Handicapping Tip of the Day #51 – Find One Percent More

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By ART PARKER

If you play this game long enough and if you love it then you will try to figure things a million different ways attempting win. I’ve been playing the horses virtually my entire adult life. I just got my Medicare card in the mail so that will let you know about how long it has been.

Like many of you I have done one study after another, researched no telling how many angles and I have one of the very finest sets of trainer pattern files you have ever seen. Once a month my wife gives me an authoritative lecture on all the stuff in my office in the house. Of course what she really wants to know is when I will dispose of more of the horse racing stuff. I simply say I can‘t get rid of any more right now. When she asks why, I always responded with, “Because there may be another winner somewhere in that stuff.”

I was like everyone else in my early years in racing in that I thought about how to get rich every time I went to the track. I would see a huge Pick Six payout and think I just had to start playing for all of those big jackpots, and I have hit a few in my time. I’m just scared to tally up the losses incurred trying to hit a boxcar payout.

After many years I finally realized that those who hit the big ones and make money in the long run are few and far between. I realized one is better off taking a profit, ever how small, and then achieving the same result the next day.

The difficulty in the “grind it out” approach is that us humans can‘t equate making a weekly profit at the track to getting a weekly paycheck. When we go to work we don’t expect to get rich on Thursday, but we expect that in one afternoon at the track.

I majored in corporate finance in college. I learned all about stocks, bonds, warrants, options, mutual funds, balance sheets, P&L, and all that boring stuff. In that field there is one thing you never forget – the importance of a percentage point; if I had just one percent more return, if cash flow was just one percent better, etc.

Just recently I conducted another study using a few variables regarding speed and class with results below.

 

Win bets only.

Number of races = 526.

Number of winners with method tested = 176.

Winning rate = 33.46 %

Total payoffs = $ 1,080.5

Average payoff = $ 6.14

Total invested at $2 per win ticket = $1,052

Net profit = $ 28.50

Return on investment (ROI) = 2.71 %

 

Many would look at this and see very little money. Well, if you wagered $20.00 per race then your profit would be $ 285.00. Of course, it would still be the same ROI.

Now if the efficiency with this method were increased by only 1% then another five (5) races would be cashed. That would increase the total winnings by $30.70. Again, not much money. But what about ROI? The winnings increase to $59.20 and the ROI increases to 5.62%.

Just think. If you can increase your winning efficiency by just 1%, you would more than double your return on investment.

Does that sound like a good deal?

I believe it would sound good at any business school.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #50 – Just Say No

Eliminate these types of races from your playbook

These races are written for losers and they make for easy losing at the windows.

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By ART PARKER

Like everyone else it took me a while to understand that playing every race is not a good idea. You have to pick your battles. You need to develop expertise and stick to what works best for you.

For me, I strongly prefer dirt sprints. Those at least three years old. On the main track. No maidens. No stakes. That’s my preference.

But there is one of those races I immediately toss out even if it meets the initial qualifications. It is the race you are more likely to see at the cheaper tracks and at the lower claiming levels.

It is the non-winners of two lifetime. I would almost play two-year-olds in April instead of the NW2L. It’s not all races in that class, just those where the field is packed with losers.

I was taking a look at a card recently of one of the cheaper tracks. Eight races were carded that day, three were sprints as I described earlier. The first race I examined looked to be worth closer study. The next one was marginal. The last one was quickly one of those, “Don’t even think about it” races.

This particular NW2L met the perfect description of a race to avoid. There were nine entrants. Three had over 30 lifetime starts. All but one of the others had more than 20 lifetime starts. The horse with the best winning percentage was one for 19. I think the collective field was nine for 193.

These horses haven’t figured it out, or they are in horrible physical condition or have no desire to compete. It could be anything – they just will not run. Yes, one of them will win not because of a solid performance but because the performance of the winner is just not as sorry as the others.

These races are written for losers and they make for easy losing at the windows. When you see these races, just say “No.”

Did the Tampa Bay Derby make sense?

Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER

The Tampa Bay Derby was not on my docket of possible races to play so I didn’t examine the race at all the day of the event. I caught the replay that night just trying to keep in touch with the Kentucky Derby trail. Upon watching the replay of the Tampa Bay Derby I was motivated to find out why the public let the winner, King Guillermo, go off at odds of 49-1.

