Category Archives: Uncategorized

Unique Bella takes down the Santa Maria, Ax Man Fizzles in Santa Ynez Stakes

On paper it was suppose to be easy but true gamblers know that sometimes it isn’t. When the four-year-old daughter of Tapit entered the gate for last Saturday’s GII $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes all eyes were on her and it turned out to be an easy walk-over win for her as expected.

Sent off as the $0.10 cent favorite, Unique Bella cruised to an easy nine-length win without ever being seriously challenged while cutting out fractions of 23.54, 46.80, 1:10.95 and stopping the timer in 1:36.49. Moptotism was second and Majestic Heat heat finished third but they never threatened ‘Bella.

“I don’t think we’ve seen yet how good she can be,” said jockey Mike Smith after the win. “I’ve surely seen how easy she’s doing things right now which I think is truly impressive. I truly believe we haven’t gotten to the bottom of it.”

Later in the day Ax Man was sent off as the $0.40 cent favorite in the GII $200,000-added Santa Ynez but got cooked on the rail traveling 7-furlongs. Ax Man, the promising son of Misremembered had some Kentucky Derby aspirations but got pressed from his rail post and weakened in the stretch. With hot fractions of 22.00, :44.25, 1:09.89 and a final time of 1:22.62 the race set up perfectly for Kanthaka who came rolling late to defeat runner-up Nero. All out Blitz checked in a distant third.

“I was completely screwed by the two horse” (Mr. Jaggermeister), Drayden Van Dyke rider of Ax Man said. “He had me pinned down on the rail and he was done at the three eighths pole, but he kept me in tight. My horse got tired, but he never got a breather. I would completely throw this race out.”

The connections of Kanthaka will think about the colts options.

 

 

 

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Allow me to rant for a bit would ya?

Okay I know I “try” to bring positive vibes and comments to all my social media posts but this week I’m going to start with a few rants.

First off I can’t believe the sound system at Santa Anita. Yesterday I was back in the pressbox at Santa Anita and the public address sound system is so bad you can’t hear the race calls. This isn’t something that is new. The sound system is terrible and just as bad for the patrons attending the races throughout the grandstand an facility. There were several races I was working on Sunday’s card and actually looked up to see a race in progress, one as they were approaching the 16th pole. For a track like Santa Anita this is unacceptable and needs to be fixed now. I only bring this up as I think it’s kinda crucial for the patrons to be able to hear the race calls. Don’t you?

Congrats to the Philadelphia Eagles for taking down the Super Bowl this past Sunday. What a game this turned out to be. Despite us being way off with our Super Bowl wagers, laying the points with the Pats and the “Under”, we found the game to be enjoyable to watch.

 

 

 

Need a box car KY future Derby wager?

If you follow us at all you’ll know I’m not into compiling top ten lists for the Kentucky Derby, or any other sport for that matter. You think I have enough time fantasizing today about what is going to happen the first weekend of May? Hell no. Besides, with all practicality of a horse actually making it into the starting gate with these animals being as fragile as they are, I’d rather wait and use my cash bankroll to actually make wagering capital sooner than much later.

But …. sometimes you get a wild hair and a extreme longshot proposition comes your way that is worth taking a swing at.  This year I have such a horse. But before we give out this three-year-old colt let me warn you it’s a longshot so much so he’s not showing up on any lists or Kentucky Derby Future odds boards. He is flying completely under the radar as of right now.

Let me wet your appetite a bit more. This three-year-old colt currently resides in the Bob Baffert barn and has had only two career starts. He was beaten a nose in his debut and then came back to win career start number two by a scant nose. The good thing about this fellow is in both of his starts he’s been as green as grass and we think he’ll continue to improve. While he certainly has a ways to go before he gets a stall in the gate on the first Saturday in May he’s worth taking a stab at at what is huge Kentucky Derby Future odds.

Ready?

Nero

Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker) – Ocean Goddess (Stormy Atlantic) Take a good look at this colt folks and make sure you follow him. He could very well have you smiling on Kentucky Derby Day!

