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.

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 10:41
FOURTH RACE - #3 AMERICAS DREAMING x 7 BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN Americas Dreaming is dropped into a claimer for the first time after more than a dozen failed attempts at the first condition. Most recently she flopped miserably over the Cushion track at Hollywood Park, so Sadler has taken the opportunity to place her in a very realistic spot, one that could enable the Irish-bred mare to secure her first win in the States. She retains Bejarano, switches to the grass, and beats these with anything close to her Gulfstream turf form of last year. Admittedly, that’s a long way back, but she’s trained eagerly of late and may be set to regain her form. Beautiful American returns to her claim level for Hollendorfer, knows how to win races, and catches a field that she’s more than capable of dominating from start to finish. She’s back on grass as well, and it’s worth noting that she’s won half of her 14 career starts on turf. Beautiful American rates top billing and offers some real value if she leaves at close to her 5/2 morning line odds. Lert's use them both in all of our rolling exotics.

This is a wide open state bred maiden sprint and we suggest you spread in your rolling exotics using (at least) the three we’ve listed here. Warren’s Knockout debuted in an open maiden dash last month and had the misfortune of hooking The Factor. After showing good early speed to be within range for a half, he was left for dead and faded to be beaten almost 20 lengths; nobody in this particular field would have done any better. He’s come back to drill nicely since that race, makes the pivotal jockey switch to P. Val, and lands the rail, which seems to be the place to be over a track that has been very kind to speed types so far this meeting. He’s our top selection at 9/2 on the morning line, but we’ll also use Preferred Mandate, a fading fifth in a high priced maiden claimer in his debut last month but working like a better sort since that race, and Jack Reacher, who broke a bit slowly and then steadied at the furlong pole in his only outing before winding up well beaten in a California-bred affair at Hollywood Park. He’s probably a bit better than the line shows and also has come back to show some spark in the morning.

Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 10:37
Blind Luck will earn an Eclipse Award tomorrow evening in Florida; today she’ll be a short priced favorite to return to winning form in the El Encino Stakes. Freshened and working in superb style since rallying to be second in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, the Hollendorfer-trained filly came off a similar vacation last year to win the Las Virgenes Stakes and figures to fire her best shot once again. She deserves to be 4/5 on the morning line but #3 Malibu Pier might be good enough to upset her. The Carla Gaines-trained filly didn’t leave clearly in the recent La Brea Stakes but steadily moved within range and kept to her task to finish an excellent second behind Switch while perhaps wanting more distance. She gets her trip today, continues to sparkle in the morning and should find herself always within striking range of a pace that probably won’t be too intense. She’ll have to run her best race yet to defeat the champion, but at 3-1 on the morning she offers a bit more value. Use them both in all of your rolling exotics and consider a straight play on Malibu Pier if she leaves somewhere around her morning line price.

Resplendently returns to the bottom rung maiden claiming ranks following a respite of more than three months, and his condition must be questioned, but the work tab indicates he’s ready to roll and his back numbers would bury this modest group. The rail is of some concern and the distance might be bit sharp, but in a rather empty field he should be able to produce the last run. Stranger danger takes the form of Naturaliste, a first timer from the Richard Mandella barn who has worked well enough to be very competitive at this level. A nicely bred colt by Saint Liam, he finally makes it to the races at age 4 and must have problems, but his natural ability could carry him through and at 9/2 on the morning line he’s a “must use” in all of your exotic plays.

Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 07:55
Screaming Destiny exits a fast, highly-rated sprint in his first start in 10 month and seems sure to improve following that tightener. Bred for distance on both sides of his pedigree, the son of Street Cry should love the lawn and a healthy series of drills in recent weeks for Harty should have him right on edge. This does not appear to be a particularly strong maiden affair, so Screaming Destiny should have every chance to earn his diploma, and at 9/2 on the morning line he represents good value in both the straight pool and the exotics. Kumiva may be the one to fear most. He’s a five year old maiden now and his trainer suffered through a winless 2010, but he’s worked well of late, has back numbers that could win, and should be forwardly placed in a race that doesn’t appear to have much in the way of pace. We’ll use him in the exotics while still preferring Screaming Destiny.