We all know that hindsight is 20/20 but some things must not be overlooked when examining a race, such as the company line of previous races. The 2020 Tampa Bay Derby is a prime example.

First take a look at the clear favorite, Sole Volante, who went off at 3/2 in the 12 horse field. Any horse that goes off at odds that heavy, especially in a full field, must look almost invincible to the bettors. Sole Volante was three of four and his trio of wins came from noticeably off the pace.

There were only two horses in the race not nominated to the Triple Crown, the winner King Guillermo and Texas Swing (almost 20-1), the latter finished third behind Sole Volante. Maybe the two runners not nominated lost some pari-mutuel appeal when the players failed to see the TC nomination next to their name.

It is true that the last two races by King Guillermo were on the turf, including his maiden victory and the Tampa Bay Derby is run on the main dirt track. King Guillermo’s second turf race saw him close up and in possession of the lead from the half mile call until the final furlong. He finished third that day in another big field and was the beaten favorite. In fact he finished third, just 3 ½ lengths behind the winner, Sole Volante, who went off the board at more than 13-1.

How can a horse in his last start be bet so heavily and lose to a 13-1 by just 3 ½ lengths, and now be at 49-1, while the other horse is 3/2?

The public gave a 40% probability of winning the Tampa Bay Derby to Sole Volante. The public gave a meager 2% probability of victory to King Guillermo.

It’s easy to miss longshots, but it is easier to hit just a few more by asking the question, “Does that make sense?”

Do This Now for This Year’s Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders' Cup horse racingby Glen S.

The Breeders Cup is the best event in horse racing for the year round handicapper to hit the big one. The two days are in the advantage of the horse players that knows the game. However, if you are like all the other handicappers and do not prepare in advance, then there is simply no advantage for you come next weekend. So if you do not want to be like the others or the ones that just play the races a few times a year, keep reading.

How can I start to prepare so early, you ask? There are list of the main contenders throughout the various websites and many sites, including the Daily Racing Form (DRF) that have the expected entries. Print them off and start watching REPLAYS and more replays. The more you watch now, the less time you need later. Betptc.com has one of the best replay functions on the website, so why not take full advantage of it.

What to look for in a replay and what to take notes on:
-Was the horse compromised in the race, troubled trip, wide, no pace to run at, caught in a duel?

-Do not forget to make notes that might make the horse look better, lone speed, big pace to run at, perfect trip, etc.

When watching the horse racing replays, you do not need to know who the horse will be running against in the future.  It just gives you more information on the horse that many won’t take the time to see. Also if the horse is running against other horses in the upcoming race you will oftentimes see who is better based on the replay. Sometimes who beats who doesn’t tell the whole story, this is when you can hit that home run.

Monday Oct 21st is when the Breeders’ Cup pre-entries close and I would expect by Wednesday Oct 23rd you will be able to get a good idea of who is in. Now you can start figuring out the potential of each horse. I would avoid figuring out race shape but decide if the horse is a need-the-lead horse or a closer that needs pace to run at.

Monday Oct. 28th is when the post position draw is; I would expect by that evening you will be able to find what each race would look at. NOW start to figure out race shape.

Why prep now? The obvious reason, as mentioned, is get ahead of the competition and avoid so much work later. But even more importantly, avoid getting swayed but the media and all the hype. Let you be the judge first as to how talented you think the horse is and then listen to the others.

Part II preparing for the Breeders: Good info, bad info and how to use that to your advantage

Next post after the pre entries are up.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #49 – Why I Passed on $326,599 in Free Money

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

Tuesday night, September 10, 2019, featured a mandatory payout of the Jackpot Pick-5 wager at Prairie Meadows.  This jackpot wager had been building for months and, with closing day on tap, it was time to pay it all out.  This equated to $326,599 in free money in the pool.  Those funds, plus whatever was wagered (minus the 15% takeout), would be distributed to all the winners.

Despite the slow Tuesday of racing, and the fact that Prairie Meadows had recently been hosting quarter horse racing instead of Thoroughbreds, it seemed like everyone knew about it.  Major ADWs were sending out emails.  People were posting all over social media.  It seemed like if you were a horseplayer, especially one who liked horizontal wagers, you were playing it.

