Thursday, May 5, 2016

Derby Handicapping - Final Bathing Index ® Figures & Selections

As most know, we've worked hard this week on our popular Annual Derby Bathing Index ®. The crack team and I have been hot and heavy, looking at pictures, seeing the baths live, and watching video.

The original bath post (here with live bath shots and early analysis) received almost 1.2 million unique visitors, which is just short of the traffic my blog gets when I write a post mentioning Sid Fernando.

I must say, the traffic never ceases to amaze me, but with the past success of the Derby Bathing Index ® I suppose I shouldn't be. For those new to the Index ®, it has produced winners like Mine That Bird, Monarchos, American Pharoah, Big Brown, Street Sense, Animal Kingdom, I'll Have Another, Orb, Super Saver and Smarty Jones (along with a few others) since we started in 2001. I'd link to the posts for verification, but I can't find them right now.

This year we feel will be another banner year for the Index, so without any more delay, here are this year's Final Derby Bathing Index ® figures. At the end of the post are my final selections. To uncover superfecta plays, please send $19.99 to me here at the PTP Blog. The money will go to a good cause, my ADW account.

 Mo Tom - Final 2016 Derby Bathing Index ®, 7.0

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with the highest Bathing Index score in the history of the medium. We have never seen a horse like a bath like Mo Tom. In fact, looking at archived Secretariat bath film found recently buried underneath River Downs ("The Lost Bath Tapes"), I believe even Big Red did not take a bath like Mo Tom.

For a refresher, here's Mo Tom. H2Olicious!

If Mo Tom's trip is as clean as he bathes, the colt is gold!
Amoss & Lanerie, artist rendering

There are a good number of people out there who don't really understand the Bathing Index ® and might be asking, PTP, what about the intangibles?

Well honestly, there is no such thing as intangibles. The trip in the Lousiana Derby, or Risen Star, is of no concern of ours. The speed figures this colt has run, not an issue.

The fact that it was reported there was some sort of fracas between the trainer and jockey after the Louisiana Derby where Mo Tom was an accordian means nothing to us.

We rely solely on the bath. It's the reason we've hit so many Derby winners. We're not changing a thing now.

Our bottom line with Mo Tom: We believe he will win the Kentucky Derby.

Exaggerator - Final 2016 Derby Bathing Index ®, 6.0


When this colt by Leriodesenormeaux (or trained by a Desormeaux - I don't really know, I just watch baths) is asked his birthsign by the lady horses at horse bars, he certainly replies, "Pisces". His love of the bath this week was superb. Because Exaggerator moves his head forward in all his bath pictures - seemingly saying "more bath now", he also receives an excellent Bathing Pace Figure ®

On the track he has shown the ability to tackle Nyquist in a 44 and change half in a sprint, then relax off the pace and win the Santa Anita Derby in the slop. It should be no surprise this horse likes the slop, or that a horse with such a good bath figure is versatile. 

His Index score of 6.0 is the second highest since we started releasing the figures to the general public, tying him with past winners Animal Kingdom and Smarty Jones.

After releasing this information here to many, many bettors, it may end up making him the Derby favorite. It would not surprise me, or the team.

 Creator - Final 2016 Derby Bathing Index ®, 5.0

Trainer Steve Asmussen
Creator's bath score is on par with Point Given, Curlin, and Super Saver, so he's in good company. He clearly loved the bathing all week, and handled himself like a pro.

If you analyze the Creator bath video, you will notice a nice relaxed tail. At the present time there is a real debate in the Horse Bathing Handicapping Community (HBHC) between the benefits of a flare tail while bathing, versus a relaxed tail. I am from the classical school, so my figure factors in his flat tail. It's really an amazing bath tail.

A lot of people say Creator went up the wood in Arkansas, and didn't really separate himself from Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore who went wide and will be longer odds. To them I ask, "so what, how did they bathe?". That shuts them up.

There are a number of questions with Creator -- will he get pace to run at, is his post okay, what in the hell is with his trainer's hair -- but there's no question he's bath ready.


