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Jul 15, 2005


Are you ready for the “Greatest Meet on Earth”?  And even more importantly, are you totally prepared to end up in the black at the completion of Del Mar 2005?


It’s often been stated that Del Mar is the toughest meet on the planet. 


Maybe yes, maybe no!  It all depends if you have the “right” information needed to win.


The “right” information can easily be broken down into 2 categories, namely “basic” information and “proprietary” information.


“Basic” information needed to win would include the past performances, charts from the last 5 years, trainer/jockey stats, past winning post positions, horses for courses, trainers for courses, jockeys for courses, past running biases and at what juncture of the meet do they change, trip notes, morning workout information and, of course, speed and pace figures.


The above “basics” are a must, as they hold many insights to what might happen this year at Del Mar.  If you have them all, you are well on your way to a winning meet, but you need much, much, much more!


“Proprietary” information is data that is gathered by you personally.  It is privy to very few players other than yourself, because very few players are willing to dig for the “right” information.


In a game where all “serious” players have a good grasp of the basics, coming up with winning horses and beating any meet depends solely upon “proprietary” information and how much of it you have.


“Proprietary” information comes in many forms and if used properly and at exactly the right time, produces innumerably more winners----and most importantly, at fantastic mutual prices!


Let’s look at some major examples of “proprietary” information.  Ask yourself if you have all or most of them in your methodology.  And if not, it’s never too late to add more positive information to your handicapping arsenal.





A “running profile” depicts the exact type of running style that wins any specific race at any specific distance over either the dirt or the turf.


As you most likely know, no 2 race tracks are identical for a myriad of reasons.  You better be aware of exactly “how” any track is playing at the moment and which runners “fit” into the style of running needed to win. 


If you’re playing a “closing runner” at a distance that only favors “early speed”, you got “beat” before the starting gate opened!





If you’ve been playing the Southern California circuit for any length of time, by now you’ve noticed that there are no shoe boards at Del Mar, Santa Anita or Hollywood Park.  And if that weren’t bad enough, there are no past performances in existence that list any horse running in a barshoe on the major Southern California circuit. 


To the best of my knowledge, no other circuit in America fails to give the bettor barshoe information outside of this major Southern California circuit.


Look at any of your old past performances. 


I’ll give you $1,000 every time that you can show me a barshoe listed on any horse running at Del Mar, Santa Anita, or Hollywood Park for the last 10 years!


I have no idea as to the “why” for this blatant omission of this critical information.  But let me ask you a question, if you were about to bet a NASCAR race, would you bet on a car running with only 3 tires? 


Enough said! 


Without shoe information at Del Mar, Santa Anita, or Hollywood, your “winning game” is lacking essential data!





Horses run with both positive and negative equipment. 


You’ll never find the above 4 extremely negative pieces of equipment listed in anybody’s past performances.


Blowouts are small adhesive bandages about the size of a grapefruit placed on the inside of the real legs about knee level. 


If a horse is fitted with this negative piece of equipment, he’s hitting himself on the inside of his rear knees.  The “blowout patch” allegedly reduces the pain on impact, while attempting to protect the skin from getting cut and bleeding.

Stops serves much the same purpose as a “blowout patches” and are adhesive bandages that are white in color about the size of a silver dollar.  Once in a great while, you’ll see “rubberized” versions in black that have no adhesive backings and are held on with black electrical tape.


“Stops” are placed directly above either or both of the rear hooves. Much like “blowout patches”, stops are added because a horse is “hitting” himself.


It is foolishly hoped that this will stop the horse from cutting himself while absorbing the never-ending impact.  Thus they were named “stops”.


The adhesive white “stop” is frequently knocked off with the first couple of repeated strikes.  While the black rubberized versions often stay in place longer and once in a while for an entire race, the horse still slows himself down because cut or uncut, forcefully hitting yourself in the same exact spot over 100 times during a race has to hurt like hell!


Many horses run with either blowouts, stops or both and you better know those horses who are “hitting” themselves!  It will save you countless bad wagers!


Run-out bits began popping up with more regularity during 2001. They are worth tracking if for no other reason than to save you even more bad bets!


Perhaps we should define run-out bits, as they are called by different names in different parts of the country (bear-out bit, leverage bit).


A run-out bit is a special running bit used with problematic horses that can’t or won’t run straight for any number of reasons.  The bit itself is extended out on either and/or both sides of the mouth.  These extended bits can protrude as far as 4 inches or more and allegedly offer additional leverage.


These very negative bits are employed with the hope that any increased jockey leverage will help to prevent the horse from either “getting out” on a turn, or “lugging in or out” in the lane.


These bits sometimes help, but most often they do not!  


Horses “get out” on a turn because they are moving too fast to properly negotiate the surface, or more likely because they are sore and/or problematic in some other way.  Once in a while their natural confirmation could be defective and the cause.  But whatever the reason, they have a very difficult time “grabbing” the track on turns.  While a run-out bit certainly can’t hurt the horse, it is merely a “stab” in the dark at correcting a problem that is sometimes uncorrectable. 


Keep in mind that conformation “faults” are very rarely rectified by running bit changes.  Very, very, very few horses racing with run-out bits ever win races unless, of course, they are running against even more problematic horses on the bottom.


