Overcoming a Breeders' Cup hangover: Hair of the Dog at Mahoning Valley

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Ed DeRosa

November 7th, 2017

I know this year’s Breeders’ Cup was an extremely exhilarating renewal because I found the racing deeply satisfying despite abysmal performances predicting and wagering on the outcomes.

Even if I did not pick or win money on them, it was easy to celebrate great performances by the likes of Forever Unbridled and Gun Runner, but just as the sweet taste of champagne can give way to a nasty hangover, so, too, has recognition for a job well done yielded to ennui regarding my own ability.

No bad beats, no woulda-coulda-shouldas, just the realization that a lot of money was won this past weekend, and some of it was mine.

Handling loss is as important a part of serious horseplaying as handicapping, wagering strategy, and bankroll management. Losses around big events can seem amplified by the cacophony of brags from those around you.

I.e., some horseplayers can find comfort in the solitude of losing a Pick 4 on a Tuesday at Fairmount Park, but when people ask how Breeders’ Cup was, they’re not asking about the fish tacos.

Everyone has his/her own hangover cure, and for me hair of the dog helps ease the pain, which is why we’re firing away at Mahoning Valley Race Course today.

In some ways, I like the idea of going from Grade 1/seven-figure purses to a more blue collar vibe. I also don’t want my first handicapping experience off a terrible Breeders’ Cup to be public handicapping for Churchill Downs, so even if I don’t fire today off the 3-day layoff, I can use the “I needed one” excuse before really rounding into form at the mothership.

So without additional adieu, here is my ABC grid for today’s pick 4 (races 6-9) at Mahoning Valley.

We're playing it so that at least 3 "A" horses need to win with a small saver using all the As and Bs ($24).

In leg 1 (race 6), #5 Better Shine has a big Prime Power edge, but can't not use #10 Bosphorous Storm in equal strength given the higher price and better recent speed ratings.

In leg 2 (race 7), #7 Zoey D ships in from Indiana Grand for solid connections while #8 Act the Part was facing tougher at Mountaineer (Nx versus NL types).

Leg 3 is the toughest leg and requires the use of #1 Calcutta Cat, who returns to Mahoning Valley after not a great summer on the Presque Isle synth. At 20-to-1 I'll be wagering across the board that she can improve a few Speed Ratings points despite win-shy training connections.

Leg 4 is a maiden claiming event with the 12-horse field winless from 161 combined tries. If all the As win to this point I'll be happy to be alive to "all", but our heaviest lean is on #5 Northern Track, who is the only "S" type despite sporting 4 Quirin Points. If the speed shows up, this one figures to get the best trip. If it doesn't, then #6 Shoo Fly or #8 Valid Blue could steal it on front end. Any other result feels chaotic to me.