From The Backstretch Morning Works To Trainer Talk Jerry Antonucci Is Connected To It All. Uncovers Sunday Boxcar Payoffs
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I'm Jerry Antonucci. You know me. I've been a vital part of the daily life of horseplayers since 1972 when I started as the racing writer and expert handicapper for the old LA Herald Examiner and then for the Orange County Register.
If you've ever bet a horse in Southern California - at Del Mar or Hollywood or Santa Anita or even Fairplex - I guarantee you have at one time or another checked my pick box in the Examiner or later in the Orange County Register or read my syndicated full card selections that appear in most of the local dailies in the state.
Perhaps you have listened to the famous "Inside Track" radio show that I co-hosted for years or you've seen me in one of many appearances as an "expert commentator" and analyst on HRTV. Or, you've actually stopped and sat in on "Today's Racing Digest," the seminar at Santa Antia or Oak Tree that I've hosted at the tracks for over 20 years.
Quite frankly, I can guarantee that I've picked more winners in SoCal Racing history than any other handicapper living or dead.
Over the years, I've been the leading handicapper at every track in Southern California. I've mastered the art of winning at Santa Anita and Hollywood and, especially Del Mar. I won the First B.J. Ridder Handicapping Contest, leading all entries for the Oak Tree meet in 2005.
Anybody who's anybody in racing knows me and is on a first name basis with me. Take a walk through the paddock or the backstretch or in the owners' boxes area and ask them who Jerry Antonucci is. Ron McAnally? ...Bob Baffert? ...Doug O'Neal? Jeff Mullins? ...Richard Mandela? ...How about Alex Solis? ...Or Laffite Pincay, Jr.? ...Or Chris McCarron? ...They all know me.
I'm no Johnny-come-lately with a one-time contest win or a one-shot success story. In fact, I'm just the opposite. I've been in the racing game for 35 years and I made my reputation by picking winners day in and day out, week in & week out each of those years.
Super successful trainer Sandy Shulman, who has saddled more than 800 winners as a trainer, including such stakes stars as Uraib, Pickle, Spirited Jaclyn, Champion Lodge, Abaginone, Jahafil, Aventino and Loveontheroad, says:
"I've known Jerry for more than 25 years and truly respect his handicapping abilities. He watches races intently and knows many of the horses as individuals. As a 'trip handicapper,' he can tell you where a horse should be positioned in a race in order for him to win, and how a race likely will unfold. That ability has produced plenty of winners over the years, sometimes at big prices."
And, one of the best known and winning Jockey Agents on the West Coast, Vince DeGregory, who has handled the book for superstars like Angel Cordero, Jr., Laffit Pincay, Jr., Chris McCarron and Alex Solis, says of me, "Jerry and I have been friends for more than 30 years. I've come to respect his ability to review video tape replays, shift through the past performances, and watch the races carefully in order of select winners. Handicapping is an intricate job of figuring out the jigsaw puzzle we call horse racing. My job is to compete against other jockey agents for the best mounts. Jerry's job is to pick winners, and he's been doing it well for a long time. He's a great handicapper."
My success at picking winners has impressed even Hall of Famers:
The late, great Charlie Whittingham, the Hall of Fame trainer and world class horseman, called me...
"The best longshot handicapper in the press box. Antonucci can spot a live horse a mile off no matter how bad he looks on paper. And that horse wins!"
Willie Shoemaker, who held the title of world's winningest jockey for years, used to kid me that...
"Jerry, every time I'm on a price horse that I like, you see it too and pick him and the horse wins. I have to read Antonucci to find out if I'm on a contender or not!"
And, Johnny Longdon, the only man to win the Kentucky Derby both as a jockey & a trainer & who trained on the SoCal Circuit for over 30 years, quipped...
"Antonucci must borrow the 'Amazing Kreskin's' crystal ball because he sees things no other handicapper can find. And, he wins with them!"
Why am I telling you all this?
Let me explain. For years, I was under contract to the newspapers I wrote for. I was not allowed to help bettors personally. I could not "sell" my picks.
And - this is important - I was stuck with the selections I made 48 hours or more in advance to meet the newspaper deadlines. I personally might come up with hot information race day that made a pick I had even stronger or pointed out that I had "missed" a race, but there was no way I could tell that to my readers.
All those restrictions are NOW history!
Just a while ago, my paper, the Orange County Register, decided to drop its horse racing coverage to save money. I am no longer obligated nor under contract to them. I still make selections for my Syndicated columns, but there are no restrictions on me.
The end of the Register gig put me in a mid-life crisis. Picking winners is what I've done for a living for all my adult life. What was I going to do?
Then, by accident, that question was answered for me by a fellow horseplayer, who bumped into me while I was walking across the parking lot near the end of the recent Hollywood meeting.
All this fellow did was shout out to me, "Jerry, what do you like today?"
I looked at him like he was crazy and answered, "You buy the papers. You can see what I like."
He just shook his head. "No! I mean what do you really like? What are you playing
today? I know you pick every race, but you can't like every race. What's really strong?"
That's when it hit me. The man was dead right!
For my syndicated column and the papers I have had to pick every race, whether I liked it or not. Plus, picking so far in advance meant I didn't know track conditions or scratches or final jocks or whether or not "also eligibles" got in.
Whereas on race day, I always had one to three races that I loved. I might have picked all 9 or 10, but I only bet the few races that I had double checked race day & really felt I had good value and the highest per cent chance of winning possible.
Isn't it funny?
I made my reputation as a great handicapper with my WEAKEST SELECTIONS.
You can imagine how good my best plays were!!!
And, that's why I am introducing myself to you...