Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not a big fan of "trip handicapping"

The Monday "Night School" sessions on Horse Player Now have generally proven valuable to me, but last night's "trip handicapping" chat raised more questions than answers, in my opinion.  Long story short, I got the sense that trip handicapping requires a ton of time watching race replays and taking notes, not sweet music to the time-constrained, weekend horseplayers like myself with tons of other obligations.  NYRA's Andy Serling gave some interesting insights during the chat, but I came away with an understanding that handicappers will never benefit from the truest sense of a horse's trip solely from the notes in the past performances.

The panel seemed to encourage horseplayers to put our faith in the track handicapper's commentary or reading their program notes to gain insights on particular horses' past trips. But with so much information to absorb, how many of us really can spend the time listening for such nuances?  I'm not sure anything from last night's class will change how I go about my handicapping, but we'll see. In the meantime, I plan on continuing to keep notes on horses that I've observed have gotten a bad trip; for this, I use DRF's Horse Watches, which have proven valuable in keeping tabs on when interesting "bad trip" horses are next entered and perhaps ready to score.


Meanwhile, DRF reports that we might learn by Friday the 2011 schedule for Monmouth Park, which is good news in light of the unsettled state of affairs in Oceanport, NJ (and Trenton, what with the wrangling over the number of race days under law).  The stakes schedule is a shade under $5 million in purses.  The only certainty (unreported in this particular story) is that there will be a 6-day meet, as usual, at Atlantic City Race Course in late-April/early-May.  Otherwise, we await an announcement on the dates for Monmouth.  Personally, I am hoping for something along the lines of a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule from Memorial Day until July 4 weekend, and then maybe a Friday-thru-Tuesday schedule until Labor Day, which will capitalize on the six "dark" days at Saratoga, when many horseplayers look to fill the void. The powers that be could, perhaps, restrict those Tuesday cards (six, in all) to showcase New Jersey-bred horses. Then, a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule post Labor Day and through Columbus Day might have some merit, especially considering the potential of an NFL lockout and sports fans seeking another venue.


  1. In many instances the value of Trip Handicapping has diminished. For novice it may make sense to pay heed to the chartman's comments but for the veterans, trouble lines are certainly going to drop 3-4-5 points in the odds.

    I used to be a videotaper. But I have found other alternatives. Today watching the race itself and a replay (preferably with a head-on) is sufficient enough to jot down the any "playback" horses.

    With trips, the primary key is not what kind of trip a horse had in the past, but what kind of a trip will he have today. I'm rambling here.
    But I'll try to cover that in detail sometime.

    Good day.

  2. Great response, Knight Sky. I share the belief, too, about anticipating what today's trip will be, rather than dwelling on the past. Thanks for the reply; any chance you're at the MP contest on Saturday?

  3. Thanks. I'm probably going to be at the Meadowlands on Saturday. Big news day on Friday though. Monmouth dates will be approved/rejected by the NJ Racing Commission.

    Maybe the Guv will also approve/reject Jeff Gural's proposal to lease The Big M. Can't stand the suspense, no mo'. Good luck in the contest though. :P