Martingales are another ultr- negative piece of equipment. Typically, they are used to stop a horse from carrying his head too high or continually throwing it about and/or to keep the saddle from slipping.


There are a couple of varieties, but the one that concerns the handicapper is the martingale with a breastplate. This leather strap passes around the breast and back across the shoulders, fastening to the saddle cinch about level with the rider’s knees.


It’s sole purpose is to keep the saddle from slipping backwards on horses that are abnormally skinny, or those runners with “flat ribs” (a conformation defect).


The last thing any jockey needs to worry about is his saddle slipping as he goes to the whip turning for home.  It is not at all uncommon to see martingales on the Southern California circuit.  Nor is it at all unusual for those “martingaled” horses to be very weakly ridden thruout their entire races, especially in the drive to the wire.  They very rarely win races unless running against the absolute bottom rungs of the claiming ranks.  





Breeding is just as important at Del Mar as it is at every other racetrack in the world.


There are 2 types of breeding information, namely “track-specific breeding” and “universal breeding”.


“Track-specific” sire lists are nothing more than a straight alpha tabulation of every sire who has produced a winner or winners over the “specific” track and surface that you are playing at the moment! 


“Track-specific” sire lists are not diluted nor watered down as are “universal sire ratings”.   “Universal breeding” offers the user information based upon how a specific sire has done “worldwide” rather than over the track he’s actually running over today! 


These worldwide “universal sire” ratings would include ones like Tomlinson’s numbers and Mike Helm’s book with alpha ratings. 


All dirt courses are simply not the same any more than all turf courses are the same.


While these services are quite honest when calculating their “universal ratings”, using them for any “specific racetrack” is a total waste of time and energy, not to mention many lost wagers.  

Who cares how a specific sire performs worldwide? 


However, using only track-specific breeding for the track that you’re playing at the moment, guarantees you that the numbers are very “real” and not diluted by distant racetracks that have nothing to do with the one you are playing today.


Winning dirt and turf horses from the East coast quite often perform miserably when shipping to Southern California simply because as mentioned above, all dirt courses are simply not the same any more than all turf courses are the same.


What’s more, with the many first-time starters encountered at Del Mar every summer, wouldn’t you like to know if his lineage has ever produced a winner on the Del Mar surface over which he’s about to compete? 


A specific sire might be a terror in New York, Florida or Kentucky, yet a complete failure on the Southern California circuit!


Think about it!




Turf rails are moved in and out constantly in Southern California.   The rails can usually be found in 1 of 9 positions.

The normal position of the rails is at “zero”.  If not at 0, they are out 7, 8, 10, 14, 15, 20, 24, or 30 feet. 

The reason for the constant movement in and out is not to make handicappers crazy, but rather to spread the “wear and tear” evenly over the entire course and thus extend its shelf life for the entire meet.  If this weren’t done, the course would become worthless and very dangerous within 2 weeks. 

So what does the movement of the rails mean to us as handicappers?


It has been mathematically proven that every path you are removed from the rail running around a turn will cost you 1 length at the wire!

In a very simplistic example, suppose two horses win their respective races wire to wire while flush against the rail in 1:36 flat.   Further suppose that one winner does it with the rails out “30 feet” and the other with the rails at “0”.

The winner with the rails out “30 feet” is far superior to the winner with the rails at “0”!

This is because the 30 feet out winner (though flush against the rail) ran much further than the zero rail winner in the same final time! 

The unsuspecting handicapper looking at the past performances sees 2 horses winning their respective races at the same distance in the same final time and very wrongfully assumes that both wins were about equal. 

Nothing could possibly be further from the truth!

In our crude example, those with rail-out information know that the 30 feet out winner was about 12 lengths superior to the zero rail winner-----12 lengths!!!!  

How many bets have you lost in your handicapping career by less than 12 lengths?  If you’re like me, most likely 99% of them!

That’s just how important “rails-out” information can be every single day, yet you won’t find this information listed in anyone’s past performances!!!

When you follow and properly interpret the rails in and out and biases changing with them, you will cash big win mutuels on a very consistent basis.  


At every meet, you better be aware of those horses with physical problems! 

At Del Mar, knowing which horses are problematic takes on even more significance because the turns are much tighter than at either Santa Anita or Hollywood Park.

Horses that walk wide or short with extension problems, or horses with enlarged front ankles, iced fronts and bowed tendons, or muscle-sore horses with liniment, or runners with ¼ cracks, or poorly colored runners, or undermuscled horses are at an extreme disadvantage.  Their problematic nature doesn’t allow them to grab Del Mar’s tight turns in the same efficient manner as “sound” runners. 

You also need to know how every runner “came out of” his last race. 

Win or lose, did he gallop out properly in the post-race or did he pull up badly? 

Did he look totally exhausted as he was being unsaddled, or did he look ready to do it all over again?  In other words, was his energy level unquestionably depleted, or did he still have “gas in his tank”?

I know which one I’d prefer betting next out if all else were equal!

Now you know what “basics” you’ll need as well as what “proprietary information” is required to lay claim to beating the “toughest meet on the planet”!

In closing, every single category of “proprietary information” is yours every single day in either edition of the DAILY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH (DAILY SCHTW).

See you in Del Mar’s paddock!



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