Homework Time

Tricks and tips of the trade from a pro….

If you plan to attack the Breeders’ Cup, I think now is a good time to start doing your homework.

We have just over a week to go. We have a lot talented horses and information to sort through to make a well-informed decision come race day, so the sooner one develops a plan and gets to work, the better.

Following is how I get ready to be ready for the big dance.


I think replays are one of if not the most important tool in handicapping today. There is an old article I wrote some years back on watching a race. It is a learned art. You can read the old article here.

We are also doing a podcast this week on Gate to Wire where we do a deep dive on watching replays. I suggest giving it a listen.

I’ll start with the horses I think are contenders. I will watch their last two or three starts. I look for both pros and cons and take notes on what I see. I will usually watch a race two or three times, and one head-on view to get a full picture. When I do this, I will focus on also watch just the one horse I am focused on. I may watch a race several times but watching a different horse. I stay focused on the subject horse. We all don’t see things the same. Trust your eyes.


They say pace makes the race. I’ll peruse the early past performances and break down the horses in each race into four categories: speed, stalker, closer, and deep closer. When you do this, you develop a chart that will help you quickly identify which category has an advantage. Before final preparations, you’ll know how a race will likely set-up and where the likely winner will be coming from.


Now is the time to watch as many workouts as you can. Once the final past performances come out, you will have enough to do with them. You will be ahead of the game significantly if you have a deep list of horses with notes of your observations of their workouts. There is no better edge than when you spot something that most don’t see, whether in a replay or workout. When I do this for the Breeders’ Cup, I watch as if this is my only tool with which to make my decisions, this forces me to watch closely and diligently.

Speed Figures.

I like to use Thoro-Graph. I will look at the Thoro-Graph numbers of each horse prior to the past performances. I will highlight horses who, I think have improving patterns as well as declining patterns. I will also STAR any horses that either stand out as flat out faster or who I think are coming to a peak or new top effort. I also FLAG any horses who are just too slow to win. Doing this early gives me a leg up when I open those final past performances and finalize my opinions.

A lot of this may sound like basic stuff, and maybe it is. I look at it as proper and necessary fundamentals to come as prepared and ready as I can be. I do not want to miss anything and beat myself or cost myself a win.

In these days before the Breeders’ Cup, it is also an excellent time to try AmWager and get to know the tools their betting platform offers if you are not already familiar.

Remember, we are all going to be playing against the best of the best as well as recreational players, which will create huge pools and many opportunities. Rest assured, there will be plenty of people prepared, and you don’t want to get outplayed by any of them because you didn’t do your homework and use every tool and advantage you have available.

It is also a good time to think about bankroll and money management. What type of wager will you focus on this year, and what races or sequences do you favor or have success in. The majority of your bankroll should go towards your best shot and not be evenly spread.

If you run through all this and execute it, I would think you greatly improved your chance at a score in the Breeders’ Cup. That’s why we are here!

In closing, you are all invited to a seat at the table of our live interactive Past the Wire Breeders’ Cup Webinar should you so choose. You can see more about it here.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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