Joe and Brian Answer Your Questions on Facebook - Voume 1

Every Monday on the Arlington Park Facebook page at, Daily Herald and Arlington Park handicapper Joe Kristufek and's Brian W. Spencer field questions in the morning, and provide answers in the evening. No matter how simple or how advanced, every question is a good question. Joe and Brian are available every Monday to answer anything you've ever wanted to know about horse racing.

Every other week, we'll reprint some of the best questions here in the Daily Racing Guide and on the Arlington Park website. Log on to, ask your question and come back to the track to see if it wound up in the program!

Joe, I know you watch a lot of race replays. What kind of things do you look for in the running of a race, or do you focus on specific horses after you see trouble during a race viewing? - Anthony K.

Joe Kristufek: In regards to watching races/replays. I consider myself to be a visual handicapper. I like to get a handle on every race run....the pace, the strength of the field and the finish. Sometimes a horse can run sixth, but still run a winning race. On other occasions a horse can win, but not "look" good doing it. When dissecting a replay, I look for traffic trouble, horses who ran well despite being compromised by a fast or slow pace, and those who ran well "against" a perceived bias.....a closer making up ground into a track that favored speed, or a speed horse holding on well at the end over a track that favored off the pace types.

Considering that Arlington has hosted the Breeders' Cup I would be interested in your thoughts on the idea being considered to have a permanent site (or 2 or 3) for the World Championships? - Mark L.

Brian W. Spencer: I think it would be unfortunate to have the BC permanently at one site at this point in time, and I'm also a big proponent of letting "smaller" tracks (Arlington, Monmouth, Lone Star, Woodbine, etc) handle it every so often. I'd be completely cool with a 4-year rotation of Belmont, Churchill, Santa Anita, and an alternating "smaller track" every fourth year.

Why does Arlington have 2 finish lines? - Robert U.

Brian W. Spencer: Arlington has two finish lines because it allows them to run mile and one-sixteenth races. That gives more options to trainers whose horses don't appreciate a one-turn mile, but who don't want to run their horses at a mile and an eighth. It may sound like a small distinction, but it can make a world of difference to certain horses!

What do you think of Michael Baze? Sorry to lose him here in Cali but I think he will be a force there this summer. - Don C.

Joe Kristufek: In regards to Michael Baze, he was a little fish in a big pond in So. Cal. Coming to Arlington, he has a chance to shine. He made his presence felt opening week, winning three races (2 for 7 for Catalano) and lighting the tote with 75% of his 16 mounts. If he rides first call for Catalano all meet, he could compete with Alvarado, Graham, Castanon and Karlsson for a jockey title.

What do you guys look for when looking at a horse in the paddock/on the track? What basic characteristics tip you off on whether a horse looks like he's "ready to run" or "wants nothing to do with running today?"- Christopher H.

Brian W. Spencer: Regarding behavior in the paddock/on the track, it's a little tough to explain in a short answer, but in general you want to be able to find a horse that's feeling good. That usually means that you're looking for a horse that's on his toes, bouncing up and down as he walks on the track or doing as Joe & I call it "the prancy dance." A great example - you know how Zenyatta looks before every race? THAT is what we're looking for!

What are the three most important stats to look at in the racing form and who are some trainers to keep an eye on? - Adam G.

Brian W. Spencer: For me, I'm looking at what a trainer is doing with his/her horse before anything, i.e. trying turf for the first time, cutting back from a route to a sprint, etc. The two other most important things to me aren't so much "stats" but I'm very interested in class moves up or down and company lines to be able to gauge for myself what kind of quality a horse has been running against.