Happy Belmont Day!

Happy Belmont Day. There’s nothing quite like Belmont on a year with a Triple Crown possibility.  Unfortunately, that is not the case in 2017.  But putting aside that disappointment, aside from the Breeders Cup, this is the best card of the year.   10 stakes races, 9 graded, 6 Grade 1’s.  Plus, the return of Champion Songbird.  And maybe most exciting—tons of wide open races offering value plays all day, including the Belmont itself, which could yield a big payout.

Here are our thoughts. Sorry they are brief but with Friday action and ten stakes, we ran short on time.  Good luck and follow us on Twitter @thorobros for updates live from Elmont.

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Belmont Friday

Not to sound like a broken record, but we love the “day before the big day” Friday cards. Breeders’ Cup Friday, Oaks, and Black Eyed Susan Day are long time Thorobros favorites.  So we could not be more excited by NYRA’s continued development of the Belmont Racing Festival and in particular, the Friday card.  And this year’s is their best effort to date.  Full fields all day, highlighted by a late Friday afternoon Happy Hour all stakes Pick 4.  It offers the perfect appetizer to a huge Saturday of racing at Belmont.   In our typical fashion for these Friday cards, we offer our thoughts below on the late Pick 4 all stakes sequence.  With first post of this sequence at 4:42, it’s the perfect opportunity to grab some friends, grab some beers, and fire some Pick 4 wagers.

Bonus: If you get to the track or in front of a TV early, take a shot with the 7 in the 7th—Bird’s Eye View.  30-1.

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Happy Black Eyed Susan Day

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll repeat it again—Black Eyed Susan Day is one of racing’s best kept secrets. Great racing, lighter crowds, a hospitable race track, the anticipation of Prekaness, and Natty Bohs, make this day one of a Thorobros favorite.  Shhh!

We have another stellar BES card for 2017 with opportunities abound.  In fact, while we normally like playing the stakes races more than the allowances and claiming races on these big days, you will see some of our best bets are in non stakes races (Races 1, 4, and 14).

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Free Derby Day Picks and Analysis

Horse Racing’s Super Bowl is upon us. Happy Kentucky Derby Day everyone!  From serious handicappers to the casual party goer, everybody loves the Kentucky Derby.  And Number 143 promises to be an exciting edition with no clear cut superstar and each favorite having a serious knock or question mark.  We will take some big swings in hopes of a tote board explosion.  But the Derby is just one opportunity on a great card.  Below are some thoughts and selections (some more detailed than others) for the Derby Day Stakes.

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Oaks Day Pick Four Analysis and Stakes Selections

Happy Oaks Day! A Thorobros favorite. We love the anticipation and traditions that accompany this excellent day of Friday racing. A fruity and refreshing signature drink served in a stemless wine glass; an afternoon packed full of quality stakes races; and of course, the ultimate pink shirt Friday! We at Thorobros have also instilled our own Oaks Day traditions—unveiling our annual mint julep column (featuring questionable cocktails inspired by this year’s Derby participants)  http://thorobros.com/2017/05/2017-thorobros-mint-julep-guide/ and our Oaks Day Pick 4 post.

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The Oaks “All Stakes” Pick 4 is our holy grail and Super Bowl. It was also our White Whale—having suffered multiple bad beats on this wager (e.g., St John’s River). But that changed in 2015 when our $1 all singles ticket hit the Pick 4.

It’s with this history in mind, that we proudly call the Oaks All Stakes Pick 4 our favorite bet of the year.   So it was with great anticipation that we reviewed the entries and race sequence on Tuesday for the 2017 All Stakes Pick 4.   But to our amazement, we saw that the sanctity of this wager had been disrupted by race officials inexplicably sticking an optional claimer in the middle of this sequence. It is the equivalent of CBS airing a three on three matchup from the Albuquerque Recreation League in between Final Four Games on the first Saturday night in April. Unforgiveable!

But we digress. It is still a great sequence, and a fun bet, even if some of the shine has been removed by the 9th race. So below is our analysis of the Oaks All Stakes Pick 4!

