There are no guaranteed picks at this time.
Arguably the greatest claiming trainer in New York thoroughbred history, Gasper Moschera dominated the New York racing scene from the Mid-1980's through 1999. In fact, he was so famous to the railbirds and $2 bettors that lined the apron at Aqueduct and Belmont and, to a lesser extent Saratoga, that he was known only by his given name or his nickname, "Gasman." That's the kind of acclaim reserved for beauty queens and pop stars like "Brittany," and "Madonna."
That's how famous Gasper Moschera was.
And, to the legions of fans in New York and at simulcast outlets around the country, the "Gasman" was a bet as sure to come through as "death and taxes." When Gasper Moschera sent out a horse, you knew it was "well meant, well spotted and ready to win."
And win they did, as his record proved:
**Top 3 Trainer in New York 9 Consecutive Years
**Leading Trainer in New York 6 Consecutive Years
**Stable averaged more than 100 Winners a Year
On the toughest racing circuit in America, Gasper beat the opposition into submission year after year. And, he did it without the benefit of a bevy of wealthy backers, scores of well-bred horses or a background that was even particularly equine or racing in nature.
FROM BROOKLYN TO AQUEDUCT
In fact you'd be hard-pressed to find a less likely person to be a fantastically successful trainer of racehorses. Gasper Moschera grew up in Williamsburg. (Brooklyn, not Virginia) No silver spoons or blue bloods in his working class background. There was no aroma of straw and horse liniment to get into his blood early. That hardscrabble youth shaped his character and the hard work and plain talk that are his style can probably be attributed to growing up as a street kid. From Brooklyn to Aqueduct's backstretch in Ozone Park might not be more than a few miles as the crow flies, but it was light years from his upbringing.
As an adult, he was a card-carrying union carpenter. In fact, Gasper was (and is) a gambler. Pure and simple. His job was running a carpet store, but his heart was in the betting lines at the track. He didn't start out to train thoroughbreds. He began by betting on them.
THE TOUGHEST GAME OF ALL
Making a living racing horses is a precarious profession at best. The most successful trainers don't actually train horses, they "train owners." The big names with the multi-track stables, the hundreds of horses and the never-ending lines of young, regally-bred 2-year-olds flowing in to replace old, tired and injured stock are actually just like big corporations. The "name" trainers don't actually work with the majority of these horses. The "trainer of record" might talk to the owners and the press, but the actual work is done by his "assistant trainers," who are following a regimen set down by the "boss." How else could a Todd Pletcher or a Steve Asmussen or a D. Wayne Lukas have horses in California, Florida,
Kentucky, New York and tracks in between? They couldn't. The horses run in their names, but they are not likely even at the barn and couldn"t tell you what most of their runners look like.
Sure, if one of their royally bred colts and fillies is good enough, then the name trainers show up at the barn before the Florida Derby or Kentucky Oaks to talk to the news media and get their photos in the paper. That's good marketing. If a new millionaire wants to get into the game, who's he gonna call? The answer is most likely one of the trainers who he sees in the paper all the time, that's who!. Being in the news is a sign of success. Wealthy newcomers who have been entrepreneurs in business and succeeded are impatient. They want instant success. So, they drift to the trainers who are in the limelight.
And, that's the public image of racing - big TV races and huge purses and stories of Multi-Million Dollar yearlings and rich breeding programs.
If you've been a racing fan or bettor for any period of time, you already know the top of the sport is where the "blue bloods" reign. Wealthy industrialists, sheiks and old line families that have been in racing for hundreds of years, breed and buy the most expensive animals in quests for the riches and glories of the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown, Breeders' Cup and other major stakes races.
But the majority of racing is down and dirty and gritty. Hardscrabble trainers and borderline owners scraping to break even with sore legged, over-the-hill or just plain "not very fast" animals. This is the world of the claiming race, a daily grind in which trainers plot to put over horses in winning spots and hope that no one claims them so they can get them back to run and win again or, in the reverse, hope to lure some unsuspecting owner or trainer into claiming one of their horses that has gone bad or that they believe no longer has the physical well being or the will to win.
Claiming races make up the majority of contests in this country. That's true even in New York with its big purses and top-heavy stakes schedule. For the most part, claiming races offer the smallest purses. Trainers and owners in this part of the thoroughbred sport have to win or perish.
It's a cat and mouse game played out every racing day. The fittest, the smartest, the best able to adapt have longevity. A handful make a really good living.
