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Michael Pizzolla's Handicapping Rant:The 2008 Kentucky Derby

Postby Michael Pizzolla » Thu May 01, 2008 11:12 am

Michael Pizzolla's Handicapping Rant:
The 2008 Kentucky Derby

From The Desk Of Michael Pizzolla

San Dimas, California
May 1, 2008
6:47 A.M

Dear Friend,

That’s not a typo.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m not going to be at the Kentucky Derby, in a radio studio talking about the Derby, or at some swanky Las Vegas Kentucky Derby party.

This year, I will be in the beautiful land of Avocados, playing golf with some friends. There’s a tournament that some of the fellows at my club go to every year, and it’s always on Kentucky Derby weekend.

And so, I never go.

Until this year.


Well, I’ve got to be honest with you; I need a bit of a break.

To catch you up, Black Magic, the Ultimate Handicapper Software, is off to a roaring start. And though I could show you scores of letters and emails from happy Handicapping ‘Wizards’ using the software and finding handicapping easier and more profitable than ever, here’s what I’m really jazzed about.
We have a Wizards’ Forum, and there continues to be so much support and an attitude of assisting each other, I’m amazed.

As one Wizard put it, when it saw how many good opportunities Black Magic software showed him, there was no reason not to share his knowledge and insights because there was plenty to go around.

Great attitude.

And I’ve actually been having fun doing a DVD every month (the Inner Secrets Series) and an audio (I’m even trying to do the audio myself, turning into a semi computer nerd in the process.)

A bit different than some of my acquaintances.

After dinner last night, a couple of my golfing buddies, with enough knowledge to be dangerous asked me what I thought of the Derby.

I told them the same thing I always emphasize to you about the Derby.

It’s a 20 horse race, with 3 year olds, potential champions but largely untested, going a mile and a quarter for the first time, running through a wall of sound generated by a hundred and forty thousand and change alcohol fueled fanatics.

Yes, BUT IT’S THE KENTUCKY DERBY, they exclaim.

I patiently answer that there are so many better opportunities to be had on the undercard at Churchill, and all over the country for that matter, really easy hanging curve balls, fat pitches, that you can just knock over the fence (enough baseball analogies for you?)

And the response is the same: BUT IT’S THE KENTUCKY DERBY, followed closely by WHO DO YOU LIKE?

I’ve seen this movie before. If I didn’t care so passionately about this game, and about sharing my insights, I’d just give them the favorite and be done with it.

I bit my lip last night, because I really wanted to say, well, Big Brown looks good, he’s 3 for 3, and could be a champion, and look out for Pyro and Colonel John.

Easy, succinct, give them the favorite, if it wins, I’m a genius, if it loses, well, everybody else liked the horse, so they weren’t alone. And since everyone else liked the horse, I had to be pretty sharp.

See, Michael, pretty easy.

Did I do this?


Can’t bring myself to do it, can’t make myself say what people want, I’ve got to talk about what they need. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I sleep better at night.

I told them that I’d probably be looking at the undercards, looking all around the country for opportunities.

Some of the Wizards on the Forum have seen the power of this. I’ve been able to get them the best deal in the industry on unlimited past performances and charts (for now, it’s only open to those with Black Magic and on the Wizards’ Forum).

There are two really important purposes to this.

First, you’re not locked into one or two tracks, trying to force bets because you’ve only got 20 at which to look.

Does it matter if on Derby Day, you find an opportunity at Prairie Meadows and make a nice score, rather than making that score on the Kentucky Derby?

If so, you’ve got a different agenda, and want some bragging rights about the Derby.

And that’s OK, if it’s only a few days a year. But it’s not a great attitude for someone who’s focused on profits. Find simple bets, understandable bets, easy bets.

Then wait for value. Then bet them, be prepared to lose more of them than you win, know that because you’re betting value you’ll make a lot more than you lost from the winners you do have, and there’s a nice, solid profit to be made.

Not glamorous, hard on the ego and pride, but the way to race track profits.

There I go again, it’s what handicappers need to hear.

And I know, heavens do I know, that it’s not what many of them WANT to hear.

Some want a number, a system, something, that will make them a winner automatically.

In other words, a Fairy Tale. A nice one, to be sure, culminating in living like one of those late night infomercial guys selling a real estate course driving in a Ferrari with a beautiful woman on each arm, berating the viewer for not being like him. And if you only buy his course, you can have the Ferrari (and presumably be irresistible to the opposite sex somehow) in only 17 seconds.

Sorry, Virginia, but there is no Santa Claus.

A program, even one as comprehensive and easy-to-use as Black Magic, needs a guiding hand, a handicapper to oversee it, and to use it intelligently.

The other reason to have all of those tracks downloaded (and again, provided you have a tool that lets you look at many races in no time, it’s not so useful) is that you can build a track profile for every track.

That’s a simple analysis of where the winning horses are at the first and second call at the distance and track.