 

 

 

Filling out my application and resume

After several weeks with my bookie, I began to realize that there was an opportunity to be made in the “football card” distribution end. At a young age I was smart enough to realize I didn’t have the capital to do it on my own, but saw the large amount of cash that was exchanging hands with the bettors. These football cards were a gold mine and weren’t all that easy to hit. You see you played “parlays” for a minimum of three teams for as little as a buck investment and would win $5 for each dollar wagered. Ties would lose, so you’d lose the wager. I could see how entertaining and popular these “betting instruments” were and wanted in.

Again I approached my bookie. I asked him if I could earn cash by helping distribute these cards and he reluctantly agreed at first to let me in. “I’ll give you 10% off the top when you turn them in to me,” he said. It didn’t take me long to get my new “sales route” up and running.

parlay 001At first I was getting maybe a $2 or $3 commission from what I turned in. I played a card for that amount to try and score bigger bucks but soon realized that perhaps these cards would do well at school with my fellow students. It didn’t take long before I was considered a “runner” and was turning in a few hundred a week. That quickly turned into several hundred a week when my friends fathers caught on, then brought them to work and distributed them to co-workers, uncles, stepdads, etc. Within a football season I was making $100 to $200 a week. Keep in mind that this was back in the late 70’s and I was still in high school. Non-taxable, this was a pretty darn good source of cash.

My book was impressed with my sales. When I was “promoted” to “runner” status, my new commission structure was bumped up from $10% to 20% which helped my bottom line grow. I soon figured out that I now could offer 5% to my fellow students and there fathers and give them free plays on the cards they turned in for personal plays. That helped increase their efforts and my little side business kept on growing from there.

Of course I still loved the horses and the ponies was where my heart was at. I used the card income to use as my gambling bankroll and I quickly retired from the landscape business of having to cut neighbors lawns.

Every Tuesday and Fridays were now adventures. I’d pick up the cards on Tuesday night and Wednesday through Friday nights were the days they would be distributed. Usually on Friday nights, no later than 10:00 p.m. they would be turned in, my commission safely in my pocket and the weekend was spent at Santa Anita. I’d pull into my books driveway on a typical Friday night and would meet him on his stoop. ‘What ya got for me?” he would ask. Then after I gave him the turn-in amount he’d peel off my cash and off I’d go.

It was too good to be true. My business kept growing and I soon was even getting a “bonus” with a credit he’d offer on my wagering tab. While there were sadly several times I’d end up working for free when the ponies went cold,  I still made a very nice sum of cash during the football season. I even brought up the idea to him there should be such a thing as basketball cards but had to be reminded that hoops had several games a week and cards wouldn’t be practical. Hey I tried!

 

 

 

 

 

Nice to meet you Mr. Bookie

Our last blog post told you pretty much how I got involved in this crazy career I’m into. Like Frank Sinatra said, “I did it My Way” and wouldn’t change much of anything to be honest. Oh maybe a few things could have been started sooner, like money management and learning it’s best to wait for a good wagering opportunity instead of chasing wagers. But the good thing is I learned and boy did I. But it really all came to together when I met my bookmaker, or “bookie” as they are called today.

You’ll hear me often  call a bookmaker or bookie your “neighborhood friend”. The guy you may meet a few days a week at the bowling alley or pool hall. Sometimes at the local shopping mall. If you are serious about this business he’s one guy you need to have in your speed dial contact list and let me tell you why.

Simply put, you can wager on credit. Now to many people this probably isn’t a good thing. Some gamblers don’t know how to manage a bankroll and will chase bad bets. But if you are a seasoned veteran, you’ll need one. I will not and refuse to open an on-line account unless it’s an absolute necessity. Why? Because I don’t want any government agency having any of my banking information and wagering history in their hands. Too many offshore accounts have been shut down by our beloved federal government overnight and cash seized and all records seized. No thanks. Don’t need that headache, don’t want it. Now I’m not saying that simply put offshore accounts will get seized but it has happened and I don’t want to take that risk.

So lets back track about 40 years.

I met my first bookie through a little league baseball coach. Yup. No kidding. You see, I was already into wagering on the horses and as I entered my mid-teens I was pretty much all in. I mean, I was buying a DRF everyday and was addicted to the daily doubles and exactas. I often found myself not able to get to the track and way too many times I missed out on chances to make a few bucks. Remember, when I grew up you either wagered at the track or you didn’t.

One weekend, a friend of the family’s was up at our local little league park and I would often hang out there as several of my friends and family members would often go watch games and see other teams play. One day, I pulled out my DRF and was standing by a chain link fence. My friends dad came by and said lets take a look. He read my copy for about 10 minutes and then told me he’d be back. A quick visit to the snack bar pay phone and he was back telling me he had just bet a $5 exacta box in the fifth and needed a 1-3 finish. What you talking about I asked? How did you get that in from here? He smiled and said, “I called my book.”

Another thing needed on these leisurely Saturday’s at the little league park was a transistor radio. You see, back in the day, the stretch calls were broadcast by KNX-1070 every thirty minutes during the sports broadcasts. Whoever was doing the sports scores would blurt out “the results of the fourth race from Santa Anita are now in and for the call here’s track announcer Harry Henson.” Things have changed haven’t they?

If you were lucky you would hear your horses named called as the calls were pretty short. They would give the official order of finish and the prices. Well you guessed it, my friends dad hit his exacta and won some cash. Okay, now I just had to know. What’s a book?

As the saying goes I was on him the rest of the day like white on rice. How did you do that? I want to be able to do that I pleaded with him. “You’re too young for that he told me. Plus your parents would kill me. Besides, you can’t mess with these people Eddie you’ll get in trouble if you can’t pay them.” I didn’t want to hear any of that though. I now wanted to have a “book” even though I had little idea of what one was and how it all worked.

My friends dad wasn’t talking. While he thought he was protecting me, it just made matters worse knowing I was missing out on something. So while I stopped asking, I listened very carefully and soon discovered the bookie I was missing out on was actually a rival pony league coach. This man who I’ll call Mr. X didn’t have the best reputation in the league. His kids were a few years older than I was and Mr. X drove a nice car and was often involved in shady draft deals with his pony league teams and was often involved in protested games.

So one afternoon I got up the courage to ask Mr. X following a baseball game. “Mr. X, can I start wagering with you? I heard you take bets.” I wish I could describe the look on his face, utter disbelief that one of his son’s friends was asking about his bookmaking job.

“What do you know about what I do”? he asked. I took out my copy of that days DRF and said “I need a way to get my wagers in.” I can’t really remember the rest of my conversation with Mr. X but I do know I left the ball park that afternoon with a way to get my wagers in and a “small credit line.” I felt like I had hit it big.

I couldn’t wait. The next race day I was on the phone, a mid-teenage something kid with a bookie.

This is “1612” I said as the person who answered the phone bellowed out, “ya”. I have you at “zero” for the week he said. After I confirmed my total, I jumped right in with a few daily double plays and never looked back.

Next week we’ll talk about my new job as a runner … distributing football cards for my new employer.

 

 

 

Horse Racing Old School Memories

Every year around this time old school memories start to pop up on how I got involved in this crazy game. With all the material I have, I could write a book. Rumors have it that one is indeed in the making. Today we’ll just make it simple and talk about horse racing as horse racing is first and foremost in my heart.

I remember coming into the game around the time Secretariat and Sham were doing battle. I was torn between the two as the media touted Sham but my older brother was in Sham’s corner. I ended up falling in love with Secretariat and rooted for him every time he stepped on the track. “Big Red” will be the best horse I saw compete, not in person but over the television. I have lots of favorites but stand firm on him being the best horse I have seen in my lifetime. You’ll never change my opinion on ‘Red.

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I really got hooked the first time I set foot at Santa Anita. It was on a Sunday as my family and another big time horse racing family set foot into the infield for a family picnic. I can’t remember the exact amount of cash I brought but remember I had a banner day wagering on horses to show and walked out with much more than I went in with. For a runny nose kid of about 12 years old, it wasn’t a bad day and I thought I had found the secret of making cash. On the drive home I figured “who needs to mow lawns when I can bet on the horses.”

Of course that idea went out the window when I lost on all of my next wagers but I was still hooked. There was something to be learned here I thought and if I stick with it I’ll be able to make cash. While that was sound reasoning at the time, there was still so much to learn about money management, bankroll, etc.

I maybe was the youngest subscriber to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. I idolized the public handicapper’s … Jerry Antonucci, Professor Gordon Jones and the other ‘cappers that had their picks listed in the consensus box. At the end of the day, the horse section in the sports page was marked up like I was an old pro. I didn’t really know what I was marking up but all I knew is I was learning and was fascinated at the game.

I soon found myself riding with my mom in the morning as she would often take my dad to work. Heading west on route 66, I would ask “turn it on KIEV.” Each morning KIEV gave out scratches and changes with Bill Garr who gave a 15 minute radio report on a.m. radio. Back in the days, the radio was the source. Internet? What is the internet? I soon found out that scratches in the mornings meant the horses wouldn’t be running that afternoon and less horses to concentrate on. Thanks KIEV! Plus jockey changes were important too! I don’t like jockey “A” but what if all of a sudden jockey “B” was riding? More powerful information I needed to learn about.

I also marveled at the “touts” ads printed in the Examiner that would run at the bottom of the page. I even called them trying to pry information from them for free. Mostly I heard “get lost kid” before they hung up but did grow found of this one guy, Jay Richards who told me to call back after post. Jay was awesome, gave me some advice but politely asked me not to call again until I was 18. Probably his way of saying no more freebies until you can bet legally and purchase our info. Okay Jay, I gotcha.

While my parents became more curious as to why I was getting up at 6:00 a.m. to get all this information, I think It was my father who figured it out before mom did. It wasn’t that I wanted to make sure he safely made it to work but rather I was gathering info for the track and stopping for doughnuts along the way didn’t hurt either.

I’d go off to class and would frequently gaze at my “marked up” Herald Examiner. I couldn’t wait to see how my horses ran. All I remember was I want to be at the track. I don’t need to be here sitting in a junior high school wasting time.

One day I thought I got busted. Snatched from my hands was my beloved paper by the wrinkled hands of my typing instructor. He looked at it, walked to his desk and simply said, “Ed, please see me after class.” I was busted. This was no freaking Leave it to Beaver episode where I was going to get chewed out by Ward Cleaver. My mom was going to kill me I thought.

But when the bell rang, and I sheepishly went to my instructors desk and he said “this is very impressive son. How long you been interested in horse racing.?” I almost fainted. I wasn’t in trouble at all. My teacher was in the game as well! “I like the 6-8 daily double today he told me. Lets see tomorrow how we both do.” As I was walking out of my typing class, I was thinking, what’s the daily double? I guess by now we have figured out why still to this day I use the two-fingered “hunt and peck” method.

The following day we found out we both lost. He even told me that I didn’t need to wait until the following day to get results from the paper, that I could get the end of day results on the radio at KIEV. How awesome was that? I could start my ‘capping earlier!

My typing instructor became my new “mentor” He told me about different wagering, explained to me about the weights and why sometimes trainers switched jockeys and a fascinating thing called claiming races. I also found out about this fascinating thing called the Daily Racing Form in which had all the stats and figures that the professional handicappers used to make their decisions. He pulled his out from the grade book he had it stashed in and let me look at it. I felt like I was drowning in a swimming pool. So much information. This is it I though. My key to success.

