Overcoming Yourself

A Plan for a Day at the Horse Races

by Rich Nilsen

You’ve arrived at the feature race, and you’re down $180 for the day. Mentally, you are frustrated from having played every race on the card, losing two costly photo finishes, and having wagered on a “too good to be true” favorite who still hasn’t finished. You’ve narrowed the feature race down to two solid horses, but lack of conviction and failure to have a positive mindset is playing havoc on your decision making.

Lookin’ Good is the favorite at 2-to-1, and Darkened Form is an enticing wager at 6-to-1. In a moment of indecision, you glance at the past performances again in hopes of finally separating the two selections. Noticing the company line from three races back, you see that Lookin’ Good defeated Darkened Form by five widening lengths. You quickly scan your eyes to the closest monitor to see that there’s only two minutes to post, meanwhile, failing to notice that Darkened Form fell on his face at the start of that particular race. The rushed decision is finalized. Your remaining $20 is played as $10 to win on Lookin’ Good and a $10 straight exacta Lookin’ Good over Darkened Form.

horses racingYou return to your seat with zero minutes to post, grasping the tickets in your hands and praying for your luck to turn around. Darkened Form breaks to a clean lead as Lookin’ Good gets shuffled back into fifth. Your second selection continues on an uncontested lead while Lookin’ Good begins to weave his way through traffic. The favorite gets stopped behind a wall of horses as Darkened Form leads the field to the top of the stretch. You realized that your worst nightmare is coming true, as the 6-1 shot opens an insurmountable lead past the eighth pole. The favorite finally gets clear and closes with a tremendous rush. The rally falls a length short of Darkened Form, who scores at juicy dds.

You wanted to stay for the last race on the card, but you’re tapped out. On your way out, you see from the monitors that Darkened Form returned $15.40 to win and the “reverse” exacta returned $42.20. Then you recall what your good friend, a disciple of proper money management, would have done in this scenario. He would have used the $20 as follows: wager $10 to win on the longer priced horse, and box a $5 exacta with the two runners. Such a bet would have returned $182.50, covering your losses for the day.

This scenario is repeated numerous times a day at every betting facility in the country and every online wagering platform. The bettor encounters a race in which he or she does not know what they will do. This is the root of many handicappers’ problems. When a betting situation occurs, they either do not know what to do, or they let recent failures dictate their wager. The result is usually devastating to the struggling horseplayer.

Do you know what you would do in a particular situation? Having a betting plan puts you far ahead of the general public. Many handicappers do not think that they have a problem with betting scenarios, but they will end up wagering on similar situations completely different.

The wagering menu available may also dictate their bets. What normally would be a win and exacta box bet becomes a trifecta bet with the “chance” at a bigger payoff. The win and exacta are forgotten. The top selection wins but the other plays fail to complete the trifecta.

Does any of this sound familiar? How often has it occurred to you that the way you bet caused you to lose the race? Every handicapper has made this mistake. Some just continue to make it everyday.

For players who feel a change is required, let’s go through the steps required to become a better bettor.

 

STEP ONE: Determine Your Level of Risk – Exactly what kind of bettor are you? Are you a $2 win bettor, a $50 win bettor, a $100 multi-race exotics player, or a combination? Know what you are and stick to it.

STEP TWO: Build a Bankroll – The answer to the first step determines the size of your bankroll. The amount you wager on a daily basis, e.g. $200, should be about 5% of your bankroll, which, in this example, would be $4,000.

STEP THREE: Discipline – Avoid spreading your daily bankroll across 10 races. Spot playing does not have to mean one bet per week. Spot playing can be $200 wagered, in aggregate, on your two or three best races of the day.

STEP FOUR: Conviction – If you have to spread your bets too thin, a common occurrence for many at the track, then the wager is not worth making. Conviction results in smart bets with the prospect of a profitable return.

STEP FIVE: Strategy – The theme of this article. You need to predetermine the type of bets you will make depending on the scenario. Nothing needs to be written in stone, but guidelines do need to be decided upon beforehand.

