Friday, February 7, 2014

Beast Mode!

"Be relentless and then you'll break through." - Julie Brown

We can learn a lot from watching our kids.  Last Thursday night, my oldest son came home from karate and stood there silently moving his lips and arms as if he was talking.  I asked him what he was trying to say, he kept mouthing something back to me in a bit of a fury, to which I again asked him to speak and tell me what it was.  He stood there more animated but silently mouthing words to me in an even more furious manor.  Not knowing what else to do, I pretended to raise a remote control, press a button, and said "I just unmuted you."  Finally, my son said, "Thanks, I was stuck in mute mode and couldn't turn it off."  Fast forward to the Super Bowl and as we sat on the couch in the family room to watch the game, he saw Marshawn Lynch on the television and turned to me grinning and said, "I wonder when he is going to turn on Beast Mode", while pretending to press a button on the remote control as I had done just a few nights before.

I wish it was really just that easy.  Imagine that you could just click a button and go into "Beast Mode" at work, while tackling an overwhelming home improvement project, or (in my case) while handicapping or betting at the track.  In Lynch's case, his continued healthy and consistent play this year was in part due to incorporating MMA training into his routine and breaking old habits that ultimately improved his strength, core, form, and his reflexes.

Between the lousy Jersey weather and a minor medical procedure last week, I have had the opportunity to spend more than my usual amount of time handicapping over the last week, reviewing results, and revisiting data I have collected.  I have continued to validate many parts of my approach and analysis, but have found a few habits, much like Marshawn Lynch, that I need to break.

After mulling over my live and mock trials at tour events (similar in format to the SSC Series at Monmouth) - one glaring result that I noticed was lack of endurance.  I think it is difficult for any handicapper who works a day job (bills don't pay themselves!) to be focused enough to scour upwards of 30 races to find a handful they really like and few they are willing to take a shot at.  Most of my best and consistent plays happened in the first half of what I handicapped - showing either a lack of focus or lack of enthusiasm late.  How does this get remedied?  First off, I am being more physically active this year so the fatigue of working should be less of a factor as I have found that I have more energy and ability to stay focused.  Second, I have renewed my commitment to winning and my motivation is at an all time high (with recent results that continue to build my confidence).  Lastly, I am making mentally stimulating tasks a higher priority in some of my downtime - reading more insightful and thought provoking books, mastering optimal strategy in several casino games that I haven't thought about before, and playing more 'thinking' games to help clear my mind (getting back into chess, Soduku, etc.).

Watch out at Monmouth Park on March 15th - Jersey Capper will be in Beast Mode for SSC #3!!!
This week's feature race is 11th Race at Gulfstream on Saturday, the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes G3 (7f for 4yo&up).

Overall, there does not appear to be any true front runner and I have come up with two slightly different pace models that yield similar results.  Based on class alone, the 1 Laugh Track (5-2) and 10 Singanothersong (5-1) seem to have an edge with the defending winner of the 2013 running of the same race 8 Fort Loudon (15-1) also showing some back class, but still short of the first two.   Only issue with 1 Laugh Track (5-2) is that he has yet to win on the dirt, but ran a game second in the Breeder's Cup Sprint G1 last November).  The wildcard for me here is the 9 Catron (3-1) who is untested in class and has only made two starts, yet did exit a solid N1X race last out in December with an easy win over two that came back to win next out.  6 Brujo de Oileros (5-1) is intriguing when looking back at the minor stakes runner up effort at Parx and the one turn second at Belmont in the Kelso G2.

Scenario #1 plays out with no one really wanting to take the lead early and 10 Singanothersong (5-1) getting out on the lead and going wire to wire

Scenario #2 has one of the field bolting to the front and forcing a faster pace than what many here are comfortable with.  In this case, look for 10 Singanothersong (5-1) to rate close to that runner, 1 Laugh Track (5-2) to set up a late move, 9 Catron (3-1) will likely be close throughout, and 6 Brujo de Oileros (5-1) will also be moving late.  I'd expect 2 Jackson Bend (6-1) to also be on the move here, but is really only in play for the bottom of exotics.

Confidence Level:  2/5 (still many variables that can change the make-up of this race)
Top Selection:  10 Singanothersong (5-1)
Contenders: 1 Laugh Track (5-2), 6 Brujo de Oileros (5-1), 9 Catron (3-1), 10 Singanothersong (5-1)
Others (factor in exotics):  2 Jackson Bend (6-1)

Good luck all!