Handicapper’s Report Versus National Turf

Let me say something right from the start; I am not an unbiased observer of the following issue.  I became a subscriber to the Handicapper’s Report publication in 1979, was asked to become the Customer Service Director in December of 1993, bought the company in December of 1997, and sold the company in December of 2001.  I have continued to work for HR since then, creating the Performance Ratings for each day’s races and normally doing the Trip Notes for the Saturday races.  So feel free to consider this as I write the following information.

As the owner and publisher of HR, not only did I employ the recently deceased Japhet Ward, I also employed, at different times, the two guys that have clocked for National Turf, Andy Harrington and John Wilson.  This means that I am probably the only guy that has fired both Andy and John.

I will say that Andy was (probably still is) a nice young man that wanted to do a good job.  But I complained to him that he was sending me too much meaningless material.  At the time, I had to type his information into a database and didn’t have a lot of time to waste.  So that was a big reason why I let him go.  But at that time, Andy typically sent me about two dozen works a day.  John Wilson was not computer literate and had trouble even typing up and faxing me a page with a dozen workout notes.  Also, it later turned out that much of his best info was being sold to a private client.  I will admit that I find it suspicious that the reports published by National Turf have information for nearly 90% of the entrants each day.  Neither of these clockers ever gave me the impression that they could clock anywhere near this many horses in a day and, frankly, I don’t really believe they are.  But that is my personal opinion.

Based on this, I want to say that subscribers of National Turf are getting a bum deal.  I have tracked the workout reports every Saturday since January and compared them to the workout information included with Handicapper’s Report and believe the National Turf reports are much harder to use, are filled with useless and misleading information, and are simply wrong too often.  I would note that I have not been a subscriber to National Turf, I have just used the information that is free to access from their website after each Saturday.  That report is restricted to workouts collected in the last 45 days, so I have only compared the information in the HR reports collected in the last 45 days for comparison.

Just look at the information from last Saturday, the second day of the Breeders’ Cup.  In race two, NT was very positive about the works of GABRIEL CHARLES and so was HR.  This horse was an open secret and was bet down from 20-1 in the morning line to 9-2 and won the race.

In race three, NT (which does have clockers at two tracks), had positive works from Hollywood Park for the obvious contender POLITICALLYCORRECT and HR did not have anything. NT also caught the only local drill for heavy favorite GROUPIE DOLL in race 5 and loved it (but who needed it to find the obvious horse?) while HR did not.

But in race 6, they KNOCKED the recent drills by TAPIZAR, saying “Coaxed some here never really getting much going in 24.4, 49.1. Hoping for stronger.—Grade: C+” for Oct. 29 and “Under pressure here while nursed some in 47.1, 112.3. Would like to see a stronger late finish.—Grade: C+” for Oct. 22.  Handicapper’s Report said about the 10/29 drill, “TAPIZAR began this 1/2 mile drill under a hold; then the rider stood upright in the irons on TAPIZAR through the last 1/8 of a mile; letting him go extra easy to the wire; final time of 48.4 after going off that first 1/8 in 12.2; a nice drill for TAPIZAR”  TAPIZAR won the race and paid $32.60!

The same thing happened with MIZDIRECTION in race 7.  NT gave her work on 10/27 a C+ and called it “just ok.” while HR gave the same drill a B and called it a “decent move.”  MIZDIRECTION won and paid $15.80!

In race 8, HE’S HAD ENOUGH almost overcame traffic trouble and pulled the upset at 19-1.  HR gave his drill on 10/25 a B-, NT gave the same drill a C and said it was “not encouraging.”

In race 9, LITTLE MIKE won the race and paid $36.60 to win.  NT gave his drill on 10/27 a B- while HR gave it a B.

In race 10, TRINNIBERG won and paid $29.40 to win.  NT gave his work on 10/27 a C+!  HR gave the same drill a B.  These results are not unusual for the reports from these two companies. On the previous Saturday, the workout report from National Turf did not point out a single winner with a workout grade of B or higher, while the report from Handicapper’s Report contained at least four.

Every week, National Turf publishes workout reports with descriptions for 90% of the entrants in the races. But the overwhelming majority of the works are graded B-, C+, or lower.  These are workout grades that will DISCOURAGE you from betting on those horses.  So, do you really need a lot of meaningless information, or a smaller amount of information with real value?  I will bet that you’d rather have a small amount of useful information than a lot of meaningless or misleading info.

Handicapper’s Report does not publish workout information on anywhere near as many of the entrants and winners each day.  But the information they publish is typically more accurate and more predictive of the performances.  As a handicapper, this is what I want.

When you add in the Performance Ratings and Trip Notes that describe and analyze the performances of each horse in the local races, I think you have a much more complete and useful package.  If you’re going to put your own hard-earned money down on the races, don’t you want the best information you can buy?

I invite you to offer your own opinion about this.



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2 Responses to Handicapper’s Report Versus National Turf

  1. ken Macdonald says:

    hi mike: i tried your service out some time ago. their were to many selections to choose a selection that was in the money. i never hit any of your selection on the nose or the tail. i know don”t know anything about this national turf.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for your comment Ken. Handicapper’s Report does not provide selections, per se. They provide descriptions of morning workouts and race analysis, plus a weekly Horses To Watch and Fit & Ready List, all of which are tools to help you handicap the races. There are no push-buttom, no effort roads to handicapping success that I know about. But, if you’re willing to put in the work, HR can make you a better horseplayer.

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