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Jeff Tune's Gambling Blog
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It was an absolutely beautiful day at Keeneland Saturday - sunny and 70's.  A huge crowd today, over 39,000!.  I arrived early, didn't have a reserved seat today so I was all over.  There was an early handicapping seminar with Katie Gensler and some other dude.  Said hi to Katie afterwards but didn't have time to chat with her as she was on her way to interview Javier Castellano. No doubt  a busy day for her.

A frustrating day betting-wise as I didn't take my advice from yesterday very well. In the 6th my selection was Galton who was sitting at 8-1.  I wasn't crazy about him or the race in general, but I was definitely gonna play him to win.  Also considered putting him underneath in some exactas. My third choice (after scratches) was a first-timer, World Is Watching, trained by Ben Colebrook who showed a win-with-firsters record of 2 for 6.  To top that off he had a firster in the previous race finish second at 19-1!  I had written down "watch odds" on World Is Watching.  He opened at 13-1 and just drifted up - not much action.  I figured he was unlikely to win against this bunch  so I just placed a win/place wager on Galton.  Galton broke well but was three wide down the backstretch but still took the lead coming into the stretch only to lose at the wire by a neck to. . . World Is Watching!!  The exacta returned $366!  Grrrr!  I cashed a measly place ticket.

Then in the Blue Grass I like two horses - Coastline and Dance With Fate.  I played Coastline to win and played doubles with Dance With Fate.  DWF wins it at 6-1 and I'm alive with four doubles ranging from $57 to $425. But #1 Marine Patrol wins the finale and I don't have him.  Note to self:  when you like a horse at 6-1, put some win money on him! Thankfully my day was saved when I hit a 12-1 winner at Gulfstream!

Notes for my weekend at Keeneland:


  • Blue Grass day was packed - over 39,000 people there!
  • Stay away from faves here, don't be afraid to play longshots.  Stats from Fri/Sat/Sun show that 6/30 favorites won while in 8/30 races the winner paid more than $20.
  • Saw Andy Serling, Kevin Cox (the dude from "Horseplayers" with the cowboy hat), and of course Katie from Presque Isle Downs.
  • Folks dress up for the races here! And lots of women - I'm liking that short skirt and cowboy boots look!
  • This place has more bars than any racetrack I've been to - these Kentuckians like to drink!
I'm really glad I finally visited Keeneland.  I can now cross that off my bucket list.  Don't know if I'll make it an annual trip like Saratoga but I will definitely return.




Posted by pa/tune at 11:03 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 April 2014 10:42 PM EDT
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Friday, 11 April 2014

Last year I made a promise to myself to visit Keeneland in 2014, so here I am - in Lexington!  The last time I was at a racetrack in Kentucky was in 1981 for the KY Derby!

Right before you get to Keeneland you pass the legendary Calumet Farm.  Rolling hills with white fences - this is horse country!  Keeneland is only open for three weeks in the spring and three weeks in the fall, so this is a special place.  Everyone who works here is very friendly  Older gentlemen usher you to your grandstand seat.  They've probably worked here forever!  Keeneland has been racing since the mid-30's, so it's a pretty traditional track.  Lots of bars in the place - these Kentuckians like to party!

The feature race today was the Grade One Makers Mile Stakes featuring horse of the year Wise Dan! I've never done very well betting Keeneland (or polytracks in general), so I was taking it easy betting.  I was actually handicapping very pretty well - as my 2nd and 3rd choices seemed to be winning every race, and at nice prices!  The problem was that I was keying my top choice in exactas/daily doubles and not cashing. Note to self: When on vacation at the track, loosen up a bit - box your selections, go a little deeper in pick threes, maybe play some .50 trifectas.  If I had followed this advice today I could have done very, very well! 

As it was I ended up about even, thanks to the mighty Wise Dan who won  the Makers Mile and anchored a generous $28 daily double payout with the previous race winner 7-1 Cool Faith.  Funny thing was that the horse I thought possibly could upset Wise Dan was Kaigun, the longest shot in the race at 37-1. I placed a small win bet on him and he was a fast closing second.  The exacta paid $37. It was very exciting to watch Wise Dan win!  When he was coming back to the winner's circle everyone in the grandstand gave him a standing ovation! Never saw that before, even at Saratoga!

