Handicappers’ Blog | At The Races


The 99-rated Mr Scaramanga remains with potential too.

Whilst the US-trained Lady Aurelia had blown the Queen Mary field apart at Royal Ascot I am still waiting for a European filly to announce herself as top-class.

Limato all class in July Cup romp

Not to be outdone, the boys hit back with a fine performance from Mutakayyef in the Fred Cowley MBE Summer Mile at Ascot on Saturday. From a ratings perspective, things slotted in neatly with runner-up Cymric appearing to reproduce his 109 gained when fourth in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot on his previous start. War Decree gets 110 via my workings but his figure at this stage is in the hands of my Irish counterpart. Quickening to the front over a furlong out, Limato soon went clear in tremendous style though he gave his supporters a moment of worry when hanging right across the track. A poor run in the 1000 Guineas led to various comments about whether she had been overrated, had not trained on or perhaps did not get the mile. Allocating him that rating puts him on a par with Lethal Force in 2013, and you have to go back to Oasis Dream in 2003 to find a higher rated performance in the race.

Mehmas saw off a new wave of competition from the Coventry with Silver Line stepping up in trip from the Norfolk, Ardad doing the same having won the Windsor Castle and a host of promising maiden winners. With luck they may meet at some point during the remainder of the season.  I am, of course, referring to Lumiere and Alice Springs. This suggests that Alice Springs might have scored by around half to three quarters of a length with more luck.

Incidentally, Caravaggio’s effort in beating Mehmas at Ascot remains the current benchmark for European juvenile colts. Currently rated 115, she posted a figure of 112 on the day. That confidence in the market, which eventually sent him off favourite, was not misplaced.

Completing the frame in fourth was Profitable, much improved at 5f this year and winner of the Group 1 King’s Stand last time out when he ran to 117. As well as quantity there was also plenty of quality with no less than six of the challengers already successful at the top level.

Both the historical and pre-race form standards line up on a rating of 121 and the impressive nature of his success fully merits crediting him with that level of performance. Two high quality fillies lit up the mile division at Newmarket’s July meeting last week writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill. The level of competition promises to get tougher with a handful of potentially smart maiden winners from the last week including Dabyah and Easy Victory.

How good were the Newmarket two year olds?

Both historical standards and a direct line through the Chesham form lead to a new assessment of 113 for Boynton. Ardad clearly was not himself having failed to settle at the longer trip; but several others from the Windsor Castle have also let that form down and I have reined it back 2lb to 104.

This implies that Dutch Connection (second: pre-race 115) and Custom Cut (fourth: 114) were a couple of pounds shy of their best with performances of 113 and 112. In beating a field of such depth and quality I have taken the view that he has. Having contested the Lockinge over 8f on his reappearance, Limato was dropping back to 6f for the first time since he chased home last year’s top European sprinter, Muhaarar, in the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

The general view at Royal Ascot was that Alice Springs was an unlucky loser of the Coronation and this result adds credence to that view.

A speed figure of 103 does not quite substantiate the level to the extent the speed figure did in the July Stakes; but that is probably down to the time it took for the pace to get going. With two wins from two runs since being gelded, this was the best performance of the 5yo’s career and I have raised his mark from 112 to 118.

At Ascot Qemah beat her over 4 lengths, at Newmarket Alice Springs beat her by 4.75 lengths. Rated 113 when a narrow fifth in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee where, arguably, he was on the wrong side of a pace bias that day he franked that view in improving further still.

She was also encountering the quickest surface she has faced to date. This suggests that Lumiere reproduced her 116 figure and a step back into Group company is eagerly awaited.

Having already shown a level of form good enough to win an average July Cup, it was a case of deciding whether Limato improved further still to win how he did.

With both the clock and race standards pointing to a repeat of Mehmas’s 110 performance from Royal Ascot I took the view a reproduction of that form was good enough, nor did he seem to have much in reserve.

It is obviously still early days for these fillies. Whilst he showed himself effective at this trip, his best form clearly remains at the minimum and I have him running to 112 here.  It was no surprise to hear that the 5f Nunthorpe at York was next on his agenda.

In other footnotes, Silver Line became the latest to endorse the Norfolk form and that winner, Prince of Lir, has now been raised to an assessment of 108. He was doing his best work late when fourth in the Chesham and here reversed the placings with Cunco; and that without getting a clear run here.

The Duchess of Cambridge proved a similar story as Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly raised her game to see off Magical Fire by half a length.

Also, Frankel’s daughter Fair Eva has had her impressive Haydock success franked several times over as she waits for her next assignment.

Limato went in to the race as the highest rated in the field on 119 based largely on his impressive success in the 7f Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster last year. The placed horses here, Intelligence Cross and Broken Stones, both seem at an earlier stage in their development than the winner so there is still hope for them to progress further.

