Horse Racing Tips from a Top Race Handicapper

Horse owner, breeder and HRTV analyst Jeff Siegel also happens to be Southern California's premier handicapper. Check his blog each day before you play!

Handicapping, in short, refers to analyzing the race to come up with best predicted outcome, or pick. There are many angles when it comes to picking a winner. Using some of the help from the professional handicappers below, you can determine your own angle on placing a bet. For more information on how to bet or wager, click here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 01:22
This is unquestionably a huge step up in class for this newly-turned 4-year-old but his placement in this graded stakes turf sprint by Asmussen can be taken as a sign of confidence. The son of More Than Ready (a terrific turf sire) was finally given a chance to try the lawn and he certainly made the most of it, demolishing a second level allowance field by almost eight lengths at Churchill Downs while earning a career top 102 Beyer figure. This field isn’t overloaded with early zip, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see this gelding on the front end under Rosario. If he’s as good as we think he is, Regally Ready can score right back, although we wouldn’t dive in too deeply if he leaves at anything less than his morning line of 3-1. Contenders include #1 Dance with Gable, unbeaten in three starts down the hill and fresh from a facile overnight win at Hollywood Park, and #6 Quick Enough, also with proven winning form over this unique course and retaining P. Val.

9th Race - #14 TWO VIOLINS
Phoenix invader finished a sharp second to the red hot Point Attended in a competitive sprint at Turf Paradise last month and if he turns in that kind of effort on the big circuit he’ll be in the battle throughout. The Metz-trained gelding lands Gomez, should have clear sailing outside and has a touch of quality (first or second in 13 of 25 career starts). At 9/2 on the morning line he represents sufficient value to back him in the straight pool as well as the exotics. The one to fear most is #3 Café Con Leche, a sharp dropper in the O’Neill barn who retains Pedroza following a career top (81) Beyer performance two weeks ago at Hollywood Park. In fact, he has plenty of back numbers than could win this bottom rung affair.

Friday, December 31, 2010 - 11:02
Candy Ride gelding returns to California after breaking his maiden at Turf Paradise in a fairly strong effort, and we suspect he’ll fit very nicely in this restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming affair. He lands Bejarano and should have enough tactical speed to draft into a favorable pace stalking or pace prompting position. On numbers he’s right there and with any kind of improvement he can pull off a mild surprise. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line and offering value at anywhere near that price, the Diodoro-trained gelding should be used in the exotics with the two other main contenders in the field, #1 Royal Import (decent number when finally breaking his maiden and leaving from the good inside post) and #4 Dontmesroundwitjim (first off the claim for Mitchell, working well, switches to Talamo and might be the speed of the speed).

6th Race – #2 HEY MARIA Juvenile filly swings back to action for good trainer Gaines following a nearly four month vacation and could very well be a much better type this time around. Flashed promising speed in a pair of Del Mar races last summer and was well-backed in both, so she’s always been fairly well regarded. Recent workouts have been impressive and give indication that she’s ready to fire off the bench. At 6-1 on the morning line, she’s an attractive straight play and a “must use” in the rolling exotics. If you’re play exactas or trifectas, also consider #6 Rumor, a first timer from the Mandella barn with a series of promising drills for a barn that does well with debut runners, and #7 Blazing Along, fourth in the Anoakia Stakes in October and back with maidens today following a typical sharp series of workouts for Baffert.
Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 10:58
Freshened since October but training like he’s fit and ready, the Peter Miller-trained gelding has the ideal style for this extended sprint distance and seems primed for another winning effort. He has enough tactical speed to be within striking range throughout and Gomez should have him along in plenty of time. At 2-1 on the morning line and likely to go lower, Offlee Wild Boys probably won’t offer a whole lot of value in the straight pool but remains a logical rolling exotic single.