 Mor Spirit - Final 2016 Derby Bathing Index ®, 4.0

One thing I have noticed over the last 15 years doing the Derby Bathing Index ®, it's that all Bob Baffert horse's have been good bathers. I have heard from people who worked for Bob that he bathes his horses at a young age -- sometimes as a weanling -- to get them to love the bath, and his horses respond on the big stage.

Bob Baffert
Mor Spirit has been favored in all his starts, and his loss in the slop should not concern you. It must have been shoeing, or maybe he ate some bad hay.  With a 4.0 score, he is not afraid of water.

Something else that has worried some people is the spelling of the word "Mor". This is not a problem. The millennials are spelling it Moar, Mor and More while they stay up all night playing video games in their parents basements. He's a modern colt.

I really don't think -- if you are a follower of the bath index -- you should be leaving this colt off your tickets. 
Brody's Cause - Final 2016 Derby Bathing Index ®, 3.0

In Florida, my source (who shall remain nameless........ Pompano Park and part time Gulfstream announcer Gabe Prewitt) told me this colt did not take to the bath. It sure looked like some good info, because he raced as flat as a pancake.

At Keeneland, where I personally watched him bathe, he was frankly, amazing. He was like some sort of brown fish that looked like a huge horse. A fish-horse.

Boy did I go to the windows.

Watching him bathe this week, though, he received a lower figure. Brody will need a little luck.

Me and the team thank you for your purchase

Thanks you for clicking and purchasing my Derby package. This comes with a special money back guarantee*

This year's Derby calls for a heavy lean to two horses - Mo Tom and Exaggerator. Because I am a top bettor with lots of skill, I will show you how to construct tickets around these two horses. 






Superfecta Bet Special Ticket Construction: 


Other special ticket construction superfecta bets:  


Special Super High Five construction bet: 


Good luck everyone. May the horse be with you. 

* If none of the horses mentioned either here, in old blog posts, or by me on twitter between now and race time (except Oscar Nominated, he won't do anything) don't hit the top 15 finishers, send me a self addressed stamped envelope and I will give you a refund.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


I find myself, as per usual, at odds with most of the general public when it comes to suspensions. I realize this happens time and time again, because my philosophy always lies in intent, and what said suspension accomplishes.

Last evening - this was a hockey game, but could be football, or any other contact sport - a Capitals defensemen leveled a check at another player, which - because the puck was nowhere near the player - was interference. The other player had no idea the hit was coming, and was concussed. It was scary, because injuries like that can hurt a career, or end one, and the kid is only 21.

The offender said he thought they were both making a play on the puck, and - like D men are taught - you take the body. The offender clearly screwed up, but there's no real intent - he'd have to be an idiot to intend to do that in a 0-0 game, giving a powerful team a power play, and maybe costing his team the game. In addition, if the hurt player did look up and brace, this is a run-of-the-mill interference call. It looks like a hockey play gone bad.

The Caps player will likely get games.

In the same series, a player (with full intent) kneed another player. The offended player was not hurt - but could've been severely - so he got a small fine and no games. If the offended player was out for the series, things might've been different, even though it should've been penalized with games in the first place.

This is nothing new for the NHL (or NFL for that matter), which could make racing look consistent with suspensions. They often let players off with little who clearly intend to do harm. Recently a media darling who plays for Chicago swung his stick like a weapon at a players head, striking him, and only received six games.

In racing, commissions act very similarly and sometimes it's tough to digest.

Case A - A horse appears to have a sore belly on Wednesday. A trainer calls the vet and the vet says to give him a little bit of "X" paste. Trainer calls the next day and says it was a false alarm, the horse is fine. He says the horse is in to go Sunday, and they want to race him, but wants to ensure there was nothing in that paste that could test, because if so, he'll scratch the horse. The vet says no, it's fine. The trainer calls the commission vet to double check and the commission vet says they're fine. The horse races, is tested, and tests with .00145 trillionth of a gram of Class II of something which has minimum sentencing in most places. The vets all missed it.

The commission gives the trainer 180 days. Class II's are bad.

