January 19, 2001

Beyond the Headlines
A quick read on the day's top news stories:

Item: NYRA Adopts 48-Hour Scratch Policy
Comment: It's about time
And, what took 'em so long? True, it's going to be enacted a couple of months from now, just in time for the Big A's main-track season, but handicppers all over the country should be ticking the days off their calendars, like a prisoner tallying the sunrises until his release.

It's damn hard enough to handicap when you know which horses are going to run, for cripes sake, but when you have to juggle all the potential scenarios, based on a revolving lineup of entrants, it can be damn near impossible to make a reasonable forecast.

Pace handicappers, in particular, have got to be rejoicing. Instead of guessing which of the also-eligibles will draw in and contribute to the early running, they can now get a much better feel for how the internal splits will be contested, and how intensely.

Turf handicappers, too, will be relieved. How easy was it to grit your teeth over a bunch of 15- and 16-horse maiden turf races? Now, there will be some method to what for not much longer will be strictly madness.

Item: Remington Park Celebrates Grand Re-Opening with $50,000 Guaranteed Pool for Pick 6
Comment: Against the grain

The fad of seven-figure guaranteed pools for the pick 6 is dying out, yet the Oklahoma City track, now under management by MEC, is offering a much more modest sum to entice players, local and otherwise, to chase the multiple win exotic that hasn't been available there for more than three years.

A look at the day-to-day information on the pick 6 suggests that the huge carryovers can be found on either coast, and scarcely in between. For small tracks like Finger Lakes, the carryovers can be days in the making, and for tiny money, along the lines of jackpots of less than $10,000. Why bother? It's likely that Remington, better than Finger Lakes, but, currently, not by much, will trot the bet out every day and generate desperately little pools in the process.

No self-respecting syndicate is going to shoot fish in that barrel, because the barrel would end up splintered at their feet, draining out all the profit. Rather, it'll probably turn out to be a mid-range lottery for the Sooner State fans.

Item: California Power Crisis Forces Los Alamitos to Shift to Afternoon Programs
Comment: Turn out the lights...

The attendance at Santa Anita on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon was slightly more than 5,000. Watch that figure drop in the event of a prolonged Los Al daytime schedule.

It doesn't matter that they run American Quarter Horses and Arabians around the occasional bottom-bottom Thoroughbreds, or that the track known as "Los Al" is across the Orange Curtain, just beyond the Los Angeles County line. People go where the horses are, and when Los Al runs in the evening, the most dedicated hippophiles can squeeze in a trip to both ovals in a single 12-hour period.

In the battle for daytime attendance, Los Al doesn't figure to suffer as much. Los Al has been open during the daylight hours for simulcasting all along, and the Orange County residents who schlep up to Arcadia for the Santa Anita races don't figure to make it up there while they can get the live Los Alamitos product in addition to the usual Santa Anita signal.

And what about this mega power struggle going on in the whole of California? Other sports could get away with power outages--so the fans can't stare at the Diamond Vision or see something insignifcant like a batting average or how many timeouts their team has left. Big deal.

But racing, fueled by wagering and simulcast broadcasts within the state, just would grind to the proverbial halt. The repercussions would go beyond the actual event of the race itself. Without the Teletimer available, the timing of a day's blacked-out events would be uncertain.

Though for the fans at Gulfstream, they are probably trying to find away to create an energy crisis in Florida.

Item: Speaking of Florida, Its Local Triple Crown Trail Opens in Earnest Saturday in Holy Bull Stakes
Comment: Tread lightly
There are two undefeated animals entered in the Gulfstream Park feature tomorrow, but, as is always the case with three-year-olds in winter, they have their knocks.

One of them is untested at two turns. The other is making his stakes debut.

Some of the three-year-olds will adapt, and move ahead with seasoning and against progressively better company. Others will learn their limitations, whether on class or distance or flat-out speed and pace. Regardless of their liabilities, the fields will thin out in short order, and reputations are bound to be deflated. Remember, Tiznow wasn't even the next big thing until the summer of his sophomore season.

