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Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Rant for March 22, 2014: Derby Preps-The Spiral And Sunland

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From the Desk of Michael Pizzolla
March 21, 2014 7:37 PM, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear ValueCapper and Friend:

I want to tell you how lucky I feel to have a group like you with whom to share my thoughts about the Derby Preps.

As you know, there haven’t been very solid bets in these preps, and I’ve said so-on videos, on podcasts, and in these emails.

I was concerned that this would be the case, that the races would be, as they often are, muddled. That they would not yield solid investment opportunities. I thought that this analysis would not be very well received.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve received so many emails expressing appreciation that I shared my honest analysis about these races, rather than trying to ‘force’ a bet or a selection.

That’s why I feel so fortunate.

The level of maturity and insight into the game that those comments reflects is fantastic. It shows that you ValueCappers are truly looking at this great game as an investment opportunity rather than looking to make wild speculations.

I’m afraid that the two Derby Preps this weekend, the Spiral on Saturday and the Sunland Derby on Sunday, are very wide open races, and Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software (BLAM) indicates that very clearly.

This week I felt again that a video would not be all that instructive, so I’ve written my brief thoughts on these races below:

The Spiral Stakes

The Spiral Stakes (actually, the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes) is a Grade 3 to be run at Turfway Park on Saturday March 22, 2014. Of the 12 colts, 7 of them are above random in a very weak betting line.

By that I mean that the top colts, the 2, Asserting Bear, and the 10, Harry’s Holiday, are at 6-1 in the BLAM line. After that, the colts above random are at 8, 9, and 10-1. In plain English, it’s a wide open race.

Of the 12 colts, only 2 have ever run a mile and an eighth, the 4, Tamarando, the Morning Line favorite and the 2, Asserting Bear. Both won their only start at 9 furlongs.

The 10, Harry’s Holiday projects to be on or near the lead, and yet will break from the 10 post.

There’s no clarity in the race for me for a solid value investment. Normally, this would be a pass race for me. As far as speculation, if the odds on the 10 and the 2 are long, I might take some exotics using those with the 8, Solitary Ranger which is both the Fulcrum, and one of the Reversal Winners. I’ll use the 4 if price allows, and perhaps put one of the big closers at long prices, the 1 or the 7 in the mix. Admittedly, this is a lot of ‘spreading’ on a very unclear race. Even my exotic strategy as I type this sounds like a bit of a mess, which reflects the lack of clarity in the race.

The Sunland Derby

The Sunland Derby, a Grade 3 Stakes, is on Sunday March 23, 2014, and it’s to be run at a mile and an eighth at Sunland Park. As with the Spiral, most of the colts have never gone a mile and an eighth. There are 6 entrants above the random mark in the BLAM Oddsline, 4 of them are the Morning Line Favorites. Two of the colts in the mix are prices, the 8, Rebranded, and the 6, Lawly’s Goal.

With all the unknowns in the race, I can’t say that these represent solid value investments. The top colt on the line is the 9, Chitu, 2 for 3 lifetime, and just missed at the RB Lewis at Santa Anita last out. He’s the one that projects to have a clear lead, and could wire the field. However, if it goes off near its 4-1 Morning Line, I wouldn’t take the risk, again, given the unknowns in the race. A modest exacta and trifecta box of the 9, 8, and 6 will probably be the extent of my speculation (read gambling) in the race.

I hope this finds you well, and thank you again so much for your encouragement and support.

All the best,


P.S. You can always drop me a line at to share you thoughts, analysis, progress, questions, and insights about ValueCapping. I freely admit to knowing just enough about the technical aspects of things to be dangerous, so if you have a technical question, drop a line to, and they’ll be able to assist.

Michael Pizzolla
Post Time Solutions

Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Rant: 3/14/14-The Rebel, Social Inclusion, And Winners

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From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla

March 14, 2014 8:17 AM

Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear ValueCapper and Friend,

Hope this finds you well and enjoying this great game of ours. In this week’s Rant: The Rebel Stakes, a colt named Social Inclusion, and some thoughts about winners.

