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Features - GAMBLING

The Turf vs Tech Handicapping Challenge is a public tournament featuring some of the best handicappers from the world of Thoroughbred racing taking on some of the best and brightest from the tech world. Many of racing's new fans are building their own companies or working on the next great mobile app and we thought it would be great to see what happens when they take on established handicappers in some of America's best races. 

Stay tuned as this group of tech all-stars take on some of America's most recognizable handicappers in a winner-takes-all battle that pits the new school against the old school.


Matt Bernier

Matt -Bernier

Matt Bernier is one of the most highly regarded young handicappers in America. He is featured on the “Horseplayers” reality television show on Esquire Network.



Cooper Harris

Tv THead2

Cooper Harris is an actress and founder who lives in Los Angeles. She recently left her role on “The Young and the Restless” to found her tech start-up, She is also the executive director of Oasis Foundation and advises several other start-ups. Tweet her  @Cooperharris 


This week our two handicappers will have a $100 bankroll with which to use on the following races on Saturday, March 8: the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes for 3-year-olds, Santa Anita Park, Race 5; the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap for 4-year-olds and older, Santa Anita Park, Race 9; and the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds, Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11.


The scratch of Bayern has made this race much more intriguing from a wagering standpoint. California Chrome will almost surely go off favored at this point, with Midnight Hawk as a close second choice. I’ve never been a huge fan of Midnight Hawk, mainly because I’m not sure how good he really is. For that reason, I’m tossing him from my wagers. California Chrome has been working up a storm at Los Alamitos of late and, while he looks primed for a big effort, I can’t back him with a win wager due to his lack of value. Kristo is a nice runner but his three placings out of four races concerns me slightly. I’ll use him to round out exactas. I like Schoolofhardrocks to win the San Felipe Stakes - he hasn’t been seen since breaking his maiden on the Polytrack surface at Del Mar in August, but the David Hofmans trainee has been working lights out on the Santa Anita strip during the past few weeks and appears ready to roll.

$10 Win on #8 Schoolofhardrocks = $10

$6 exacta - 8 / 4,7 = $12

$4 exacta - 4 / 7,8 = $8



It's a rematch of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic between Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. Sprinkle some Game On Dude in there and you’ve got a recipe for the best Big ’Cap in recent memory. Mucho Macho Man will surely be the betting favorite, but I can't help but try to poke some holes in him. His seasonal debut in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream was nothing more than a paid workout, and he got the better of the two trips in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over Will Take Charge and only won by a nose. All indications are his workout this past week at Santa Anita was anything but stellar ... that’s enough reason for me to try to beat him. Will Take Charge is my favorite horse in training, and I think he’s going to be incredibly tough to beat in this spot. His 4-year-old debut in the Donn Handicap was a monster effort - he just happened to run into a horse in Lea that broke the Gulfstream Park track record at 1 1/8 miles. He figures to move forward off that effort and looms large in the Big ’Cap. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of Game On Dude. That being said, I think he holds a major tactical advantage over the rest of this field in that, on paper, he appears to be lone speed - and we all know what Game On Dude is capable of when he gets loose on the lead. If Gary Stevens sends early on Mucho Macho Man to pressure Game On Dude, he could compromise Mucho Macho Man’s chances with the late-running Will Take Charge waiting to pounce. If he lets Game On Dude run by himself, the old ‘Dude’ might prove tough to pass turning for home. I think Game On Dude shakes loose early and wins his third Santa Anita Handicap. Mike Smith has the mount.

$10 exacta - 7/1 = $10

$.10 superfecta - 1,7 / 1,7 / 2,3 / 2,3,4,5,6,8 = $2



Another key Kentucky Derby prep that will be run Saturday is the Tampa Bay Derby. I’m not sure you’re going to find any true Derby contenders in this field, but I think there are some nice runners that have some potential. Whenever a field like this comes together, I’m always most interested in the horse that I think has the most upside - in this case that would be Hy Kodiak Warrior. He's been working very nicely at Calder Race Course and now he’ll add Lasix for the first time in his career. He’ll be the "key" to all of my trifectas. Both of the Todd Pletcher entrants, Surfing U S A and Vinceremos, are sure to take their fair share of play, but I’m not sold on the form of the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Harpoon exited that race and proceeded to get trounced last weekend in the Gotham Stakes. Until a runner comes from that race and proves me wrong, I'm going to look at that race negatively. If Surfing U S A takes a step forward in his second start as a 3-year-old, he could prove tough to beat. I’ll also use Conquest Titan in my trifecta plays. This colt was a well-beaten second behind Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January, but the third-place finisher came back to win the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds last month. This flatters both Cairo Prince and Conquest Titan. He can’t be ignored in this spot, but I’m still going to go with the horse that I think has the most upside, and that’s Hy Kodiak Warrior.

$10 Win on #9 Hy Kodiak Warrior = $10

$1 trifecta - 9 / 2,5 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10 = $16

$1 trifecta - 2,5 / 9 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10 = $16

$1 trifecta - 2,5 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10 / 9 = $16




$30 to win on #4 California Chrome = $30

$5 exacta box 4,9 (California Chrome/Midnight Hawk) = $10



$15 to win on #1 Will Take Charge = $15

$5 across the board on #3 Blingo = $15

$10 exacta 1-3 (Will Take Charge over Blingo) = $10



$5 to win/place on #5 Conquest Titan = $10

$5 exacta box 5,6 (Conquest Titan/Vinceremos) = $10


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