Case B - Trainer knowingly milkshakes a horse with the intent of stopping lactic acid build up late in the race, and to cheat his fellow competitors. This time he gives a little too much a little too close and the mmol's are 39. Trainer is caught, and it's his 3rd time.

The commission gives the trainer 30 days. In some places he might get 60.  It's not a Class II, it's a milkshake.

Penalizing the first case does virtually nothing. What did the trainer do wrong? He followed every protocol with every intention of racing his horse clean. "Be more careful" is the message, but how can he be more careful? Giving him a fine to think about it is warranted, but 6 or 9 months? You can't correct behavior which is not correctable.

In the second case you are, in effect, condoning a stick to the head, or a knee to an unsuspecting hockey opponent. Sure, cheat, we'll gavel it down to something, it's not a Class I or II. No worries. In Case 2, you can correct the correctable - "if you intend to pull one over on us, you're done." - but time and time again they are unwilling to do so.

I do not know why this industry does not come down hard on intent, or the constant screw ups from bad stable management. If they do, they'll only be dealing with rare, unintended mistakes by primarily good people.  Rare mistakes from good people with good intentions are easy to deal with.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

PTP's Bathing Index ® Derby Handicapping Angles - This is Much Better than Dosage

Good day racing fans!

It's one week until the Derby, where drunk people, rich people, sororities at almost every University, and others get together to watch, wager, take molly, drink juleps, wear hats, have parking issues, and partake in the annual Kentucky horse racing tradition.

I have scanned the big websites, read almost all social media and was very surprised that there are not a lot of people giving their thoughts on this year's Run for the Roses. It's like no one has an opinion! So in my never ending search for traffic, I decided to pop up a handicapping post. I think this post will help both new fans and old salty handicappers land on a winner.

As most know, physicality is important for handicapping (Leadbetter, et al). A lesser known angle is watching how a horse reacts while getting soapy water thrown on him. As long time handicapper Jessica notes, it can be a key to unlocking Derby betting fortune.


Let's begin with our control group, Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

 This picture shows just how powerful a handicapping angle this is. Is that a horse or a fish? Notice the head down, like Orb is ready to run. Take a look at the lead, it's not taut, it's loose; "be free boy!". Orb is saying "more bath, more bath please, human handler." This is a standout look. And this is why he won the Kentucky Derby.

Now we'll move on to this year's field.

* Update* Creator.

This folks, is H2O-glorious. Check out the tongue; we've got plenty of activity. All we see is a horse who is loving every minute of it. Creator is so calm he could've played the War Horse in the movie The War Horse. He spends weekends at farmer's markets sniffing handmade soaps, his favorite band is Aqua. I've run out of metaphors. This colt is the real deal.

A big hat tip for this bath shot (for video please click here) from Paul Miles and Kansas City TV and web lady DeAnn.

Next, we have an update for Wednesday, that seems like a Twitter-meme of some sort with the millennial type twitter people, of which I am not. 

I think this classic, strapping looking young man is truly Japan's Lani. If so, this horse has created quite the stir. He apparently works different, bucks some, throws his head around, and people in America don't like that. As for his love of the bath, frankly, I give him some solid marks. There's really not much consternation here, and other than the obvious - there's no way she can wash the top of his head, so come Derby Day it may be dirty - it's not a big deal. Ikimasu Lani, Ikimasu!

This shot worries me. The body language of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion is saying, to me, he'd like to be somewhere else, like sleeping under a tree, or hanging out in the paddock. Maybe he read everyone in the racing press say that he can win fast at 9 furlongs, but an extra 220 yards will cause him to stop like he was hit by a fat man in a wheel barrow. Maybe the influence of his second dam (who was cranky when bathed) is coming into play. Who knows, really, (we may never know) but the love of the bath is not there for me.

Well ain't this a cracker. Mo Tom = Mo Bath. Ears up, tongue out and suds falling off his back like he's a duck. After Mo Tom's career is over he could be a greeter at an aquarium. Can you say live longshot?