The Rebel Stakes

The only official Derby Prep this week is the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The crowd will be betting the two colts that finished 1st and 2nd last out in the Southwest at Oaklawn, the 4, Strong Mandate, and the 3, Tapiture. The 3 is not only the Reversal Winner but the Fulcrum in the race as well. Those of you who’ve followed my work know that that is a strong combination especially for a place horse. That means there might not be value in the exotics.

Those colts are at the top of the BLAM line, as they should be. The third on the line is the 7, Street Strategy. Just missed in its first start, and then an impressive win last out in its maiden at a mile at Oaklawn. The Morning Line maker somehow makes this 8-1. I don’t think it will go off at anywhere near that. The race sets up for a closer, and the one that closes consistently is the 8, Kobe’s Back. Unfortunately, this colt is the 3rd Morning Line favorite, and might be bet.

Without seeing the betting, I don’t think this race will provide a value investment opportunity. Perhaps if the crowd overlooks the 8, I may get involved, using the other late horse, the 5, and the obvious horses. If you asked me now, based on how I think the crowd will bet, I would say I’ll be passing this race.

Social Inclusion

I did see a race on Wednesday that made me sit up and take notice. It was an Allowance race at Gulfstream Park, the 8th race, and the 1-2 favorite was Honor Code, the Shug McGaughey trained colt that won the Remsen in November and which just missed in the Champagne in its second lifetime start. Three lifetime starts, won its Maiden at first asking, then just missed in the Grade 1 Champagne, then wins the Remsen, a Grade II.

This is a potential champion.

Yet BLAM’s top colt on the line was Social Inclusion. Social Inclusion had only had one lifetime race, and it was its maiden win on February 22nd at Gulfstream.

Since BLAM made Social Inclusion and Honor Code the top two horses, and they were 7/5 and 1-2, it wasn’t much of a betting race, but I happened to be at the race book. Social Inclusion just blew away the field, trouncing Honor Code by 10 lengths at the finish. It set the track record for a mile and a sixteenth. This is an impressive colt, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him in the Triple Crown races.

Value and Winners

During the running of the race, the race book at which I was playing was a wall of sound. They were cheering madly for either Social Inclusion or Honor Code (mostly for Honor Code as far as I can tell). And the ‘victors’ were high fiving each other as Social Inclusion passed the finish line.

All of this over a 7/5 winner.

Rejoice, ValueCappers, rejoice.

This is our competition.

They care not for profit, only for being ‘right’, for being held in high esteem for those few fleeting seconds after the race when their genius has been validated, and all is right in their world.

This, of course, is a losing strategy, but one that feels good. Death by one thousand cuts.

Don’t get me wrong. Winners are necessary.

And you’ve seen-and have written to me about this-how Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software does such a good job at getting the winners. I suppose I’ve seen this for over 7 years now, and it’s old hat to me. It no longer comes as a surprise when BLAM has the win, exacta, trifecta, etc. among the horses at the top of its line.

But that’s NOT the point of the exercise. The point is WAITING until a potentially strong horse is being UNDERBET by the public and is running against a horse or horses that is being OVERBET.

Simple? Yes.

Easy? Not so much.

You see, we are human, we want to ‘play’ the races, to be ‘right’, to be considered an ‘expert’, a ‘sharpie’. The professional, on the other hand, sits and waits until everything is in his or her favor, including getting a price that compensates for the risk. And then makes a measured investment.

His focus is on profits, on value, not winners.

The professional is a ValueCapper.

I hope this finds you well, and again thank each of you so much for your kind words, for your support and encouragement, and your good wishes. The reports of the progress and the insight you are experiencing makes what I do rewarding, and for that I am grateful to you indeed.

With my very best regards,


Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Rant: Derby Preps 3/8/14, Run Ups, Class

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From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla
March 7, 2014 5:37 PM
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear ValueCapper and Friend:

By now, you’ve seen how I’ve gone about taking apart the Derby Preps on my videos I’ve been sending. Thanks for all the kind words, as BLAM has been pretty solid in identifying the colts that have won or run very well, but that’s a very different thing than finding a solid value investment, which is the point of ValueCapping.

