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A tip you can take to the bank: Watch more race replays

Watch more TV.

That’s not advice you hear every day, but it’s a solid tip if you’re a handicapper.

Handicapping a race on paper is critical to figure which horses are most likely to win. But many players fail to follow up their figurin’ with a visual review of a horse’s previous race or races. That puts them at a big disadvantage when it comes to spotting the logical horses that can pop at good odds.

There’s more to it than just cracking a beer and watching the race flow by. You’ve got to think critically, learn what to watch for and keep good notes. And don’t watch a race just once.

With a few viewings you’ll have a pretty good idea how much ground a competitor lost on the turns, whether the horse faced an unusually fast or slow pace and whether it encountered trouble that likely prevented a better placing. You might also conclude that a jockey used questionable tactics that cost the horse any chance or notice an easy winner who wasn’t encouraged at all by his rider down the lane.

More subtle observations, such as spotting a horse stuck in a tight cluster of horses throughout a race, can lead to bigger rewards at the window.

Watching replays online using the often clunky interfaces offered by many tracks and wagering services or hunting through video services like YouTube.com can be frustrating. But after a couple months of using it, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Racetrack Television Network (RTN) as an affordable option that offers easy access to tons of tracks.

The service offers the same live racetrack feeds that RTN provides to simulcast outlets and racebooks around the country, as well as access to the replay libraries, which can be accessed via your TV remote. It offers more North American and overseas tracks than anyone and many of the feeds are in HD.

Subscriptions run from as little $5 for online or mobile access to a single track to $50 for a premium package via DISH Network and can be reviewed at the RTN.tv website. Non-DISH customers can access the feed via the Internet using a streaming service like Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

Todd Roberts, founder of the Las Vegas-based Roberts Communications Network, which includes the RTN, said convenience was the watchword in development .

“We look at this product as the ultimate way to watch racing because it’s all at your discretion,” he said. “Pick any track and watch it when you want on any device. That’s what we’ve created.”

#RJhorseracing features

The #RJhorseracing handicapping crew is all about speed this week, with Saturday’s $300,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, and the $$250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, a six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up at Del Mar, both Grade 1 races, on the betting menu.

In the former, the handicapping crew is solidly backing No Parole, winner of the recent Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont (Gr. 1) and the 9-5 morning line favorite, to win for the sixth time in seven starts. They have Echo Town (9-2) to place and Tap It to Win (5-1) to show.

Fully agree that No Parole is the horse to beat, but I’ll try to do it with Mischevious Alex (8-1), who made a nice midrace move in the Stephens Stakes before tiring to finish fourth. That was his first start in 2½ months and he gets top rider Irad Ortiz Jr. for his rematch with No Parole. I’ve got No Parole in second and Sonneman (50-1) to show.

In the Bing Crosby, the crew is backing 2-1 morning line favorite McKinzie, apparently unaware that trainer Bob Baffert has said he will scratch the son of Street Sense from the race. If you take that one out of the equation, they see Collusion Illusion (9-2) narrowly prevailing over Desert Law (5-1) and Fashionably Fast (7-2) in the place and show slots.

There are some fast horses in the Crosby, but I’m not sure any of them will be able to keep up with Northern California invader Anyportinastorm (6-1). I’ll use Collusion Illusion to place and P R Radio Star (8-1) to show.

Mike Brunker’s horse racing column appears on Friday. He can be reached at mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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