RICK NEEDHAM'S BETTER BETTOR


CHEF BOBBY FLAY'S - CREATOR

WINS THE BELMONT STAKES!

BELMONT PARK (ELMONT, NEW YORK) FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016

On the heels of a successful 28-day meet at Pimlico Race Course, the Maryland Jockey Club shifts live racing to Laurel Park for the opening of its summer meet with a nine-race twilight program July 1. First race post time is 3:40 p.m. EDT; twilight Fridays were started last summer at the track. Among the upgrades is the installation of a new LED high-definition board measuring 36-feet high and 56-feet wide for the infield, part of an ongoing $20 million renovation and improvement program at Laurel. In all, 94 horses were entered for Friday, an average of 10.4 starters per race topped by 16 in the finale, a $22,000 maiden-claiming event for 3-year-olds and up at 5 1/2 furlongs on the Dahlia Turf Course. Highlighting the card are a $40,000 maiden special weight event at five furlongs on the main track for 2-year-old fillies featuring the debut of Sagamore Racing homebred Riley's Choice, and a $45,000 optional/claiming allowance event for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles on the All Along Turf Course. Maryland's leading trainer in 2014 and 2015, Kieron Magee, has won or shared four consecutive meet titles heading into the summer stand. He tied Mike Trombetta with eight wins last summer at Laurel and led Laurel's 2015 fall and 2016 winter/spring meet prior to his second straight Pimlico title. Jockey Trevor McCarthy looks for his third straight Maryland meet championship after winning six races in his final two days to clinch the Pimlico title with 29 victories closing day, June 26. The 24-day summer meet at Laurel will offer racing on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Aug. 21 with free admission and general parking. There will be a special holiday program Monday, July 4, and no live racing July 8. First race post time on Saturdays and Sundays is 1:25 p.m.

RACE #8 - BELMONT PARK - 6:49 PM EASTERN POST

8½ FURLONGS INNER TURF FILLIES AND MARES THREE YEARS OLD AND UPWARD $62,500.00 OPTIONAL CLAIMING $80,000.00 PURSE

#1 AKATEA
#2 COMING ATTRACTION
#4 NOW POWER
#3 PAIGE

#1 AKATEA takes a big class drop (-17) and is the overall speed leader in this field racing at, or about, this afternoon's distance of 8½ furlongs on the grass, and has produced "POWER RUN PERFORMANCES" facing substantially better company in each of her last five outings, hitting the board in three of those "adventures." Jockey Joel Rosario and Trainer Chris Clement send her to the post ... they've hit the board with 53% of nearly 100 entries saddled as a team to date. I also note that my top pick in this race will be feeling that "Lasix Lift" for the 2nd time today. #2 COMING ATTRACTION has hit the board in "POWER RUN FASHION" in four of her respective last five starts, including a "POWER RUN WIN" in her 4th race back.


RACING NEWS: Santa Anita Park June 29 completed the installation of its new turf course, which will be ready for use for the Southern California track's fall meet, which begins Sept. 30. Including the hillside component, Santa Anita's unique turf course covers approximately nine acres of surface area, which has now been amended and covered. The Bandera Bermuda turf mixture was grown in La Quinta, Calif., approximately 120 miles east of the Arcadia racetrack. "This has been a major undertaking and we're very pleased with how the entire project has progressed," said Joe Morris, senior vice president of West Coast operations for The Stronach Group. "The hillside portion of the course was completed about three weeks ago and the oval was finished late yesterday. This particular turf has proven very resilient in our immediate area and right now, with the warm temperatures we've been experiencing, conditions are optimal for fast growth. "The hillside has already begun to root, so that's great news. About 40% of our races are run on grass, so this project is obviously a huge priority for us, our customers and horsemen. "We've been told that we'd be able to run on it in 45 days, but with the installation completed on time, we'll have 90 days before we have horses competing on it. We're excited about opening day on Sept. 30 and we're looking forward to welcoming the best horses in the world here for the Breeders' Cup in November." Santa Anita's current 40-day meet, which began May 5, will conclude July 10.


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Disclaimer: Every attempt has been made to insure accuracy, however since this report is prepared and typed by hand, errors, including typographical and numerical, can be made. It is the responsibility of the end user to "cross check" these selections against the actual entries and program numbers.


