Discover more from MutStack
Friday Four-Pack 7.7.23
From Threads to Brady/Kardashian to Saratoga...a full Four-Pack.
Awesome, another social media platform! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
The Instagram/Mark Zuckerberg answer to Twitter launched Thursday in the form of Threads. If you were on Twitter, how could you possibly miss it with everyone on that platform Tweeting out their new accounts on Threads.
Wild, kinda sad, scene.
Ironically, I found the above back and forth from Threads between Mark Cuban and Zuckerberg …on Twitter. And if “Zuck” really thinks that Threads is going to succeed because it’s the “friendly” social media app, he’s out of his mind. Even Tom had enemies over on MySpace.
I’m sure there are people that Threads is built for at launch, but it’s not the general sports fan or sports betting fan, from what I can tell.
First off, there’s no way to JUST follow the people you want to follow, without some sort of manual workaround. Your feed is based on Meta’s algorithm …okay I’m not going to pretend to know it works. I just know my feed on early Friday morning, even after following a few people, is full of shit from celebs and influencers that I’m not interested in.
So best I can tell, you can’t watch along with a game on Threads the same way you can on Twitter. I mean you can, but you’re going to see much more than reactions to whatever game your watching in your feed.
How about if you’re a Pats fan and wanted to create a Patriots “list,” you can’t do it. The filtering option that “lists” creates on Twitter is a massive time/waste saver.
Oh yeah, nothing is in chronological order. Not only is a lot of what you’re seeing random, but it’s also not in any sort of order.
So if you’re like me and using Twitter for breaking sports news. Or watching a game with the rest of the world. Or want to be able to only follow certain people. Or getting content from JUST those people. And oh yeah, want all this info in chronological order… then Threads ain’t it. I’m sure it has some sort of value but I don’t see it for sports fans yet. At least as far as replacing Twitter.
But if Zuck promises to delete the accounts of anyone who unsarcastically posts something like “100 LIKES AND I’LL RELEASE MY MLB PROP PICK OF THE DAY,” well he might win me over.
All that being said, YES we’re on Threads, come on now!
So, so many mediocre Threads coming from me, don’t you worry.
Hope everyone had a good Fourth of July. Let’s get to the Four-Pack.
On attacking the Saratoga 2023…
We are just six days away from the start of the best race meet in the universe, as Saratoga Race Course kicks off eight glorious weeks of racing next Thursday, July 13th.
We will have extensive (and occasionally on-site) coverage of Saratoga for the entire meet, both here at MutStack and on social media, so you’ll want to be following on Twitter, Threads, MySpace, etc at MikeMutnansky.
Some cool stuff coming. Well, I think so anyway and hopefully you will too.
If you’re playing Saratoga this summer, you need to subscribe today for FREE!
This entire Four-Pack could be a journal of my own personal highs and lows at Saratoga, but for today let’s focus on what you care about most: how we’re going to win.
Below are some quick ideas and approaches that have helped me over the 15+ years of playing Saratoga pretty seriously. And occasionally, ending the season in the black. Some of this is for people who are playing the whole meet - by all means, if you’re reading this and heading to Saratoga for the day or weekend with friends, fire away.
Pace Yourself. You’ll hear similar advice betting the NFL and it holds true here. You’re going to know a lot more about these horses later in the meet. There is a benefit to NOT going all-in the first day, weekend, week, or even two weeks. In a month you’ll know what trainers are hot, what jockeys are locked in, how the track is playing, etc. Opening Day is awesome but there is no rule that says you have to fire off your whole bankroll next Thursday. It helps to not start tilting Saratoga in July.
Keep notes. I mean, I’m going to watch every race replay at least once during the meet, so hopefully that will help put all of us on some winners. But even if you’re playing casually, it’s an advantage to make a note on a horse with a bad trip that could be an excuse for the result. There are lots of sites out there where you can create a “watch list,” enter a horse and a note and then get an email the next time that horse runs. It takes a minute and will help you long-term.
Trainer intent. I make it a point to focus on trainer stats at Saratoga. If a barn is hot or cold, it will factor into my handicapping. I value this more than I do at other meets. You can see the raw trainer stats right on the commercial past performances at places like DRF and Equibase. DRF Formulator is more expensive but really lets you dig in on those stats. And Jim Mazur’s “Saratoga Handicapper” product is a great tool for looking at JUST Saratoga-specific stats. Owners want to win here, maybe more than any other track in the country, so it helps to know what trainers excel/struggle at just at Saratoga.
Workout reports. Again there is a cost here, but the DRF Workout reports are invaluable for 2-year-old races and first-time starters.
Who to tail. I mostly prefer to lose my money on my own picks at Saratoga. But I make sure to check the daily picks of a few people to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In no real order Andy Serling, Nick Tammaro, David Aragona and Steve Byk are daily clicks for me. Maybe you’re going for the day and just want someone else’s picks to bet - these guys are a good place to start. Well, besides MutStack. It does not mean that there aren’t other people making great public picks, but these are guys worth following.