If you have a solid selection in the second race, are you going to play the daily double and for how much? How much will you wager on your second race selection? If there are two horses you figure can run second to your top selection, how will you play the exacta? Of course, there are hundreds of scenarios, depending on your selections and the types of wagers offered. Make a conscious decision to predetermine the type of bets you will make. Be consistent and good luck!

 

  • Rich Nilsen is the founder of AGameofSkill.com. He will be making his 14th trip to the NHC next month.

Start Making Better Bets on Horse Racing Handicaps

Guest Post: International Correspondent

There are a number of factors that go into horse racing handicap betting. Investigating these will ensure that your wagers start making better returns. 

How to Bet Horse Racing Handicaps And Win 

Handicap betting can be difficult for punters who enjoy horse racing, since the percentage of winning favourites is far lower in handicaps that it on other grade races. The reason for this is quite simple: it is harder to find the winner of a handicap.

The head of the British Horseracing Authority handicapping service once stated that it could take him around 45 minutes to solve a single handicap – punters looking for a good tip should be spending at least as long doing the same! However, with time being as precious a resource as it is, we have collected together some handy tips to make it easier to choose your runner more quickly.

Keep an Eye Out for Alternatives to the Favourites 

As those who enjoy the services of online gambling casino sites will quickly tell you, blindly backing any outcome is not going to serve you, and this is particularly true when it comes to betting on horse racing handicaps.

Favourites do not perform that well in the company of handicaps, and you need to take that it into account. Look elsewhere in handicaps in order to ensure you get the value you require, with value being a key word when it comes to this kind of racing. Punters frequently overlook penalties in favour of a win next to an animal’s name, and this can be very misleading. If a horse has not managed to win for a while, it could be because it is starting to be well-handicapped.

Start at the Last Winning Mark 

A good place to begin when reviewing a handicap is discovering which mark each of the horses last won off of. If there is an exposed horse who has never won above 70, but stands at 73 for its current rating, that is a negative, and probably one that should be set aside. If a horse has a rating of 67 but its last winning mark was 76, this could be one to warrant your interest. Of course, it is vital that you do not assume that every one of the horses below its winning mark will automatically win, and that every horse above it cannot, since there will always be exceptions. But, as a general rule, it will pay off better if you take these factors into account.

How Has the Horse Been Running?

 Taking into account a horse’s running style in the races it has taken part in previously is very important. If the animal has been held up on the last few starts it has made but normally manages to win when prominent, this is something you will need to consider. Horses that make use of different tactics to those usually in place are interesting too. Are connections putting something else into place? Is the horse being weighted in order to help it win? Similarly, if a horse enjoys being buried in mid-diversion and delivered late, but it has lately been front-running, this is something that you may want to investigate more deeply.

Horse Handicappers Keep the Races Enjoyable to Watch!

Guest Post: International Correspondent

The handicapping for horses takes into account the ability of each animal, and places it into a Class. This ensures that the horses are evenly matched.

How Horse Handicaps are Structured

There is an extremely well established programme in place for handicap horses, both over jumps and on flats. Handicaps are contested by both the best and worst horses in the country, and, as a result, are split into a range of classes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, with Class 1 being the best and Class 7 being the worst. This makes working out odds easier, and benefits everyone on the track and off.

The Reason Handicaps are Split Into Classes

Handicaps are split in this way so that horses of similar ability levels contest one another in the races. For example, a Class 7 handicap will only be open to horses that have been rated 0 – 50, which will exclude those rated 51 and higher. This ensures that the handicap is competitive, and sees horses of similar ability competing against one another. There are variations in the Class system as to the grade of horse that can compete, too. For example, in Class 5 company, some handicaps may be set at 0 – 65, others at 0 – 70.