Newmarket’s July Festival provided the second concentration of major tests for the two-year-old form following on from Royal Ascot, writes Graeme Smith.

Her six lengths demolition of the field in Thursday’s Listed Plusvital Henry Cecil Stakes answered all those questions in no uncertain terms.

Boynton and War Decree are both hugely imposing colts and have already come a long way in just two starts apiece. This was one of those cases where a couple of debut winners leap-frogged some more established types.


Treble The Odds! Register with 888 and receive treble the odds on your first bet with winnings Paid in cash

Alice Springs and Lumiere impress at Newmarket July meeting

Mehmas might have passed his latest test but he lost his status as the leading British juvenile following the 7f bet365 Superlative Stakes later in the week.

This year’s 6f Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, the largest field since Sakhee’s Secret win in 2007, also featured eighteen runners writes Stewart Copeland.

The race had a wide-open look beforehand but, on course, there was sustained support for the Henry Candy trained four-year-old gelding Limato. With Europe’s top older milers struggling to break the 120 barrier, Mutakayyef’s emergence is welcomed.

Chasing him home in second was the five-year-old gelding Suedois, who has shown gradual improvement this year since joining David O’Meara. However, his versatility over 6f/7f – connections are still confident he’ll get a mile given the right circumstances – gives him plenty of options and wherever he turns up he is an exciting horse to look forward to.. He stepped up again to post a career best effort of 115. Again the race looks relatively simple to rate as Always Smile (third) looks to have reproduced her current mark of 110 and that fits pretty well with Irish Rookie (fourth: pre-race 106) improving a pound to 107 and Ashadihan (fifth: 106) running a pound off her Coronation form. Not only does my race rating of 115 better my figure for Coronation winner Qemah (114), but a straight form line using Ashadihan also gives Aidan O’Brien’s filly the edge. Limato aside, she arguably travelled as well as anything but could not match the winner’s decisive burst.

Thankfully that made no difference to the result apart from the fact a case could be made he would have won by further than two lengths but for his wanderings.

In the first major race of the week, the Arqana July Stakes, Mehmas put his reputation as the leading British-trained juvenile on the line and it emerged intact following a half-length defeat of the staying-on Intelligence Cross. The first five home in the Albany were covered by little more than two lengths.

This is based on third placed Gabrial returning to the sort off form he showed when third in both the Sussex Stakes and the QE II last year and Kodi Bear (sixth) running the same race as he did in the Queen Anne. A winning performance of 103 ranks above only those of Arabian Queen (2014) and Please Sing (2008) since 1991.

If that was the appetiser, then Alice Springs provided the main course with success in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes on Friday.

The former proved herself a top-class 2yo last year with victory in the Cheveley Park and her rating of 116 saw her topped only by Minding (120) in the 2yo filly pecking order.

Boynton and War Decree drew upwards of five lengths clear of a pair who had finished in the frame in the Chesham.

A head behind in third was the progressive 3yo filly Quiet Reflection, winner of this year’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Quite where Limato goes next depends largely on him getting the fast ground he favours. She still emerges with plenty of credit though and, given her effectiveness with give in the ground, it was no surprise to hear she will be targeted at some of the big sprint prizes in the autumn.

Kentuckyconnection (fourth: pre-race 108), Atlantic Sun (fifth: 102) and Mohab (sixth: 98) each ran to, or within a pound of, their current marks.

Travelling well within himself off what was a decent pace from the word go, it always looked a case of when, not if, he would stamp his authority on the race

Picking winners is the best handicapping strategy


The trendy horse, Firing Line, barely got around the race track. Wet tracks never help an outside horse unless it can get to the lead.

What’s not to like about a great animal.

Many public handicappers who would have a hard time picking what day tomorrow is act as though picking a favorite is a sign of weakness. Trendy horses make money disappear. For its last three or four races, American Pharoah has been a gimme in any pick 3, 4 or 6 sequence in which it has been involved.

What will a Triple Crown winner do for this country?

Hopefully we’re past the point where certain of the handicapping set think that the extra distance in New York will benefit a closer. Like all the great ones.

Two streaks held steady at the Preakness. Here’s what’s much weaker than playing American Pharoah in the Derby and the Preakness: playing something else. The goal is to make some money. They’re almost reluctant to recommend something that would pay almost a 100 percent return on the investment in a few minutes. But this is no fair weather runner from California like California Chrome and Dortmund.

The place to look for “value” is at the pawn shop.

. And the “value” jinx was once again a sure thing, as one TV picker said he was looking for “value” and then tabbed Firing Line.

Whereas it is great fun to beat a favorite, there’s this to keep in mind: all favorites are not alike.

Knowing which favorite you can’t beat is a trait that is often indicative of good horse handicapping sense.

It can be more harmful than the fear of the kitchen at the track.

