June 7, 2002

In This Issue...

Some Friendly Reminders

How ya doin'? We're in a New York state of mind, ya know? But before we say something we'll regret (like, "Fuhgeddaboudit!"), a few things:

Don't forget to check out all the stuff that can help you win. It's in the Cynthia Publishing Company Handicapping Store. Mike Helm's various pedigree guides, your 2002 PARS PLUS package, either in book format or the exciting new Fast Capper 2002 software bundle, and so many other well-written, extensively researched "power tools" to sharpen your handicapping edge.

The Saturday Stakes Barnstorming Tour, introduced last week, returns next Saturday, for the races of June 15, with a twist: You make the calls. We'll rank-order the top contenders and assign them some odds; it's up to you to determine which ones are the value-filled bets. In other words, we set 'em, you bet 'em (or forget 'em!, as the case may be).

Last "mandatory" race for the May-June Triple Crown Trifecta Edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Contest is -- what else? -- tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. Jump in now and play -- still plenty of chances for you to win real, spendable, honest-to-goodness American hard currency. Go to the Contest Page now.

Many thanks to Mr. Peter Cohen of MacCentral.com for his writeup of the new Fast Capper 2002 and its benefits for the legions of long-ignored MacIntosh-computer handicappers out there. Check it out at http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0206/07.fastcapper.php.

There. That wasn't so bad. Not much longer than a New York minute.

Two-Way Belmont Day Dope-Out: Man Vs. Machine

You ever talk to your computer? No, we mean other than cursing it out when it lapses into its undocumented Seizure Mode on you. We are going to do it now.

Really, we are going to listen in on the following handicapping discourse between man and machine. The man is a reasonably talented and successful Thoroughbred horserace handicapper, particularly good at turf races and other contests in which a good-to-hot pace makes for an honest running through all stages of the race. He emphasizes the overall history of each horse's ability, rather than on the single, "one-paceline" outlook adopted or even required by so many various handicapping machines of the day. The man has used machines in the past to direct his handicapping, but his need for added mental stimulation and a little more control in the contender-selection and wagering processes has led him to a gray-matter-driven, analytical approach.

The machine is none other than Fast Capper 2002, exacting and precise at what it does -- namely, shaping up each contender, based on the single paceline selected for it, and plotting how fast the horses figure to run at each stage of today's race, no matter if some horses are changing distance, shipping in from other tracks or moving up or down in distance. Additionally, the Fast Capper 2002 provides a fair-odds betting line that estimates the tote board price at which each contender represents a break-even bet; when the tote board odds are higher than those on the betting lines, Fast Capper 2002 senses value, although it is ultimately up to Fast Capper 2002's partner, generally the human being using it, to dial up his or her own degree of value.

The two have their strengths. The man can sense the horse's "story," and whether there'll be a happy ending or not. The machine is unflinching, unsentimental. When the machine's human user says "go," the machine goes -- goes zoom, that is. Adeptly analyzing a smorgasbord of tracks, even as many as 30 in a single evening, is Fast Capper 2002's forte, and man is no match for machine when it comes to looking at virtually every race in the country, on demand. The man, at his bleary-eyed best, surrenders at seven racecards, sacrificing precious sleep during the ordeal. The machine can process four or five times as many races, every time, and always the decimal points and numbers are lined-up in their rightful columns.

But for big Belmont Stakes Day 2002, they will be focused on but a single racing program, albeit a king-size one. Saturday's card at Elmont, N.Y., contains 12 races, many of them stakes races. And the two will share with you what they have to say.

To practice for the Saturday Belmont card, they attended the races Friday night at Hollywood Park. Both enjoy the nighttime action, especially the machine, who rarely gets out but has developed a crush on a few of the Hollywood Starlets, even more so since they appeared in skintight black leather pants while exposing their navels this particular Friday night. Of course, in this regard, the man is only too happy to indulge his soulless though logiclly functioning pal.