 What Happens When Horses Improve

 If you enjoy playing the online pokies NZ has to offer, you will often find that, as you get better at playing one type of game, you will broaden your horizons and investigate other types in order to find those that remain challenging as well as fun. Similarly, if a horse improves hugely and starts winning a number of races, the handicapper will raise that horse’s rating in order to see it facing tougher opposition. If a horse wins twice in the company of Class 6 animals, the handicapper will want to make sure that it faces Class 5 company or better on its next start.

Winning Penalties in Place to Factor in Reassessment

Handicappers at the British Horseracing Authority, for example, re-evaluate horse handicap marks each Tuesday, which creates the need for a winning penalty to be in place. If a horse wins a race on a Wednesday, it will not be due to for reassessment for another six days, which could allow it to continue racing and winning off of the same mark in the meantime.

It is for this reason that standardised penalties are in place for winning races: 6lbs on the flat, and 7lbs over the jump.

This rule applies to nearly all races, and makes sure that horses are not able to abuse the handicap system. A horse may well see so much improvement that it can win twice in the same week, with penalties totalling 12 lbs, before a handicapper has the chance to reassess it.

Handicapping Ensures Horses are Evenly Matched

This handicapping is what ensures that horses are equally matched when it comes to racing, and that the outcomes that punters, owners, trainers, jockeys, and spectators see are those that are reflective of its ability to run against animals of a similar overall capacity. Seeing a horse of astounding ability compete against one without any would not be very enjoyable, and handicapping in this method sees the sport remain an exciting one to watch.

Become One of the 5% of Punters Who Win with Horse Racing! 

Guest Post: International Correspondent

When you start implementing Optimal Betting strategy you will quickly see improvements in your returns. This theory is relatively easy to learn, too. 

Start Winning More When You Bet on Horse Races

If you are reading this article, it is safe to assume that you are interested in finding ways to win more when you bet on horse races. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most people are not able to pick a winner when it comes to horse racing. In fact, estimates say that as many as 95% of all horse racing punters lose money at this game.

Fear not, however, as the reason that most punters are not successful when it comes to the betting NZ and the rest of the world provides is because they are not like us. This means they do not study form and horse racing, and they do not have a game plan for studying form and betting on horse racing events. In short, they are quite happy to throw their money into the pools impulsively, and simply hope they get lucky. We, on behalf of the 5% that do make money on betting in this fashion, should be grateful!

 

You Need a Sound Strategy to Manage Your Money 

It is not possible to win at horse racing betting, or in any other type of gambling, in fact, without a healthy money management plan in place. What, you may ask, constitutes a valid money management plan? In two words, Optimal Betting.

 

Optimal Betting and the Kelly Criterion 

Optimal betting takes for its base the mathematical principle called the Kelly Criterion. This recommends that you determine what percentage of your bankroll to bet based on your edge over the game.

How to Work Out Your Edge 

Your edge can be expressed as follows:

Edge = W – L/R odds

W:          the percentage of horses that win the race (your win percentage)

L:            the percentage of horses that fail to win the race

 

R odds:  the average win payout, which will be based on R1. in order to determine this, take your

average totaliser win, subtract R2, then divide by 2 once more. Bear in mind that, if you do

not know both your win percentage and your average tote win, you need to start keeping

track of these immediately.

An example of your edge can be calculated using a win percentage of 25% and an average tote of $9, i.e. $9 – $2 = $7, divided by 2 = $3.5.

Edge = 25 -75/3.5 = 3.6

In this instance, Optimal Betting theory holds that you should bet between 3% and 4% of your bankroll on each of the wagers you place.

young attractive British racegoerYou Need to Know Your Edge 

As far as Optimal Betting is concerned, it is very important that you always know your edge. This means that you have to start keeping betting records, as this will allow you to discover what your win percentage and average tote win is. Betting records will additionally help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a form student.

A more conservative approach to managing your money would be to bet a flat percentage of your total bankroll on each of the horse races you wish to wager on, for example 2%, or as low as 1%.

Implementing this single strategy will quickly see you starting to see more returns!