This is a very interesting down the hill turf sprint and it’s tough to separate the two horses listed above. Earnednevergiven was a tad disappointing when third as the choice in a hot main track sprint last month but he’s perfect in two starts over this turf course and seems very likely to rebound with his best effort. He should be prominent throughout in a race that doesn’t figure to be terribly fast early. Connagher, freshened since Oak Tree, was in too tough when a non factor in the Morvich while being victimized by the race shape (slow early, fast late) but he switches to Gomez following a sharp recent work and should be storming home in the final furlong. There’s some real value here at 9/2 on the morning line. Best suggestion is to use both in any exactas or trifectas you might want to play and also in the Pick-3, the Pick-4, and the Pick-6.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 11:48
These three are the main contenders (and first three favorites on the morning line) and they’re difficult to separate, but of the three we would slightly prefer Mutually Benefit. The daughter of Dynaformer ran very well under similar circumstance two races back when second while earning a solid 80 Beyer figure but regressed in her most recent race when unplaced in an off-the-turfer. She’s back on the sod today, continues to train in sharp style for Proctor, and retains Gomez, who may (or may not) have opted for her over Tashzara. She’ll be little value, though, if she leaves at less than her 3-1 morning line odds. Tashzara, in the money in all three of her starts since being imported from England, has improving speed figures, the good inside draw, gains Rosario, and sports a steady work tab for her first start since late November. She’s the 9/5 morning line favorite and deservedly so. Khendum gets the worst of the draw but she ran quite well over this turf course last year and is another whose recent workouts indicate she’s ready to fire her best shot. Tough race, and to be safe you’d probably be wise to include all three in your rolling exotics.

7th Race - #1 STACY’S HOPE x #2 MOONLARK
These two met Nov. 14 at Hollywood Park and Stacy’s Hope produced the last run to win going away in a visually impressive performance. Moonlark franked the form by earning a whopping 104 Beyer figure while dismantling a good field in an abbreviated sprint the following month while able to control the race from gate to wire. We like him right back, although he might have to deal with #6 Bradium, who switches to P. Val and likely will apply pace pressure throughout. If these two hook up in a speed duel again, Stacy’s Hope could once again produce the last run. We’ll use the best speed and the best closer in our rolling exotics and hope to survive. If you feel a need to go a bit deeper, consider #4 Square Eddie, who has been working up a storm for his first start in more than a year. He’s got plenty of back class, and has fired fresh in the past. We’re taking a stand against him, though, hoping that he’ll need a race to shake off the rust. We’ll see.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 11:06

Cadazzle is an intriguing invader from New York making her local debut for Proctor and the works say she’s fit and ready. Her best race was her first, so we’ll assume she can fire fresh, and if she can transfer her Saratoga form to this hillside course she can earn her diploma in a race that we’d also use Ricketyracketyruss and Working At Night. The former missed by a head in her turf debut two-turning at Hollywood Park last month and she should have no difficulty shortening up and repeating that performance today. A bullet :46 flat half for Sadler indicates she has further improvement in her and Rosario stays aboard. The latter has improving speed figures for Mullins and with another forward move the daughter of Tiznow should be in the thick of things throughout. We’ll use all three in all of our rolling exotics and in exacta and trifecta boxes as well. And if we can get close to the 4-1 morning line odds, we’ll play a few extra tickets on Cadazzle.

6th Race - #8 SKELLYTOWN
Ex-classer returned to winning form on opening day with a brave score in a three-horse driving finish and seems quite capable of a repeat win against a moderate bottom-rung field. Didn’t get the clearest of runs when attempting to rally into the lane but surged late to get the money in a race that already has proven to be productive. Skellytown clearly has his issues and this drop in class off a win raises a red flag, but if he has one more good one left the veteran Thunder Gulch gelding can come right back under Espinoza. Under the circumstances, his 3-1 morning line odds seems worth taking and we’ll single him in our rolling exotics as well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011 - 11:28
8th Race - #1 He’s a Dance Star Lightly-raced gelding returns to the main track and is a perfect one-for-one on dirt, having scored in his debut in a Fairplex Park maiden race. Making his second start since switching from the Warren barn to the Sadler stable, the son of Perfect Mandate has plenty of room for further improvement following a good third place effort despite some trouble on turf against a similar first level state bred allowance field last month at Hollywood Park. He lands the rail again, but at this extended sprint trip he should have plenty of opportunity to find suitable room for his late kick. In a below par field for the level, Gomez should have He’s a Dance Star along in time.

9th Race - #2 Seeking the Queen x #6 Fairway Road Speedy California-bred filly catches a very favorable pace scenario in this first level allowance sprint down the hill for fillies and mares and appears capable of controlling this race from start to finish. After hopping in the air at the start in a similar spot over the Hollywood Park lawn last month, the daughter of Sought After rushed up to make the pace and continued strongly until deep stretch before weakening to wind up third. Let’s hope she leaves cleanly today under Talamo and keeps on going. Also worth using in the exotics is #6 Fairway Road, first off the claim for good trainer Peter Miller and fresh from a sharp main track romp vs. $20,000 sellers last month. She can handle the turf as well and appears the one Seeking the Queen must fear most.