Man and machine are united in the quest for generous-paying win mutuels. At the end of the eight-race evening, it is the machine who has bragging rights for the night. While both man and machine collected a 9-1 price on Slewsbox (a horse the machine's big brother, ALL-IN-ONE V5 also preferred at generous odds) in the feature, the machine's other big mutuel, Leprechaun Kid in the sixth, was, at 13-1, two points higher than the man's other big price, the 11-1 G L's Gold Strike, his lone contender in the wide-open, bottom-claimer fifth race. (It should also be noted that listening to the opinion of all three -- man, machine and machine's big brother -- yielded the modest-paying trifecta in the nightcap, as odds-on winner Call Me Again was machine's pick; runner-up Chinois was the man's; and third-place Orange 'Em was big brother's.)

In short, Friday at Hollywood proved an apt, perhaps fortuitous illustration of the handicapping prowess of all three entities: man, machine, big brother.

For Saturday's experiment, the man will proceed with his typical handicapping routine. He will generate a few words on each race. The machine will be powered by another human being, one who will use his or her own judgment in terms of the paceline-selection being fed into the machine. Really, "judgment" is not the right word, since the human being will be operating under the guidelines of an "expert system" regarding paceline-selection. This expert system favors recency, and within that framework of recency prefers the outstanding performance, as measured by each race's Cramer Speed Rating, with additional restrictions involving distance-structure and surface. In essence, the machine, the Fast Capper 2002, will most frequently be rating each horse's best recent race against that of each of the other runners. Given the overall top-quality of the Saturday card at Belmont, most if not all of the runners should probably be expected to be pointing toward a top effort, even if the actual outcomes fail to reflect that. While many handicappers might be quick to point out the dangers of such an expert system, they will rarely have a satisfactory rebuttal when asked to select contenders and pick pacelines for two or three dozen racetracks and up to 1,500 or 1,800 horses of a single evening. (However, we will hold out hope for the potential miracle from one or two readers out there.)

That said, we listen in on what they had to say.

Race 1
Man: So, you don't like the favored entry, Slews Final Answer and Saintly Action, either?
Machine: No, not really.
Man: How come?
Machine: Almost always, my answer will have the words, 'There's another in here who is faster,' or something to that effect.
Man: Who is faster?
Machine: Shawkint Mint. His splits from that Aqueduct sloppy-track race two back are deceptively fast. He might not get clear this time, but he has all the ability to do it if he wants.
Man: Not bad. I'm thinking Shawklit Mint might have to go too fast early, though. I know you like Polish Silk a little, and I think he has a big shot in here, as do Gimme the Willys and even the 30-1 shot Paugus Bay. All three should be rolling thunder late, which should be a good thing in this big, speedy field, even if Belmont is a deathtrap for late-runners.
Machine: My top three are Shawklit Mint (fair odds of 7-2), Polish Silk (6-1) and Slews Final Answer (6-1).
Man: OK. I'll take 7-1 or better on any of these three: Polish Silk, Gimme the Willys, Paugus Bay. If Paugus Bay wins, I'll be able to sink some nice mad money into that big pick 4.
Machine: What is a pick 4?

Race 2
Man: We both have it down to two horses. Mine are Vow and Sleeping Weapon. Sleeping Weapon is particularly interesting. Making his first start in nearly a year and only his second race lifetime, he has a precocious pedigree. But he'll need to get faster, which is entirely possible given his presumed maturation since then. I'll take either or both at 5-1 or better.
Machine: You are halfway right. I too like Sleeping Weapon (9-2). My other choice, on top, is In High Gear (4-1), unfortunately the favorite. I think In High Gear is faster early.

