's Toy completing the $97.00 exacta. Trifecta players would have had to include #2 and #7 in at least the 3rd slot since they were tied with 23.4 FF's.

Those that played a tri. along the lines of 6-8/5-6-8/2-5-6-7-8, for which a $2 wager costs $24 were rewarded with a generous $1,522 payoff, or half of that for a $1 wager at a cost of $12.

These exotic wager results illustrate what I mean by connecting on a payoff or payoffs that will quickly make up for some previous losses, but the overlay $11 win payout was welcomed by the straight win bet players.

As a side note, if you look at the raw splits of Supposedly's last outing, you'll see an example of a turf race in which the final or 4th quarter was the fastest: 24.1 24.3 25.0 23.0 (136.4 mile) with the final 16th run in 6 seconds flat.

Another way of putting it is that the last 2 1/2 furlongs were run in 29 seconds flat (1:42.4 minus 1:13.4), whereas an estimate of the first 2 1/2F is 30.1 seconds (derived by dividing the actual 2F split of 24.1 by 4 to estimate the additional 16th and adding that 6.0 to get 30.1).

Here's a real solid handicapping tip for those of you who have read this far. And the price for it is right. Totally free only for subscribers to this newsletter.

When you find a turf race that has been run at the distance of a mile and a sixteenth in which the last 2 1/2 furlongs were run at or near 29 seconds flat, look very carefully at the horse or horses exiting that race.

If you find a horse coming out of such a race that has run evenly or better yet gained from the 6F point to the finish, give him a real good shot to do well in today's race.

To get the final 2 1/2F time, simply do as explained above, subtract the 6F time from the final time. If it's near 29.0 seconds, say in the range of 29.0, 29.1 or 29.2, you have found a race that was run with a superior final fraction.

You will find a lot more horses like Supposedly, who was allowed to go off at 9-2 despite Bailey riding, simply because she shipped in from Laurel.

But her 3rd race back when she ran a close 2nd to Terri's Toy on the Belmont Inner was an indication that she could certainly do well back on the same surface.

As it happened, the day I was typing this newsletter, Thursday September 26th, there were 2 such mile and a sixteenth situations in Belmont turf races, the 6th (#5 Battier) and the 8th (#3 Peanut Gallery), both of which won.

To view and/or print the p.p.'s for race 6 click here.

And for that results chart click here.

To view and/or print the p.p.'s for race 8 click here.

And for that results chart click here.

We'll see how Voodoo Dancer does going a mile and a quarter in today's Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita off her sparkling last out 28.2 in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar at a mile and a sixteenth. In that same race, Noches de Rosa went 28.3 for the final 5/16ths after bobbling and getting off to a slow start. Highly touted Banks Hill makes her Breeder's Cup prep in today's race also.


Before getting to today's selections, which of course can also be found on the private subscriber's web page, I want to review one more turf race, this one the 12th at Kentucky Downs on September 21, 2002.

To view and/or print the p.p.'s for this one you can click here.

And for the results chart click here.

Once again in this race we have pretty much of a standout regarding last-out final fractions with #6 Jake the Flake's 23 flat, the next-best being 24.1.

In order they are: #6 23.0, #5 24.1, #7 24.4, #3 25.0, #4 25.0, #2 25.1 and #8 25.1. The clear top choice is #6 Jake the Flake, and if we go back to his prior couple of races we see FF's of 23.3 and 23.2, emphasizing his advantage in this match up.

The next-best FF showing is the 23.3 for #2 Glick in his prior outing, which was at this race's distance of one mile, and he would have to be considered the solid 2nd choice in here. Other contenders would be #5 Jadada with a last turf race FF of 24.1, #4 Pyrus with a 24.3 FF in his 4th-back turf race, and favorite #7 Royal Spy with a prior outing FF of 24.3.

Logical wagers would be: win bet on #6 Jake the Flake and if opted for, exotic wagers along these lines. Ex. 2-6/2-4-5-6-7, at a $2 wager cost of $16 and 6/2-4-5-7 at a $2 wager cost of 8; Tri. 6/2-4-5-7/2-4-5-7 at a $2 wager cost of $24. Or to lower the cost one could have singled #6 in the win slot and singled #2 in the place spot for this winning $2 wager at a cost of $6: 6/2/4-5-7.

The payoffs were: #6 $8.20; 6-2 ex. $44.20; 6-2-4 tri. $173.80. Even the superfecta connected for those who dabble with that wager, and this $1 key at a cost of $24 got back 1/2 of the payoff, or $222: 6/2-4-5-7/2-4-5-7/2-4-5-7. Again, this wager could have been reduced by sticking with the top 2 picks in the top 2 slots so that for a $2 wager and $12 cost, 6/2/4-5-7/4-5-7 brought back the entire $444 payoff.

Obviously there are many different wagers to consider in most races, and the ones we choose depend on our bankrolls and preferred way of playing.

While final fractions are certainly not the answer in every single race, I believe they are very good indicators of next-out performance for all races, and especially useful for turf races in which we can dig a little deeper into the past performances.


Now here are today's selections:

Today is a big day for 2-year-olds with designs on the Breeder's Cup Juvenile race 3 weeks from today at Arlington Park.

3 races from 3 different tracks make up the $250K guaranteed NTRA Fall Pick Three for 2-year-olds, each to be shown live on CNBC.

I'll list my selections for each leg, and then also make picks for the races that compose the $500K guaranteed Pick 4 at Belmont Park.

Because of the nature of these races, 6 of the 7 being Grade 1 or 2 events, there is more potential for chalk, but as usual, I encourage waiting for and playing only situations that provide at least some value.