I remember diligently getting the charts from the printed newspaper, and entering each winner and place horse by hand for the seven or eight tracks I was betting.

Tedious, yes, but it paid off with some insights that made it worthwhile.

Long story short, when you download the charts included with the data deal into Black Magic, it builds these for you automatically.

Want to know if there’s a bias at Charles Town? Will Rogers Downs? Hollywood? Stampede Park? Click, click, done.

Which brings me back to the Kentucky Derby.

I don’t have many mile and a quarter races in my database, but certainly recently, the mile and a sixteenth races have been running sub 51% energy distribution, which those of you familiar with feet-per-second based pace handicapping is quite late.

The trend is even there in the sprints.

When I saw this, I was excited, because very often the Derby comes up in my analysis as a pressured race.

Well, not this year.

The race comes up as Neutral, from the positional point of view, and actually Unpressured (favoring early) on the velocity side.

You see, the race is favoring one style of running; the track another.

In the typical course of my handicapping, I would proceed very cautiously. Will the race go early as indicated by a pace/pressure analysis? Or will it go late as the recent races have indicated?

Who knows? Pass, watch and learn.


So, here I go.

Black Magic’s Ultimate Odds Line puts Big Brown on top. No surprise there, he won all three of his races with ease, opening big leads in the stretch and then extending that lead.

On top of that, Big Brown is the Fulcrum Horse.

This horse could be a champion. Hard to bet, hard to bet against.

But, it’s the Kentucky Derby!

OK, on the down side for the colt is that he got stuck with the 20 post. He could get stuck wide, and forced to run a different race that he’s used to. (Even though in its last race, the Florida Derby, it broke from the 12 hole and won for fun.)

Right beneath Big Brown on my odds line are a gaggle of long priced horses, the 13, Bob Black Jack, the 19, Gayego, he 6 Dennis of Cork, and the 17, Cowboy Cal.

Bob Black Jack, the 13, is an interesting early horse that looks as if it will at least press Big Brown, if not take the lead because of the post position advantage.

Gayego, the 19, great story with the Cuban connection, is an early presser style runner that won a really gritty win in the Arkansas Derby last out. This colt has had two really tough races, and I don’t love that in the normal race. However, this is the Kentucky Derby.

Next is the 16, Denis of Cork. Very interesting colt in this race. It is a reverser to the 18, Recapturetheglory, the winner of the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

It’s the 4th horse in my Black Magic Odds Line, and the only one in the top cluster with a late running style. He’s won 3 of its 4 races, each time closing. Won its maiden at Churchill, at 7 furlongs, closing from 9th by almost 6 lengths to win. Pretty nice for its first start. Percentage early energy, 50.59%. Next start was in January in the slop at Fairgrounds, where it closed against a very slow 1:15 pace to win. Percentage early energy, 50.01%. Next, against a solid 1:10 and 4 at Oaklawn, he won the Southwest, a Grade 3, closing from 4th by 9 lengths to win. Percentage early energy, 51.12%.

That was back in February.

Then it was laid off until April 5th, when he ran in the Illinois Derby. He got steadied, made a little move 5 wide, and it looks to me as if it relaxed.

Perfect from a value point of view. It looks like a pretty poor race, yet it was very evenly run, the colt in spite of the trouble at the start, maintained 5th position all around the track.

And the percentage early in the last, even race was 50.28%. Now, if it seems that I’ve emphasized the percentage early a bit, well, perhaps I have. I don’t usually do all of this detailed analysis in the normal course of my handicapping.

There’s a saying in India that a pinch of salt makes the veggies delicious, but too much ruins the taste.

I may have over salted a bit here.

But, it’s the Kentucky Derby.

There are others with that kind of distribution, some even later. The 14, Monba, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes is one.

By the way, Black Magic made a great call right out of the box on the Blue Grass, and you can see what my screen looks like by clicking here:

http://www.posttimedaily.com/rants/derb ... grass.html

Pyro, was given no shot by Black Magic in that Blue Grass, and similarly in this year’s Kentucky Derby, yet in its better races, it has a closing style and late expenditure.

Similar things could be said about the 8, Visionaire, the 4, Court Vision, and the 3, Anak Nakai and even the 10, Colonel John, although the 3, 4, 6 and 8 may have trouble against a 1:10 pace, which we could see in this Derby.

Again, with so many closers in the race, logic would tell you that the race favors an early horse, and so we’re back to the beginning, a race that may set up for an early horse, yet a track that’s favoring closers.

In 9 out of 10 cases, I’m passing.

But, it’s the Kentucky Derby.

So, without seeing anything else, no odds, two days before the race, and with a forecast for thundershowers (so I don’t know what the weather conditions), I’m leaning to making some small bets as follows:

A win bet on the 16, Denis of Cork. Right running style, even race after a layoff, disappointed his backers in the Illinois at even money, going back to Calvin Borel, who has won with the colt both times he rode him, once at Churchill, 20-1 morning line. Done.

