April 22, 2011
The summer Simulcast season has opened at Oaklawn. There are lots of interesting aspects to Simulcast that many regional live racing fans miss. My personal favorite is watching the progress which is made by many horses which raced against the tough competition at Oaklawn. The second is that we play Simulcast games at Oaklawn which hone the handicapping talents of our players and give one yet another reason to attend, even though it is not the live sport.
Following the horses which ran at Oaklawn is a great joy. What this teaches me each year is that the competition level at Oaklawn prepares the horses for tough competition no matter where they show up. Normally we see the most Oaklawn runners show up in Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Iowa and Delaware.
I've had enough experience at Simulcast to know that a simulcast player needs to focus on limited action. Just because there's a race going off in five minutes doesn't mean you have to be in action in that race. I prefer to either focus on a certain track, jockey or trainer. Or I find those horses which raced at Oaklawn and zero in on their races.
A good example can be the third race at Keeneland on Thursday. Trainer Tevis McCauley, who raced with us for the first time this year, sent out Kingofthebluegrass. Now some people were reluctant to wager because Keeneland is a synthetic track and Kingofthebluegrass was running on dirt at Oaklawn. But McCauley has been in Kentucky before and I trust that he understands the difference. If he runs a horse there, he must understand that his horse can handle the going.
Kingofthebluegrass had been allowed one start already at Keeneland upon his arrival from Oaklawn. The fact that he was entered back told me that he came back fine and he had enough recovery time to put in his usual good run. He did just that, beating Ordination, who had topped him in his previous outing. But Kingofthebluegrass returned a win mutual of $14.80. This will happen with Oaklawn-raced horses a number of times in the next few months. There will come a time when the "Oaklawn Effect" might begin to wear off, but now for a while. It's a time to take your best shot.
Veteran trainer Lynn Whiting did that on Thursday. Most of us know and trust the judgement of Whiting when it comes to placing horses and giving them the best chance to win. He sent out Classical Closing as the fifth choice in a claiming event at Keeneland. The horse closed stoutly and narrowly missed winning a race which he public didn't give him much chance.
Simucast offers these opportunities and they make it fun.
We also play Twin-Quin on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. A chance to pitnyour handicapping abilities against others at Oaklawn. If we fail to have a winner, the prize gets larger and there can get to be a substantial carryover for a fun game which is played just among those who are here at the track.
Today, for instance, is Friday, April 22. In the second race at Keeneland is a horse called George Ray. In fact he shows no previous success on synthetic surfaces, but I have enough confidence in veteran trainer "Sonny" Wigginton to believe that he wouldn't put George Ray into a spot at which he couldn't succeed. The horse is seven years old. There is no reason to overmatch him at this point.
George Ray is not one of the selections of the track handicapper, but he is dropping in class and has won more money than all but one of his competition. There is no one speed factor in the race, so my belief is that he'll be competitive throughout. Furthermore "Sonny" has put on the young and talented bug rider, Constantino Roman, to get the weight off and an enthusiastic young rider to be in the irons.
This looks like a good spot for George Ray to me. We'll see what happens.
My apologies. George Ray has been scratched.
In Chicago, at Hawthorne in the sixth race, trainer Hugh Robertson, father of Mac who raced at Oaklawn, will send Labeled to the post in hopes of winning an $18,000 claiming race. At Oaklawn, in his last start, for a $12,500, she was defeated by the tough Dixie Pixie. The sixth at Hawthorne is scheduled for five-and-a-half furlongs on the turf. If it comes off the turf, all the better for Labeled. She has good natural speed and already shows an "in-the-moey" performance on an "off" track. As a matter of fact the race has been taken off the turf. all the better for us.
It's plays like that which make Simulcast so much fun. You can pick and choose and have fun doing it. Plus it costs nothing to get into the door.
If you like horse racing and the art of handicapping, the you owe it to yourself to give it a go.
I'll look forward to seeing you. On Saturdays I hope to use the "Terry's Picks" section of the Oaklawn website to zero in on my 10 favorite plays of the simulcast day. I hope we can have some fun with that. I hope I see you soon at Oaklawn simulcast.