 

Handicapping Tip of the Day #43 – Hard Races

by Rich Nilsen

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

On just a few select days of the year I put out a selection sheet.  It’s a way of producing some revenue for AGOS, helping many of the visitors of this site and doing so in a very affordable fashion.   This past Travers Day (2017) I did an analysis for the full card, all 13 races.  Along with pace scenarios for each race, I provide top selections and a few spot plays, which are my best bets with wagers.  Even though I missed the featured Travers, it was the type of day I would take anytime.  With 6 winners on top from 13 races, along with two out of three Spot Plays (Best Bets) scoring, I was very pleased with the results.

Unfortunately, there was one race in particular, the G1 Ballerina S. that I really messed up on and I was very disappointed in myself.  I always analyze the pace when dissecting a race, and there was clearly a lack of early speed types in this 7 furlong affair.  Given that this was a Grade 1 race for sprinters, the lack of early pace was unusual to say the least.  Races where you can’t really figure out who is going to get the lead are some of the toughest to handicap and find the winner.

I finally came to the conclusion that top gate rider and leading Saratoga jockey Jose Ortiz would put Paulassilverling on the front end, giving her an excellent chance of extending her graded stakes win streak to four races.  But therein lied the rub.  The 5yo mare had run three times this year, since April, and each and every race resulted in a gritty, close win.  She won the G1 Madison by a neck, then followed that up with another neck victory in the G1 Humana Distaff over a sloppy going.  She returned at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown and gutted out another neck victory in the G2 Honorable Miss.

Brown didn’t work the Ghostzapper mare for 17 days after that win, but gave her two modest half-mile drills in preparation for this race.  Horses are not machines, and Paulassilverling was a prime candidate to regress off three hard races since returning as an older mare. That’s exactly what happened.  Despite a favorable pace scenario, Paulassilverling failed to get the early lead and “came up empty.”  She beat only two horses in the field of seven as the lukewarm favorite of 5/2.  Hard races, especially in succession, take its toll.

After owning horses for 10 years, one of the major things I learned is that horses are way more than the speed ratings, figs and past performances that you see in the ‘Form.’  It helps to look at them as what they are: living, breathing athletes who are affected the same way from competing that other athletes are affected.  When you add that into your handicapping, you improve your game.

Chart 2017 Ballerina Stakes

copyright 2017 Equibase Brisnet.com

Handicapping Tip of the Day #42 – Beware the Triple Drop

by Rich Nilsen

On opening day at Del Mar racetrack (July 19, 2017) top local trainer and crafty claiming horseman Peter Miller entered the 6yo gelding, Belisarius (Ire), in a $16,000 claiming race going one mile on the dirt.  On the ‘surface’ the winner of $174,659 lifetime looked like a major player. Although all his wins were on the grass (and this was on the dirt), Belisarius was making his third start off the layoff, getting a switch to a high percentage jockey, and was getting a sharp drop in class. At morning line odds of 8-1, he looked juicy … at first glance.

However, handicappers are always warned to look beyond the first glance.  With a closer look, one could see that Miller had dropped this runner in class three consecutive times since he had been moved into his barn from that of Hall of Famer Bill Mott.  His first start for Miller was an also-ran effort in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. He then returned off a layoff, dropping sharply in class to an optional claimer, two other than.  He ran dead last in the field of six, beaten nearly 16 lengths.

He then received an sharp drop in class to a $35,000 claimer for non-winners of three races lifetime.  Off at 6-1, he defeated two horses.  So, let’s try another drop in class and a surface switch. Red flags don’t come any bigger.  Miller was desperately trying to find a spot where the once-sound horse could be competitive.  We don’t know why, but some reason this horse had soured on racing.

race horse from Peter Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bet down to odds of 6.10 to 1, Belisarius was never competitive en route to a fifth place finish.   Miller wasn’t done yet with the class drops.  On August 5, he ran for $8,000 at Del Mar and finished a non-competitive sixth.

Class drops are not always positive, especially when it is a series of consecutive class drops that do not result in improved performances.

