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Tuley's Takes: Ponies are pleasing in trying times

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

We haven’t gotten involved with Korean baseball here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but we do at least welcome it as a positive sign toward the return of live sports in this country.

It’s also good news that the NFL announced it would release the 2020 regular-season schedule at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday. The Westgate traditionally has been the first to post Week 1 lines, usually within an hour of the announcement, and Jay Kornegay told VSiN the SuperBook “will release Week 1 ASAP on Thursday.”

Kornegay said it was a happy coincidence that the SuperBook happens to be reopening its mobile app Thursday.

“Yes, we’re still opening on Thursday,” Kornegay wrote in a text. “About two weeks ago, we were thinking UFC (which had announced the May 9 card at the time) and German soccer. We did have early reports that the NFL was going to release the schedule around May 7-9, but it wasn’t confirmed.”

VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point is also reopening its mobile app Wednesday, joining those that kept their mobile operations running since the March 18 shutdown of the brick-and-mortar casinos in Nevada: Circa Sports, Caesars Palace, MGM Resorts and William Hill.

Bring on more sports!

In the meantime, we’ve kept active with horse racing during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week was the most successful so far with our stable of handicapping friends in the “Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” weekly columns on VSiN.com. (The column is posted Wednesday morning and is updated each morning through Sunday.) Duane Colucci, the Rampart’s assistant racebook manager, carried our group earlier in the week, capped by Lionite paying $19 to win in Oaklawn’s sixth race Thursday. Then John Lauro gave out the $96.80 exacta in Oaklawn’s Fantasy Stakes on Friday, and Ed Sehon gave out a $232.25 late Pick 4 on Oaklawn’s big Arkansas Derby card Saturday.

Yours truly had the exacta and trifecta box in the first division of the Arkansas Derby, but both were net losses. The top three betting choices, led by Charlatan at 2/5, ran 1-2-3, while my long-shot pick didn’t fire. Otherwise, I had some live price plays during the week but cashed only a few nice place prices. I know people hate to hear or read someone say “I had other winners that I didn’t post,” but I hit some nice long shots and made a couple of nice runs in National Handicapping Championship qualifying tournaments at horseplayers.com and horsetourneys.com. I’ve had some Twitter followers request those contest plays since they’ve been doing better than my so-called best bets, so I’ll post them on Twitter @ViewFromVegas when I play a tournament with a “pick and pray” format. That means all selections are put in before the first race as opposed to a “live” tournament, in which you can wait until post time of each race. Those tend to be Fridays and Sundays, but they can pop up anytime Wednesday through Sunday, so check Twitter about 3 p.m. EDT, as that’s generally after the first race has gone off and everyone’s selections are posted on the website.

As for the rest of this week’s column, I wanted to offer more sayings or “one-liners” that have educational value for our horse racing glossary. We received a lot of positive feedback when we did this two weeks ago. However, only a couple of readers offered sayings of their own, and I need more before doing a readers-submission column, so please send more to tuley@vsin.com or on direct message if you follow me on social media.

Here are some more sayings I’ve found myself uttering while under quarantine:

“Beware the long shot in a hidden entry.” Longtime horseplayers will remember when horses would be coupled in the wagering, such as 1 and 1A, just because a trainer had two entries in a race. This was originally done so it was transparent that a trainer had multiple horses and as a protection against collusion. Conventional wisdom was that the connections would know which was the better horse and could even enter a horse as a rabbit to set up a closer, and it was only fair to group them as a team. The downside is that it lowered the betting interest in races and was seen as a handle killer. Nowadays, horses are coupled only when a trainer has multiple runners with the same owner, and this is often waived in stakes races. I’ve long maintained that while trainers certainly know their horses the best, they don’t always know which horse is going to perform best on a given day, so value often can be found in betting the higher-priced horse in a “hidden entry.” The earliest example I remember was the 1995 Kentucky Derby, when trainer D. Wayne Lukas had the top 3-year-old in the land, Timber Country, who went off as the favorite. Lukas had two other entries, the filly Serena’s Song and 24/1 long shot Thunder Gulch. It was no surprise that Lukas ended up in the winner’s circle, but it was a surprise to most people that it was with Thunder Gulch. Lukas was as surprised as anyone. Some 25 years later, we see it happen all the time, from maiden races to stakes races. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not an automatic play, but just something to note when you’re handicapping a race — especially if you see a live hidden entry is being ignored on the tote board. With fewer tracks running right now, we’re seeing trainers forced to find races for their horses, so we’re seeing it even more than usual. And you’ll see it in major stakes races, the obvious example being Bob Baffert with all his talented 3-year-olds).

“Entries don’t give you 2 for the price of 1.” I came up with this one myself because I’ve long heard that saying from other handicappers, but it’s a misnomer as you’re really getting one price for two horses. The horses are coupled in the wagering, and the morning linemaker, and then the public, tries to determine the odds for either horse to win. So think of it this way: You’re not getting that 2/1 on different horses, you’re getting 2/1 on their combined efforts.

“Beware the also-eligible list.” For those who don’t know, the also-eligible list is made up of horses that don’t originally get into a race but could get in later. For instance, a race might be limited to 10 entries, but a No. 11 or No. 12 is listed as also-eligible. A lot of novice horseplayers, and even a lot with experience, will not bother to handicap these horses because they assume they’ll be scratched, and most of the time that’s what happens. But if these horses draw into the race, you need to redo your handicapping and make sure you’re not overlooking them. These offer value for two reasons. We’ve already established that a lot of bettors have ignored them, so they’re likely to go off at higher odds than they should. And the connections entered this horse in a race they probably knew would be oversubscribed but entered anyway, so they probably really like their horse’s chances.

“Beware ‘main-track only’ entrants.” This is 1A to the previous item. It applies to horses entered in turf races who will be scratched unless the race is moved to the main track. Again, they could be overlooked in the betting, plus it’s pretty telling that a horse is well intended if the connections are entering a dirt runner — or more likely a horse that handles a muddy or sloppy track — in a turf race and hoping it gets taken off the grass. It also stands to reason that these types of horses are more well intended than horses that have been training and expecting to run on turf.

We hope these help in your handicapping of the ponies. We’ll add more in the coming weeks,  hopefully including your submissions as well, as we continue to build our Handicapping 201 glossary.

 

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