Skip to main content

“Rule” picks #5 Modern Games to win Ricoh Woodbine Mile: Handicapping with Ivan Bigg

September 16, 2022

“Rule” picks #5 Modern Games to win Ricoh Woodbine Mile 

 By Ivan Bigg 

The pressure is on! After I nailed the $200 triactor in the Queen’s Plate in my Bettor’s Edge column in Canadian Thoroughbred, Woodbine invited me to offer my views on the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. How could I resist? So here goes: 

First off, I’m a “rule” handicapper. I don’t think highly of opinions including my own; they’re mostly wrong, so I’ve developed rules for each race condition. I wasn’t really high on Hall of Dreams in the Queen’s Plate but since he fit my rule (the fastest closing fraction in a 1 1/8-mile race) he was my strongest Plate play and, of course, he came second at 16-1 behind the heralded Moira.    

My disdain for opinions comes from hosting betting workshops at Assiniboia Downs. It seemed those with the strongest – and loudest – opinions were mostly wrong. In fact, even in a group discussion for the Queen’s Plate a top handicapper who wins tournaments bet me that Hall of Dreams wouldn’t finish in the money. Yup, he was forced to eat humble pie. 

So, what rules apply to the Woodbine Mile? (By the way, the first rule below is particularly effective for handicapping Breeders’ Cup turf route races.)  

In turf stakes races, look for the horse that’s been racing for the BIGGEST PURSES. (Purse amounts are included in past performances in Equibase race programs.) So, what horse in the Mile has been racing for the highest purses? #5 Modern Games which means he should win the Mile. He raced in France for a purse of $1.6 million. Racing for a larger purse – but that was last year – is #2 Ivar. He raced for $2 million in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Is that your exactor? 

To find horses to include in your exotics play, CALCULATE THE CLOSING FRACTIONS for horses that had previously raced in turf route races. Calculate how quickly a horse closes from the 6f point to the end of the race. For each length a horse gains during that latter part of the race, subtract one-fifth of a second. If he loses lengths, add one-fifth second per length. 

At one mile, the closing fraction will be around 24 seconds at 1 1/16-mile it will be around 30 seconds and at 1 1/8-mile it will be about 36 seconds. #2 Ivar (who you’ll note above already had raced for a $2 million purse last year) has a 22-second closing fraction. #3 Wakanaka has 22 2/5 and #7 Homer Screen has 22 3/5. Actually, #6 Shirl’s Speight has the quickest closing fraction of 21 3/5 but that was achieved at Keeneland in April and Shirl’s has tailed off in more recent races. If he can rebound to his Keeneland mark, he can upset at likely juicy odds. 

A NOTE ABOUT LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Town Cruise, the gate-to-wire winner in last year’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile, is removing blinkers for this year’s race, suggesting that he’s going to try to rally from off the pace rather than getting involved in an early pace duel.  

MY PLAYS: So #5 Modern Games is the rule horse to beat and these are my $1 triactor plays (hoping that longshot #6 Shirl’s Speight will rally into the mix): 5/2,3,6,7/2,3,6,7 and 2,3,6,7/5/2,3,6,7. And, for mere pocket change, here’s a suggested 20-cent superfecta play: 2,5/2,5/3/ALL and 2,5/2,5/ALL/3. 

Best wishes on your bets. If nothing else, maybe this piece will convince you to start calculating closing fractions in turf races if you’re not already doing so. That’s huge. The edge you have is that most players can’t be bothered so you get higher odds on your horses than you deserve. It’s not that complicated: Calculate how fast each horse closes from the 6f point to the end of one mile, 1 1/16-mile and 1 1/8-mile races. Now, let’s crush the Mile. 

Ivan Bigg
Share This: