The NEW key Race

How DO you use this crap anyway?

Hello All! A short time ago a message was posted on one of the discussion groups about my data by a thoroughbred "handicapper":

"Big deal. You pick all the horses in a race, then claim to have the winner. Anyone can do that."

That got me to thinking about my assumptions. One of which was that with a little prompting, it would be easy to figure out what I post and what to do with it. Well, it won't be the last time I'm wrong. So maybe I have to take a step back for those of you in the studio audience who are not familiar with the key race and how to use it.

To reiterate: my data is built on the handicapping theory of the key race. Now there are traditional definitions of such a race, and then there is the more current version, with each definition based on the data model of the times. Fifty years ago, it was the racing form and the pay phone. Today, it is the computer, the internet, and the database. The traditional definition is where at least one or two horses come out of a race to win their next start. This has always been the essence of the key race.

But I believe that modern data dissemination has created an opportunity to move the model forward. The key race then, becomes a predictive model, and is a race identified as a superior heat. One that is LIKELY to produce either a next out winner or quality runners.

So what is the difference? A very important one!

With the first model, you are too late, and behind the curve because everyone already knows what you know: That 2 horses have come out of some race to win their next start. So the third plays at 3-5 and runs up the track. With the second model, you have identified a key race before any of the horses run again. If you trust your model, and understand the basics of interpreting it, you have data that few other people have. This, my friends, has always been the foundation of playing this game. Mr. Beyer made that point famous with his speed figures. From whispers of the "in the know" on the backstretch when a new horse struts his stuff in the morning fog, to touts and shills, to insider trading...everyone wants to be on the cutting edge and get the early money. So what does this have to do with my data? Everything. I say right on my web page that these are not picks. I was, and am, serious. I'll say it again for the benefit of the writer I quoted above: not picks. Not picks.

NOT PICKS! They could be, and under certain conditions, should be...even if they don't score. But I am not a public handicapper, nor am I concerned that YOU know what I play. What I play is MY business, not the public's business. DO you use this crap? For now, let's start with the list.

The list represents your possible present AND future wagers. On any given day, Slew's Fast Horses lists animals that have proven to be worthy of attention based on past performance and more importantly...RACE QUALITY! Noting this can produce results in the future. Evaluation of today's race relating to an individual runner may prove to be a limiting factor in betting the animal to win. But, this does not preclude you from noting the animal for future races. Evaluating the conditions of each race is key to discovering whether a particular runner is in a spot where he or she can take advantage of the other animals. I save all of the lists and use them as a guide for possible future wagers. (This is much easier today then when I started. Back then, it was a pencil, a calculator, and endless notebooks - that my wife always threatened to throw out - containing thousands of charts). It should be obvious (or maybe not?) that with all the horses listed for a given day, only a very few are ready to run a winning race. But the horses are on the list for a reason. They merit attention...if not today, then tomorrow.

One of the more obvious ways to use the listings is to note the scratches. We all know that watching the scratches can be advantageous. But knowing that a superior horse was scratched to allow him or her to compete in a better spot is really cool. At some point I may add an indicator to the information showing that the horse was a scratch the last time he or she was listed. But for now, noting this by hand can be helpful.

Note: Since I wrote this I have added scratch information to Slew's daily lists. It only took me 9 years...but I got it done!

Another useful tool is the single listing as a long shot. One remarkable example of this was the 4th race at Aqueduct on March 4, 2012. Paci Di Notte was a 10 time losing maiden entered in a State bred MSW against a field of very suspect horses. The ML favorite was a second time starter who's only race was a maiden claiming at Tampa. Everyone else looked as hapless as Paci Di Notte. Except for several factors:

  • Paci Di Notte had the highest beyer in the field - a 79
  • Paci Di Notte had already run several races at Saratoga and Belmont Park against better competition that would have crushed this field.
  • Paci Di Notte was the ONLY horse listed by Slew for the 4th race on that day...and the clincher:
  • Paci Di Notte, a ML 20-1 was dissed by the betting public and paid $127.00 to win.
There is no question that I will use the list as picks. Sometimes I'm too busy to handicap, other times I'm too lazy. And as far as I'm concerned, they are much better then picking colors or playing birthdays! But they are not generally intended to be used that way. A horse on the list becomes a pick only after careful evaluation using sound handicapping procedures.

But one exception was Pacci De Notte.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I did not play this horse. I did not play any horses that day until I got home from work, long after the races at Aqueduct were run. But, I wish I had looked at the list before I left for work that day, instead of just throwing it up on the website for you guys and gals! Because a lone single pick, at a long price, especially heavilly overlaid is worth a shot. Even a small one. But if you are watching the board and see that a 20-1 ML that is on the list as a single and is being dismissed at over 50-1, you would have to be crazy not to stick the same money on it you would spend for a double latte at your local Starbucks. I've won more then a few cups of joe playing these animals!

Pacci Di Notte was on Slew's list for a reason. And while you may not think that handicapping the race could produce him as a contender, in fact he was running against helpless types with a ML favorite that was stepping up in class in his second race (NY Bred purse for this race was 65K) and was hardly a known quantity. Given this, and most importantly, the 65-1 odds, using this list entry as a pick would have been well worth it and represents one example when these do and should become usable picks - or - at least usable long shots! There are not many...but at 65-1, this is one.

So to wrap up the point, it is for those of us who value race quality as the first indicator of talent worthy of investment, a way to build an inventory of quality runners that will provide good wagering opportunities today and in the future. These turn into what some public handicappers call the "prime play". And because you are familiar with their relative quality, and your handicapping knows their relative chances, Slew's lists can be the first step to identifying current as well as future plays. I have horses in my stable that I have relied on for years. Maybe only a few wins here and there, but each is always at the right time!

View the listing for 03-04-2012

Good luck and good 'capping!


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