For that reason, you can expect three-year-old stakes race at this stage of the game to be considerably less formful than stakes races in general. Experiments take place, those limitations come calling at the eighth pole. Favorites and other overhyped horses get a comeuppance. Horses who magically "improve" overnight sometimes do, but more likely catch the lower-priced fancies on an off day.

The larger point is that three-year-olds this early in the year rarely display an indisputable dominance. The old notion of horses taking turns, usually a guideline best used in claiming races, has some merit in the early Triple Crown preps.

For paceline fanatics, that means using a single race for rating purposes is more fraught with uncertainty than typical. But if you possess even a mild bit of courage, the rewards are there.

Win Real American Currency
The Big-Prize Handicapping Contest is looking for a few more good handicappers.

It doesn't require much, just a pick on each weekend day. But the rewards can be decent, something you can put your hands on, or even stick in your wallet.

While two rabbits have sprinted away with two wins apiece in the winner-oriented Saturday Division, you never can tell. They might hit the skids this weekend and next, meaning that two winners could be enough to be involved in a drawing for the monthly prize of $100 cash money and your choice of Cynthia Publishing Company software.

Who cares about the winners, man? Maybe that's what you're all about, the gargantuan mutuels and a month's worth of profits and satisfaction on a single race. Good news for you, dude. We got that going on, too.

The Sunday Division is wide open, particularly right now, where the top spot in the rankings is held by a single contestant (no duh! the top spot will always be held by a single person!).

What that really means is the leader is the only person who's connected on a Sunday Division longshot so far in January. And he has a grand total of $15 in winning Sunday mutuels. Do you think could do better? Honestly. Well, then, prove it! Take a flyer on the Sunday Division.

The most you can lose is your pride (and even that's hard to do, since the selections aren't a matter of public record) and you can win the monthly big prize of $250 in cold hard cash, plus a copy of the ALL-IN-ONE handicapping software.

And even if you don't win for the month, you can get nice rewards for hitting a bomb that pays at least $30.

With all that up for grabs and $350, too, what are you waiting for? For info or to play this second, click here.

Good luck.

Practical Pointer #3 (of a continuing series)
OK. The plugs are out of the way. You need to remember that, from a betting strategy and money management standpoint, racing is a game of cycles.

Maybe some regular guy from one of the Northeastern United States will tell you it's strictly about Thoroughbred cycles, and he might be right, a little bit. But strings of wins and losses don't conform to any predictable pattern.

That is, let's say you have a win percentage of 30 percent. That's 30 winners for every 100 races you play. Are you going to go through each infamous 20-race sample with a neat and tidy six winners.

You can answer the question yourself, if you've kept the proper records. Wins and losses in clusters are the nature of the beast. Though the overall composition of the large beast might be expressed as a single sums-it-up figure, closer inspection exposes some fat, fleshy parts and others that are lean and hairy. Kindly forgive the weirdness of the analogy.

In turn, temper your enthusiasm (or despair, as the case may be) accordingly. Nothing lasts forever, and the highs of a winning run will come crashing to earth in time, as will the lows from a losing streak eventually lift. Your job is to remember the big picture.

Doing that requires you to keep track of your bankroll size and wager the proper percentage of your capital. This article is not about which money management scheme works best; rather, it's about not doubling the bet size in the midst of an extended good or bad period.

Luckily, mathematics makes things pretty simple. You bet a percentage of your bankroll. True, when you're winning, you'll bet more, since you have more to bet, and while you're losing, you'll bet less. But stick to it! Don't let the emotions stemming from a fat, fleshy part or a lean, hairy part affect you. As Rogers and Hammerstein might have said, "Be cool, boy."

If you can manage some calm when dealing with your bankroll and the ramifications of a good streak or bad streak, you'll be a lot better off.

Again, we appreciate your readership and thank you for spending part of your weekend with us. Take care until next time.

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