When I started high school, I had vastly improved my handicapping education. My network of fellow handicappers had vastly widened and the best handicapper I knew was actually my fathers best friend who would often attend the races as both families would get together on Sunday’s to have picnics in the infield. I had located another “horse friendly” instructor in high school as well and had become his “teacher’s aide” with my sole responsibility helping him grade papers for 6th period. I didn’t grade many papers but did find my self catching the last race at Santa Anita with my best friend who didn’t have a sixth period. With my instructors $2 in pocket, my friend would drive, I rode shotgun. With the valuable DRF in hand and my marked up Examiner, my friend would ask me questions and I belted them out. “Hurry, we may miss post time I would remind him

With patrons getting in free for the 9th race, we often found ourselves first in line waiting for the gates to open and we would spring from the gates and be off to the betting windows.

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With a new-found circle of friends and the newly found Daily Racing Form, my game vastly improved. I couldn’t get enough. I also found that my father’s interest increased as did my trips to the track. I found myself heading to the track with my brother and just about anybody I could hitch a ride with.

Evenings would be spent pouring over the Herald Examiner and making selections. But the magical time frame was early evening when my father and I would often make a mad dash to our local liquor store to purchase the Daily Racing form for the following day. To me, the DRF was a valuable tool that was well worth the cash that was paid. Back then, the DRF cost around a buck but only contained the past performances of So Cal racing. Often, I couldn’t wait to get home and with pops behind the wheel, I’d often start handicapping before we got home. BTW, my cost for the free ride to the liquor store? I had to let pops get a free glance sometime after we arrived back home. Before bed, he’d slip me $2 bucks and say, 4/7 daily double.

Back in the day, before the internet, waiting in the liquor store parking lot for the DRF runner was common place. I even befriended the liquor store clerk and would call him before pops and I ventured out. “Sammy, forms there yet?” “Just got here he’d say or not yet, he’s running late.” Either way, I always got one. How could you handicap without one? They were like gold.

And gold they were. People needed one and were so obsessed everybody knew the car the DRF runner drove. Should patrons get there before he arrived, we’d wait for him. As soon as “James, the DRF guy” pulled in the lot, you’d see about 4-5 casually dressed men exit their cars to line up inside to purchase one. For those not in the know, many probably though there was a mob hit in the making.

Nowadays things are so much different. With the price of the DRF approaching $10 bucks, the DRF or “PP’s” as they are also known by are printed off the desk top. Cheaper that way for sure and you get the track of your choice.

Every year around this time brings back memories of pops and me waiting in the liquor store parking lot. Why this time of year? Opening Day at Santa Anita and obtaining a fresh copy of the DRF was a requirement. Also, the break in racing between the now defunct Hollywood Park Meeting and Opening Day at Santa Anita was around 30 days. Yeah, 30 days! Handicappers were like rabid animals waiting for the DRF and the Santa Anita meeting. You don’t have that urgency anymore. Just another day. Although with a nine day break between Los Alamitos and Santa Anita this year I have been a bit more anxious than normal.

While I miss my dad more than you’ll ever know, I still will stroll through Santa Anita and remember the good old days. Recalling the memories will never be forgotten like the day dad fell in the rose bushes (sober) running to the T.V. monitor to see if his 99-1 shot he bet on held third. Cut up and bleeding, he emerged only to realize he had been nosed out of the show and didn’t know of his need for a few band aids until after they posted the photo sign and the race went official. Also, my fathers best friend chiding him for finally hitting a race.

“Throw enough shit against the wall and some of its bound to stick,” he said.

Oh the memories.

 

Next time we’ll discuss how I met my first “bookie” or “bookmaker.”

Thoughts out to San Luis Rey

As horsemen muddle through the aftermath of the San Luis Rey Downs fire let’s remember that although the healing process may have begun, we have no way of knowing how the fire will affect those equine athletes that were caught up in it. Breathing, health and mental issues, we could see months of changed behavior from our four legged friends. Let’s be kind and patient with them as they heal and train to get back to their routine.