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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Winning the Pick 5 with a Pal

Twilight Eclipse 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Racetracks were closed all over the Northeast due to snow and cold temperatures, so the best horse racing action appeared to be at Gulfstream Park. I started handicapping Gulfstream on Friday night and at first glance it looked like a very tough card.
On Saturday morning I heard that there was an $113,000 carryover in the Pick 5, so I decided that this was the right time to play the Pick 5 with a partner.  I texted my Horse Racing Nation friend, Brian Zipse and asked if he was interested in taking a shot at the carryover at Gulfstream.
After a couple more hours of handicapping we got together on the phone and interestingly we had very similar thoughts about the card. We would have to spread quite a bit on the first three races, but the horses that we felt the best about were in the last two legs. It was now time for Brian, who I like to call the “Master Ticket Maker”, to take over and design our tickets.
Here is Brian’s take on the our Pick 5 play:
"This one was nice in that Matt and I both thought that the first three legs were the toughest. Twilight Eclipse and Charade were our agreed upon best bets in the final two legs. When you are going in with a partner, it is an advantage to have solid agreement. It not only gives you confidence in your own handicapping, but it frees you up to focus, and really go after the ticket. We decided to keep it all under $200, so my thought was to, at the very least, make sure to get to the final two races with a chance to score if our two best bets both win. The first three legs were tough, so we only had the biggest ticket of the four left, but they provided some good odds for the ultimate payoff. The losing three tickets did not require both best bets to win, but were spread much less in the first three."
And here are the Pick 5 tickets that Brian sent me: 
The sequence began with race 7 and included four turf races. Three of the turf races were at not often run distances of over 11 furlongs and two of them were graded stakes races.
The first leg, a maiden special weight at seven furlongs, was the only main track race. Brian and I felt it was a pretty wide-open affair and we settled on four horses. We included the two likely favorites, a first-timer that had created a buzz at the track, and the #2 Victory Nor Defeat. Brian liked this one because Unbridled’s Songs often run well first out and I had looked up the dam to find that she was a runner who had earned over $200,000. Things started well for us as Victory Nor Defeat closed nicely down the stretch to pass a long shot. At 5.60-1, he was the highest price of the four horses that we used.
At this point all four of our tickets were alive heading into The Very One (G3). We felt that any of these fillies and mares could win the race as most of them had not yet run in 2014. We keyed four of the horses, but played ALL on the other ticket.  In what I like to call “The magic of the ALL button”, the race was won by Inimitable Romanee at 10.20-1.
We hit another nice price, but were down to just one ticket that had us alive 5 x 1 x 1. Two races and two nice prices, but the remaining ticket was going to be tough to cash with two singles in the last two legs.
Race 9 was a 12 furlong OC35/N1X turf race with nine runners and we had five of them. Gold Former, a veteran of the Chicago tracks, received a quintessential Julien Leparoux ride to come off the pace and win for us at odds of 8.80-1.
The first three legs were won by three healthy prices. We were alive, but we had no room for error left.  We basically needed to hit a cold daily double in the last two races to hit our Pick 5.
The fourth leg was the Mac Diarmida (G2) and we agreed that Twilight Eclipse had a huge class advantage in the race. Most of his recent starts were very good efforts in grade ones and the rest of the field had never run at that level. Fortunately he ran to his 1.40-1 odds with a very nice ride by Jose Lezcano.
The will pays went up and we would collect $3,576.35 if Charade won the 11th race, which was a $16,000 N2L claimer going a distance of ground on the turf. Charade had finished second last out after a bit of a troubled trip. He was claimed out of that race by Michael Maker for the Ramseys. Earlier in the day I said to Brian, “Let’s let Michael Maker work his magic.”
Another plus was that Charade would be ridden by the Eclipse Award winning jockey, Javier Castellano. Here is my very simple tweet just before the race...
It was a picture perfect ride by Javier as he stalked the leaders from the three path, being very careful to stay out of trouble. Charade won the race fairly easily down the stretch and Javier needed very little urging from me as I watched the video on my 4NJBets TVG account.
With consolation payouts for 4 out of 5 we ended up collecting $3,986.35, which is the largest ticket that I have ever cashed. I hope this account of what Brian and I did with this play will encourage you to try a pick 4 or 5 with a pal. 


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Older Comments about Winning the Pick 5 with a Pal...

Toasting, we'll probably wait to play the Rainbow until there is a mandatory payout!
Great hit, guys! Now go attack the Rainbow Six with your winnings. :)
Congrats Gents! This article should be an ad for taking a friend to the track. Who needs to throw money blindly at Players Pools (re: twinspires.com) when HRN has among the best handicappers on the planet?! Time to call Legal (Dept.) to see if HRN can conduct their own Players Pool. Giddy-Up!
There is no better sport than horse racing and this is just one of the ways that racing is so much fun!
Congratulations! My grandfather's "old saying": If you want to be humbled (and you don't play golf), play the ponies. :)
What's the old saying ... Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Happy to be a part of it, my friend!
The only thing smarter than a good bettor/handicapper, is someone smart enough to take a friend's advice and play along - congrats gents!

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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