I was among them and was planning to participate.  My first concern was the notice that Des Moines, Iowa and the racetrack had been pounded with rain overnight.  How that might affect the track, even though it figured to be dry by post time, was anyone’s guess.

The second and more important issue was the entries.  The fields were large and with not knowing the track very well, that gave me pause.  If I could find one or two standouts, or a couple of races where I could easily narrow the field down to, let’s say, two major players, then this could be an affordable ticket.

However, that was not the case.  I was having trouble narrowing down the contenders in all five races.  Consequently, this sequence looked like it could pay gangbusters.  Of course, that’s the type of Pick-5 I want to be a part of.  I went back through it again, looking to narrow the races down to even 4-5 plays in most races.  I found it very difficult, regardless of the 2.57% edge as indicated by expert Marshall Gramm.*

Pick-5 Cost

A 4 x 4 x 4 x 5  x 5 partwheel is 1,600 combinations.  With the large fields there were 62,370 possible combinations.   At the $.50 base wager, this type of ticket would cost $800.  This was more than I wanted to spend when I wasn’t confident I would hit.  If I was wrong in just one race, I was toast.

The wise decision was to pass despite the six figures of “free” money.   The winning combination ended up returning $1,737.05.  This was a generous payoff considering the results, but it was hardly a life-changing score.

Recognizing when the situation isn’t right for you and passing on the so-called opportunity is very important.  Another big carryover is right around the corner.

Best of luck!

 

*If you want to learn more about the game, follow Marshall’s tweets.

You Can Beat Saratoga

by Rich Nilsen

There are several facets of Saratoga that every handicapper should know, and there are some solid strategies that I recommend for beating the upcoming 2019 meet which begins earlier than ever this year, July 11, and runs through September 3.  If you apply these nine steps, you’ll be putting the percentages in your favor over 95 percent of the wagering public who have no game plan and approach each day at the Spa haphazardly.

 

Key # 1 – Understand How the Tracks Play

On most days the Saratoga main track plays very kindly to speed horses. It can be very difficult to make a wide move on the turn for home, sustain that run and get up for the win. The predominant speed bias, of course, is more prevalent the shorter the distance, but on many days, the tracks favors early speed or tactical speed in all of the dirt races.  For example, in 6 furlong races last year, 38% of the winners won gate-to-wire.  That’s a typical Saratoga meet where nearly 4 out of every 10 six furlong races are won on the front end.

On the Saratoga main track, making a three to four wide move around the far turn is very difficult for most runners to sustain.  Always be on the lookout for horses that suffer from that type of trip with the hopes of scoring with them at a price next time out. See Key #7 below.

In my opinion the two turf courses can be very inconsistent, especially from one year to the next. Just because the inner turf course favored speed and tactical speed in one mile races last year doesn’t mean that is going to happen this summer. In general, both turf courses give the edge to closers, but there are plenty of races and plenty of days when that is not the case.

ProfitWhether it is the weather or some other factor, the turf courses can suddenly begin to favor early speed and it is vital that the handicapper keeps their eyes open to this short-term bias that can last one week or more.  You can “make” your meet if you spot the turf bias early enough and capitalize.

Do beware of the inside posts in the 5 ½-furlong turf sprints. It is well known that the rail (one post) can perform very poorly in turf sprints. If the inside horses don’t break sharply and demonstrate good early speed, they can get shuffled back and subsequently boxed in during the cavalry charge to the turn.  As a result, middle posts are often the best draws in these swiftly-run, short races.

Tactical speed is also very important. One surprising trend three years ago was that closers fared remarkably well in these short turf sprints.  In fact, over half of the winners in 2016 were Pressers (mid-pack runners) or Sustained types (closers from the back.)  Watch closely in the first week or so to see how the turf sprints play.  It may not be what you expect.

Be alert because there is always a range of days at Saratoga when the speed bias not only disappears, but the track begins to strongly favor closers. This is one of the most important times of the meet for the serious player. Just like with the turf bias mentioned previously, if you catch on to this reverse bias early enough you could make your entire meet in a matter of a few days.  It will happen, because it seems to every year, so keep an eye out for it.

Understanding how these tracks play and staying alert for short-term changes to the predominant biases is critical for the Saratoga horseplayer.