Rather than doing a long video on the two Derby preps for tomorrow, only to come to the conclusion that these races do not provide clear and solid value investments, I thought I’d summarize my analysis in this email.

The two Derby preps for March 8, 2014 are the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.

I’ll make this brief:

In the San Felipe, Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software (BLAM) puts the heavy favorite, the 4, California Chrome, right on top. 3rd start after a layoff, two impressive wins in state bred company, and obvious favorite. Second on the line is the 8, Schoolofhardknocks, impressive winner of its maiden race at Del Mar last August. Then comes the 9, Midnight Hawk, the second ML favorite. These are the obvious colts, and I don’t see much reason to bet for or against. The dark horse in the mix is the 5, Sawyer’s Hill, a colt that’s only had two sprints, and is still a maiden. This would be a huge upset, but might be a reasonable speculative investment at a huge price.

In the Tampa Bay Derby, BLAM is taking a stand against the ML favorite, the 2, Surfing USA, and a deep closer, the 5, Conquest Titan. It gives good marks to the 8, Cousin Stephen and the 6, Vinceremos, two colts that had hard races last out, very gritty performances. Interestingly, the software puts a real longshot on top, the 10, Tuscan Getaway, 20-1 morning line, on a layoff since November, working well. Once again, I don’t see a bet making me, but as in the San Felipe, a small speculation on the 10 if it’s a very long price might be in the cards.

Another thing I wanted to talk with you about is an article that Andy Beyer wrote this week about the variations in the ‘run up’ distances and the confusing array of race classifications.

I’m sure most of you know that the ‘run up’ distance is the distance between the point where the starting gate is and the beam that begins the timing of the race. The longer the run up distance, the better the time looks in the race, because the horses are in stride when they break the beam to start the timing of the official time of the race.

As you might imagine, the owners of the race really like a long run up distance, because it makes the horses look faster, and therefore more valuable.

The other point he made was that the confusing array of optional claimers, classified claimers, etc. are very good for the owners and trainer looking to find a soft spot for their horses, but a nightmare for handicappers trying to assess the class level of the horses in the race.

His point, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is that the racing industry is looking out for the interests of the owners, breeders, and trainers more than the horseplayer. They forget, as they often do, that without the horseplayer, there would be no racing, full stop.

Frankly, there’s not much that can be done about the run up distances. The fact is that they vary from track to track, from meet to meet and, sadly, sometimes from race to race. The best we can do is to base our numbers on the actual times run and make adjustments from those times.

This would be more of an issue if, as ValueCappers, we were only looking at one number, the top number, for example. But we look at the entire set of numbers in the pps. An anomaly in one distance or surface will stick out like a sore thumb.

Rest assured, we’re tweaking numbers like mad scientists here at Post Time, and hopefully we’ll have something that improves things by the Fall. In the meantime, the best thing to do is to use the computer sitting on our shoulders to make some common sense calls about numbers. The tried and true ValueCapping extras such as Reversers, Advanced Form Patterns, Fulcrums, etc., still produce excellent value investments.

I think we’ll see a time when the Trakus system-or one like it-will be in place at all tracks. This is the system that has a computer chip in the saddle of the horse and beams its position and time to a satellite. An almost infinite number of measurements can be made rather than the small number of measurements that we get now. I think that would be great, as numbers will be even better, everyone will have them, and the ValueCapping concepts will keep us even further ahead of the betting public.

There’s also not much to be done about the classification morass. Class is a very slippery concept to begin with, and knowing whether a horse is going up or down sometimes more art than science. I’m dealing with these issues every day on the ValueCapper Professional Software project to automate the process of negative drops. Getting it to excellent has been extremely challenging.

I actually think there’s a silver lining to all of this for ValueCappers.

Our opponents, the Stage 1 handicappers who are trying to predict the outcome of the race, are pulling their hair out trying to make the perfect number by getting it down to the millimeter, and making class rankings for 100s of different classifications of the race. They’re attempting to do something which cannot be done: Create the perfect number and thereby predict the outcome of the race.