Genuine and consistent and never sharper for Machowsky, this veteran gelding lands the cozy outside post in this seven furlong sprint and should draft into a perfect pace prompting or stalking position. He achieved a career top speed figure in his most recent win, has trained in exceptional manner since and should be set for another forward move today. In a race lacking in intense speed, Flores has all the options and may take command early if the situation allows. At 7/2 on the morning line, Earnednevergiven offers excellent value both as a straight play and as a rolling exotic single.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 10:55
This Mulhall-trained colt showed ability when second in his racing debut in a similar high priced maiden claimer at Hollywood Park in October and verified that effort when a better-than-looked sixth (beaten 4 ½ lengths) in a much tougher straight maiden sprint in his most recent outing. Juvenile son of Officer has worked nicely since that race, retains Espinoza, and won’t have to improve much at all to earn his diploma in a race that pretty much boils down to the two morning line favorites. #2 Polished Nickel, first off the claim for Walsh, has credentials as well, but Schuylkill Punch may have tad more early speed and could get the jump on his main rival. We’ll take anything close to his 2-1 morning line odds and make him a solid rolling exotic single.

A promising juvenile colt by Awesome Again, this Baffert-trained colt gets a chance around two turns for the first time and he sprints like he’ll thoroughly enjoy the added ground. A game third while under pressure along the rail in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes last month, Awesome Patriot tries a tough and competitive first level allowance field today but with a strong seven furlong work in 1:25 2/5 under his belt over this track, he should be set for a major forward move. He’s third choice on the morning line at 3-1 and represents excellent straight and rolling exotic value at that price.

Monday, December 27, 2010 - 11:04
TODAY’S BEST (Dec. 27, 2010, Santa Anita)

1st Race - #2 UNCLE SAM

This juvenile son of Tapit (from a mare by Pleasant Colony) is bred to run long on the lawn and gets his chance right off the bat in what appears to be a slightly below par race for the level. A series of sharp and impressive workouts should have him ready to pop at first asking and at 7/2 on the morning line the Baffert-trained maiden seems to offer pretty good value. The known element doesn’t really inspire, although the Churchill Downs invader, #8 Fusa Code, has some ability and with two mile races already under his belt he has the benefit of condition and some experience. He’s worth using in the exotics, but Uncle Sam is strictly the one to beat.

3rd Race - #1 BIG REVOLUTION
This Peter Miller-trained gelding drops into a restricted $12,500 claimer and seems well placed to regain his winning ways. His numbers are improving; he’s exiting a much stronger starter’s allowance affair and should be comfortably placed in the first flight in a race without a whole lot of early zip. Bug boy Gonzalez has worked him in the morning, so he knows him. #4 Three Pointer appears the one to fear most; he’s re-equipped with blinkers and is taking a realistic class drop after a bit of a disappointing run across town. The Glatt-trained gelding is another who’ll likely enjoy a soft pace scenario and is worth using as an exacta partner with our top pick.

Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 00:16
TODAY’S BEST (Dec. 26, 2010, Santa Anita)

4th Race - #9 THE FACTOR

Knocked down to 3/5 in his debut last month in a race that trainer Bob Baffert publically confided he thought he’d win, this $250,000 Barretts 2-year-old in training buy wound up fourth, beaten more than three lengths, but he’s much better than that and will get a chance to prove it in this competitive straight maiden dash for juveniles. In heavy traffic down the backside while full of run, the son of War Front didn’t really extract himself until the upper stretch but by that time the cause was lost. A bullet :58 2/5 workout since that race indicates he still has all of his speed, and today we should see his best stuff. The two that you should use with him in an exacta/trifecta box are #7 Hope and Believe and #10 Houston Harbor. The former, out of the very good producing mare Hope Rises, has looked like a very good prospect for Ellis and seems cranked up and ready to roll. The latter, a solid second in his only outing in Kentucky last month and from a barn (Asmussen) that excels with second time starters, may be the quickest in the field and could be very dangerous if he can shake loose early.

Crushed his maiden rivals in his October debut by almost six lengths and the margin would have been double digits had he left with his field. The Mitchell-trained colt overcame the poor start to flash excellent speed to battle for the lead after the opening quarter and then came away with asked like a colt with some quality. He’s very comfortably drawn outside in this extended sprint affair and catches a field without a whole lot of zip. If he breaks cleanly today, he should dominate right back and while he’ll likely go considerably lower than his 9/5 morning line odds, his main value will be as a rolling exotic single.