The 9 Tips to Beating Saratoga by Rich Nilsen – click here to download

Other Handicapping Articles:

Horse for the Course

Eng: Show Betting is the Ideal Horse Racing Bet for New Fans

… I wrote in my newcomer’s book “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies” that racing has a bet tailored for novices. It’s the simple show wager. And years later I still feel that way.

I do think a few things should be done to show betting to make it more attractive.

First is lower the takeout (amount a track takes from a betting pool) to 10% from the 16-18% it is in most states. Even if that makes the show pool break even or a small minus it can be considered a loss leader like companies do with certain items in the retail business.

Now, tracks can lose money in huge minus show pools. My advice there is to eliminate show betting in that handful of races. Those races are fairly easy to predict. When a favorite looks like it’s going to be 2-5 or 1-5 odds, why bother.

I would then like to see nickel breakage in the show pool. I know this can be done because places like NYRA and Woodbine already offer it.

What makes show betting so easy for newcomers to learn and win is their horse can run first, second, or third to cash.

Now to generate potential larger payouts from show bets I suggest reintroducing show parlay cards. I guarantee most of you have been at the races with friends and partnered in a show parlay …

 

9 Keys to Beating Saratoga

Updated & Expanded for 2019

Download this free guide "Beat Saratoga: 9 Tips for Turning a Profit" by AGameofSkill.com founder Rich Nilsen and play the 2019 Saratoga meet successfully.

Beating this 40-day meet with so many contentious races is no easy task, even for experienced horseplayers, but the tips in this guide will get you on track to do just that.

16-time NHC Qualifier and 8-time major contest winner Rich Nilsen walks you through the steps required to beat this prestigious race meet. In "Beat Saratoga: 9 Tips for Turning a Profit" you'll learn:

* What steps it takes to beat this meet successfully.
* Which jockeys and trainers dominate the Saratoga meet.
* Which 'dark horse' jockeys and trainers you need to know about. These guys bring home the prices, and one trainer in particular has been the King of Saratoga Longshots!
* How each of the three tracks (dirt and turf) play and how this affects you as a handicapper.
* New! A new tip in 2019 to help eliminate runners with big figs.
* Plus .... be on the lookout for this one important trend - it occurs every year!

Fill out the short form below to claim your free report "Beat Saratoga!" You will automatically receive an email with a link to the PDF document that you can download to any device.  NOTE: The form does not work in Firefox.

9 Tips for Turning a Profit at Saratoga

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Man Won Over $600,000 on KY Derby But is Offered $35K Due to Sportsbook’s Cap

This is Why You Play with a Real ADW or Track

Dr. Steve Friedlander walked into the Tamarack Junction sportsbook in Reno, Nev., and spent $2,760 on bets for the Kentucky Derby.

He put $600 on the No. 8 horse Tacitus to either win, place or show and he did a $100 exacta box and a $40 trifecta box using the 8, 13, 16 and 20 horses. If any of those four finished first and second, he would win the exacta. If any of those four finished first second and third, he would cash in the trifecta.

When Maximum Security, the No. 7, crossed the finish line first, it appeared as though Friedlander had lost all his bets. But then Maximum Security was soon turned into a loser when the horse was disqualified and taken down.

“I actually didn’t know that’s what happened,” Friedlander told The Action Network. “I bet on horses a couple times a year, so I thought maybe he fell to second place.”

In reality, every horse was moved up one slot.

The new order was: Country House (20), Code of Honor (13) and Tacitus (8).

Friedlander couldn’t believe it. He hit every bet.

Country House went off at 65-1, the biggest longshot to win the Derby since Donerail in 1913.

The board flashed.

He started to do the math…

Click here to learn about earning real cash back with every wager. Enter promo code AGOS for added rebates and signup bonus

R.I.P. Tim Conway, aka Jockey Lyle Dorf

The one-and-only Tim Conway passed away today at the age of 85.  He was best known for his role in the Carol Burnett television show, but for those of us in the horse racing industry, he was also jockey Lyle Dorf.  Here is his skit with Johnny Carson.

Here is a 1988 interview with track announcer Trevor Denman of Santa Anita.  Denman sits down for a conversation with comedian Tim Conway, a big fan of horse racing.  Conway gives a great tip for new fans at the 1:40 mark of the video.   Denman also provides some great insight that is the worth the listen for every horseplayer.