Do These Two Things Every Day at Saratoga

Saratoga backsideSaratoga, aka The Spa, is one of the best places in the world to visit. Nestled in a quaint town in the middle of the spectacular Adirondack Mountains, Saratoga Racetrack is like none other in the country. Known for the best horse racing during the year, Saratoga is the race meet many horseplayers look forward to each summer.

I have been going to “the Spa” since I was a young boy. When I visited as a tyke with my family in 1977, a couple of two years olds by the names of Affirmed and Alydar were running that day. My father liked Alydar. Neither my mom nor my brother knew how to handicap, but they both picked Affirmed to win. The rest is history.

There is nothing like Saratoga racing in the summer, and for a horse racing fan, it doesn’t get much better. Needless to say, it is a heck of a lot better when you win… and win consistently.

How can one possibly beat Saratoga, one of the toughest meets that handicappers will face all year long? The top barns converge on the beautiful upstate New York track every summer, and the money of horseplayers everywhere follows in droves. Pools are plentiful, but so are the contentious races. And it is those contentious races that can make Saratoga so difficult to beat. There are some races that are reminiscent of the Breeders’ Cup events where so many runners are contenders and throw-outs are hard to find.

There are several facets of Saratoga that every handicapper should know, and there are some solid strategies that I recommend for beating the 2023 meet which begins Thursday, July 13, and runs through Monday, September 4. Just by applying the following two steps you will put yourself ahead of the wagering public who have no game plan and approach each day at the Saratoga Racecourse haphazardly.

Have a Game Plan for The Spa

How often do we approach an important meet like this, and we have no idea what we are hoping to accomplish and how we are going to wager from one day to the next? I’ll take an educated guess and say that is the case for most players. We don’t want to shoot from the hip. Many players, including myself, make wagers based on the races we handicap and “who we like.” We will make all sorts of bets, from straight wagers to stabs at the Pick Six.

The better choice is to decide what your game plan is going to be prior to opening day of the Saratoga meeting. It is certainly fine to make various types of bets, but you may want to focus most of your wagering strategy on one or two bet types. Maybe you are good at structuring Trifecta or Pick-4 wagers. Maybe you’re an effective straight player (win, place, show) but you get “sucked into” playing exotics. Recognize your strengths and build a game plan around them.

Heeding this advice and showing discipline throughout the meet could be a real difference maker for your bottom line. Fortunately, most of the general public does not approach the races with this mindset, and that is great for us handicappers who are taking this seriously.

Pick Your Spots at Saratoga

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” ~ Lou Holtz

On a related note, picking your spots is the key to beating the meet. You are not going to finish ahead by the time Labor Day rolls around if you are playing every available race at the Spa. Unless you’re Houdini, wagering on hundreds of races at Saratoga and turning a profit isn’t going to happen.

Needless to say, this is good advice, year-round, for horseplayers but especially so for Saratoga due to all the contentious races. Handicappers looking to turn a profit over the 40 days have to pick their spots. Focus on the races you excel at and avoid the ones you typically don’t have a good handle on. If you have been playing the races long enough, then you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so use that knowledge to your advantage. Or pay the consequences.

Have a game plan this Summer and focus on your best plays. Best of luck!

Related Information for Horseplayers

What percentage of the time do favorites win?

Are you interested in improving your ROI with better rebates? Fill out this short form.

Got Rebates?
reCAPTCHA is required.

A Handicapper’s Look at Canterbury Park, the Low Takeout Track

Canterbury Parkby The Oracle

Opening day of the 2023 Canterbury Park live racing meet is Saturday, May 27! That means it’s time to look back at the 2022 Canterbury Park live meet from a statistical standpoint and use that data to help us better predict the outcomes of the 2023 Canterbury Park races.

Canterbury Park offers many low-takeout wagers, including the Pick 4, Pick 5 and a brand-new Turf Pick 3 that will be offered on Wednesday nights. It will pay to get involved in these wagers at Canterbury Park.

Here’s a look at some final statistics for the thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park in 2022, as we prepare to unlock the 2023 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle…

Favorites at Canterbury Park

The public correctly selected the winner 41% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year. That is 3-percentage points above the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2022, and equal to how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2021. All categories of races, including turf, dirt, sprint, route, maiden, claiming, and allowance races showed favorites winning between 39% and 43% of the time. This varied quite a bit from previous years, when the turf races had…continue reading about the Numbers at Canterbury Park

Did you miss this at AGOS?