NTRA Fall Pick Three

Keeneland

Race 9 - Post 5:17 EDT - Lane End Breeder's Futurity - Gr.2

2. Sky Mesa (1-1) (4-5)
5. Truckle Feature (6-1) (5-1)
1. Tito's Beau (30-1)(10-1)

D/P horse (103/25.3) #2 Sky Mesa stretches out to 2 turns for the first time, but looks like a top B.C. contender; most of my Pick 3 plays will have him as a single.

Since Keeneland is notoriously friendly to frontrunners, I'll include #5 Truckle Feature on some tickets off his 45.2 half in the Grade 1 Futurity at Belmont Park won by Whywhywhy in stormy conditions.

T/M play #1 Tito's Beau has an in-the-money shot off his last at Turfway Park.


Belmont Park

Race 9 - Post 5:35 EDT - Champagne Stakes - Gr.1

9. Pretty Wild (3-1) (2-1)
5. Erinsouthernman (6-1) (3-1)
6. Outer Reef (9-2) (7-2)

T/M play #9 Pretty Wild has finished 2nd in 2 straight Grade 1 races, behind a couple of the top-rated juveniles in North America, Sky Mesa and Whywhywhy.

#5 Erinsouthernman broke his maiden in convincing style on September 1st, and should successfully stretch out to this 1-turn 8 1/2F race getting lasix for his 2nd lifetime try.

T/M play #6 Outer Reef graduated in his 3rd trip to the post when going a mile at Belmont, and should be moving well late in this 9-horse field.


Santa Anita Park

Race 5 - Post 5:45 EDT - Norfolk Stakes - Gr.2

3. Manhattan Express (12-1) (5-1)
4. Kafwain (2-1) (2-1)
7. Listen Indy (7-2) (5-2)

SRE-T/M play #3 Manhattan Express has a shot to upset this small field of 7 off his last-out 7 1/4 length romp.

Likely favorite #4 Kafwain ran 2nd in the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity and should be closing well off the stretchout.

#7 Listen Indy beat the top pick by 5 when graduating in his last at a mile at Del Mar, and should go well with these.


Belmont

Race 7 - Post 4:22 EDT - Kelso Handicap - Gr.2

5. Forbidden Apple (5-2) (2-1)
8. Green Fee (15-1) (6-1)
4. Baptize (5-1) (3-1)

These 3 selections are 1 mile Belmont Widener Turf Course specialists, headed by #5 Forbidden Apple who loves this course/trip; 2nd last year's B.C. Mile here and is pointed for Arlington after this.

There should be plenty of pace up front to set the table for the late charge of #8 Green Fee, who comes off a good 2nd on the course at the distance.

#4 Baptize beat Green Fee in his last in a good course/distance win, and has 3 solid subsequent works showing in the past month.


Race 8 - Post 4:58 EDT - Beldame - Gr.1

3. Imperial Gesture (8-5) (8-5)
1. Summer Colony (6-5) (6-5)

On paper this appears to be between the 2 morning line favorites. D/P horse (112/24.1) #3 Imperial Gesture ran huge in his last when winning the Grade 1 Gazelle at this mile and an 8th distance on this Belmont main track. He's a 3-year-old, but beat older in his only try against elders 2-back, and off that sterling last-out 24.1 FF is the choice to beat the favorite here.

#1 Summer Colony has 4 wins and 2 seconds on his '02 slate, and comes off a going away win in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. If he can handle the 1-turn trip at Belmont, he'll be a tough hombre once again in this match up.


Race 9 - Post 5:35 EDT - Champagne Stakes - Gr.1

9. Pretty Wild (3-1) (2-1)
5. Erinsouthernman (6-1) (3-1)
6. Outer Reef (9-2) (7-2)

T/M play #9 Pretty Wild has finished 2nd in 2 straight Grade 1 races, behind a couple of the top-rated juveniles in North America, Sky Mesa and Whywhywhy.

#5 Erinsouthernman broke his maiden in convincing style on September 1st, and should successfully stretch out to this 1-turn 8 1/2F race getting lasix for his 2nd lifetime try.

T/M play #6 Outer Reef graduated in his 3rd trip to the post when going a mile at Belmont, and should be moving well late in this 9-horse field.


Race 10 - Post 6:06 EDT

6. Foreverness (2-1) (2-1)
9. Depth Charge (5-1) (3-1)
3. Steve's Thunder (10-1) (5-1)

Periphery Play

7. Tommy Lees Shadow (20-1) (12-1)

D/P-T/M play (83/24.1) #6 Foreverness has had 3 races on grass, winning 2 and finishing 3rd by a head in the other. He was D/Q'd from his last, however, and placed 4th for swerving out nearing the wire. He'll need a perfect trip from Bailey, but has the edge over this group of 10 N.Y.S.B.'s going a mile and an 8th on the Inner Turf Course.

#9 Depth Charge clipped heels and stumbled in the run to the first turn in his last, pretty much losing all chance at a top 3 finish. He ran well in his prior though, also against the top pick, when finishing 5th beaten only 2 lengths with a 23.3 FF in his first try back from a 7 1/2 month layoff.

#3 Steve's Thunder returns from a 52 day break and should be rolling late if he gets a clear trip from Gryder. He has run well on 2 occasions at this distance and on this course, including a maiden breaking score.

Wide Out play #7 Tommy Lees Shadow showed some early lick in his last from a 10-hole beginning before fading back to finish well behind Foreverness. But he too graduated this trip and course 3-back, and should get a good ride from new pilot Bridgmohan.