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Sometimes the best horse loses

Talk to any two serious handicappers and inquire about their betting strategies, and I can almost assure you that their angles will be more different than alike. Some bet the trainer, others the jockey, another will look for recent improvement, and still another may just bet the horse because they like its name or think it’s pretty. As for me, my favorite angles are record over the given track and record at the given distance. Usually, that works pretty well for me, and if I had stuck to my guns concerning this angle, I would have hopped off the Data Link bandwagon quicker than a rat scurrying from a chicken.
I like Data Link, and really, how I could I not? He has a nice Grade 1 win over the likes of Get Stormy, Turallure, and Doubles Partner. He recently gave Wise Dan a run for the winner’s share of the purse in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes. But in regards to the G3 Poker Stakes yesterday, there was one glaring fact that I should not have overlooked: Data Link had not even hit the board in his two prior starts at Belmont Park. I still managed to talk myself past that, though, because in both starts at Belmont, he had raced over a yielding course and a soft course. He’s 0 for 2 at Belmont, but both starts were over soft going and he hasn’t raced at Belmont since 2011, so with a firm course, he can win this. At least, that was my oh so logical reasoning.
In every other way, Data Link was the obvious choice on paper. He had the graded stakes wins against top competition. He had Javier Castellano in the irons and Kentucky Derby winning trainer Shug McGaughey as his conditioner. He was even dropping in class, so to speak, from his prior start to this one. Everything screamed “pick me” except that pesky poor track record over the course.
I will admit to giving winner King Kreesa a very close look based on his record at Belmont, but I ultimately passed on him because I was not impressed with the quality of the fields he had beaten. The same thing goes for Lubash and Upgrade, who I was obviously right to pass on due to their finish positions.
Here is where I really start to kick myself, though. I handicapped the G3 Jersey Shore Stakes in the exact same way in which I handicapped the Poker, right down to looking at course records at Monmouth. Anyone want to take a guess at who I chose as the winner for that race? If you said Rainbow Heir, then you are absolutely correct. Despite only 3 career starts (even though he was and still is undefeated) and the class hike, I picked him because he was the only contender in the field that had previously raced at Monmouth. I really wanted to go with Uptown Boy or Whiskey Romeo because of their prior achievements, but I just could not look past the one advantage that Rainbow Heir had on them all.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and I cannot think of any one statement that holds more truth. Looking back on yesterday’s handicapping, it’s easy to say that I should have stuck with what had previously worked for me rather than being seduced by the most accomplished horse on paper. You should always listen to your gut instinct, but you should also remember that sometimes the best horse on paper will lose, and will do so for no other reason than for a lack of affinity for the track no matter how “weak” the competition is. Lesson learned. 


What the Nation is saying about Sometimes the best horse loses...

Playing close attention to how the track has been playing the days leading up to the race barring off tracks due to weather is a big part of my handicapping especially when I get down to a couple of contenders that I'm trying to decide on in the race. The best horses don't always win due to poor trip or just bad racing luck but that can't be predicted to happen it just does sometimes and that's the disappointing part when you know you bet the right horse talent -wise for the race but shit happens all the time.
I doubt very seriously that King Kreesa will get overlooked any more.
I picked King Kreesa, in the tournament, because he was going to be alone on the lead (99 E1, compared to the next highest 92) and had late speed to boost. I picked Rainbow Heir because he fit the track profile (early), but he had the best distibruted energy of those earlier runners, and he ended with a significant LP, as well. Yes, both were posted beforehand. My FAVORITE angle in the world that has one me money: ALONE ON THE LEAD. Favorite angle, and as long as the horse has somewhat of a decent LP, I'll bet them.
  • GregRiessland · yes and he can have some staying power, i remember the race before he faced king david, he was green and fought the jockey till the end and finished 4th. most fad badly when they fight the jockey like that, then he almost steals it from king david. i have always liked this horse. nice job on the tournament. · 291 days ago ·
i like king kressa he get's over looked way to much. i like little mike tomorrow he is tough at the distance and it is a different turf course.
Trinniberg did so poorly last out that I'm hesitant to back him second back from Dubai.
So far, all the American horses who have come back from Dubai...have run like crap. Animal Kingdom, Trinniberg and Royal Delta looked like she's had enough...I sure hope they retire that mare already before they kill her.
Funny because I had the same logic and maaaaan, did I pay for it.
rafi- those are my 2 choices in the U.N. as well. I have always liked Willcox Inn
I like Wilcox Inn/Big Blue Kitten in int U.N.
Matt, I'm hesitant to go with Little Mike tomorrow on account of the notorious Dubai Bounce.
So, that means that it is a cold Teaks North/Little Mike exacta tomorrow in the United Nations.
It's not always easy to stick to your guns, but usually, it is the best way.
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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Since joining Horse Racing Nation as a contributing blogger, Ashley writes as frequently as possible as the Florida Filly. Though she mainly covers racing in South Florida, Ashley also blogs about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offers her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. Most recently, Ashley was selected to participate in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley lives in Central Georgia with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. When she is not covering the races, Ashley works with insurance claims, a job she is able to do from home in order to spend as much time as possible with her family. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is passionate about football, reading, and history and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.