A reminder I’ll be hosting a great Saratoga event next Sunday, July 16th at Mohegan Sun. Jockey Chantal Sutherland will be there to talk racing. I’ll hopefully pick a winner or two. You can check out the details here.
On the Tom Brady/Kim Kardashian rumors…
Just add it to the list: Things I’ve been just massively wrong about recently, Patriots Edition.
Gronk would be a good actor.
Josh McDaniels would go on to be a great NFL coach right away in attempt number two.
Tom Brady would have a normal, successful retirement.
Divorce, weird retirement(s?), FTX-crypto scandal and now this.
For years, Barstool Sports Trivia Champion Kirk Minihane said Brady was a “weirdo” and would go barrelling down this road post-retirement. I didn’t see it. Maybe I didn’t want to see it?
I really thought it would go something like…turn the TB12 brand into a HUGE deal, make billions…own part of an NFL team…maybe running for office at some point.
Wrong. Again. And again.
Now he’s flirting with Kim K at Michael Rubin’s Fourth of July Party. He’s wishy-washy on getting in the booth for Fox, which gave him almost $400 million. He’s doing weird commercials for Hertz and Subway.
There is no chance Tom Brady ever rented a car and ate at a Subway on the same day.
For a guy who tried to avoid the spotlight for much of his career, he can’t seem to get out of it in retirement.
As far as Kimmy K goes, I believe it. Just add it to the Weird Brady Post-Retirement Pile.
Portnoy has it right when he calls her a “Dirty A-Lister.” I’d link his video here, it’s funny, but Elon and Substack are still fighting so you’ll have to click the link.
On the exit of Grant Williams…
I will miss this picture of Grant Williams more than I’ll miss Grant Williams in a Celtics uniform.
Nice rotational player but like Marcus Smart, ultimately overrated in Boston by most of the fans and media. The new NBA salary structure made it virtually impossible to keep Williams. You’d have to make other big moves after signing him or put yourself in a financially impossible position, carrying negative impacts that would far outweigh whatever positives he could bring to the team.
Keeping Williams would have vaulted the Celtics into the second apron of the league’s luxury tax. From the Sporting News.
Starting at the end of the 2023-24 season, even more restrictions will be added to the second apron. These include:
Teams cannot use a trade exception generated by aggregating the salaries of multiple players
Teams cannot include cash in a trade
Teams cannot use a trade exception generated in a prior year
First-round picks seven years out are frozen (unable to be traded)
A team's first-round pick is moved to the end of the first round if they remain in the second apron for three out of five seasons
That’s not to say this is some great trade, or that will even keep the Celtics out of salary apron jail. You got a bunch of second-round picks and created a trade exception for the team valued at around $6.2 million. Now let’s see what Brad Stevens does next.
Because for as much as I like jettisoning Smart and Grant, you lost some toughness here. Part of replacing that will have to fall on the shoulders of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But the responsibility for Brad now is to find one or two more players to round out the roster and give his stars a chance to win a championship. There’s just no way Brad looks at this roster as a completed puzzle right now. There have to be more moves coming.
For Stevens and owner Wyc Grousbeck the goal should be pretty simple: Don’t waste away the prime years of two stars in their 20s.
On another way to “beat” the CAW groups…
This is a brief story of a man who played in a pair of handicapping tournaments in June.
It was pointed out to me in the days after we wrote about the effect of computer-assisted wagering (CAW) groups, that one way you can play the races and get more bang for your dollar - potentially - is through tournament play.
The NHC (National Handicapping Championship) is the most well-known tournament. Held once a year, it brings together some of the best horseplayers in the country - all of whom had to qualify to get there. You can’t pay for entry into the NHC, you have to earn it by qualifying.
There are multiple sites that offer qualifying opportunities almost every day of the week, either in the form of satellites or large tournaments that award NHC “seats.” These are usually in the same format as the NHC - imaginary $2 win/place bets with the winner having the biggest bankroll at the end of the day. These are not real bets - you’re paying an entry fee and then the bets you’re making are mythical. It’s one of the most popular formats, especially since that’s the way they play it in the NHC.
Then you have the more “open” live money events, where you have to bet a minimum amount of money on a specific number of races, but you have more choices in how you bet. You’re not restricted to win or place bets. Exactas, trifectas, doubles - all in play. And since it’s live money, you’re keeping what you win and hopefully finishing at the top of the leaderboard for even more prize money.
So with that in mind, we took a shot the last two weeks in the weekly $300 tournaments offered by NYRA. You’re playing with $200 of your own money, with the other $100 going directly into the prize pool. They offer these most Saturdays, except when NYRA hosts bigger events for days like Belmont Stakes Day, when the tournaments can carry a bigger entry fee and larger prize pool.