There are a lot of scary things about the Kentucky Derby -- big crowds, high takeout, Todd Pletcher's record -- but the biggest, scariest red flag for me, is when your horse needs to be bribed with peppermints to take a bath. I'll reevaluate this colt later in the week to see if he's progressed to taking a bath because he wants to take a bath, but right now we're concerned.

This picture throws me off a bit because it's in black and white and kind of artsy. But all I see is a lack of confidence. It's like the water is a scary foreign object, the soap kryptonite. Maybe he's deep in thought wondering why they named him with a Mo, when he is not a son of Uncle Mo, which confuses everyone. Maybe he's sad about his last performance. Perhaps he read Marcus Hersh tweets saying he doesn't like him and he's wondering "what did I ever do to Hersh?". I don't know, but it's worrisome.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your Derby favorite! We've got camera people taking pictures, a dude at Exaggerator's flank, and another guy with a bucket under his shoulder. Normally this would make a horse spook faster than a set of blinkers on Palace Malice. Not this horse. Not this Derby. Take a look at the way the suds roll off his shiny barrel. Take a look at the relaxed tail, the ears. Exaggerator looks like he was born to bathe. And for the Derby, born to bathe means born to run.

At the present time I am looking at an Exaggerator-Mo Tom perfecta, and I will use some closers for third. After seeing Creator this morning, I will add him, and make the above a three horse box.

I hope everyone enjoyed today's handicapping post. May the horse be with you.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Inside Scoop Behind CDI Snagging the 2018 Breeders' Cup

As most of you know by now, the 2018 Breeders' Cup will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

What you may not know is the inside story of how it came about. For that, we have our intrepid Cub Reporter ® who had unprecedented access to the proceedings. "Cub" has, via email, sent me most of the scuttlebutt, with the disclaimer that it's just between us. So, I'll change some words around and write about it below.

Artist rendering of an unknown CDI executive
As we may expect, for CDI to consider the Breeders' Cup, several changes had to be made to revenue models, and at times, the negotiation was relentless. Further, new revenue streams had to be established, so the CDI machine could show record profits.

Some details that you will read about here and here only (until some of them are released to the public):

Takeout: "The Breeders Cup share of takeout is already set in stone, but there's no one stopping us from upping our share", says my source (who for anonymity I will simply call "Churchill McChurchillface"). "Penn tracks can charge 30% and they're doing super, so we will be looking at those rates," he continued.

"There was a movement for 100% takeout on some exotics by some executives, but that was snuffed out because one of the team said (and I think he's right), with 100% takeout we'd have no prices to show on our big screen".

Licensing Fees: Today, CDI is filing a patent on the color purple, when said color is used at racetracks, or anywhere in America, that brown animals of any type run in a circle with a pari-mutuel outcome.

"This will allow us to charge a licensing fee of 3% on anything sold with the color purple at Churchill Downs, during BC week", said McChurchillface.

"Right now the legal team is looking into if we could take 3% of the purse, because the saddlecloths for the races are purple. This will add more revenue," said my source.

No Coats: Security (although Churchill says they will publicize this beforehand so no one is caught off guard) will be confiscating all coats upon entry.

"You see, the temperature in October can get cold. With the new no coats policy people will have to buy one - a purple one - to stay warm. The only place the heat will be on will be in the Mansion,", my source said. "And to get into the Mansion you have to show your tax returns with many zeroes. The average fan must buy a jacket."

Cost Cutting/Ads: "We have to do some cost-cutting if this is to be a success," said the source. "Travis Stone will be paid nothing this year. We feel the free publicity he gets could land him a job - Buffalo Raceway, Fair Meadows Tulsa, Marquis Downs - anywhere, so we're doing him a favor. This is like a pension, or employee benefit."

The "big screen" will show ads, from just about anywhere.

"Calder threw up some risque ads of the ladies, remember? So, since they broke ground, anything goes, as long as it comes with Benjamins", said McChurchillface. "We will even take a Keeneland or Kentucky Downs ad."

Television Production: People may, like usual, tune in to NBC and expect some big names on the docket. In 2018, CDI is going all digital, and doing a little cost cutting.

