by Michael Beychok
Let’s talk about prep for a big tournament. For those who don’t play tournaments I suggest you look at the following musings as a way to prepare for a big day or weekend in racing say perhaps the Breeders Cup or Kentucky Derby weekend.
My preparation for the NHC begins with constructing rudimentary track profiles for each of the tracks I anticipate playing during the three contest days.
For background, the NHC allows bets on 9 different tracks that are announced weeks in advance. I tend to focus on 3-4 of them in order to narrow down my preparation time and to keep it as simple as possible during contest play.
Let’s say Gulfstream is one of the tracks I’ve narrowed down to dig into deeper. For Gulfstream, I will construct a track profile for each distance run using the races over the past 6 weeks. I’ll take out sloppy tracks, yielding turf courses, and other non fast track designations for computations. However, I’ll note those so that I can get a general idea on how the track plays when those surfaces are off.
I’ll also note, because I am looking at the charts for each day, when there might have been a bias on either surface.
I’ll note the winning horses running style, E/EP/P/SP/S on each race, distance and surface. I’ll also not the lengths behind at each call and the race position of the winner at the 1stcall.
Again, this is not comprehensive, but it sheds enough light onto how a track normally plays.
If, for example, a surface/distance combo indicates speed horses are favored over closers I’ll tend to eliminate closers on the first glance at the race. But where the profile is really valuable is when it points out a clear running style for a particular distance on a particular surface that is counter to what the betting public is thinking. Closers at 5 furlongs would be an example of this.
Or at the same distance and surface when the profile indicates without speed a horse simply has no shot to win a race at the distance.
Those are the little nuggets of information I’m trying to mine out of the data when I do my preparation. As mentioned before, this simple data mining can be helpful when attacking a card or cards on big race weekends as well. Give it a shot and I guarantee you will find something that surprises you and fills a hole in your handicapping.
*Michael Beychok is a leading political and public relations expert with over 30 years of communication experience on behalf of candidates, corporations and causes.
Beychok is an award winning senior partner at the consulting firm of Ourso Beychok, Inc. a political communications firm working in and on campaigns for more than 20 years.
Michael Beychok won the 2012 National Handicapping Championship winning the grand prize of $1 million and the Eclipse award for best handicapper of 2012. In addition to the 2012 NHC Championship, Beychok has finished 23rdin 2011 and 40thin 2015. Other notable tournament results include a 2ndin the 2000 Youbet Online Handicapping Challenge. Beychok is a 9-time NHC qualifier. He is the all-time leading money winner in handicapping contests.
Since 2014, Beychok has been the horse racing analyst for The Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Advocate providing daily selections for the Fair Grounds races on a daily basis. He is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.
Beychok was a cast member on the Esquire Network TV reality show Horseplayers.