If you’ve been reading this column for any time at all, you know I’m a fan of Twitter. But you may not fully understand what you’re missing by not using it to keep up with the horse racing world.
Fortunately, I’ve made it simple for you to get a taste of the experience and see if it’s for you. Keep reading to find out how.
Before you get started with Twitter, there are a few things you should know:
You’ve probably heard that the “Twitterverse” can be chaotic, nonsensical and downright nasty at times. It’s definitely all of that.
But when you filter it down to a fairly specific niche — say horse racing — the white noise largely dissipates and you begin to receive valuable intelligence without lifting a finger. Best of all, it’s often information you wouldn’t necessarily think to search for: A jockey talking about a mount he has picked up; a trainer reporting on a horse’s preparation for a race; or maybe an unexpected blast on the finalists for this year’s Racing Hall of Fame ballot, which I saw Thursday.
You’ll also regularly receive updates on weather and track conditions; observations about how a particular track is playing; free selections that you can take into account or ignore, depending on the source; and video of stretch runs and winner circle photos posted by tracks, fans and turf writers.
As an example of the unusual things you can find, I’ve been using Twitter to follow the preparations of highly regarded Kentucky Derby candidate Bolt d’Oro for his 3-year-old debut in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10 courtesy of his @theboltshow Twitter account (talk about “from the horse’s mouth”). The account features photos, workout videos and commentary on how he’s doing.
If I’ve piqued your interest, here’s an easy way to check out the experience, without even having to create a free Twitter account. Simply type this url — https://tinyurl.com/horseracinglist — into an internet browser and you’ll see recent posts from almost 120 Twitter users that I’ve included in a horse racing “list” I created. If you’re already on Twitter, you also can subscribe to the list to add those posts to your feed.
Give it a try and let me know what you like and don’t. Also, if you sign up for Twitter, consider joining us at the #RJhorseracing hashtag each week as we solve some of the most challenging races in North America.
Before we get to this week’s challenge, I have another reason for you to go online: If you read the internet version of this column each week, you will often find analysis and picks from Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase.com, when our worlds align around one of the big stakes races on a given weekend. That information typically doesn’t make the newspaper for space reasons.
Well, if you logged on last week and were persuaded by Ellis’ opinion in the Risen Star Stakes, you were amply rewarded. His top selection, Bravazo, won the race by a desperate nose and paid $44 for each $2 win bet.
#RJhorseracing feature races
The #RJhorseracing handicappers suffered a rare blanking last week, so on a weekend with no major Kentucky Derby preps, we’re returning to the Fair Grounds to make amends. This week’s challenge: Find the winners in Saturday’s eighth and ninth races, both allowance-optional claiming races.
In the eighth, a mile and 70-yard test for fillies and mares on the main track, the ’capping crew is closely divided among four horses, but is throwing in with third choice Lilt, 4-1 on the morning line, over Rise Above It (7-2) and Ma’am (5-2).
I think Ma’am has the speed to dominate this bunch and will side with the chalk for a change, while using late-running Soulshine (10-1) underneath in a small exacta.
In the ninth, a turf test for older males at about 1 1/6th mile, the crew is narrowly siding with Dot Matrix (6-1) over 5-2 favorite Arklow, with Avanzare (8-1) for third.
“Won last, throw away the three prior. Success with new trainer and jock,” handicapper Patrick Morrison wrote of the crew’s pick.
With the likelihood of rain making an already tough race even harder, I’ll take a shot with Patrick’s Day (12-1), who is 3-for-3 on “off” turf and working well for trainer Mike Maker.
You’re invited to get in on the action next week as we return to the Triple Crown trail. Just email me or hop on Twitter and let me know you’d like to get involved.