Spring talk has finally sprung into summer talk at Woody’s Barbershop, and summer talk means horse racing! People like to ask me which trainers and jockeys have been in for a haircut—and do I know of any up-and-coming two-year-olds? Well the answer to the latter question is “no,” but “yes” to the the trainers and jockeys. In fact, later this summer, you’ll be able to find an upcoming article on the day in the life of a horse trainer by you-know-who. I followed one around for a few days, and the results will turn up in saratoga living‘s “The Races!” issue, which will hit newsstands on July 19.
This week, I’m going to stick to my guns and stay on the topic of horses. And by that, I do mean Justify. The Preakness was a no brainer, and believe or not, I see this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes the same way. I know, I know…for those of you who know me and the way I pick ’em, it’s really hard to believe that I’m sticking to a favorite and not taking the value, but alas, I believe my Jedi training has finally taken hold. For the last two weeks, I was on the same bandwagon as everyone else, thinking “No way; it’s too far.” After all, Justify did seem to fade in the final few furlongs in his last race, and according to the experts, his breeding does not suggest he’ll make the mile-and-a-half trip. Also take into account he will be heavily favored and should be a definite go-against. So this past weekend, I spent a few hours diving into the upcoming race, trying to figure who might beat him and how I could make some money if he loses. The word on the Oklahoma track this week was how the other owners’ horses are going to go after him and not let him get away easy and hopefully get him to tire. There’s simply no other three-year-old running in the Belmont who’s good enough to get it done, but then again, I’ve been wrong once before! (OK, maybe I was right once before, but either way, I’ve got this race figured out.) OK, fine, so I’m guessing just like the rest of you, but I feel really good about this guess!
Justify was not all that visually impressive winning the Preakness, but if you compare his race to American Pharoah (who was extremely visually impressive), his final time was three-plus seconds faster. More important to me is the times, and how the race broke down: American Pharoah was faster at the beginning of the race by a couple of seconds, although it doesn’t look that way after watching both races a few times. But the clockers say otherwise (go and see for yourself). So that means he made up about five seconds on his time. Five seconds in horse racing is monstrous and will equal a lot of lengths. Suffice it to say the final half of that race was three seconds faster (albeit, that was also an over-sealed track and that does make a difference, too). So to me I say it’s a wash.
OK, Woody, why does any of this matter you ask? Good question. It doesn’t really. Betting on horses is all about information, past results, current competition, hunches and angles. So to me that was good info. (FYI: American Pharoah’s Beyer Speed Figure for his Triple Crown-winning race was 102, while Justify’s is 97. BRIS numbers are 100 and 98, respectively.) Enough rambling on about comparisons, though. Let’s get down to the Belmont on Saturday. JUSTIFY IS SIMPLY THE BEST 3-YEAR-OLD OUT THERE THIS YEAR! He’s not a great horse—in fact, it’s my belief that if he wins, he might be the worst Triple Crown champ in modern times, but being a Triple Crown winner is better than a sharp stick in the eye any day! There’s nobody in this field that can beat him if he does the same thing he was doing in his other races this year. Hoffburg, who Justify beat by 8 3/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby, is the only other horse I’d actually even consider on top of Justify, and that’s only because Bill Mott is not known for hurrying up his young horses. When Mott enters his young ones, they’re usually really good ones, who are ready to win. Beyond that, I’m playing for prices, and fading the horses that have raced too many races at such a young age, and then taking a few guesses that might lead me to a bigger payout.
As of today, the weather for Saturday’s big race is supposed to be perfect with only a slight chance of rain, so I’ve based my prospective results on that track condition. When you see what I’m playing, don’t laugh; wait to either laugh Saturday around 7pm or go to the windows and cash you tickets! I’m sharing only some of my ideas, and playing what I think an interested party should play, who might not have a big bankroll. But know this: Gambling is for fun, and if you’re betting more than you should or spending money you shouldn’t, STOP RIGHT NOW! Us gamblers know that our money has no home; we do it for the action, the possibility of winning and the thrill of winning (OK, maybe the bragging rights, too). We know the odds of winning, and we’re willing to lose our money betting on those slim chances. So keep that in mind if you decide to follow my picks.
To win any money on this race, the average player has to reach into the trifectas and superfectas. Otherwise, play a $2.00 bet on Justify, and smile when he wins the Triple Crown, but don’t expect too much return on investment.
Here are some of the ways I’m betting the race:
$2.00 trifecta key:
Justify OVER Tenfold and Vino Rosso OVER Bravazo, Hoffburg, Tenfold, Vino Rosso, Free Drop Willy, Gronkowski, Restoring Hope
$0.50 superfecta key:
Justify OVER Tenfold and Vino Rosso OVER Bravazo, Hoffburg, Tenfold, Vino Rosso, Free Drop Willy, Gronkowski, Restoring Hope OVER Bravazo, Hoffburg, Tenfold, Vino Rosso, Free Drop Willy, Gronkowski, Restoring Hope
The cost of the trifecta ticket would be $24.00 for $2.00, and for the superfecta ticket, $30.00 for $0.50. That makes for a total of just $54.00 (if you can’t afford it, get two friends and go in for $17.00 each). The good news is, if you hit the superfecta, you’ll hit the trifecta, too. Drinks will be on you!
Good luck, have fun and bet responsibly!