BRAZILIAN "BRAHMA BEER LONGSHOTS" - JULY 1, 2016

WOODBINE

RACE #3: #1A TALE OF RONIN is 6-1 in the morning line, takes a class drop (-10), and is the overall speed leader in this field sprinting at today's distance of 4½ furlongs on the "dirt."

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

RACE #5: The 9-2 shot, #10 KING KID is the overall speed leader in this claiming field racing at tonight's distance of a mile on the dirt, and has hit the board in "POWER RUN FASHION" in each of his last three starts.


Ultra Longshot Angles

NOTE: The entries listed below have been "found" utilizing TrackMaster's fantastic new product Ultra Angles ... I have utilized this product to scan EVERY TRACK in North America for entries today meeting the following 3 criteria:

a. Odds are AT LEAST 4-1
b. The entry must be the TOP POWER RATED entry in the field
c. The entry must also have the BEST SPEED in this field for today's distance and surface!

Delta Downs - Race #8 - 9:10PM - #9 FIRST FANCY PRIZE 8/1
Evangeline Downs - Race #3 - 6:44PM - #1 CIAO FOR NOW 6/1

NOTE: Listed Post Times are given in the local time zone of the track.

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NOTES ON CLASS: The TrackMaster PLUS software uses a sophisticated mathematical formula to calculate the "class" of a particular race. It is important to note that this calculation is NOT based on purse structure, but on the competitive level of the entries in today's field. Therefore, it is possible (and not uncommon), that an entry may be racing for a higher purse today than in his or her last race, but in a "TrackMaster Sense" is dropping in class, because the overall abilities of the entries in today's race are not as competitive as the entries in his or her last race. The TrackMaster class scale is numeric, and basically ranges from 50 to 100, and is particularly helpful in judging entries that are "shipping" in from another track. In my analysis of a race, I often note that an entry is "dropping in class," or "stepping up in class." Following this statement, you will see a (number in parenthesis). The value of that particular number indicates the degree of the class change. EXAMPLE: "#4 SIN CITY takes a fairly significant class drop (-8) this evening." This indicates that this entry is dropping by 8 TrackMaster Class Levels from his or her last race. It does not necessarily mean that this entry is racing for a lower purse, only racing against a less competitive field.

NOTES: I frequently use the term, "POWER RUN" in this column. It is my terminology for a previous race run at a speed, which if duplicated today, should compete for the winner's circle at the class level in which the entry is competing today. Space requirements do not allow for a thorough discussion of this calculation, however, if you would like a short essay on how the "POWER RUN" is calculated, kindly send me some EMAIL at rneedham1@yahoo.com and I'll send you a copy of my "POWER RUN" file.


Do you want some handicapping tips? Select an "essay" below, and I'll return some comments to you via email!

Kindly enter Your Name:

    Bouncers
    Power Run/PowerPonies
    Maiden Starters
    LASIX Runners
    Three Star Sires
    The Value of Class
    Reading PS's
    Exotic Wager BOXING
    Aqueduct's Inner Track
    Down and Dirty Quick Pick Longshots
    How to qualify for The Breeders' Cup
    The Psychology of Pari-Mutual Wagering


Rick Needham - Football 2015-2016

2015-2016 ARCHIVED FOOTBALL REPORTS:

Rick Needham's Football Report 2015-2016 Season

Week Ending - February 7, 2016

THE SUPER BOWL

PANTHERS (MINUS 6½) VS. BRONCOS

Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 6:30PM EST
Santa Clara, California - TV: CBS
Over/Under Total: 47.0

Rick's Overview:The Carolina Panthers meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7. It is a matchup of the top two seeds from each conference. Carolina, on the strength of winning 17 of 18 games this season, is the favorite. But a salient case can be made for either team. Let’s take a look at Super Bowl 50 and see what we can come up with.

Carolina has been impressive in the postseason, which followed a 15-1 regular season. They smashed two pretty good defenses with wins over Seattle and a 49-15 smashing of Arizona in the NFC Title Game. Since head coach Ron Rivera came into town, Carolina has always been a team with a nasty defense, but they added a lot to their offense this season and were actually the league’s top-scoring offense this season. And they’ve been pretty consistent in terms of scoring, surpassing 31 points in 7 of their last 8 games.

