The 2011 meet for my local track, Emerald Downs, begins tonight with an eight race card and first post at 6:12 Pacific time. Emerald Downs races can be found on TVG.
Sadly, I'm going to miss opening night due to being out of the country, but in my absence, I leave you with a few things to keep an eye on:
- Last year Emerald implemented $0.50 Early and Late Pick 4s for the first time. The Early Pick 4 begins with race 1.
- I wrote a bit about this last summer, but keep an eye on the Daily Doubles at Emerald; while some of the winners come home at short prices there is a lot of value in the doubles (and the Pick 3s). There were many times last year where a short price and a mid-priced horses produced comparatively good returns. Pick your spots and play key horses multiple times as opposed to spreading deep.
- The pools tend to be smaller than lager tracks (nothing unusual) but that also provides the opportunity to take down an entire pool if you can ferret out a big price winner in a sequence.
- Watch the shippers from Portland Meadows early on in the meet. Typically, racing at PM is just a bit below that at Emerald but Portland shippers, usually because of their fitness, do fairly well early on. A fit Portland horse from a good barn can be an excellent play the first few weeks.
- Personally, I've had mixed success playing SoCal or Turf Paradise horses shipping up to Emerald. Similar to the Portland situation, check which barn they are coming out of to truly evaluate their chances.
- Once the meet gets going, horses should be racing or training at regular intervals. Beware horses that miss training time and that haven't raced in a while, as it's usually a sign of some kind of physical problem.