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A Warning That Your Mileage May Vary At Cal Expo
Friday, January 27, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

ScottWinter is in full swing, which means any number of possible track conditions can exist on a given night here in Sacramento at Cal Expo.
In addition to his duties as announcer, publicity and simulcasting (exports), Scott Ehrlich is also in charge of the Variant Department at Cal Expo.  Each night’s program features his variants and average fractional times for the previous three weeks, giving handicappers an additional tool in their attempt to isolate a winner.
“It was around 1980 that I came up with my method of variants,” Scott explained.  “I eliminate the fastest two miles of the night and the two slowest miles of the night.  Then I take the remaining final times and divide them by the number of races I’m using.  That becomes the variant for the night.  I will eliminate the trot races unless the final time is better than the average.  The same method applies to the fractional times as well.”
Ehrlich realizes that there are handicappers that do variants for each class versus for the night, but points out after following the sport for 35 years, “you get a very good feel for how fast a specific class should be and recognize when the pace and final time for a race are faster than that class would normally go.
“I use the variants all the time,” Scott continued.  “Generally, I will adjust each horse’s time for the last three races, then see who has the fastest adjusted time, as well as who has the best average time, once adjusted.  It probably comes in most handy in cold weather, especially like when I was in Chicago, where it can be 10 degrees and windy one night and 30 degrees with no wind the next.  The variants for those nights could differ as much as two, three, or more seconds.”  Staying closer to home, Ehrlich pointed out to the difference between the January 20 and January 21 programs here at Cal Expo.
“The variant for Friday, January 20 was slow by four and three-fifths seconds, while on Saturday, January 21, it was fast by one and three-fifths seconds.  So a horse that raced on January 20 in 2:00, their time, once adjusted, becomes an adjusted time of 1:55 2/5.
“Now let’s say that one faces a horse that raced on January 21, who also had a final time of 2:00.  If you use the adjusted the time for that horse, it now becomes 2:01.3.  So, on paper, the same time.  Adjust their times though and there's a six and one-fifth second difference, which is thirty-one lengths.  Getting two variants that BIG in difference is a handicappers dream!  This is one of the ways you can get value when you wager."
Marlin Hanover Sets Sights On Another Score At Cal Expo
Marlin Hanover, who gave Luke Plano one of his eight driving victories a week ago; and stable-mate One And Only, who came within a neck of posting a 9-1 upset in that affair, gets a rematch in Saturday night’s (January 28) $4,500 Winners-Over Pace at Cal Expo.
Marlin Hanover is a 5-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight and the Big Towner mare Maura Hanover who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada with Liberio Pacheco the conditioner and Plano returning in the sulky.
In last week’s top dance for the pacers, the bay performer brushed to command past the quarter, moderated the fractions to the stretch and then had enough left to hold safe over the pocket-sitting One And Only by a neck in a 1:54.3 performance.  It was the first win in three appearances on the season for Marlin Hanover, who sports a 1:54 flat career standard from last year.
One And Only has fired nothing but bullets in his three trips to the post in 2012, coming away with a win and two runner-up finishes.  Another son of Bettor’s Delight, he also competes for the team of Morita and Yamada and trainer Pacheco with Jim Lackey once again doing the honors.
One And Only took the measure of a softer group on January 7, drawing away by two lengths that evening without being asked for his best.  He was second to Cycle Power at this level the following week, then came a :26.4 final quarter to just miss to his barn-mate in another strong mile at most recent asking.  e won eight of 28 tries last season while establishing his 1:54.2 lifetime mark.  Taking on this pair are Cycle Power, Haggin Oaks and Amigo De Garcia.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (January 27) & Saturday (January 28) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.  Saturday night’s simulcast action includes three stakes finals from the Meadowlands, headed by the $110,500 Presidential with Golden Receiver getting the top billing.  The Presidential shares the marquee with the $74,000 Complex and $73,000 Clyde Hirt finals.

Cal Expo now offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee).  In addition, all Late Pick 4’s will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool.  On Saturday night, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made at Cal Expo or at