Carolina has a quarterback in Cam Newton who has morphed into perhaps the most legit dual-threat player at that position. Between him and Jonathan Stewart, they run the heck out of the ball. Carolina has a pretty nice aerial attack, despite having only a good tight end in Greg Olsen and a bunch of role guys at wide receiver. This offense gets the most out of what they have, bolstered by a stout and playmaking defense that can have a big impact on the results of games.

Denver has a Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning who might be facing his last game. He missed a lot of time, but came back in the second half of week 17 to lead Denver past the Chargers, before notching a pair of playoff wins to get to his 4th Super Bowl. This team was in the Bowl two years ago and there’s a lot of big-game experience on that sideline. Meanwhile, Carolina’s sideline is filled with guys who will be seeing this for the first time.

Denver managed to become a top team in what was really a transitional season, as they moved away from a quarterback-centric approach, putting more responsibility in the hands of the run-game and a defense that became the top-rated unit in the game. On one hand, their offense seemed a lot flatter this season, but the results speak louder than anything, as they’re in the Super Bowl. A big assist goes to what is really a good Denver defense that looks to have peaked at the right time.

Carolina faces a major challenge with this Denver defense. And when looking at their schedule, it’s not like the Panthers beat a ton of good defenses this season. In the playoffs, Pittsburgh and New England both struggled against this Denver defense. The Denver pass-rush, led by Von Miller, could very well become a major factor in this game. The Denver defense was the top-rated pass-defense and there are numerous matchup issues for Carolina heading into this game.

Carolina was excellent this season at 15-1 and 2-0 in the playoffs. But when something looks too good, we are forced to take a peek around the still and see if we can’t find another way of looking at it. Let’s look at Carolina away from home for a second. In the last five weeks of the regular season, they had three road games—beating sub-.500 teams like the Saints and the Giants each by a field goal, before losing to Atlanta by 7. We’ve seen them romp at home in the playoffs as the NFC’s top-seed, but let’s not forget that things can be different when taking the show on the road and there’s ample evidence that Carolina could be a diminished force away from Charlotte.

When a team like Carolina wins 17 of 18 games and covers 13 spreads, it might be hard to make the case that they’re overrated. But when scanning their schedule, it is striking how many soft teams they faced. And even the better teams they beat weren’t playing very well at the time they met the Panthers. Carolina deserves credit for having only one really bad game the whole season, but there is some variance in how they play at home, as opposed to on the road.

We hear people talk about experience, without really being clear on how that will resonate in a game. With Peyton Manning, the Broncos benefit from having one of the sharpest football minds in the sport actually on the field. His arm isn’t what it used to be and there’s no guarantee he will even make it through 4 quarters against this hard-hitting and difference-making Panthers’ defense. But there is no one better at identifying weaknesses in opposing defenses and in a game of this magnitude, having a calm-thinking veteran like Manning with his off-the-charts football IQ behind center can be invaluable. It’s almost like having a coach on the field. Since coming back in week 17, Manning has actually looked pretty good, even more so against New England in his last game, which showed that he might be rounding into shape at just the right time. The time off he had during the season can start paying off now.

Rick's Bottom Line: Well folks ... my "gut" feeling is that this game could be a "blowout" in favor of Carolina .. terms like “overrated” and “underrated” are thrown around a lot, but they might apply to this game. People see Denver barely scraping by with a quarterback on his last legs and it causes them to make rash conclusions about their championship viability. Meanwhile, when the public looks at Carolina, they see a team with a great record, coming off two pretty conclusive postseason victories. It creates an image of Carolina being vastly superior and that might have little or no connection to reality. Not to impugn Carolina, which is a good team in all phases, but I look for the championship mettle, experience, and knowledge of Manning to play a big role in this game, with Denver’s better defense keeping Carolina in-check. And, my "computer analysis" using SportsMaster Sofware shows Denver to "keep it close!" I'll TAKE DENVER to beat the spread ... hint ... wait to the last minute folks ... this line may indeed CLIMB UPWARDS ... especially on the off-shore "books!"


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RICK'S "HOT-SPOT" PLAYS

THE UNDER (47.0) CAROLINA X DENVER