Handicapper Blog

Posted by Ken Warkentin on Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:38 PM

Favorite Handicapping Angles


I’ll be the first to admit the first half of the 2013 meet at the Meadowlands was indeed a challenge to sift through and solve as a handicapper.  In particular, the start of season presented many interesting puzzles and mysteries due to the sheer volume of shippers, and how they were classified under the revised A B C system.  Still, as we continued to evolve in our approach, and considered weather conditions and pace scenarios, some tried and true angles flushed out live horses and produced their share of winners, especially when things settled down.  We often tried to beat the favorite, couldn’t do it, and had to settle for the exacta box.  On the flip side, just when we thought we were going to get some value on our top selection, the price was hammered down.  When there was a standout, it was fun figuring out who to play underneath.  Many times multiple angles overlapped and applied to the same horse.  The following examples are a few of our modest successes.


Acclimating Mile – Once horses have a trip over the track and/or a start after a layoff, we can gain a better gauge on their true form.  On January 4, The Evictor had rallied stoutly from far back in his first start over the track.  He also showed raging form against tougher company elsewhere and switched to Corey Callahan.  The Evictor roared home to a career best of 1:53.4 to pay $7.40.


Positive Trend – On January 17, Cruise Queen had picked up her game on Lasix and had a needed start at the Big M.  The winner of eight of 24 career starts was also one of many new acquisitions for leading trainer Ron Burke this meet.  The daughter of Artiscape brushed and crushed them from post eight, and took a new mark of 1:52.4 and paid $8.80.


Closer on the Verge – Stone closer Clear View Hanover had three starts under her and was getting a slight class drop going into her January 25 race.  Her latest effort was an improved second with a driver change to Simon Allard.  Simon now had a better idea of what this mare was all about and got her into a perfect second over striking position to nail the favorite in 1:53.3 to pay $10.00. 


Class Drop in a So-So Field – Dash For The Cash appeared to be a relatively consistent trotter for brothers John and Jim Campbell, and was coming off two decent miles at the B-2 level on January 31.  He dropped to face an uninspiring C-1 field, steamrolled first over from post eight and paid $8.60.


Burke Overlay – Trainer Ron Burke blanketed cards with fresh faces early in the meet and Oil Magnet made an immediate impression.  The 9YO Western Hanover gelding was making his Big M debut on February 2 after going three-for-three since the Burke acquisition at The Meadows.  Oil Magnet cruised to a career best of 1:51.3 and paid $8.40.  The pacer went on to sweep the Winter Survivor Series.


Cycling Forward for Team Allard – On February 9, No Bu was an excellent candidate to upset the favorite Perrito Caliente.  Acquired by Rene Allard in late Fall of 2012, he was a closer who showed form that was gradually cycling forward.  His last two final quarters were an improved :26 and change.  He kicked home in :26.1 to upset in a career best of 1:51.2 and paid $8.40.


Second Start off the Bench – Vaporstar only won once this meet and that lone tally came in his second start for strong percentage trainer Rob Harmon.  The four-year-old banked $100,000 in Illinois in 2012 and finished solidly in his first tour of the oval.  On February 15, he went wire-to-wire in 1:55.2 and paid $9.00.


Strong Back Half off a Modest Pace – It took Dream’s Bar a few starts at the Big M and the right scenario to see her late move pay off.  On February 15, she was coming off a sterling rally to hit the board off a modest pace and stormed home to for Eric Carlson to win by a nose in 1:54 to pay $10.40.  Dream’s Bar did virtually the same thing in her next start to repeat and pay $10.00.


Drop Back to Winning Level – Photo King had shown positive hints, including a sharp win two starts back at the A-2 level.  After a mile in which he was shuffled from the rail in a slightly tougher A-2/A-1 Handicap, the son of S J’s Photo returned against an evenly matched A-2 group on February 22.  He rallied to score in 1:55 and paid $18.80.


Class Drop off a No-Chance Mile – Zumba Mouse is a trotting mare noted for her big finishes, and on March 1 she was coming off an impossible trip from post 10 at the B-2 level.  She had won just before that in only her second start after a long layoff.  With the drop to the C-1 level and a perfectly timed move by Marcus Miller “The Mouse” pounced to equal her lifetime mark of 1:55 and paid $9.00.  Then, she repeated back up at the B-2 level for a $13.20 payoff.


Class Relief & Driver Change Combo – Going into his race on March 2, Southern Sport had his share of tough trips, he was dropping down to the level of a recent win and picked up Tim Tetrick.  As usual, Rob Harmon had his trainee on his toes and Southern Sport flashed :27 speed on both ends in a 1:51.2 mile and paid $13.20.


Sudden Speed & Class Drop – Westside Lindy had gotten his act in gear showing sudden speed in his last two starts noted trotting man Walter Carroll.  On March 22, the son of SJ’s Caviar dropped from B-2 to C-1, was given a slick drive by Eric Goodell and paid $9.20.


Sudden Speed & Back Class – Arctic Fire had dropped down in class and revived her form with sudden speed at Harrah’s Philadelphia.  On April 5 at the Big M, she faced a camera-shy group of mares at the B-2 level for owner/trainer Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy drove her superbly and she zipped home in :26.3 to win a blanket photo and paid $13.40.


Sudden Speed in a Question Mark Field – On April 19, Bambino Hall was returning to the Big M after three races elsewhere, his latest a sudden display of speed at Pocono Downs.  Team Allard had him well placed in a so-so B-2 field, and with a perfect second over trip he was able to employ his preferred closing style in a 1:53.2 career best and paid $9.20.


Parked Out & Didn’t Fade Much – Multiple angles applied to Alex Bullville on April 20.  The steady son of Bettor’s Delight was coming off a parked out trip and lost by less than two lengths.  He had been knocking on the door, drew an improved post and switched to Corey Callahan.  Alex Bullville stormed home in a career best of 1:50.4 and paid $10.00.



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Ken Warkentin has been a member of the award-winning broadcast team at Meadowlands Racetrack as the Track Announcer and television commentator for 25 years. Ken has appeared on national television networks such as ESPN, called 15 editions of the $1 million Hambletonian, and worked as a member of the broadcast team for NBC Sports and CBS Sports.

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