Tuesday, February 26, 2019
If somebody took a poll of the nation's horse-playing public, from the plungers at the top down to the $2 bettors and everybody in-between, the number of different systems employed by that group to try to weed out winners would fill a book, maybe two.
It's coming up on 66 years since I made my first $2 bet on Dressy Lady in the eighth race at Belmont Park on the first Wednesday in June, two days before the last day of school. The system I used in my first foray into the game was quite simple - two of my senior-class buddies told me they liked her. In the time since, I've encountered just about every scheme the nation's punters use to find winners, including my all-time favorite offered to me by a gentleman at Gulfstream Park many years ago, "Always bet on gray horses in the winter."
By the way, Dressy Lady finished fourth.
But there's very little doubt that the area that confounds that horse-playing public the most is how to pick winners in 2-year-old maiden races at tracks across North America, especially in those early tests where every horse is a first-time starter. I have always been skeptical of the various methods touted by the analysts at TVG and elsewhere, like Beyer numbers, Ragozins, etc.
However, a couple of weeks ago I was introduced to betbestbreeze.com, an on-line site started by long-time Ocala horseman Mike Mulligan. The site professes to give players a much deeper insight into maiden races, based on Mulligan's expertise in the area of finding top juveniles while attending every 2-year-old sale in the country. Mike keeps a watchful eye on every colt and filly that breezes in the under tack shows - approximately 3,500 every year at OBS, Calder, Keeneland, Timonium and the new group in California - and evaluates them not only by their times, but by their physical attributes - the way they move, their stride, how they finish and several other facets that I don't understand, because every horse looks the same to me. He then rates each horse from 1 to 9, with 1 being the best. I'm told that only about 25 to 30 percent of the 2-year-olds get a rating of 9 or better.
When I first learned of Mike's site I was as skeptical as I have been about all the other guys. Then I began tracking the horses Mike pinpointed on his site - every day. It didn't take me long to realize he must be endowed with an expertise that few others have mastered. Of course, 10 days or so of results isn't nearly enough for me or anybody else to take a definitive stance on his method, but it's a good start.
What follows is a summary of how the horses listed in betbestbreeze have fared recently. He has 3 categories listed every day - first-time starters, other BBB horses to consider (who have made at least one start), and stakes horses, if any. My number in parentheses is the number Mike assigned to each horse. One consideration to understand in evaluating the results is that very often, 2 or 3 runners show up in the same race. Remember, it has been many months since the first-timers were initially evaluated. Another to consider is of the horses who have already started, a price of 6/5 or 2-1 means the horse has run well in his or her previous start(s).
Sunday, Feb. 24 - - There were 13 listed in the 3 categories. Results: 4 winners, 1 second, and 3 thirds.
In category 1, Pyron (1) won at Oaklawn Park and paid $11.80. Golden Notion (2) finished 2nd in the race, the exacta paid $32.80; Matcha (4) finished 3rd at Gulfstream at odds of 8-1 and had traffic trouble in the stretch; Safta (1) finished 3rd at Gulfstream at 5-1, made a huge close from dead last. In category 2, Bello Porte (2) won at Gulfstream and paid $7.80. In the same race, Lovely Luvy (5) finished 3rd; Two Sixteen (6) won at Laurel and paid $10.60, beating a 4/5 shot by a nose; She's a Problem won at Gulfstream and paid $16.80.
Saturday, Feb. 23 - - Category 1, Get the Goodies (1) won at Oaklawn and paid $6.80; Bullion (9) finished 2nd at Santa Anita at 9-1; My Cadet (8) finished 4th at Gulfstream, coming from out of the clouds and having to change course in mid-stretch. Category 2, Teenage Idol (2) won at Gulfstream and paid $15.40; Fleeterthan (3) finished 3rd at Oaklawn at 4-1; Gran Martillo (3) won at Santa Anita and paid $4.60; Free Cover finished 2nd by a nose at Fair Grounds at 4-1; Mountain Spirit finished 3rd at Santa Anita at .70 cents to a dollar; Category 3 (stakes), Just Ain't Right finished 3rd at Gulfstream at 10-1; Golden Lullaby finished 2nd at Sam Houston at 11-1; Maiden Beauty finished 4th at Aqueduct at 6-1.
Friday, Feb. 22 - - Category 2, Castle Casanova (4) won at Aqueduct and paid $3.60; Delta Gamma (4) finished 2nd at Aqueduct at 9/5; Happy Sophia (6) finished 2nd at Charles Town at 2-1.
Thursday, Feb. 21 - Category 2, Regal Retort (2) won at Aqueduct and paid $4.80; in the same race, Figure It Out (6) finished 2nd at 4-1, exacta paid $27.20; Gran Diamond (2) finished 2nd at Gulfstream at 5/2.
Wednesday, Feb. 20 - Category 2, Beautiful Lover (2) won and paid $3; in the same race, La Chauffeur finished 2nd at 13-1, exacta paid $24.80; Collins Ave. (3) finished 3rd at Gulfstream at 2-1; Exsqueeze (8) finished 3rd at Sam Houston at .70 cents.
To cut this short, I'll continue with the previous few days in one paragraph. Aqueduct, London House (2) won and paid $8.80; in the same race, Rally Cap finished 2nd at 8-1, exacta paid $32; Oaklawn, Comedian won and paid $11.60; in the same race, Incorrigible finished 2nd at 17-1, exacta paid $161.40; Category 1, Saratoga Promise (3) won and paid $4.30, was 8-1 in Morning Line; Clever Tale ((5) finished 2nd by half a nose at 9-1; Camgo (1) won at Tampa and paid $3.60; Cohete Rojo ((3) finished 2nd at Fair Grounds at 7-1; Scoreswhenhewants (7) finished 2nd at Tampa at 7/2. In category 1, Shancealot won at Gulfstream and paid $27.60; in same race, Bodexpress finished 2nd at 7-1, exacta paid $165.80, and Fort Worth (2) finished 3rd as favorite; in Category 1, Get the Prize won at Fair Grounds and paid $19.
That's not all by far, and that's not to say there haven't been losers, too. But the winners and the returns, for me, have far outweighed the losers.
Again, this is only a less than two-week sample, but it's hard to dispute the information posted on BBB. I have to confess I have hit many of the winners in the aforementioned paragraphs, including some of the juicy exactas. I'll continue to play as long as Mike keeps hitting home runs.
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