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2017 Thorobros Mint Julep Guide

Jalapeno-Julep1  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand good afternoon everybody! How are you today!  We are back with everyone’s third favorite Thorobros annual column, the Derby Party mint julep guide.  You all will recall where we name 5-7 mint julep-type drinks after horses in this year’s edition of the Kentucky Derby.  And we make a few lame jokes in the meantime.  And I’ll save you the time to ask the question – yes the jokes are funny to us.

This was a tough year from the perspective of horse names that work for clever juleps. As usual, we tried our best for you, our 5 readers.  As usual, if you actually try any of these ridiculous, made-up recipes, we would love to hear from you.  We will give you a hat tip in our forthcoming coffee table book on silly mint juleps named after horses*.

*publisher needed, photographer needed, editor needed, agent needed, book contract needed. We have the stupid jokes covered.

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Derby Regrets: Learning From Past Handicapping and Wagering Lapses

Derby regrets?  I’ve had a few.  While some of my biggest vertical race scores have occurred in the Derby (2001 and 2013 exactas and 2008 triple come to mind), I’ve had plenty of suspect selections.   Dreams of questionable speed horses getting lose on the lead.  Hopes that the hard knocking, hard luck horse would get a clean trip and finally break through on the biggest stage.  Chasing unproven horses from lesser circuits.  All seemed like good ideas at the time.  All seem completely irrational as I look back.  With a 20 horse field, you are bound to swing and miss more often than not.  But that doesn’t mean I still do not look back of Derbys of years’ past with 20/20 hindsight and ask: “What the hell was I thinking?”  I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes.  As  they say, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Let us know some of your biggest Derby regrets and lessons learned.  Below are just some of my biggest Derby flops and the lesson I’ve taken from these misses.

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Food for Thought While Watching Derby Preps

The Kentucky Derby, the best known race in America and possibly the World, is likely the most “handicapped” race. In hopes of finding a winner on the first Saturday in May, many fans scrutinize the various preps around the country to find their pick. Like the vast majority of handicappers out there, we love our statistics. Using the past to predict the future is at the heart of nearly every handicapping strategy. Many try to use a specific horse’s past to predict their next performance. However, for big races a more historical approach is often utilized to find the similarities and trends in past winners to lead you to the next winner.

In order to help you find the 2017 Kentucky Derby Winner, we have evaluated the past 15 winners, and the races they prepped in, to find trends to watch for and follow over the next few weeks.

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Travers Tradition: The Running of The Picnic Tables

On Travers day, there are two big races at Saratoga.  There is obviously the Travers in the afternoon, where the top three year olds in the world compete.

horse race

And then there is the race in the morning, where seasoned competitors of all stripes — old and young, male and female, hung over and not hung over — battle for the unequaled prize of snagging a wooden picnic table in a dusty, tree covered field.  This race, of course, comprise a Saratoga tradition unlike any other: The Running of the Picnic Tables.

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Travers Tradition: Guillot’s Gumbo

With over 150 years of racing under its weathered belt, it’s no surprise that Saratoga Race Course is cloaked with established traditions. But at Saratoga, traditions are contagious and each year new traditions form which, by virtue of their occurrence at the Spa, inherit a lore and legacy unearned by their infancy. Potential new traditions lurk are around every corner at Saratoga, even in the most unexpected places.

And so was the case six years ago. On the Sunday morning after Travers, I admit I couldn’t wait to get out of Saratoga and head back to the friendly confines of my apartment in Philadelphia. It marked day five of my friend’s bachelor party, and the thought of returning to the races for a full day, to only then turn around and drive five hours back to Philadelphia was disheartening. My tank was on empty. I was waiving the white flag. But my navigator and future Thorobro was adamant that we stayed for day’s races—“Rachel is running. We have to stay.” So I dusted off the cobwebs, drank about 22 hours-worth of 5 hour energy and boarded the hearse pointed towards Union Avenue. With the third Thorobro at the helm, we entered the track from the Nelson Avenue entrance, but then made an unexpected B line to the barn area. “Where the hell are we going?” I asked. “Got a little surprise” was the response. We got out of the car and walked towards the barn area. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the start of my favorite new era Saratoga tradition.

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