Exacta Strategies – Thinking Outside the Box

by Lenny Moon

Reprinted with permission

The Exacta is many horseplayers first taste of exotic wagering.

In horse racing the Exacta requires the bettor to correctly select the first two finishers in a race.

There are many ways to play the Exacta but most horseplayers are taught to play the Exacta in the most inefficient way, thus foregoing the opportunity to maximize their returns.

I was guilty of falling into the trap because it was the way everyone played the Exacta, in fact it was the way the racing program suggested to play.

Lucky for you I am here to teach you how to maximize your returns when betting the Exacta but before we get to that let’s take a few minutes to discuss the wrong ways and why they should be avoided.

Exacta Box

The most common way to bet the Exacta is by boxing two or more horses.  This is the strategy referred to earlier.

Boxing your horses means they can come in any order so long as they finish first and second.

At first glance, and to a novice, this might look like a great strategy because it provides a little cushion in case you are not perfect in your handicapping.

exacta horse racing basicsWhat it also does is minimize returns because you are giving each combination an equal chance of winning.

While there may be a rare occasion when you think two horses have an equal chance of winning or running second that should be the exception not the rule.

Betting an Exacta Box is not only inefficient it can also be costly depending on the number of horses you use.

A two horse Exacta Box costs $2 (2 x 1 = 2) for each $1 bet, a three horse Exacta Box costs $6 (3 x 2 = 6) for each $1 bet, a four horse Exacta Box costs $12 (4 x 3 = 12) for each $1 bet and so on.

It may seem like a good way to bet but the cost and the likely return suggests otherwise.

For example suppose you bet a three horse Exacta Box for $1.  Your investment would be $6.

If two of your horses are favorites and run one-two you might make a few dollars or depending on how much was bet on the combination you could conceivably lose money.

The only benefit of boxing an Exacta is it will produce a higher win rate, meaning you will cash more tickets.  In return, however, you will be minimizing your profits.

The most efficient way to bet the Exacta is by weighting each combination.

Exacta Wheel

The second most common way to bet the Exacta is a wheel.

An Exacta Wheel involves picking one horse to win and “wheeling” it with the rest of the field.

If your horse wins you win the Exacta but again you are not maximizing your returns.

You are actually putting yourself in a position that adds more luck to the equation then necessary.

Basically you are hoping your horse wins the race and the longest shot runs second.

Unfortunately there is a much better chance one of the logical contenders will fill out the Exacta.  That result will produce a much lower payout than if the longest shot ran second.

Let’s say you find one horse you really like to win but you cannot figure out who will run second.  The best option would be to bet the horse to Win and forego the Exacta.

The more likely decision will be wheeling your horse in the Exacta and praying for a long shot to come in second.

If the race had ten horses the Exacta wheel would cost $9 (1 x 9 = 9) for each $1 bet.

In a ten horse field the Exacta will usually pay more than $9 for a $1 bet so if your horse wins you will most likely make a profit but at what cost?

Let’s say your horse is 3/1 and wins.  You bet a $1 Exacta Wheel which costs $9.

A logical horse runs second and the Exacta returns $20 for a $1 bet.

You excitedly make your way to the betting window to collect your $11 profit.

What you fail to realize is you left money on the table.

Had you bet that same $9 on your horse to Win you would have won $36 (9 x 3 + 9 = 36) for a profit of $27 (36 – 9 = 27).

The Win bet would have made you a profit of $27 while the Exacta only netted you $11.

There will be instances when a long shot finishes second and the Exacta returns more than the Win bet but more often than not one of the favorites will run second thus reducing the return.

Exacta Part Wheel

The Exacta Part Wheel is a step in the right direction.

This bet involves wheeling your horse over a few other horses.

This is a much better strategy than wheeling the entire field second because it costs less.

In the same example from the previous section let’s say you decide three horses can run second behind your top pick.  A $1 Exacta Part Wheel would cost $3 (1 x 3 = 3) for each $1 bet.

Now you have shifted the odds in your favor.

The $3 Win bet would only return $12 (3 x 3 + 3 = 12).

The Exacta would return $20 for each $1 bet resulting in a profit of $17 (20 – 3 = 17).

In this scenario the Exacta returned $5 more than the Win bet for each $1 bet.

A more effective way to play the Exacta Part Wheel is to bet more than a dollar on the combinations.

I used this strategy on Belmont day in the Easy Goer Stakes.

I thought the favorite, Teeth of the Dog, was the most likely winner.  He went to post at odds of 2/1, not very appealing for a Win bet.

I decided there were two horses that were most likely to finish second, Skyring (6/1) and Fast Falcon (27/1).