Race 3
Man: One horse -- Thunder Blitz. But I still want generous, generous value, like at least 6-1. I don't have to bet every race. Do you think Orseno can bring it home again for Uncle Frank Stronach?
Machine: Who is Orseno? What on Earth is a Stronach?
Man: Be glad you don't know.
Machine: Like a fatal error or something?
Man: Oh, yeah. With an overflow and stack dump on top.
Machine: I have a much, much more contentious race. I have four contenders -- your Thunder Blitz (5-1), along with Governor Hickel (5-1), One Tuff Fox (6-1), Unbridling (6-1).
Man: That's pretty contentious, all right. You really should take a lot higher price than the fair odds. Absolutely.

Race 4
Man: Three live ones in here -- Indy Glory, Transcendental and Ellie's Moment. Seven-to-one or better.
Machine: Now it is I who has but one contender: Ellie's Moment (9-2).
Man: That gives full-agreement status to Ellie's Moment, since your big brother ALL-IN-ONE V5 likes her somewhat, too. And the price is right: 10-1!

Race 5
Man: Man, I hate handicapping overnight turf races in New York. You never know who's actually in them until the morning of the race. They make my brain hurt. And then you don't know if they'll let this one stay on the grass. You're going to have to tackle this one.
Machine: Yes. I consider this a two-horse affair between Jarf (5-1) and El Gran Papa (6-1). However, I wholly respect the mighty closing kick of Thesaurus.

Race 6
Man: Three horses this time, Explicit, who should be lightning-quick in here; Entrepreneur, a good presser; and Valiant Halory, who has to be better than his debacle last week at Suffolk and should be running on late. Again, 7-1 or better on any of them. This should be right up your alley, a good, competitive dirt sprint.
Machine: I agree with you on two of the three. I will substitute Summer Note (3-1) for Entrepreneur. I give 2-1 on Valiant Halory and 6-1 on Explicit.

Race 7
Man: I will take a chance on this turf race, since it is a programmed Graded stakes and there aren't likely to be wholesale scratches. And in this case, I have to side with whom I feel are the best ralliers in the field -- Babae and Voodoo Dancer. I'll want at least 5-1, and I know I won't get it on 'Voodoo, so I hope she's overbet and will create a little overlay on Babae.
Machine: Babae (2-1) is one of the ones, and my top one. I also like Penny Marie (5-1) and Stylish (6-1). All three are good closers, especially Stylish.
Man: I was considering the stretching-out Penny Marie, but I didn't like trainer Hess's record going from short to long.
Machine: What do you mean?
Man: Never mind.

Race 8
Man: I see only one horse -- Warners, and I should be content with his 8-1 morning line.
Machine: We agree on Warners. He is my top pick (2-1). I also like American Style (6-1), whose race two back (the Coolmore Lexington) rates highly here. I also have Draw Play (6-1), who ought to be reasonably close early before doing some nice running in the stretch.

Race 9
Man: I truly have no strong feeling for this race, amazingly. I'm guessing the winner will come from among the three horses with the most potent late-kick -- With Anticipation (though a frontrunner, he finishes well when equipped with an early advantage), Forbidden Apple and Beat Hollow. I'll just watch this one.
Machine: It is a total scramble for me, too. Although I will be brave enough to try to gauge some value in the race. Beat Hollow (7-2), Hap (7-2), Strut the Stage (9-2), With Anticipation (5-1) and Forbidden Apple (6-1) all pretty much have the same projected final times.

Race 10: The Belmont Stakes
Man: I can't bet War Emblem at such a low price, but the Preakness effort was a critic-killer. He had very fast fractions to stay on top of, all while being as wrangled and strangled back as he could be. He still dispensed a huge final-time figure. On talent alone, he's the one. This could be over before the field hits the far turn. If I had to complete a superfecta, I would use Like a Hero, Sunday Break and Sarava.
Machine: I have Sunday Break (6-1), Medaglia d'Oro (6-1) and Magic Weisner (5-1). I have War Emblem fourth.
Man: Hey, how about a little one-on-one sidebet action between you and me?
Machine: Hey, man. That does not compute. I'm only a machine. See ya. Do the Starlets have a Web site?

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