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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

A different kind of Trip Handicapping

The following is a guest blog, written by Michael Tartaglia. Known as mjtags11 on HRN, Michael was the skillful winner of the Breeders' Cup Survivor Challenge last fall on ZATT.

A few months ago I got Andrew Beyer's The Winning Horseplayer.  By the time I was headed to Aqueduct on the 29th of December, I read through a few chapters, learning about track biases, something I am still a little skeptical about, and trip handicapping.  I used trip handicapping for stakes races before, like the Triple Crown, and have brought me success.  However, after attempting it at Aqueduct, I started 0 for 5.  Yikes!  This rarely happens to me.  So, I scrap my notes and rely on the basics, Past Performances from the track program (I do not use the Daily Racing Form for that, although I do use it sometimes).  Next up was the sixth race.  I narrowed down the race to the 2 horse Empress of Gold and the 8 horse My Dreamy Mimi.  Then, I wanted to only place a bet on one horse, so I look at speed, an old trick.  But not the Beyer or Equibase speed figures, but the times and lengths back on the Past Performances.  As the old saying goes, "Speed matters, not class."  I go to the window to place my bet.  Number 2, Empress of Gold, $10 across the board.  Once the race went off, I was standing in a box in the grandstand.  She was far back on the backstretch and just starting to make a move on the far turn. Junior Alvarado could not win with her at the way she was running and the unusual pace.  But he did it.  Empress of Gold won at the wire. My luck turned around.  The 7th race was a bust.  But the 8th race was the Swirlaway Stakes, my specialty.  After handicapping the race for a few days, using a combination of Trip Handicapping (my way) and my stakes formula, I chose the 3 horse Proud and Charming.  At the track, I looked over the Past Performances, trying to find a good trifecta. Had to go with the 1-2-3.  Once the race went off, Proud and Charming was 14 lengths back.  At the end of the far turn, Proud and Charming was sprinting! He passed almost everyone, just barely losing. Finished in second, and the final result was 2-3-1.  I won the place and show bets on Proud and Charming, along with the $2 trifecta which paid $110.  The last race finished off with a second, with Just Hold On unable to hold on in the end.

So after the last race, I wondered, is the traditional form of Trip Handicapping dead?  My form of trip handicapping is making observation about a horse’s attitude and general statements about the horse.  The traditional way is to analyze a race and find reasons for or against a good or bad performance.  Now old method has been around since the late seventies, early eighties.  However, how could a method go five races without even getting a horse to land in the money.  Of course it could just be my fault, but this is just odd.  Could a thirty plus year old method no longer be effective?  It is a question that I have asked myself since that day.  At least speed handicapping seems to work.  Now I do not have enough information to make a conclusion about the question, but my hypothesis is: If a handicapper uses traditional trip handicapping over speed handicapping, they will not hit the board as often. Now there's a question! 


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Older Comments about A different kind of Trip Handicapping...

I have no interest in reading anything written about thoroughbred horse racing written by someone who rated Secretariat a 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
People over analyze trips giving far too much to a horse that got a little side tracked next out.
Congrats once again, Michael ... thanks for the contribution on HRN!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

As Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of Directors of The Exceller Fund. Brian also consults for leading contest site Derby Wars, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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