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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 - 00:40
Chin’n Tonic makes his U.S. debut for import specialist Vienna and has trained well enough to expect a big effort in a wide open high priced claiming turf affair for 3-year-olds. His European form wasn’t bad at all – his maiden win at Newcastle last summer was impressive and his two subsequent efforts in valuable handicaps don’t do him justice – and from where he’s drawn the Irish-bred gelding should draft into a lovely second flight trip. There’s enough speed to set things up for a closer and Flores should have him along in time. The morning line price of 4-1 seems about right.

Gavine, a French import with a touch of class, makes her U.S. debut for a trainer that excels with these types of imports and the works indicate fitness. She’s won off layoffs in the past, lands Rosario, and should be on or near the lead throughout. Reba Is Tops beat a claiming field recently and probably will have to improve a bit to repeat in this tougher spot, but the veteran mare loves to win races, always gives her best, and must be respected. Southern Fireball, a route-to-sprint play, removes blinkers, retains Pedroza, has won over this course in the past and looks dangerous from off the pace at 8-1 on the morning line. These three comprise an attractive exacta or trifecta box and all three should be used in your rolling exotics.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 - 00:36
Tokubetsu is the only starter in the field with a prior race and deserves favoritism based on a decent runner up try last month at Hollywood Park. It wasn’t a great race, but the son of Congaree very likely will step forward for Baffert (excellent with second time starters) and has worked very well over the track while retaining Bejarano. More intriguing, though, is Asmussen’s first time starter Le Mans, listed at 6-1 on the morning line based on an okay but certainly not flashy work tab. Bred to be very quick (War Front) and hailing from a barn that rarely asks its young stock for speed, Le Mans has impressed the clockers with good finishes in each of his recent morning drills and very likely is fit and ready for a big effort first crack out of the box. He represents excellent value in both the straight pools and the rolling exotics.

Jeranimo was very impressive winning the San Gabriel Stakes last month over this course, has looked especially sharp in the morning since that race and seems to have found a home on turf. He’s got tactical speed to be within striking range and a superior turn of foot when it counts in the final furlong. He’s drawn well, retains Bejarano, and seems the one to beat at 3-1 on the morning line. Caracortado looked super winning his turf debut at Hollywood Park in November and ran equally as well when a closing third in the opening day Malibu Stakes on dirt. He’s another who has looked in peak condition in recent workouts and should be able to handle the nine furlong trip. He’s worth every bit the 7/2 he’s listed on the morning line.

Friday, January 28, 2011 - 11:13
FIRST RACE - #3 ONE NATION After an easy run in his recent debut sprinting, One Nation should get serious today. The son of Empire Maker wasn’t knocked about when a non-threatening fourth in a hot sprint earlier this month but has come back to work exceptionally well for Mandella (superior with second time starters) and today gets the distance for which he was bred. Rosario rides him back and at 3-1 on the morning line he represents excellent value in both the straight pools and the rolling exotics.

In a soft maiden sprint for older fillies and mares, the known element isn’t much so let’s concentrate on a pair of debut runners with credentials to be very live at first asking. Roxanne O, a first timer by Rock Hard Ten, has the Zenyatta connections and has trained well enough to warrant a look, although reports are that she’ll probably want a distance of ground before showing her best. Still, this $725,000 yearling buy appears to have a touch of quality, figures to be running on strongly late, and is worth using in the exotics. The one to beat, though, is Lady Sweetness, who boasts a series of impressive drills for Mitchell, including a 1:00 1/5 five furlong move Jan. 5 at Hollywood Park in which she reportedly worked in company, and actually might have been a tad the best, with last year’s Big ‘Cap favorite St. Trinians. She lands the comfortable outside post, and should have very chance under Talamo to handle this modest assignment. At 4-1 on the morning line, she looks like the goods.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 10:04
Mythical Power is the morning line favorite at 2-1 and he’s exiting a series of graded stakes races following a nearly fourth month layoff for a barn that excels with comebackers. That said, he might need a bit more ground to be effective and could be vulnerable. Red Door Drive, the second ML choice at 5/2, cuts back to a rare try around one turn and catches a very favorable pace scenario. On the lead before weakening late in the San Pasqual Stakes three weeks ago, the son of Sky Mesa is the “other” Baffert in the field and with a recent race over the track appears fit and ready for an optimum effort. Red Eye Express returns for Drysdale with a string of sharp works under his belt, is reunited with Rosario (who has won with him in the past), removes blinkers (ran well sans hood in the past) and won the only other sprint of his career, a maiden event in Ireland in his debut. He’s a “must use” in exotics at 6-1 on the morning line.

