By Tony Bada Bing
Depending on your generation and/or your interest, you may know the origins of the above statement – Groucho Marx in the classic film Duck Soup or the reply given any number of times someone ticked off the affable, Bugs Bunny. For our purposes it means playing and hopefully, winning at Derby Wars.
Like you, I just happened upon this great idea/site from the same folks that bring you Horse Racing Nation. (If you haven’t been there yet, check it out at derbywars.com) And before I go any further in this, my initial, official blog for Derby Wars, let me give you the Top Five reasons to play:
1. Everything’s better when it’s free, right? In this case the answer is definitely yes, and if you’ve yet to play a tournament style game like the big boys (and girls) do in trying to qualify for the DRF Handicapping Championship, this is easy and affordable way to get in the game.
2. Set your own limit. Since its inception about a month ago, in addition to free (for points) games there have been games ranging from $2 to $25. This gives you a great way to find your comfort level in playing tournament style.
3. Pick your foes. Nervous and anxious about playing against your unknown peers in cyberspace, well, limit the number of handicappers you play against. I’ve entered contests with as little as 10 players and as many as 300.
4. Win a lot, win a little. In addition to picking the size of the group you’ll go against, you can choose tournaments from several cash prizes - big or small, winner take all or tiered payouts for the top 3 to 10.
5. The games you’ll play. There’s the standard, $2 win-place wager, the survivor (in which you pick at least one horse to finish in the money for as long as you can) and soon-to-come fantasy game.
I could go on with other pluses like quick leader board updates throughout each contest, the ability to smack-talk or chat (if you’re civil) with other players or the fun and slick look on the tournament interface. You can find all this out for yourself by clicking on over, now…or later.
My goal in previewing tournaments and a few races here and there is three-fold. First, I hope to lighten the mood while your wallowing away the hours in your past performances. Secondly, I want to help inform you in playing the ponies both at Derby Wars and wherever you go to make live wagers – from the comfort of your couch to the rail at the track. Finally, a winner or two would be a good thing for me to give you.
What qualifies me for any or all of this? Everything and nothing. I’ve been betting on Thoroughbreds for almost 35 years. I’ve played them in stinky, smoky OTBs on Long Island, in the stands of a track that only exists in my memory – Rockingham Park in New Hampshire - and my annual sojourn to Saratoga each summer. Of course there’s the times I play online in between my son’s soccer and baseball games, a break from raking the leaves or fitting in a few quiet moments during my daughter’s nap. Which brings me back to Derby Wars – I can buy in a night or two before, make all my picks and then sneak away to see the leader board light up or not on race day.
If I had made my fortune at the track, which I haven’t, you wouldn’t be reading me now. Like you, I plug away looking for a positive angle or play with hopefully, more than just modest returns in my sights. Additionally, I’ve been blogging over at A Leg Up for almost three years. I’m a member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance and recently started a Twitter Account, so I can type 140-character annoyances to anyone who wants to tweet along with me at tonycbadabing.
Now let’s get to the real reason you came…finding a winner or two.
Aqueduct, Race 6 – Pay the Butler Stakes
In tournament play there is almost no reason to take a heavy favorite and you’re likely to get one here with Right One. The five-year-old gelding is the only runner with a graded stakes win and placing this year. In his race two-back, he just missed catching Turallure at the wire in the Woodbine Mile and that horse came back to just miss the Breeder’s Cup Mile. Throw in top turf connections of trainer, Christophe Clement and jockey, Javier Castellano and we’re talking 8-5. If you take him and he wins, well you’ll get a whole $6 toward your win-place bankroll, which greatly limits your ability to start the day with a bang.
I say, take a flyer on an underrated horse and his human connections – Tune Me In. His numbers don’t add up, he’s likely to face some immediate pressure for the lead from both a horse to his inside and outside and his jock does not cause bettors to drop their entire paychecks on horses he guides…but Mike Luzzi tends to get the most out of horses on the lead, Tune Me In appears faster than either Kindergarden Kid, who tends to fade and Lubash who does the same and his price will be right. Take a shot and you’ll get a horse to cheer for when the gates opens and quite possibly when they hit the wire.
Baby races, yuck, right!?! Maybe, maybe not. In this race you’ll have to decide between the three experienced horses and the rest that are making their first start. The three experienced horses of Flame Run, Silver Arch and Cal Dela Casa are more likely to give you shorter odds – even though none of the three have won! I say take a first time starter, the odds are likely longer and if you can find the fastest one you’re likely to at least hit the place bet at much better odds.
To help find that first-time starter allow me to share a trick my Uncle Pete showed me years ago. As you study each first-time starter look for ones that have three workouts in which she trained at or better than half her workmates that day. For instance, take a long look at Soul of Hollywood since in eight of her nine lifetime works she trained better than half of the other horses and on two occasions she fired bullets. If you want a little better price, the far outside runner, O Ren Ishii has turned the trick four out her five lifetime workouts. As long as she doesn’t take a right hand turn out of the gate, she should be in contention most of the way.
Before making any and all choices based upon my almost words of wisdom, remember you get what you pay and this advice was free.