Tomorrow is the Grade One Blue Grass Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep.  Fifteen horses are entered!  I better get handicapping! 


Posted by pa/tune at 8:53 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 April 2014 8:54 PM EDT
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Sunday, 16 March 2014
Buffalo Raceway

Last Saturday night was my first visit to Buffalo Raceway in about 20 years.  The last time I was here I was driving my car on the racetrack!  True story.  It was during the day, and we were coming back from Saratoga and decided to stop and play some Spa races at the Buffalo Raceway simulcast.  They were setting up for the fair, and you actually had to drive partially on the track and around the far turn to get to parking.  Needless to say I was leaning back in my seat and whipping like crazy.

Anyway, last Saturday I was there for a WHHC qualifier.  They hold four of these in the month of March and the top five finishers from each contest return on April 5 for the finals.  

Here is the contest format:  You must make ten mythical $200 win/place wagers.  Five of the ten wagers on any of the Buffalo Raceway races and the other five on any of the Buffalo Raceway or Meadowlands races.  My strategy was to hit at least a couple of the Buffalo races at ok odds and then at least a couple of the Meadowlands races at 5-1 or better.  I had missed the first two contests but according to those results my target final dollar amount was about $5500.  Here's how it went down.

 I always like to be totally prepared for these contests so I handicapped in advance, watched replays, and plotted out my contest strategy - which races I would play/pass.  First disappointment of the night was that my best bet at the Meadowlands, at 8-1 morning line odds was scratched.  I never play Buffalo Raceway, but based on watching replays of the races a week before, I did like a few horses. My first bet, THREE ARTIST at Buffalo, won at 2-1.  Ok, I am on the board!  Lost a couple then hit at Buffalo with BOB'S ALIBI at 3-1.  I was trying my best at the Meadowlands to get a pricey winner but to no avail.  I played a 22-1 shot who finished third.

I was tring to save my bets for the later races at the Meadowlands but it came down to where I had one bet left with two races to go, the 12th and 13th.  I sat at $2300 and needed $5800 to get to 5th place.  I figured I needed at least an 11-1 winner.  I didn't like the 12th race so I settled on BIG ART in the 13th at 10-1 morning line odds.  I decided to make my bet and leave to drive back to Erie.  When I got home I watched the replay.  BIG ART went right to the lead and led all the way to win.  But he was bet down to 3-1!  I ended up in 24th place (out of 50 players).

All in all, I felt I played the contest well and I will try again this coming Saturday. It will most likely be my last ditch effort to qualify.  I really think the WHHC winner should get a free entry into next year's contest!!



Posted by pa/tune at 7:26 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2014 6:51 PM EDT
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Saturday, 18 January 2014

There are some days when you just have to throw up your hands and say "I give up, I will try another day."  Today was one of those days.

My plan tonight was to bet a few Woodbine harness races and play some blackjack (got a $5 match play available).  I also printed out some of the Fairgrounds races since I thought I might get to the track fairly early. I liked a couple of longshots in FG 5th race and wanted to get some pick threes going.  I won't go into the details but I played some rolling pick threes with those two.  One of them won at 26-1 but I couldn't get the 4-5 Steve Asmussen-trained Stage Street to hang on next race, he lost by a head (pick three was paying $136 for a dollar).   Missed a small P3 at Woodbine when when my horse finished 2nd by a head.  Then in the Woodbine 5th my choice finishes second at 5-1.

Ok, do I dare go play blackjack? Sure!  I spy a table, new shoe going.  I watch a few hands - lots of low cards coming out which means deck should be player-friendly.  I sit down and the dealer is Jenny.  I get a blackjack early on and even win a double down (my 6 2 against dealer's 5). But Jenny Jenny, you are too lucky.  She beats my match play by getting a blackjack. Pulls another BJ along the way.  Then beats my 20 with a 21.  Needless to say, I didn't play too long.  I get up and leave down $12.50.  I never exceeded a $10 bet.  In fact I never won a $10 bet!