Intentional finally lands an outside draw and won’t have any excuses today. She exits a fairly hot race, drops to a realistic level and catches a pace scenario shouldn’t be too taxing. There’s nothing wrong with her 5/2 morning line odds. Social Event is a late running sprinter and that’s not the type to back with any degree of confidence over this speed favoring strip. However, she’s another who has been chasing tougher of late and with Bejarano staying aboard she’s probably pretty healthy. She can at least get a piece of it. Banana Cream Pie retains Rosario, should fold over into a good mid pack position from her outside draw and is another worth using in the exotics. The contention falls off pretty quickly after these three so form should prevail.

Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 11:44
This is a very competitive first level allowance event and if you’re playing the Pick-6 we suggest you use as many as you can afford to. We’ll boil it down to three, with slight preference to Streakin’ Mohican, a consistent sprinter who should appreciate this drop in class. The Hess-trained gelding earned a giant figure when demolishing an allowance field in the Bay Area two runs back and ran well right back when second in a tougher spot at Hollywood Park last month. He’s trained well of late so another top effort can be expected. Corey Nakatani picks up the mount from the injured P. Val. Hot Damon just won at this level against state breds and today tackles open company. He’s got the right style for this extended sprint distance, retains Rosario, and should be rolling late. Nextdoorneighbor, a route to sprint play and exiting the powerful and productive Sir Beaufort Stakes, should settle in mid pack and make his run late. He’s overdue for a win and shouldn’t have any excuses today.

Class dropper El Scorpio seems to have found a good spot to regain his winning form. Overmatched in the Miles Tyson Stakes last month at Hollywood Park, he drops to a realistic spot for O’Neill, switches to Bejarano and should be the best of the speed types. His effectiveness could be dictated by the amount of early zip Slam Slew displays; if he can shake loose from that one early, El Scorpio will be hard to handle. We like his chances at anything close to his 5-1 morning line odds.

Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 01:12
Bloemer Girl was visually very impressive winning a maiden sprint at Golden Gate Fields on New Year’s Day and earned a speed figure that makes her competitive in this overnight stakes down the hill for 3-year-old fillies. She’s bred for turf on both sides of her pedigree, sports a bullet blowout over the track four days ago and likely has plenty of improvement in her. At 15-1 on the morning line she represents extreme value and is a “must use” in your exotics. Bloemer Girl probably isn’t a need-the-lead type and might inherit a good stalking trip behind the likely pacesetter Advantage Player, who is being wheeled back quickly by Peter Miller following a sharp maiden tally over this course just nine days ago. The short rest is a concern, but if she can turn in two alike she’ll be able to handle the step up in class from maiden to stakes. With Rosario aboard, the 6-1 morning line odds on Advantage Player look fairly enticing and she’s another who should be included in any exotics you might be playing. Cambina represents stranger danger for the Bonde-Baze team. The Irish import makes her U.S. debut following a series of fairly useful performances last summer overseas, and the works indicate fitness. Based on her running lines from Ireland, she likes to settle early and take hold late and most likely will be the best of the closing types.

Pink Lollipops is another fast working first timer from the Bob Baffert barn – is there any other kind? – and she looks like a very live debut runner in what appears to be a fairly competitive abbreviated sprint for maiden 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Silver Deputy was plucked from the Ocala Breeders’ 2-year-old in training Sale for $110.000 last April; she previewed in :09 4/5 for a furlong, fastest work for the distance in the entire auction. We know Shoo Gee is quick – she showed much speed last spring as an early 2-year-old when second in a pair of solid races at Hollywood Park – and she returns for Walther Solis with a series of strong workouts to have her fit and ready for her comeback. She lands P. Val and likely will take them as far as she can. Hout Bay is a first timer from the John Sadler barn and is another who has displayed some quality in morning preps. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday worked a half from the gate in :46 4/5 just five days ago; it was the fastest of 44 for the distance and a week earlier she worked six furlongs in 1:11 2/5, so there’s little doubt she’ll be fit to fire first crack out of the box. At 6-1 on the morning line, she seems particularly attractive. Let’s use all three in an exacta/trifecta box and all three should be used in any rolling exotics you might be playing.