JANUARY 12, 2011
Prime Power: A great elimination tool for your playing practice
by Art Parker
It's a tough game we play, this thing called horse racing. It begins with intrigue followed by curiosity. Then comes investigation followed by a few answers. Bad tickets crash to the ground while these stages come and go. At some point we experience enough success to make us more determined than ever to seek even more answers. We experiment with and try various systems (anyone who says they have never tried a system is a liar).
One day we wake up and realize that playing the horses is like practicing medicine or practicing law. It is practice, not perfection. A physician gathers information about a patient and does his best to make a correct diagnosis before deciding on a remedy. That's what we do. We look at every race the way the physician looks at every patient. We are in hot pursuit of the correct diagnosis of every race we exam because a correct remedy results in an instant reward.
Some of us do what doctors and lawyers do and become specialists. We begin to ignore certain types of races and limit our play to those types that make it easier to "perfect our practice." Years ago I determined that my best results playing the horses came by playing sprints. My definition of a sprint is a race around one turn of at least 5 1/2 furlongs but not more than seven furlongs. I decided that my sprint play should be limited to dirt (main track) races only, which is not difficult since we have few sprints on the turf in this country.
After a while I narrowed my practice down to claiming and allowance races only. No maidens, no stakes and no babies. My serious horse play would be sprints on dirt, claiming or allowance only (including starter races). Naturally, I play the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders' Cup every year, and some tournaments on occasion, but my daily practice is limited to a well-defined group of races.
Specialists or not, all of us with many years at this game continue to digest enormous amounts of information about horse racing. We read tons of material every year, most of which is discarded because experienced players have pretty much seen it all, or we think we have seen it all. We learn what information to trust, and we keep at our fingertips the information we believe is necessary to be successful.
While novices are looking for the system to "pick winners," we simply look for an angle or tidbits of information that may help us identify and discard pretenders. We know that brain power is the ultimate, final authority in our practice and that is why we make our final selections instead of relying upon someone else to make them for us.
I tossed the Daily Racing Form a few years ago and replaced it with Brisnet because of the healthy supply of information in Brisnet past performances. Brisnet gave me extra elimination tools and most of all, the trainer information made a great compliment for my own trainer files.
At first, I was reluctant to use Brisnet's "Prime Power," mainly because I thought it was placed in the past performances as a "system" to help the novice player. As my Dad use to tell me, that's what you get for thinking when you're not used to it!
I decided to use Prime Power after a trip to Keeneland. A friend in my hometown (Millbrook, Alabama) had never seen a horse race and asked me to take him on a trip to Kentucky, "Whenever you can tear yourself away from that computer racing," he said. I promised him a couple of days at a special place called Keeneland when October rolled around.
Sitting on an outside bench on a beautiful October day at Keeneland will make you forget about all of the problems that plague the world. My friend was happy with a cold beer and his first-ever helping of Burgoo as I was absorbing my Brisnet information. About 10 minutes before post time of the first race, a fellow sat down on the bench and I quickly sensed he was trying to read my stuff. I looked at him and growled, "What the hell do you want?" He was quick to beg forgiveness and said, "I forgot to run my Brisnet sheets and I just want you to tell me who the big number is in this race?"
At that time I did not know what he was talking about. I responded with, "The biggest speed figure?" He said he wanted the top Prime Power number. I told him who it was and he said nothing else. As he was examining the Daily Racing Form I heard him talking to himself and saying; "Now it makes sense. That's why he is the big number."
As it turned out, the top Prime Power horse won the race. I looked at the guy and asked him if that's the way he always plays. He said he always started with Brisnet's top Prime Power and then tried to validate that horse as the best by looking at the past performances. "If I'm not comfortable with their top two to three selections I just pass the race," he explained.
After that trip to Keeneland I began to tinker with Prime Power and causally tested it to confirm Brisnet's performance claims. After a while I realized that I made a mistake with my initial assessment and I began to pay closer attention to Prime Power using it as another tool for elimination of pretenders in a race. What I like best about Prime Power is that one can look near the bottom of a long list of entrants and see the point disparities. It is a quick way to grasp the idea that a horse, or several horses, have a lot going against them, or they have just too much to overcome. Brisnet's Prime Power is such a good tool one can save tremendous time, not trying to select winners with it, but eliminating horses from consideration without seeking validation of insufficiencies.
Oh, it's true; every now and then you are bitten by one of those low rated horses eliminated from consideration when it crosses the line first. But just remember, its practice, not perfection.
I'm still trying to complete several Prime Power studies from this past year of racing, and hope to share those soon. In the meantime I encourage you to look at Prime Power if you haven't already and do some test work on your own. You never know, you may turn "practice into perfection."
-Art Parker is the editor and general manager of The Millbrook Independent newspaper in Millbrook, Alabama, and has been an avid horse player for 25 years
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