But for example, this Saturday’s (July 8) format is the one I described above, with the winner not only getting a big chunk of the prize pool but also a Breeders Cup Betting Challenge seat that costs $10,000 if you want to buy in. Nice prize to the winner.
A large majority of my play every year is on NYRA tracks so I feel like I know the circuit pretty well. To the point where I feel like it is an advantage for me in events like these.
For these two weeks, it was not.
Or if it was, I didn’t exactly take advantage.
For our first swing, I went it with a clear plan: Build my bankroll to $600-700, bet it all on Gerrymander in the 9th race, then see where I stood in the last race. I had a plan going in and I would stick with it.
I should have started to adjust after the second race when the leaderboard showed the current leader had already turned their $200 into almost $1400.
After I scored a decent trifecta with my second of five mandatory bets, I was in sixth place and actually felt pretty good.
But from there, things got away from me. Took another shot at the trifecta in the 6th race and not only did I lose - but I didn’t get the full mandatory amount in for a bet ($40). Just plain stupid. And I had nothing else to focus on - kids were at a birthday party and daddy had the house to himself. And I STILL got shut out. Brutal. So I still had three mandatory bets to make.
The next was on an overlay win candidate. Good price, but ran a wide third. Another $40 was wasted (You’re locked into betting at least $40 on five different races, hence the $200 you put in play).
That left us with about $200 to bet on Gerrymander. Well short of the “planned” goal. Rather than audible to a better price in a four-horse field, we stubbornly stayed with our “play” and hoped we could turn that $300+ into something big in the last race, a turf sprint where I liked a 10-1 shot.
It was all for not. Gerrymander, lone speed on paper, got the clear lead as expected. But rather than playing ‘catch me if you can', the horse was rated on the front end. That allowed Movie Moxie to stay within range and overtake the favorite easily late.
The good workouts and first-time Lasix were not enough to get Gerrymander home, settling for a well-beaten second. Tickets trashed. Tournament over. Should have audibled to a better price given all the information I had.
For our second attempt, the plan was no plan. Play the board, bet overlays, win all the money.
Race 2: $20 win/place on a juicy 4.70-1 on Candle. Broke okay, trailed early, never made more than a minor move for a flat 3rd. Looked to be more involved early on paper, but a loser nonetheless. Good price on the tote, bad result for us.
Race 5: $20 doubles 6/8 with 5. The #4 Northern Invader (ZERO turf pedigree to speak of and 6/5???????) was being bet like he could not lose in this race…and I stubbornly ignored it and tried to get alive to Fort Bragg in the 6th with two logical alternatives. Northern Invader crushes. Our picks run 3-4. Note for Saratoga: Don’t ignore when Cherie DeVaux's horses take that kind of money.
Race 6: Excited to see what Fort Bragg can do after being a scratch on Belmont Day. Less excited about being down $80 quickly. Played a straight $40 double Fort Bragg to Varatti, who was 5-1 on the line in the next and was not taking money in the doubles.
Race 7: Fort Bragg holds on! Alive to a double that would return just shy of 10-1 on our $40 wager and give us some ammo for the last few races. Just need Varrati to run to his good works.
He didn’t. Speed, as we hoped, but caved in late. He’s added to the watch list for a sprint at Saratoga next time.
From there we fired off a pair of, on review, pretty poor trifecta tickets in the 9th and 10th races. Weyburn was terrible in the 9th. In the 10th the favorites ran 3rd and 1st so that was no good. Admittedly, found myself frustrated with my early play and it affected my focus on the end of the card. That’s been an issue for me for 20 years playing the horses. Somedays I shake it off. Somedays I bet like an asshole after a few bad beats or ideas. I need to get better at shaking it off, tournament play or not.
I will for sure be getting more involved in tournament play.
I loved the game-theory aspect of it - think tournament (GPP) play in daily fantasy. Looking back I made some mistakes on this front (no audible on Gerrymander) but it added to the process of handicapping the card. I liked stalking the leaderboard (updated seconds after the race goes official) as the day went on to see where I stood. I liked seeing the names of respected horseplayers I was playing against. I even liked the plan I had for Week 1, even if it did not work out.
The NYRA format was solid, easy to get bets in and track everything.
I didn’t enjoy playing without a plan. I’d probably stick to playing in these tournaments when I had one or two good opinions going into the card, rather than just looking for overlays and playing race by race. Looking back, I was not as focused Week 2 with family stuff going on, so with these live money formats at NYRA, I’d want to make sure I’m not giving the racing only half my attention. In some of the NHC-style tournaments, you place all your bets at the start of the day, which works well if you have other stuff going on.
In situations where you’re playing for a massive cash prize (or prizes) or $10k BCBC seats, there is motivation to get involved. Especially if you’re planning on betting at least $200 on the card anyway.
Hopefully, my next tournament recap is a winning one. Winners are more fun to review.
Probably jump back in during Saratoga. Just six short days away.
Thanks for reading.