So I come back to my seat in the simulcast area with two minutes to Woodbine's 7th. I place a win bet on 10-1 Lyonssweetie who had a deceptively nice win on sloppy Boxing Day.  Lyonssweetie is boxed in 5th coming into the stretch, but driver Randy Waples finds room and surges to the lead and looks like a winner.  But 34-1 Backyard Baby comes flying out of nowhere to win by a head. Seconditis.  It sucks.


Posted by pa/tune at 12:09 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 January 2014 12:11 AM EST
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Monday, 13 January 2014

Good news! Presque Isle Downs and Casino sent me a new sheet of match play coupons.  Bad news - they are only $5 coupons.  I guess this is the result of all my play at the $5 blackjack tables back in November.  I was much more excited about $80 in match play (eight $10 coupons) vs. the current $50 match play of ten $5 coupons.  Needless to say, I let my first four coupons expire but used number five tonight.  Let the 2014 blackjack playing begin!

Sorry, I didn't note the dealer's name tonight but she wasn't very friendly and the table was kind of boring also.  The dealer was pretty lucky but  I won my $5 match play.  I doubled down once - on 11 against the dealer's 10.  I got a 10 for a total of 21 and she had 20. 

Key hand: I had 8 8.  Dealer had an 8.  I split my eights and got another 8!  So now I have three $5 bets going.  I ended up with 18, 18, and bust.  Dealer busted so I made $5.  I didn't play very long and left after I lost three in a row.  I ended up $5 ahead!  Thank you match play!

Posted by pa/tune at 10:56 PM EST
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Thursday, 2 January 2014
2013 RECAP

2013 will be a year I will never forget thanks to my first place finish in the World Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands in April.  I've always said I'm a better harness handicapper than thoroughbred player and I guess this proves it.  My first place prize of $41,334 was by far the most money I've ever won.  It was very exciting and I discussed it in detail in an older blog entry.

However, my regular betting throughout the year resulted in a loss of $521.  What happened?  Let's take a look at the good and bad of 2013.

The Good:

  • My WHHC win last April at THe Meadowlands
  • Another good Saratoga meet
  • Hoosier Park was a profitable track!
  • Improvement at Mohawk/Woodbine
  • Did ok with online betting
The Bad:
  • Low payouts - while 20 cent pick threes are fun to play, they don't help the bottom line.  My average pick three payout was less than $25!  Ditto for small win bets. 
  • Meadows schedule change  - The Meadows has been my main track for years.  Midway through 2013 they decided to run strictly weekday afternoon racing.  Because I work a day job I can no longer follow Meadows racing.
  • PID - Presque Isle Downs was a losing track for me in 2013
  • DQ's - I had really bad luck with disqualifications in 2013. I got dq'd out of a winning pick four at Saratoga.  Also had the 6-1 winner of the Arlington Million come down.  16-1 shot at PID came down.  And then there was the horse that should have been taken down (see last blog).
  • Missed opportunities - note to self:  go for the gusto on big racing days!  I had the $323 Belmont exacta of Palice Malice/Oxbow picked cold.  However I elected to just place a win bet on PM.  Likewise in the Breeders Cup Classic I loved Mucho Macho Man and did not like favorite Game On Dude.  I had MMM to win at 4-1, but very easily could have had a nice exacta or tri when Game On Dude finished out of the money.
Here is the breakdown of my horse racing winnings:
Thoroughbred Vs. Harness 
Harness winnings      -       52%
Thoroughbred winnings  -  48%
By Track 
Meadows         -          22%
Saratoga          -          16%
Mohawk           -          12%
Hoosier            -          10%
Presque Isle Downs  -  10%
Woodbine Harness   -     9%
Belmont             -          5%
all others           -         16% 
By Bet Type 
Pick Three  -    45%
Win     -           32%
Daily Double -  16%
Exacta      -        7% 
Thoroughbred winnings dropped quite a bit from 2012.  Mainly due to poor Presque Isle meet.  Pick three and win bet winnings were almost exactly opposite in 2012.  You would think that such an increase in P3 winnings would bring a positive result but it did not.  It is a combination of low pick three payouts and the fact that I only had six win bets pay over 10-1!
As far as other gambling goes, 2013 was a success!  I ended up ahead at blackjack  $223!   Also won $86 in office football pool. Now if I can just start out 2014 by winning one of those Super Bowl squares. 


Posted by pa/tune at 9:08 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 2 January 2014 10:03 PM EST
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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Happy Boxing Day!  For some reason I have a vacation day here in the states so this means I was betting the matinee Woodbine harness racing card today.  

The Woodbine track surface was listed as "good" but it really was a mess with wet spots throughout.  Closers were having a hard time of it - speed horses had a real edge.  There was a $1500 exacta early on and then a 94-1 leading most of the way and finishing second.  As a result of the not-so-good conditions I was just fooling around with small .20 pick three bets (and not having any luck).

On the final pick three of the day I punched up a .20 pick ticket - 3 x 2 x 2  for a total of $2.40.  In the first leg one of my horses was 22-1 Norvena Hanover who finished second to another 22-1 shot, Selmas Wish.  But wait! Stewards Inquiry!  Watching the replay, Selmas Wish wiped out a horse on the far turn.  There was no doubt in my mind that she would come down.  The stewards looked at it for a good five minutes and left the results up!  I was shocked.  Of course I had the winners of the next two legs and the .20 pick three paid $2092!! Grrrr!!


Posted by pa/tune at 9:04 PM EST
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Friday, 29 November 2013

Actually day 7 (see last post).  Lost $22.50 playing blackjack.  I did use my $10 match play at the BJ table and not the roulette table.  It looked like I might get on a little streak, so as I progressed to my first $10 bet I used my match play and lost.

I thought I wasn't going to find a seat at a $5 table tonight.  Being a holiday weekend the casino only had two $5 tables going - the extra tables that open up on Friday night were all $10 tables!  I was about to leave but found a seat.  The dealer tonight was Abir and he was very lucky.  Nobody at the table was winning, and after the first shoe I was slightly down.  I hit one blackjack but never won more than two hands in a row.  I only doubled down once and lost. I was hoping the next shoe would be better but Amir pulled a 21 to beat my 20 and then he hit a blackjack on the very next hand.  I got up and left.

Tonight ends my blackjack experiment and it was a success!  I won four of seven $10 match plays so that was a free $40! My final tally was +122.50.

Posted by pa/tune at 11:57 PM EST
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Well, there was no day seven.  Due to work, family, crappy weather, Thanksgiving, I never made it to the casino to redeem my 7th match play and it has expired.  One match play left however, which I will definitely use this weekend.  Since it is good for any table game, I'm thinking of using my final match play on the roulette table!  I have a nearly 50 percent chance of winning.  Actually a 47.4 percent chance due to the green zero and double zero (18 out of 38). Hmmm, red or black, odd or even, 1-18 or 19-36.  Stay tuned!

Posted by pa/tune at 9:50 AM EST
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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Won my $10 match play.  Left the table up $47.50.  Here is the lowdown:

I was beginning to think the extra weekend $5 blackjack tables weren't gonna open tonight.  I took a walk through the casino around 7:30 PM and there were no signs of any tables opening up.  I went back downstairs shortly after 9pm and bingo, there were three tables going.  I found a seat at third base.  My dealer tonight was Chuda.  Chuda wasn't very friendly and didn't speak English very well. He'd count out a player's hand and you couldn't understand him.  Some dealers genuinely want you to win but not Chuda.  He seemed to delight in beating you.  

I didn't start out too well but after one shoe I was about even.  The second shoe was much better, and we got a better dealer - Bobby Woo.  I asked him if his middle name was Woo and he said no.  "Is your last name Woo?" I asked.  He told me it's a variation of his last name.  Bobby was funny, my favorite dealer yet!

At one point I progressed to a $25 bet, my highest bet recently.  Key hand:  I had a $20 bet out and doubled down and won (I don't recall the specifics).  Nice $40 pickup!  I had one blackjack along the way, and had a nice mini-streak where I won a couple double downs.

Posted by pa/tune at 12:02 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 23 November 2013 12:07 AM EST
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