Educational Handicapping Seminars at Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs

Racing analyst Tom Amello, author of “Playing the Odds – Gateway to the Game,” will present the first of two educational seminars dedicated to Thoroughbred handicapping at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame …

Source: Educational Handicapping Seminars at Museum of Racing

Handicapping Tip of the Day #40 – Thoroughbred Race Horses are Not Machines

See Arrogate July 22, 2017 at Del Mar.

 

Handicapping Tip #39 – Pace Makes the Race

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

On select major days throughout the year, I offer my professional analysis of the big race, e.g. Preakness, and the undercard races at that track.   This past Saturday I did the 14 races on the Pimlico Preakness card, which is always a great day of wagering.  One of the key aspects of my report is the pace scenario analysis for each race.  If you don’t understand the expected pace of the race, it can be very difficult to select the winner or the top finishers.  How the race sets up is critical to predicting the outcome.

In turf sprints I almost always emphasize early speed, especially if it is a 5 furlong grass race.  In analyzing the pace of race #2 on Saturday (May 20, 2017) one horse jumped out to be as the lone speed.  #1A FLIGHT CREW was 20/1 on the morning line, enough to scare off many horseplayers.  After determining that he was probably the early pace setter, I needed to look at the overall early pace to determine if he could “hold on.”  Was there enough other early speed to put pressure on him at some critical early juncture of the race?  I came to the conclusion that the answer was “no.”  It looked like a moderate pace, so now I was very intrigued with this longshot and dug deeper.

Pace makes the race

He was the son of Elusive Quality, who has sired many good horses sprinting on the law, and out of a mare by Danzig (enough said).  The pedigree was certainly there.  This was only the 2nd career grass start for Flight Crew.  In his only other attempt, he pressed a fast pace (+17 +19 on the BRIS Race Shape figures) while going 1 1/16 miles on a good turf course.  Despite that, and breaking from a poor outside post, he still ended up defeating half the field, finishing 5th.   He was trained by 15% local horseman Hugh McMahon.  What else did one need to pull the trigger on a big longshot?

Pace makes the race.  Flight Crew did not get the initial lead but by the time the field hit the far turn of this turf dash, he was in complete control.  At odds of 9-1, he opened up under Katie Davis and kept the field at bay down the lane. Scores like this are very sweet indeed.

Make sure you analyze the pace of every race you wager.  It’s the first step to selecting many winners.

GOT REBATES?  Learn more here

Handicapping Tip of the Day #38 – Does the Favorite Make Sense?

by Rich Nilsen

Claiming races have often been compared to poker games.  The crafty trainers are making moves and hoping that their competition guesses wrong.  Recently at Laurel Park, red hot trainer Linda Rice (43% winner on the meet) had the overwhelming favorite Cheering On Al.  On the surface and with a cursory glance, the four-year-old filly look near unbeatable.  She had been very competitive at claiming levels more than three times the price of today’s race.  But therein lied the rub.  Why in the world was she in for only a nickel ($5,000) given her recent form?  Also, why had she not run back within two or three weeks off the claim?

Laurel past performances PPs

copyright 2017 Equibase and Brisnet.com

Her last race gave a clue as to why.  Bet down to odds of 7/5 she failed to hit the board, fading quickly in the final 1/16th of a mile.  Still, the fourth place finish beaten just over four lengths was a performance that should crush today’s competition.  Right? That disappointing race, however, came for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who is difficult to claim off of, and she had been shelved since the race in late December.  Red flags were popping up.

Does the betting favorite make sense?  If you had just claimed this filly, would run her in this spot?  You would only do so if her soundness was less than 100 percentage, and you were not happy with your $16,000 purchase.  That apparently was the case in this spot, as the connections were willing to unload her for $5,000.  She was a sucker bet at odds of 0.60 to 1, and she ran accordingly.

These opportunities don’t come along every day but they do appear frequently enough.  I just happened to be on 5-1 shot Weatherurnot, who looked like a winner in deep stretch, only to be nailed by a big longshot with improving form.

Laurel race chart