The goal of horse race handicapping is not to beat the favorite. American Pharoah is not like the even-money horse in a $5,000 claiming race at Charles Town, where you might beat the chalk with a farm pet. The winner will be near the front. You would have to bring something fancy to compete with Pharoah.

Make us happy.

One of the most costly fears around the horse race track is fear of favorites.

Sure, Materiality and another party crasher or two will have the speed to test Pharoah in New York

How the Sports Betting Line is Made by RJ Bell


. In doing so they attempt to make more attractive the team that is getting less action. Seba explained that it all starts with each oddsmaker creating a line on each game based upon their own personal approach. “We’re not trying to pick the team that covers the spread, we’re trying to make it a coin flip, a tough decision (for the bettor).

Power ratings are the oddsmaker’s value of each team and are used as a guide to calculate a “preliminary” pointspread on an upcoming game. By necessity their approach is very research-oriented and concise, since with millions of dollars at risk there is little margin for error.

Since the oddsmaker’s ultimate goal is equally dividing the betting action, public perception and betting patterns must be taken into account. “The #1 thing for us is to make a line for each game that creates good two-way action.

The purpose of these adjustments, like all line adjustments, is to more equally divide the betting action. People think it’s much more complicated, but it’s not.”

There is a common misconception that point spreads represent the oddsmakers’ prediction of how many points the favorite will win by. Of course there is an entire method to the madness on how the opening line is created. If an oddsmaker comes up with a preliminary line of USC -7, then an adjustment up to -7.5 or -8 would be made in response to the public’s expected USC bias. In our extended interview, Seba explained that there are 4-5 oddsmakers assigned to make lines for each of the major sports (pro & college football and basketball; MLB, NHL, boxing, golf). Each of these oddsmakers bring unique opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the process. Examples of non-game factors that would require an adjustment to a team’s power rating are key player injuries and player trades.

RJ Bell

©Pregame.com 2006

Website: http://www.Pregame.com

“The main objective is that our clients get equal action on both sides,” Seba said.

Once betting begins, sportsbooks can adjust the line at any time.

Experts working for the individual books having a strong opinion on the game

The last step in the line-making process for each oddsmaker is taking one final look to determine whether or not the line “feels right.” This is where common sense and past experience with how games are bet enters into the picture. Of the 4-5 oddsmakers, generally the 2 most respected opinions are weighed more heavily by the Odds Director before he decides on the final line.

Individual books having players who consistently bet with certain tendencies (such as an extreme bias toward favorites or toward a certain popular team like USC)

How the Opening Line Is Made

Why the Line Changes

Once a game’s power rating based pointspread is determined, the oddsmaker will make adjustments to that line after considering each team’s most recent games played and previous games played against that opponent. We do this by drawing from past experiences and applying them to current situations. Reasons for such adjustments include:

Oddsmakers can also change the line depending on various event-related factors such as player injuries or weather. Stated another way, they want to create a line that half the people find appealing to bet one way while the other half find it appealing to bet the other way (known as ‘dividing the action’).

“You either have a passion for it or you don’t,” Seba said. By moving the line, sportsbooks can influence how the public bets on a particular game.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC) is the world’s premier oddsmaking company and the most respected authority on making the lines. Mike Seba is a Senior Oddsmaker at LVSC and has been making lines for the last six years.

Once the opening line is released by LVSC, the individual sportsbooks decide if they want to make any adjustments before offering it to the public. Oddsmakers have to determine if any changes are necessary and send out an “adjusted line.”

The opening line is the first line created by the oddsmakers, which is then sent out to sportsbooks.

For example, if the pointspread on a game is 7 and most of the money is coming in on the underdog (taking the +7), sportsbooks will then move the number down to 6 ½ to try and attract money on the favorite. The power ratings are adjusted after each game a team plays.

Oddsmakers at LVSC are professional sports junkies who love what they do and would probably do it for nothing if you asked them, but they do get paid for it.

Contributed by:

What Is the Line Trying to Accomplish?

Moving the line is the oddsmaker’s effort to balance betting action, and often times such moves can have a major impact on a bettor’s decision.

A round-table discussion among the 4-5 oddsmakers involved in making the line for each sport is then conducted and a consensus line is decided upon by the Odds Director before it is released to the sportsbooks. Obviously, if the line comes out a week ahead of the event (which is the case in football), there is much that could happen during the week leading up to the event that could affect the line. That is not the case at all – their intent is NOT to evenly split the ATS result between the teams; rather, their goal is to attract equal betting action on both sides. If we’ve done that, we’ve done our job.”

Divided action means the sportsbook is guaranteed a profit on the game because of the fee charged to the bettor (called juice or vig – typically $11 bet to win $10). For example, the public might have heavy betting interest week after week on a popular college football team such as USC. Also, adjustments are made after reading each team’s local newspapers to get a sense of what the coaches & players are thinking going into the game. This usually includes having up-to-date power ratings on each team