And, then there was Gasper Moschera, a man with no horse background and little formal training. He came to racing armed with what he knew in the Daily Racing FormÂ®. He didn't know from "fetlocks" and "forelocks" and "sesamoids" and "blown tendons." He was a guy who went to the track, made his bets and either cashed in or tore up his tickets. Along the way, he learned to read the Racing FormÂ® better than any handicapper or trainer. That's how he outsmarted both for years!
That was enough to allow him to turn what he read and knew from the FormÂ® into a hugely successful claiming and betting operation.
STARTLING TURNAROUNDS: MAJOR SUCCESSES
Most claiming trainers are happy to halter a horse they can move up in class and win a race or two with. Gasper Moschera was so far beyond that mentality that he created a whole new way of what to look for when claiming horses.
Gasper just didn't win with his claims. He took them to heights they had previously never reached. Heights that their previous owners and trainers thought were beyond these horses' abilities. The System Gasper developed from reading the Past Performances in the Daily Racing FormÂ® allowed him not only to cash winning tickets immediately but also to find horses he could claim, that would be repeat winners for a long time into the future.
Gasper Moschera could train horses, but what does this have to do with me and picking winners?â That's a fair question.
A PLAIN SPOKEN GUY
Gasper Moschera is a soft-spoken guy who doesn't use 50-cent words or long explanations. He is a man who breaks everything down to its basics. That's the most economical way to live. No wasted movements. No wasted energy. I noticed that about him and his writing style just after I met him.
What Gasper Moschera did was take the thousands of pieces of raw data that are contained in the Daily Racing FormÂ® and break it down into what he considered to be his most important points. Now, he was looking to claim horses that he could move up, improve and win races with.
Yes, he was doing it from a claiming trainer's point of view. But, his method was still handicapping at its purest.
Let's look at the comparison.
Gasper developed a method to pick those horses that were improving. Many times, horses won the day he claimed them, which shows his handicapping methods were right on target. At other times, he hit them perfectly (from a trainer's standpoint) and claimed them just as they were hitting the up part of their "form cycle." Then, he could run them back and win within a race or two. That gave him an immediate return on his money.
Let's go a step farther and compare the goals of a claiming trainer and a bettor. A claiming trainer must win to survive. A bettor must win to continue having the bankroll to play. And, professional bettors must win to pay their bills. Bettors and claiming trainers have the same goal. The only difference is most trainers want a purse. Most bettors want to cash a ticket.
What Gasper developed was one system that made him a successful trainer and winning handicapper too.
You see, Gasper Moschera wanted both. He was a trainer who wanted to win, but he never stopped being a bettor who wanted to cash tickets. In fact, it was not unknown for Gasper to withdraw $10,000 or more from his accounts and bet his own horses with both fists through the owner.
Everything that Gasper did before claiming a horse has a handicapping parallel. Every time he claimed a horse, it was because of what he saw in the Racing FormÂ®.
And, although in Gaspers day he often had to "bet a lot to make a little," you can take even short-priced horses and make a score using the new multiple race bets. Because he knows horses and knows the Past Performances, Gasper Moschera has developed a unique way of looking at the races and finding the right spots where you can cash tickets, often multiple tickets!
WHAT PEERS AND THE PRESS SAY ABOUT GASPER MOSCHERA
ED FONTAINE New York Post "Gasper was a perennial force at Aqueduct. He claimed solely off the numbers in the Racing FormÂ® and was the only trainer who did it."
MIKE JACOBS New York Magazine "Gasper Moschera is the sharpest claiming trainer in New York History"
NICK KLING Racing writer, Troy Journal "Moschera has skills equivalent to the trainers enshrined in Saratoga's Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. His theory was to claim the way you bet. And, he loved to Bet."
MIKE SMITH Hall Of Fame Jockey "Everything he ran had a chance to win... he was the best."
ANGEL CORDERO, JR. Hall of Fame, 7 time leading jockey at Saratoga "Gasper knew the numbers before the rest of us did and that gave him an edge."
RAY KERRISON NY Post "He claimed solely off the Numbers in the Racing Form. Amazing how he did it."
BOBBY FRANKEL Hall of Fame trainer "It was amazing how Gasper claimed horses and they moved up. He knew what he was doing."
RICHARD MIGLIORE Former Top Rider In New York And California "Gasper Moschera was the first trainer to claim from the Form."
MITCHELL FRIEDMAN Successful NY Trainer "Gasper's claiming theory was to claim the way you bet. And, He loved to Bet."