The exotics are a lottery. I’ll have a tri and super box with the top 5 Black Magic odds line horses, the 20, Big Brown, the 13, Bob Black Jack, the 19, Gayego, the 16, Denis of Cork, and the 17, Cowboy Cal.

I’ll also take a tri part wheel with the Fulcrum, Big Brown in the middle of 5 horses, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19 WITH 20 WITH 2, 13, 16, 17, 19.
In the exactas, I’ll key the 16 with those 5 horses, and may even have savers with the likely second and third favorites, Pyro and Colonel John.

I’ll also have a box with the 13, 19, and 17, and use the 20 as the odds will allow.

And a box with the 16 and 18 (the Reversal Winner to the 16) and a straight 16-18 exacta.

All of this predicated on a fast race track, and getting very generous odds on the 16, Denis of Cork (15-1 or so).

Again, normally I’m not involved in so complicated a race but (say it with me), it’s the Kentucky Derby, and I’m only human.

Now, a much more professional bet can be found in the undercard.

Unlike the Derby, which took me quite a while to get through, this one I found in about 97 seconds.

First, I looked for the Heavily Pressured races in North America. OK, with 33 race tracks running, you would think it would take awhile. With Black Magic, that’s exactly two clicks.

I noticed that one of them was at Churchill Downs, in the 8th race.

The 8th race, the Humana Distaff is a Highly Pressured 7 furlong race, late track profile. Perfect.

Accupressure V2 (Black Magic’s velocity favoring pace projection) has 3 closers in the race, the 7, 6, and 9. The 7, Miraculous Miss, is the strongest on the Black Magic Odds Line, even though it’s been off since November.

The 6, Windyindy, is intriguing. This filly is a confirmed closer, and her last three wins have been at a mile, where she was also in the lead at the stretch, which would be 7 furlongs.

It’s also a Type 3 pattern, in that it flashed a certain kind of early speed after a certain kind of layoff.

That flash of early speed after the layoff, followed by a stretch performance where it went from 9 by 6 ½ to 7 by 6 is interesting.

On one level, it maintained its lengths behind, while it picked up 2 positions. This, after a loss of 3 positions for the second call to the stretch.

And, it’s a reversal horse with the 2. Having said that, it is 5th on the odds line at 10-1, but this horse could be a big price, and will get a bet from me at a price.

The 9 horse begs to be used in any exotic. Intangaroo is the Fulcrum horse AND a closer. Again, it’s also 10-1 on the Black Magic Ultimate Odds Line, so I’m going to need a generous price on this horse as well.

Right now, without seeing the odds, and predicated on a fast race track, I would take a 6,7,9 exacta box, use the long ones with the obvious horses, the 4 and the 1, and a 6, 7, 9 trifecta box, using the Reversal Winner, the 2 and a part wheel with the Fulcrum, the 9 in the middle. Odds will determine the actual structure.

I’ll have a win bet on the 6, and odds allowing perhaps one of the other closers as well.

Heavy Pressured race, 7 furlongs, a late running track. Perfect.

Much more my style, no conflict between the race and the track, plenty of amateur money in the pools, and one of the closers, the 6 has best pattern in the race (along with the 2, the Reversal winner, also a Type 3), and the only plus factor.

So, there you have it.

There are hundreds of other races to look at, but to be honest, I’m taking a bit of a break now to play golf here in sunny California.

It feels a little strange not to be in the middle of the action for the Derby, but also liberating as well.

My analysis is not meant to be the only one, and to be frank, I’m going to be looking at the work my Wizards are doing in the race, as I actually learn from them all the time.

Remember that value is the most important part of your outer work, and that ‘letting the bet make you’ is the most important part of your ‘inner work’.

Which brings me to one more point.

Insisting on betting a particular race goes against the ‘bet making you’ sensation. To go into a race INSISTING that you will bet it is most definitely NOT letting the bet make you.

Instead, it’s a desire to bet for other reasons. Not a good thing to do for long-term success in this game.

It’s so much easier to find simple spots, simple value plays, plays that jump off the page or the screen and impel you, without any doubt or second guessing, to invest.

To let the bet make you.

But hey, I’m only human, and after all…

It’s the Kentucky Derby.

I welcome your comments, and always look forward to hearing from you.

Drop me a line at Michael@posttimedaily.com if you have any questions or comments, or just to let me know how you’re progressing. Be patient, as I’m on the road and it may take a few days to get back to you.

For those of you who are interested in Black Magic, I’m also going to ask you to be patient. The only ones who have the software are those who asked for ‘Front of the Line’ information, and those who have some other of my software and have been invited.

I’m going to let them respond before releasing any more, but, if you want to be the first to get an invitation after that, send me an email at Michael@posttimedaily.com and put BLACK MAGIC INVITATION REQUESTED in the subject line, and I’ll get an invitation to you when they’re ready.

The best of luck to you on Derby Day and always,

Michael Pizzolla

© Copyright 2008 by Michael Pizzolla. All Rights Reserved.
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