The “Elite Meet” part of the Monmouth Park season ended Monday and its fall meet begins Saturday. Because its racing product improved considerably this summer, Monmouth’s pari-mutuel handle rose more than 200 percent over 2009.
If you had trouble cashing bets on Monmouth, I’ll offer this advice: Listen to Brad Thomas. I suspect most horse players have never heard of him, but I rate Thomas the best simulcast analyst in American racing. There are people with more fame working at other racetracks, as well as for TVG and HRTV, but for my $2 his opinion is the best in the business.
I wrote a column on Thomas after the 1999 Belmont Stakes when he cold-cocked in print a $5,343 trifecta of Lemon Drop Kid (29-1), Vision and Verse (54-1) and Charismatic (8-5). That was not an isolated occurrence; he consistently unearths live long shot plays.
Thomas’ work can be downloaded in the race reviews section of monmouthpark.com. He rarely picks a favorite, but when he does, it is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Also, his check mark plays on TVG are a reliable source of wagering value.
On Saturday, I invite you to listen to Thomas’ analysis on a single Monmouth race. You’ll get more information in five minutes than most handicappers offer in a week. Thomas looks a little odd on TV wearing oversize protective sunglasses due to a retina problem, but his erudite study will lead you to the cashier a lot more often.
■ KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURES — If you think it’s hard to win a futures bet on the Super Bowl when there are 32 NFL teams, try betting on the Kentucky Derby winner today when the pool of available 2-year-olds might as well be infinite.
John Avello of Wynn Las Vegas is the brave soul to open the first 2011 Kentucky Derby futures book. He walks a fine line between offering fair value to the player while not exposing Wynn to a huge loss on a wise-guy play.
The favorite is Hopeful winner Boys at Tosconova at
30-1, down from 50-1. Considering the pitfalls that can occur between now and May 7, that’s not enough for me.
Here’s a hint: If you want to bet an unraced horse you heard some steam on, ask Avello. He’ll set a price for you. Also, any new horses added to the Wynn list each week will be marked with an asterisk.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.