Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Meet Total ... 92-336

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Season-end Handicappers Scorecard

Every year the Saratoga season provides a very unique opportunity to review the work of a fairly large number of public handicappers all focusing on the same races day-in and day-out for an entire race-meet. This year's scorecard includes twenty-eight public handicappers -- virtually all that were available in newspapers in the Saratoga region as well as the NYC tabloids which are available upstate. We also included the stats for a couple "consensus" boxes [at the bottom of the list] -- which provide an interesting take on the two [or more]-heads-are-better-than-one theory.

And now it's time to crown the new king: Kyle Brownell from the Glens Falls Post Star. A couple of years back Kyle and I co-hosted the Saturday afternoon handicapping show on the Capital OTB-TV network here in upstate NY, so when I saw Kyle in the paddock on closing day I told him I'd have to alert the public that I taught him everything he knows...

But seriously, Brownell taught all of us a thing or two putting together a solid six-weeks. He surged during the last three-weeks, adding 61 winners to his mid-meet total when he ranked tenth on the mid-season scorecard. He crossed the century-mark on Sunday and had things wrapped up early on Monday. One of only two on the list to crack the 100-win mark. Solid work. [Brownell's newspaper justifiably wrote a nice piece on the accomplishment quoting the new king of the handicappers, "Over the years I have put a lot of time and effort into making my picks, watching the races and studying replays... It is quite an honor."]

Mark Cusano, who won in a runaway last year, put on a spirited battle with his Daily Gazette colleague Bill Heller for the 2-3 spots. That race wasn't decided until the last day when Heller edged Cusano for the place-spot.

And, of course, we see other of the "usual suspects" populating the top of the list.

As for equidaily.com's Best Bets... The year was a little bit disappointing. A top-ten finish, down from #6 last year. Not bad. But our three-year streak of producing a flat-bet profit with $2 wagered on each of our top selections comes to a halt. The $580.10 win-bet return ranked us behind only two of those with more winners-on-top, and sixth overall [of those handicappers that kept a such running total during the meet].

Best Bets/equidaily.com stat of the meet

35 cold exactas during the meet for a flat-bet profit!

We'll take some solace in this rather interesting stat. Through 336 races a $2 exacta wager on each of our top two picks -- in exact order -- would have cost $672.00. The return was $885.00 [highest payoff, $115.50/$2, R8, 9/1/06... Fernando Po 9/1 - Admiral Bird 4-1]. That calculates to a 32% ROI.

Going deeper, a $2 exacta box wager using our top two picks in every race of the meet would have cost $1344.00 -- and would have returned $1682.40. A 25% ROI.

Twenty-seven reverse exactas hit [highest payoff, $240.50/$2, R1, 7/29/06... Planets Aligned 13-1 - Mythical Conquest 6-1]. So our top two picks ran 1-2 62 total times during the 336 races.

It was a quirky season...

...And you can compare the final 2006 results to the meet-end numbers from years past here:

2005 scorecard

2004 scorecard

2003 scorecard

Table below lists the handicapper, affiliation, winners-on-top/races played, $2 win-bet total ($2 win-bet total ranking).

Note: Discrepancies in total number of races played is due to some handicappers losing races due to scratches or adding races with simulcast plays.


Kyle Brownell
Post-Star [Glens Fall, NY]
104-336 ... $644.50 (3)
Bill Heller
Daily [Schenectady] Gazette
Mark Cusano
Daily [Schenectady] Gazette
Paul Moran
98-331 ... $619.50 (4)
Bill Taylor
Dave Little
NY Daily News
95-333 ... $565.20 (9)
Russ Harris
NY Daily News
95-336 ... $541.70 (13)
Tom Cunningham
Albany Times Union
93-335 ... $529.80 (15)
Matt Graves
Albany Times Union
93-335 ... $541.00 (14)
Seth Merrow
Best Bets - equidaily.com
92-336 ... $580.10 (6)
Eric DeGrechie
Dave Litfin
Daily Racing Form
Mike Lipack
NY Daily News
89-335 ... $688.50 (1)
Jerry Bossert
NY Daily News
88-332 ... $548.90 (12)
John DaSilva
NY Post
87-335 ... $593.50 (5)
Tim Wilkin
Albany Times Union
86-336 ... $515.60 (17)
Nick Kling
Troy Record/Saratogian
85-337 ... $554.60 (11)
Tom Law
Debbie L
NY Post
84-334 ... $488.60 (18)
Bev Swimm
Albany Times Union
81-334 ... $477.90 (19)
Sherry Ross
NY Daily News
80-335 ... 574.30 (7)
Tom Cavanagh
NY Daily News
79-336 ... $455.10 (21)
Mike Jarboe
Albany Times Union
77-335 ... $564.30 (10)
NY Post
76-335 ... $570.70 (8)
Mark Hoffman
The [Amsterdam, NY] Recorder
76-336 ... $525.00 (16)
Vic C
NY Post
73-333 ... $471.60 (20)
Ed Fountaine
NY Post
71-334 ... $454.80 (22)
Steve Matthews
68-334 ... $683.00 (2)
Consenus Box
NY Post
95-336 ... $562.80
DRF Consensus
Daily Racing Form
84-333 ... $536.10
Results are not independently verified by equidaily.com -- these are the results as published in the various newspapers.


3-10. Three winners on top [1st, $18.60; 4th, $3.60; 5th, $3.00]. We lamented earlier that we had missed two Sheppard Specials last week when our second selection in the NY Turf Writers steeplechase, Mixed Up scored at 4-1, while we tepidly stuck with 1-2 fave Hirapour, the eventual fifth-place finisher. A day later trainer Sheppard sent out Dr Bloomer to win at 14-1. This one one of our classic Sheppard Special profiles -- coming off of a couple of races that just didn't look that good, but ready to pounce. We used Bloomer in our mix but didn't put him on top, instead focusing on 6-1 Hunting Hillbilly, one we had been chasing throughout the meet. But of those earlier Special's proved fruitful for us on-track as our second, third and fourth picks completed the Turf Writers tri [$41.00/$2 exacta; $244.50 tri]. And our second, third and fourth choices also boxed for the Dr Bloomer tri [$153.00 exacta; $521.00 tri]. So we took solace in cashing some tickets but found disappointment in our lack of boldness for not using those potential Special's on top. So no way were we going to pass up the last opporunity to Specialize on Monday!

We opened with a Sheppard Special in the 1st as Prep School closed late to take the opener at 8-1. And later on we used Latice in the co-feature and she ran a good second at a generous 7-1, completing a $74.00 exacta with our third pick Noble Stella. Our second selection Louve Royale rounded out the $268.00 tri. So we could have done a little better using the Special's on top here on the page -- but on-track we managed to do well with them.

Also on Monday we scored a couple of cold exactas [1st, $52.50; 4th, $9.30]. And, as noted above, our top three boxed for the $268.00 tri in the co-featured G3 Glens Falls.

A solid send-off crowd of 22,102 enjoyed a nice day. Temps were still a little cool but the weather was fine for racing.


No racing.

See you next year.


If we are interested in both halves of an entry -- in event of a scratch -- it is noted that way [in other words, both halve are named]. If only one-half of the entry is named, then we prefer that half and will move to our next pick listed [rather than the other half of the entry] in event of a scratch.

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