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, February 5, 2011 - 22:10
This Sadler-trained gelding made his local debut in an overnight event in late December and was breathtaking in victory. Wide most of the way while pressing a hot pace, the son of Sarava disposed of his rivals on the turn and was pushed out to secure the victory with a huge speed figure, one that makes him very live right back despite the obvious raise in class. He lands the good rail, retains Bejarano and could be the controlling speed, though he clearly doesn’t need the lead to win. This barn has been on fire of late and should add to its collection of stakes victories in this important Big ‘Cap prep. We’ll take him with confidence at 5/2 on the morning line.

Magic Launch has turned into a win machine of late and looks tough once again as she seeks her fifth straight score. Versatile and genuine, the daughter of Cee’s Tizzy is being brought back quickly and the short rest could make her vulnerable, but we respect her too much to toss her out. Russian River adds blinkers for the first time, is a solid fit on figures and may be most effective as a sprinter. Talamo should have her rolling late. Speeler, our top pick in the race, is improving as she acclimates for Knight and catches a field without a whole lot of early zip. She gets off the rail, retains Smith, has worked nicely of late and may very well be the controlling speed. She’s 4-1 on the morning line and that seems just about right. We’ll use these three in an exacta or trifecta box and in all of our rolling exotics as well.

Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 00:27
FIFTH RACE - #4 SEPARATE FOREST x #5 SWEET HANNI This downhill turf dash restricted to 4-year-0ld fillies looks like a good spot for first-off-the-claim Separate Forest, who recently handled a softer field in convincing style in fast time and catches a pace scenario that should have her tough right back on the raise. She might wind up being the controlling speed, but she doesn’t need the lead to win, and with P. Val taking over and a return to turf, the daughter of Forestry should be double tough right back. The danger comes from Sweet Hanni, freshened since September but training like she’s fit and ready for Cerin (excellent with layoff runners) and already proven over this course. Bejarano will have her rolling late and if the pace is fast to normal she could be hard to contain. We’ll use them both in an exacta box and in all of our rolling exotics.

Waltzing Swan encountered poor racing luck when trying to rally in deep stretch vs. tougher recently, drops for the money run today while retaining Gomez and should be tough to contain with clear sailing. She’s a route to sprint play with a good late kick and will be rolling late. Samba School, nosed out in a two-turn main track $25,000 affair last month, moves up a notch, returns to turf, turns back in trip and switches to Garcia. She, too, will be doing her best work late and if she can avoid traffic trouble the Mitchell-trained import figures right there. At 8-1 on the morning line, she’ll be out top pick, but we’ll use them both in all of our rolling exotics.

Friday, February 4, 2011 - 11:23
Queenofcalifornia was virtually distanced in her only outing last summer at Del Mar but has trained like a decent sort for her comeback and deserves another chance. She represents inside speed with P. Val in an abbreviated sprint so she’s a “must use” in the exotics. Pink Blanket is a first timer from the Glatt barn with good enough works to be given strong consideration. She looks like a very live item with Bejarano in the saddle. One Bad Reason exits a pretty good race in a maiden $50,000 seller and this raise in class can be interpreted as a sign of confidence. Talamo stays aboard for Mitchell and if the pace types melt down she’s the most likely to come and pick them up. Let’s use all three in an exacta/trifecta box and all three in our rolling exotics as well.

SEVENTH RACE - #3 SAYIF x #4 DILEMMA x #7 REGALLY READY This is a good, competitive downhill turf sprint and anyone of the three listed above could win. Together they form an intriguing exacta/trifecta box. Sayif was a high class turf sprinter in Europe a couple of years ago and makes his U.S. debut following a string of sharp workouts that should have him fit and ready to roll. P. Val takes the mount and should have him within striking range throughout. Dilemma, most effective as a late running turf sprinter, took advantage of ideal conditions to win the Daytona Stakes last month and has trained in sharp style since, so a repeat performance is entirely possible. Regally Ready got cooked in a hot pace duel in the Daytona yet still hung on bravely to be third; today’s pace scenario looks considerably softer so he could very well keep going. All three are worth using in whatever rolling exotics you might be playing.
Thursday, February 3, 2011 - 10:15
Let’s try a pair of 4-1 morning line entrants in an exacta box and in our rolling exotics, as both Special Kid and Fusa Code appear to be coming up to this race in fine style. Special Kid has steadily improving speed figures, a decent runner up try to Uncle Sam in a similar two-turn maiden affair in late December, and a very healthy work pattern since for O’Neill. He’s drawn well inside, switches to Bejarano, and figures in the thick of things with another forward move. Fusa Code was a beaten choice in the same race that Special Kid exits but was somewhat victimized by a lack of pace and a wide trip and likely can do much better. He’s another who has impressed in recent morning drills, switches to Gomez for Asmussen, and should have no excuses today.

This is a fairly competitive down-the-hill turf sprint for entry level allowance runners and both C Tizz Run and Kate’s Event should fire big shots. The former exits a hot race, has trained well since and - assuming he can transfer his main track form to the turf – should be prominent throughout. The pace scenario he’ll encounter today likely will be much more comfortable than his most recent outing. Kate’s Event impressed with his off-the-pace maiden tally earlier this season and should continue to improve with experience for Hollendorfer. He’s looked quite sharp in recent drills according to published reports, retains Rosario, and seems especially enticing at 9/2 on the morning line (he’s worth a straight play at that price). Both are worth using in rolling exotics.

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.