Of course, that’s impossible.

But here’s the silver lining:

Instead of obsessing about numbers, we have numbers that are solid, and as close as we can come to perfect, and then we handicap the public, see what they do, see where they are overbetting and underbetting, and bet if the risk is worth it. This key dynamic of ValueCapping will keep us ahead of the crowd regardless of the challenges involved in the measurements of thoroughbred performances.

Well, that’s it for this Rant. I hope this finds you well, and thank you so much for all of your encouragement, support, and kind words.

All the best,


P.S. To get these Rants directly sent to your email inbox, go to, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter your email address and you’ll never miss a Rant!

Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Video Rants: Derby Preps-Gotham Stakes

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I’ve made a quick video for you analyzing the 2014 Gotham Stakes, the Derby Prep race that’s running tomorrow.

I’ll show you a couple of underused and very cool features of Post Time Daily 2.0 as well as my analysis of the race using the sophisticated tools of Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software.


Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Video Rant: Derby Preps Fountain Of Youth

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Here’s a quick video I made showing my analysis of the Derby Preps from February 22, 2014: The Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream Park and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

As with all these videos, the emphasis is not on ‘picking the winner’ but on demonstrating the process of ValueCapping. Since we’re looking for a horse that we like that the public shouldn’t like, when races stack up from your analysis in the same way the public is likely to bet, very often there’s no value in the race. However, the public does strange things in betting, and there might be a price looming.

There’s also a rather humorous story about a strange email I received while at the race book today concerning the 8th Race from Tampa Bay, February 21, 2014.


A ValueCapping Podcast: Too Much Of A Good Thing

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In ValueCapping, as in life, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Yes, a horse can have ‘too much’ Speed, Pace, Good Form, or ‘Class’.

I made a short podcast for you talking about how horses who have ‘too much’ of these good things can be overbet by the public and how to take advantage of them in your ValueCapping


A ValueCapping Video Rant: Here’s The Basic Tenet Of ValueCapping In A Nutshell

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I get asked about what I mean by ValueCapping and how it differs from traditional handicapping. For those of you familiar with my work, you already know that it’s a radical difference. For those of you who are just beginning to explore ValueCapping, this video covers the core basic premise of ValueCapping, and presents it in a nutshell.

I also analyze the Richard B. Lewis Stakes, a Kentucky Derby Prep race at Santa Anita on February 8, 2014 in the context of ValueCapping.

The video also discusses what I mean when I say ‘Let the bet make you.’ Enjoy!

ValueCapping Video: Michael Pizzolla On Early Triple Crown Prep Races

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Several have asked about the early prep races for the Triple Crown. The reason I don’t analyze all of them is because many of them are too pat, and others have too many unknowns.

I’ve made a short video for you looking at today’s Withers at Aqueduct and the Hutcheson at Gulfstream to give you some concrete examples of what I mean.

A ValueCapping Podcast: The Biggest Obstacle To Success

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If you ask the average horseplayer what the biggest obstacle to success at the game is, they will probably respond with answers like:

I need more winners; or

I need a new system; or

I need the inside information the ‘big boys’ get…

And on and on. You get the idea.

But the truth is there’s one almost insurmountable obstacle to success at this great game.

I made a very short podcast for you explaining what that obstacle is and what you can do to overcome it.


Michael Pizzolla's ValueCapping Newsletter And Rant: Winter Racing 2014

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aqueduct winter

For those of you who are not on the ValueCapping Newsletter list, or may have not gotten this edition, here's the Newsletter and Rant from January 18, 2014:

From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla
January 18, 2014, 5:57 AM
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear ValueCapper and Friend,

I'm about to watch the sun come up on a chilly morning in Sin City. I've been up researching races from the past week,and reviewing the exploits of the Wizards (that's my affectionate term for those who use the Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software).

Before I tell you of two incredible scores they had yesterday, I wanted to answer some questions about winter racing.