"We're going to broadcast the races in standard definition, and in between races we're just going to be showing pictures from instagram and twitter. We might have a guest or two on Skype" said the source.

"No one will miss one horse bath, so don't worry. It will be all tastefully done".

One potential problem for some, however, is they will need a Twinspires account to see any of it, free, relays my source. And, at the present time you may have to bet at least $1,500 in the calendar week before to be eligible.

"If not, it will likely be $109.99", said Churchill McChurchillface.

Appearance Fees for Celebrities Will be Toned Down: If there's something we like about the Breeders' Cup, it's the celebs - Richie Sambora playing guitar, Broadway musicians, Tom Brady (if suspended and having nothing to do that weekend). In 2018, expect none of it.

"We'll tone it down a little," said McChurchillface.

"The National Anthem might be played by a Nickelback cover band, The Best is Yet to Come might be sung by the winner of a local talent competition. Between race interviews will probably be of Montell Williams, Urkel, ex-Paulick Report founder Brad Cummings, Ernie from Ghostbusters, or maybe some old retired boxers," says my source.

"That kind of stuff".

That's all we have right now. We'll keep our ears to the ground here at the PTP blog. Cub Reporter ® will be working his or her sources. When we hear more, you will hear more. We're here to serve.

Enjoy your Monday everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Myth and Reality About Takeout

Canterbury Park announced a huge takeout decrease this morning. The Minnesota oval has been using an alternative gaming deal to primarily support purses and marketing, but this year has sunk some (potential opportunity cost) cash into the customer.
"Canterbury Park has long strived to be the most horsemen-friendly track in the country," said vice president of racing operations Eric Halstrom. "Now, we want to be the most horseplayer-friendly racetrack in America. With the growth in the quality of our racing program we, with the support of our horsemen, are taking the next step and making our races the most profitable wagering opportunity. By changing our takeout to the lowest in the United States, we're giving horseplayers worldwide great value and drawing attention to what is sure to be the finest racing season in Minnesota history."
Clearly, gold stars all around to Canterbury. They have been pushing their on-track marketing and become highly successful in that vein, and are now branching towards building that on-track betting base, and giving a jolt to the signal in the simulcast market.

Let's face it, if all tracks used their alternative gaming in this way the last 20 years, I think we all agree the sport - from the fan, the $2 bettor, small owners (and foal crops), to the every day bettor - would be better off. Up to this point, for the most part, money was almost solely sunk into purses and bottom lines of the track. It's why there was such an inflationary spiral in track values, while handle was falling precipitously.

When a track, especially a small one, makes a move like this, sometimes the expectations illustrate a tepid (at best) understanding of takeout.

"If horseplayers don't run out and support the track in big numbers, it's a failure", is a common refrain from non-bettors.

That's wrong.

In California in 1990, blended takeout was about 16%. Now it's about 21%. That's a higher increase than Canterbury Park's decrease this year.  In 1991, did everyone stop betting, when that rake increased? In 2000? In 2006?

It did not. Horseplayers, en masse, did not make a conscious decision to leave on one day, or in one week, or even in one year. California (as well as other jursidictions) lost market share as the price went up over time. The fact that if California horse racing held its own with the rate of inflation since then handle would be well over $5B in the state, but is only about $3B, has to do with the slow burn, not a raging inferno.

This happens in other games, too. The Massachusetts state lottery used to take out 70 cents of every dollar purchased, but slowly began lowering it to the current approximate 30% takeout. They never advertised it, lottery players didn't say "oh, the takeout moved from 70% to 65%, let's run out and buy lotto tickets! It just happened that over time, returning more to the lotto player allowed them to have a few more bucks into their pockets than they once had, and they replayed.

Today the Massachusetts lottery is the highest grossing and most successful lottery jurisdiction in America.

This is easy to see in working form, in a Canterbury example, with this little graph we saw on twitter today.
If you hit the tri's above at say a Parx, you realize $3499 in return. If you hit those same tri's at Canterbury, they return $4100. That's $600 more in your pocket.