How Well Do Favorites Perform?

How Do You Wager on Horse Racing?

Handicapping past performances PPsWagering on horse racing for newbies can be a fun and exciting way to get involved in the sport. Few sports match the thrill of cheering on your horse down the stretch!

If you are new to horse racing, here are the basic steps to follow:

Understand the types of bets: There are many types of bets you can place in horse racing, including win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, and more. Each bet has different odds and payouts, so be sure to understand the rules and risks of each bet.

Do your research for each horse race: Before placing a bet, research the horses, jockeys, trainers, and other factors that can influence the outcome of the race. Look at past performance, track conditions, and other key factors. has a plethora of great articles to help you learn the game of handicapping.

How To Wager on Horse Racing

Find a reputable horse racing track or online betting site: You can either visit a local horse racing track or use an online betting site to place your bets. Be sure to do your research and choose a reputable and licensed provider. Do not use an off-shore bookie.

Place your bet: Once you have chosen the horse you want to bet on and the type of bet you want to place, place your bet with the bookmaker or online betting site. Start with win wagers, the simpliest bet at the track.

Watch the race: Sit back and watch the race to see if your horse wins or places. If you win, collect your payout from the track or online betting site.

Remember to only bet what you can afford to lose, and to always gamble responsibly. Good luck, take your time learning the game of horse racing and have fun!

Is There a Betting Edge with Female Jockeys? One Study Says Yes

jockey riding a horse raceWe analyzed British horse racing data from 664,536 runners (horses and riders) in National Hunt races across a 20-year period, from January 2001 to January 2021. National hunt races require horses to jump fences and ditches. The races were mixed—women didn’t compete in separate races.

Using starting prices, the odds at the start of a horse , we calculated each horse’s probability of winning. We also gauged the expected finish position of each horse by ranking the odds. Then we compared our predictions with the race results.

To our surprise, the results for horses with female jockeys were significantly better than their odds predicted. Indeed, our model estimates that across the study period in a 20-horse race, females would on average finish one place higher than their odds implied.

Starting prices are… continue reading about an edge with female jockeys

More from AGOS

What percentage of the time do favorites win?

Free Pace Chart for Thursday at Keeneland, October 28th

Here is your complimentary Pace Chart for today at Keeneland.  Best of luck today, handicappers!  Remember, oftentimes pace makes the race!

Keeneland – 10/28/2021
Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown
6.50 Furlongs / Dirt Slow/Modest 4 7-2 8-1-5 3-6
Race 2
9.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 7 5 4-6-2 3-8
Race 3
8.50 Furlongs / Turf Unknown 4-7-5 8-2 6-11-9 1-3-10-13
Race 4
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest/Fast 7 8 5-6-3 1
Race 5
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown 1-5 3-11-8 10 2-4-6-7-9
Race 6
5.50 Furlongs / Turf Fast 7 2-1 10-4-3 6-8
Race 7
7.00 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown *9 7-2 12-11 1-5-6-8-10
Race 8
8.50 Furlongs / Turf Modest/Honest 1-7 4-5-6 10-2-3 14-8-9-12-15-16-13
Race 9
6.50 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 6 10-3-9 4-12-5 2-11-8-1 13


Free Pace Chart for Saturday at Keeneland, October 16th

Races 3 and 6 are off the turf due to about an inch of rain since Friday in Lexington.  Here is your complimentary Pace Chart for Saturday at Keeneland.  Best of luck today

Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Slow/Modest 6 3-2 1-4 5-7
Race 2
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown ? 3 10-4-11 2-5-6-7-8-9-12
Race 3
8.50 Furlongs / OFF Unknown ? 7-1 10-4 15-12 3-6-8-11
Race 4
6.50 Furlongs / Dirt Fast 7-4 5 2-8-1 3
Race 5
8.50 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 2-4 8-1 6-3-7 5-9
Race 6
8.50 Furlongs / OFF Unknown ? 4 3-11-10 9-1-15 2-5-8-12
Race 7
8.50 Furlongs / Dirt Slow 2 1-3 5-7 4-6
Race 8
9.00 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 7-2-1 6-10-4 3-8 5-9
Race 9
8 Furlongs / Dirt Mod/Honest 5 6-1-2 4-10-9-3 8
Race 10
5.50 Furlongs / Turf Fast 4 2-8 10-5-6 1A-12-11-7-1-13-3

Keys to Being a Successful Sports Bettor Apply to Horseplayers As Well

Legendary sports bettor and handicapper Alan “Dink” Denkenson is interviewed here on what it takes to be a successful bettor.  Although the topic, in specific, is sports such as football and baseball, all these tenets apply well to horseplayers. Don’t chase, do the required research and much more from Dink.

