From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla
May 14, 2015
Somewhere Near Prescott, Arizona
Dear ValueCapper and Friend:
I’m sitting here on a beautiful Arizona morning counting my blessings. Here’s one:
I’ve been here for three days, and not one person has asked me about the Preakness. Just before I left Vegas, the race book was abuzz with those who were ready to just hand the Triple Crown to American Pharaoh and how he was a sure thing in the Preakness.
‘Did you see that speed rating?’
‘Look at those bloodlines!’
‘He’s just un-freaking-beatable.’
As those of you who read my Arkansas Derby Rant, where he DID look unbeatable, Black Magic: The Ultimate Handicapper Software saw the potential in this colt.
The problem is that it wasn’t hard to see. He was made the favorite in the Derby, and no matter how strong a colt looks, 3-1 is just too short to take in a huge field of 3 year olds.
I missed the exotics in the Derby because by the time I got through fiddling around with the lines on the BLAM software, I had completely eliminated Firing Line by excluding one of its races.
It’s something I warn those using the software against and, of course, did it myself on the Kentucky Derby.
But heck, that was my call before the race, and I thought it was a sound one at the only time those calls matter-before the race.
Also, the colts from the Florida Derby and the other Florida prep races didn’t run to their numbers. Least of all Upstart, the colt I thought was going to be a decent bet, that finished dead last. As it turned out, the colt only went off at 16-1, and even though it was near the top of the line, the BLAM odds were 10-1 on the horse.
Given the size of the field and all the unknowns, I didn’t feel that was enough. I was almost tempted to take a shot at Itsaknockout at 30-1, but by that logic I could have made a case for 3 other long shots that were in the cluster of horses above random. Couple that with the fact that I had American Pharaoh and Dortmund both in that cluster, and looking at the odds, felt unsure of what to do.
When you start thinking like that, please take a step back, and a deep breath. You’re probably wading into very choppy investment waters.
In those situations, you can either pass the race or do what I did in the Derby: take a small ‘mental health’ bet hooking up the horses you like at prices in some small exotics. I don’t recommend doing this as a regular habit, as it can be very detrimental to your bankroll.
While the Zen master may shout Attention! Attention! Attention!, the ValueCapper’s version would be Patience! Patience! Patience!
I wound up having a decent Derby day, but it was not because of the Derby, but only because a horse I played in a cheap claiming race finished second at a long price, triggering a very nice exacta.
I’m expecting much the same thing on Preakness day this Saturday.
You knew I’d bring this around to the Preakness eventually, didn’t you?
Every year in the Preakness, we face the same general pattern. The winner of the Derby shows up with a few of his pals from that race.
And then there are the second tier horses that get entered to take a shot at the Black Eyed Susans.
I wish I had more a more insightful analysis for you, but looking at the BLAM Summary Grid, American Pharoah is right on top, Dortmund is second on the line, and Firing Line is third.
They’re also the 3 top Morning Line favorites, and deservingly so. The only other entrant in the cluster above random is Mr. Z, a colt that’s been running an ‘in and out’ pattern in its last 4 races (for those of you who have BLAM, two Type 1 patterns in a row).
In fact, it’s the only above random horse that has one of those patterns is Mr. Z.
So, theoretically, it would be a bet at double digit odds.
I’m more cautious.
Over the years working with those using BLAM, I’ve found there are two main barriers to success, especially among those just starting with the software.
The first is betting too many races, not waiting for your opportunities and prices. Devastating.
The second is betting too quickly against very strong horses for no good reason.
By ‘strong’ horse I mean one that is on top of the line, with a Contention line that’s low (in other words, the public should like it), and the Morning Line that’s also low (the track handicapper thinks it’s best as well).
Of course I’ll bet against these sometimes, but there has to be a very good reason-two to be precise. The first is there has to be something ‘wrong’, some ‘Anti Value’ on the strong horse. And second, there has to be lots of ‘extras’ and a big price on the horse you’re considering.
In the Preakness, American Pharoah is at the top of the BLAM line, 2-1 on the Contention Line, and 4/5 on the Morning Line. There’s nothing ‘wrong’-the Derby was a good win, but the colt wasn’t fighting too hard in the early stages of the race.
Even if I ‘got by’ American Pharoah, there’s Dortmund right underneath it. Second morning line favorite. Followed by the third ML favorite, Firing Line.
So, bottom line is that sitting here on Thursday, before scratches and weather, the horses I ‘like’, that BLAM ‘likes’ are the horses the public should also like.
For me, that’s the easiest kind of pass race.
Whether or not I put a very small bet on one of the price horses, Mr. Z, for example, I’ll be hoping American Pharoah wins. It’s been a long time since I watched Affirmed win his Belmont and the Triple Crown in 1978, and I’d love to see the drought broken.
As always, be sure to look for other opportunities in the undercards other races running that day, as there are often lopsided overlays caused by the ‘big day’ public unloading on a vulnerable favorite.
I got several emails in the past two weeks since the Derby from BLAM Wizards using the ValueCapping strategy of waiting for good opportunities and prices about their successes-two of them hit trifectas that paid almost $5,000. There’s nothing that makes me happier!
Hope this finds you well, please enjoy Preakness Day, and best of luck!
All the best,