Because you don't physically "see" the takeout decrease, you don't put that $600 in your pocket to take home, it stays on your voucher, or in an ADW account and you rebet.

If it took you $4,000 to hit those tris at Parx, you are a big loser and you possibly say, at some point, "I am tired of losing, I want to try something else" and never come back to the track.

If it took you $4,000 to hit the Canterbury tri's you are a net winner of $100 and you may say "I need to come back here more, because I think I can make money."

That's the anatomy of a takeout decrease. It's not bells and whistles, it's money in your pocket which makes a difference on how you view your betting experience. 

This Canterbury Park move, as others who have tried, is a good one. It's bold and racing needs more of it. But no, just like a poker, or lotto player does, people will not be lined up out the door like it's a Thanksgiving Sale at Best Buy. They will instead be churning away and hopefully, over time, figuring out that racing is a better bet than it has been, and enjoying themselves more. Bettors who enjoy themselves more stick around. Bettors who don't head to the nearest poker table.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Courts Say Injecting is "Fraud", Weekend Racing Thoughts

In a case that lasted five years, and went to the highest courts in the land, an Ontario trainer was convicted of fraud for injecting a horse with a performance enhancing substance.

Although the penalty (a fine) seems inconsequential, the tenets of the case strike a chord.
Manarin said there’s a difference between cyclist Lance Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs and Riesberry injecting them into a horse, Everyone’s Fantasy, before it ran in Race 6 on Sept. 28, 2010, at Windsor Raceway. “The horse has no choice,” said Manarin.
The message sent is pretty clear.

It does show how difficult it is for racing, and the courts, to deter such practices, however.  The trainer in question was caught in the act, yet it still took a long period of time, and the courts themselves needed to be educated about the effects of such actions.

This weekend was a big one in Thoroughbred racing with the Derby field getting very close to being set.

In the Wood, the speed figures came up ok, but the field crawled home like they were running in molasses, each carrying a fat man. Outwork, the son of Uncle Mo, had pace pressure the whole way, and lasted on the front end, holding off a massive longshot. He probably raced well, I suppose, but I can't discern much from that race.

In the Santa Anita Derby, Danzig Candy - perhaps the fastest three year old so far at a distance - went way too fast and stumbled home on a weird surface. Exaggerator's final time was ok, and he was visually impressive, which usually means he will be overbet come Derby day.

Another horse with visually impressive credentials won the Blue Grass - Brody's Cause. I always liked this horse, and he has a nice closing kick, but again I am not sure what to make of the race in the grand scheme of things.

Right now, Nyquist is the big chalk, and deservedly so. But he has reached that threshold with a 7 furlong prep where he went 44 to the half, and a Florida Derby where the main competition didn't show up, allowing him to race and beat a bunch of 60-1 shots. Adding to that, the pedigree guys hate the dam side, too. As we said a couple of days ago, he "might be the best horse we're looking at", and the chinks in his armor might end up being pretty minor when compared to the others.

It's a weird year so far, and unless something pops in the Arkansas Derby, we have Nyquist, a few prep winners who look slow on paper, two early steam horses in Mohaymen and Danzig Candy who cantered home in their last preps, Gun Runner, and some others. Right now the Nyquist-Gun Runner perfecta looks to take a beating.

Last year at this time there were three horses with big numbers, who won their preps impressively, who looked the part coming into the Derby (AP, Dortmund, Firing Line). It's sure not 2015.

The handle for the prep races were good at the various tracks, but could've been better, considering how good, and how big the handle has been for these big days of late. The suspect weather may have played a part.

The cross track stakes pick 4 did great, and it did, in my view, more than just inflate the Blue Grass handle (which was a record, but would not have without it). It added a little zip, and showed two tracks working together can bring in some scratch.

The handle for the Santa Anita Derby day looked fine, but I never trust the handle reported from the state. For example, "all source" handle for the last meet was reported as down 1%, while on Santa Anita races it was down about 10%, or down 3.5% date adjusted (not official figures, but they're close).

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.