It’s worth a listen for anyone and everyone who wants to improve their game.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #65 – Bad Beats or Something Else?

by Glen S.

Bad Beats, Bad Betting or Bad Selections.

All three may sound bad, but they are different and you should recognize the difference when watching and reviewing the races.

Let’s begin with the BAD BEATS:
-We all get them, e.g. noses on the wire, bad rides, and you lose
-Your horse has a tough trip and another horse gets through on the rail to beat you at the wire

Understand that we all get the bad beats, but it is what you do after a bad beat that is important. If you dwell on it, that will just affect you in your handicapping future races. “Good Wins” are just around the corner when your horse wins the photo next time out. Stick to your process, because success at the races is right around the corner.

Bad Betting:
-Making money doesn’t always go hand in hand by picking winners.
-Understanding value and how to get the most of your top selections. Play underlays and you’re guaranteed to lose.
-Should you be betting win, or exacta or sequence bets? Realizing a $12.00 horse is great value when you give it fair value of 3-1. Be sure to bet to win. If you are going after the exacta and miss it, without a win bet, that is bad betting. Take a look at your betting strategies.

It is tough enough to pick winners, you want to make them count when you do.

Bad Selections:
-We all make them, but you want to accept that and not make excuses like, “bad ride”, “didn’t want to win,” etc.
-Bad selections you need to learn from them, adjust your handicapping the next time a similar situation happens.
-What did I miss to have such a bad selection? Review your handicapping post-race.

The faster you learn from your mistakes, the less bad selections there will be and more chance to have a few “good wins” in the future.

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – the Fewer this the better…

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Red Flags on this Big Favorite

Complimentary Pace Report for Opening Day at Kentucky Downs

Predicting the pace of the race is a critical aspect of successful handicapping.  Today, I present a pace chart which breaks down where each runner is expected to be during the running of the race – on opening day at Kentucky Downs.

Obviously, starting breaks and jockey tendencies/decisions play a major role in how the race plays out.  But put the percentages in your favor BEFORE the race by anticipating how the race will be run.  From there, you can decide which runners may benefit and which may be compromised.  It can often be the deciding factor between choosing your preferred horse in the race.


Sunday, 9/5/2021
Kentucky Downs
Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown/FTS
12.0 Furlongs / Turf Slow 7 3-5-9 2-8-6-4 10-1
Race 2
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Unknown 2 12-14-16 11-4-13-8 1-3-5-6-7-9-10-15
Race 3
8 Furlongs / Turf Very Fast 3-6-5 8-14-7 12-1-2-10 4-11-9-15-16-13
Race 4
8 Furlongs / Turf Modest 6-7 4-9 5-1-10-8 3 2-1A
Race 5
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest 3 9-4-11 13-14-1-10 8-7-6-2-12-5
Race 6
8 Furlongs / Turf Slow 4 6-10-2 7-3-9-8 1-5
Race 7
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest *14 5-12-13 7-11-15-10 8-2-3-9-16-1-6 4
Race 8
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Unknown 6 13-3-7 14-12-8-1 2-4-5-9-10-11-15
Race 9
10.50 Furlongs / Turf Slow 6-7-5 1-4 8-3-2 9
Race 10
10.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 8 4-1-9 12-7-11-3 6-2-5-10
Race 11
6.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 10 14-15-13 3-11-5-9 12-1-2-6-8-16-4 7

Handicappers, It’s Mid-Year Review Time

Handicapping past performances PPs1st Half of the Year is Over

How is the year going?  At the beginning of the year we typically remind readers to take the necessary steps to improve their handicapping and money management.  With over six months in the books, how would you rate your handicapping thus far?  Are you committing some of the same mistakes you’ve made in the past?  What have you improved upon?

Let’s look back on the New Year resolutions because it’s never too late to right the ship.

“Every horse player needs to know their strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t, you will not know when to take that big shot on a horse or wager.

I find the biggest mistake by horseplayers is playing the same way year after year and not trying to improve their handicapping.  It’s a ‘plan’ doomed to fail.

What have you done lately to improve? Handicappers review your year thus far.

Here are a few things to do more of…” read on