|ACRC: Truly vintage, like the cover|
of the Beastie Boys' record for
The Legend On The Lawn
|Atlantic City Race Course handicapper|
William "Hudg" Hudgins
NJ: Share, if you would, some angles that go into your handicapping. Are you more a pedigree specialist, or are you more of a pace or other form of handicapper?
Hudg: I'm a pure "class" handicapper - that entails analysis of current form, suitability to distance, pedigree and overall ability of the animals under scrutiny. Each of us eventually evolves, over time, into a niche that suits our individual personality and class handicapping fits me to a tee. I play longer races in lieu of the sprints - the longer the better, which allows class to rise to the forefront.
NJ: I notice you've been the racing analyst for the 6-day Atlantic City Race Course turf meeting for some time. How did you get involved, and what does the job entail?
Hudg: I was fortunate enough to meet Director of Operations Mary Jo Couts at a Super Bowl party and we became good friends - although talking horses, a passion for both of us, was a bit of a nuisance to some at the gathering. Mary Jo recommended me to track President Maureen Bugdon, and the two of those fine fillies gave me the opportunity to put a lot of years of handicapping experience to good use helping patrons better understand the game with daily seminars and my analysis of each forthcoming race. I owe those two a tremendous debt for their faith in me.
NJ: ACRC's a pretty peculiar place. Considering the brevity of the spring meeting and that horses ship in and out pretty quick, do you have any particular track bias or handicapping angles that you find play particularly well at ACRC? And do these tend to carry over annually, or do these biases and angles change from year to year?
Hudg: ACRC has one of the finest turf courses in North America - it plays fairly in terms of the best thoroughbred can win from any post and at any distance. There is a very slight advantage to the innermost posts (typical over almost every grass course), especially in the sprints, but otherwise class - the ultimate factor over the lawn - usually tells the story. ACRC has its "regulars" in terms of jockeys and trainers whofind the venue to their liking more than others (see the attached stats sheets) and these individuals can be relied upon to produce year-in, year-out provided, of course, that they're on an animal in good form,suited to the distance at hand and not too ambitiously placed in terms of class.
NJ: "Can we take anything from the recent form of horses, either based on race results or recent works? From my small sample of trips to ACRC, it seems to me the runners are often PARX shippers who run on dirt or maybe local trainers getting in a tune-up before shipping to Monmouth."
Hudg: Current form is always important and is one of several entwined factors that meld into the class assessment equation. PARX shippers, as well as those coming up from Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs with recent racing activity/workouts even if only "fair," merit respect provided they are either bred to run well over the lawn and are slated to face moderate competition or have proven ability over the grass against decent competition. And yes, many trainers utilize ACRC as a primer for Monmouth Park / Meadowlands future events - but those types will usually show sharp form over either or both of those courses and while respectable should be viewed with caution.
NJ: The betting card is not as thorough as at other major tracks, with exacta, trifecta and daily doubles the only exotics. Does this change how you go about analyzing races for your audience, or your own wagering at ACRC?
Hudg: ACRC does offer the wagering pools you mentioned and also a couple of superfecta races as well. My aim from the time I open up the Daily Racing Form until I render my opinion is to find the logical contenders, then sort them into order of preference. I play to pick winners, which by the way is exactly how I play throughout the long racing year. Picking winners is the key to showing a long-term profit, be that over a short stint like this forthcoming 6-day stand or over a full calendar year. He/she who can consistently uncover the winner will be around the black ink when the dust finally settles.
NJ: Any new features that ACRC visitors can expect this year?
Hudg: From what I've been told management continues to make things as comfortable and amiable as possible for our guests, so I'm sure they're up to something, although specifics I know not. My daily seminars - at which we school both the novice and seasoned players - still remain at a 2 p.m. start time (they last roughly about an hour) but I've been informed that I'll have a bigger area in the paddock to work in since we've been happily inundated with fans over each of the past sessions (the more the better - love teaching!).
NJ: I know it's still early, but I'm going on Sunday. Any good ideas on that card, or particular plays on other days that readers might want to keep an eye on as the meeting starts on Thursday?
Hudg: No, not really - you're correct, way too early to address Sunday's offerings from that crafty Sal Sinatra (a terrific racing secretary by the way and a great guy to boot). I've fully handicapped Thursday'scard, will chisel that in stone pending scratches, then settle into a traditional routine where what transpires each day may or may not impact my nightly assessment of the next day's card. It's a tactfully slowbut extremely effective method of operation that serves me well.
NJ: Thanks so much for sharing some time with us, Hudg!
The 4-1-1 on "Hudg"
- Age 60, lives in Millville, NJ
- In addition to ACRC seminars, has additional stints around the Breeders Cup
- Seminar host at Valley Forge Turf Club in Oaks, PA
- Favorite track: Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf
- Favorite wager: $20 win/place
- Regular betting locale: Favorites at Vineland (NJ) -- his "home away from home!"