Some of you have asked if there are different strategies for winter racing, and how I handle them.

Well, yes and no.

A horse race is still a horse race. One or more horses go out to the front, and others try to catch them.

This is true whether it's 110 in the shade or the wind chill is below zero.

But there are some strategies based on realities of the winter game that may help your bottom line:

First, be aware that there is usually a greater percentage of 'pro' or 'smart' money in the winter racing game. Everyone who is a casual horseplayer and fan loves the big races, the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup, Saratoga, Del Mar.

As a result, there's a lot more 'casual' money in the summer. In the winter, the more dedicated horseplayers are in the game.

Second, be selective.

This is always good advice while trying to turn a profit at the game, but it's especially true in the winter.

Since there's less racing in the winter, and therefore fewer races from which to choose, there can be a tendency to force bets, to make some bets because the player feels he or she is 'running out of races'

Be patient. Be selective. Only bet when 'the bet is making you'. There will be racing tomorrow!

Third, don't ignore the cold weather tracks.

When I hear the MOTOs (that's my affectionate term for the often voluble denizens of the race books who spout the most trite and obvious truisms about the races, hence MOTO, or Master Of The Obvious) talking about racing in the winter, they're usually talking about the 'warm weather tracks'.

Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, and the others that run in the winter are blessed with warmer weather and therefore seem more formful to the average player.

But there's money to be made at the cold weather tracks, and very often, if you're patient, you can find the public making a big mistake on a vulnerable favorite that can make your week.

Don't ignore them!

Fourth, pay attention to your track profiles.

Track profiles are simple records of where the winners at specific distances at specific tracks are coming from and how they expend their energy.

So, for example, if you make some notes from the results charts (or are using software such as BLAM that does this for you automatically), and notice that winners at Santa Anita,for example, tend to be on or near the lead at the 1st and 2nd calls, you'd favor horses with that running style.

This is not to say you'd never bet a late horse in one of those races, just that you might require more of a price before investing.

In the winter, those track profiles tend, for some reason, to be more consistent than other times of the year.

Those armed with that information can have an edge on the public.

Getting back to the Wizards and their exploits: A couple of Wizards wrote to share their analysis of races yesterday, and had a couple of outstanding scores.

The first was at Sunland Park's 4th race, where BLAM had the 3 horse on top. It paid $11.40, but one Wizard also made some creative calls on the exotic side, and nailed a trifecta that paid $677 for a dollar.

Then a little while later, they posted about the 5th race at Fair Grounds yesterday.

BLAM put the 4 horse on top and made it 3-1 on the line. It was also the Fulcrum in the race. For those of you new to my work, the Fulcrum is the horse with the fastest second call time in its last race, provided that that race was competitive and the time was not atypical for the horse.

(There's a whole chapter in my book, Handicapping Magic,about the Fulcrum, but that's the essence in a nutshell)

It's a simple concept, but one that has stood the test of time.

This 4 horse at Fair Grounds last night, Vow of Secrecy, won and paid $54.60. What pleased me as much as the nice score these Wizards made was how freely they shared their techniques and analysis with the other members of the Wizards' Forum.

And in answer to some questions I've gotten about new software and seminars:

It looks like any seminar or workshop this year will be in the Fall. I was planning to do one earlier in the year, but recent events, most critically Rick's passing from us, has set our timetable back.

The project that has me consuming the midnight oil, the new ValueCapper software, is coming along very nicely. I am hoping for a limited release in the Fall.

I've just given a sneak peek to the Wizards' Forum on this month's Inner Secrets DVD.

Well, that's it for this edition of the ValueCapping Rant. I hope this finds you well, and my thanks once again for your kind words, encouragement, and emails. You can always reach me at with any questions, comments, suggestions, or to let me know of your progress.

Don't forget to be patient, and let the bet make you!

All the best,


P.S. For more information about Handicapping Magic,Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software, Post Time Daily 2.0, or for those of you who haven't seen the new website, please visit At the bottom of that page, on the left side, you can sign up for the ValueCapping Rant and Newsletter and get them delivered directly to your inbox!

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