I gave both horses the same chance of running second so I bet a $5 Exacta Part Wheel with Teeth of the Dog over Skyring and Fast Falcon.

As expected Teeth of the Dog outclassed the field and won 3 3/4 lengths.

Skyring faded to last in the stretch but long shot Fast Falcon closed stoutly and just got up for second. The $5 Exacta returned $418.75.

The $10 Win bet on 2/1 Teeth of the Dog would have returned a measly $30.50.

In this situation the Exacta Part Wheel provided the maximum return.  It also showed that you can make money betting favorites, if you do it the right way.

Weighted Exacta

The most efficient way to bet the Exacta is by weighting each combination.

In the previous example had I thought Fast Falcon was more likely to run second I could have spent the same $10 by betting a $7 Exacta of Teeth of the Dog over Fast Falcon and a $3 Exacta of Teeth of the Dog over Skyring.

Weighting your Exacta combinations is the best way to maximize your returns long term.

Instead of being lazy and boxing your horses or wheeling them you should take a few minutes to think about what chance each horse has of winning and/or running second and then bet accordingly.

An alternate example of the Weighted Exacta would be if you like two horses that you think will run first and second.

Let’s say the first horse is twice as likely to win as the second.  For the same $10 you could bet a $7 Exacta with first horse over the second horse and a $3 combination reversing it.

If your horses run one-two you win and if you are correct that the first horse is more likely to win then you will be rewarded accordingly with a better return.

Final Thoughts

The Exacta is a great way to make money betting on horses.

Unfortunately most horseplayers are taught to bet the Exacta inefficiently by either Boxing it or Wheeling their horse.

Smart horseplayers, which includes you since you just read this, will instead bet Exacta Part Wheels or Weighted Exacta’s.

The former group may cash more tickets but the latter group will make larger profits.  To recap here are the important points to remember:

  • Boxing an Exacta is both lazy and inefficient
  • Betting an Exacta Wheel is injecting more luck into the equation
  • Betting an Exacta Part Wheel is a step in the right direction
  • Weighting an Exacta is the most efficient way to bet the Exacta and will produce the greatest returns long term
  • The Exacta is sometimes a better alternative than a Win bet, especially if you like the favorite
  • A Win Bet is sometimes the better choice, particularly in cases when you have no opinion on who will finish second

I hope this helps you make more money betting the Exacta, it has done so for me.

If you have others ways of betting the Exacta please share them in the comments below.

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How to Play Rolling Pick-3s Wagers

How to invest in horse racing

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by Glen S. for Agameofskill.com

Many of the bigger tracks have rolling pick 3s, in which horseplayers are asked to select the winners of three consecutive races. I think this opportunity is a huge advantage to the player if the pick 3s are played in a certain way (which we discuss below).

For starters, the research has been done on rolling pick 3s and the payouts are usually higher than a win parlay of the horses that win each sequence. Also, the pick 3 is a small enough sequence that you can play a strong ticket and not spend that much in order to hit it.

The bigger payouts are obviously when longshots come in, but you do not need to hit back to back 10-1 shots and to get “paid.” Get one price horse in there  and you will be rewarded.

Now it is important to understand you can’t go overboard and put all your budget in one basket when playing these pick 3s. I also think if it is costing you over $48 to play a pick 3 partwheel, you probably shouldn’t be playing it because you really do not have a good feel in the sequence.

Here are a  few key rules I apply when I am playing rolling pick 3s to keep the cost down.  I find it important to have at least one key in the sequence I like a lot. When I start the pick 3 sequence and roll them, I only start when I either have a key or two horses in the first leg. If my key is in the last leg, and the first two legs I need bunches to “save alive,” I will only play one pick 3 until my key is in the first leg. If the total cost of a ticket is between $8 – $12 and I have no key, then I will also play the ticket.

The best way to explain is by an example.  Consider the following hypothetical sequence:

Race#2  Feel only two horses can win.
Race#3  Like a horse at 5-1, can take a chance and key him, but could use others.
Race#4  Vulnerable favorite that should get beat, like as many as four horses, but there are unknowns to deal with.
Race#5 Solid key, expected favorite, ml 2-1, but will go off as low as 4-5.
Race#6 Mid claimer, three or four contenders to use.

Here is how I would play the races 2,3,4

Race#2 start:  1,2/1/all (8 horses), and   1,2,/1,2,3/1,2,3,4

Rae#3 start:  if 1,2 wins then I would play  1,2,3/all(8)/1  and 1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4/1.  If 1,2 loses in race 2, then I would play 1/all(8)/1

Race#4 start:  if alive from races 2 and 3 then would play 1,2,3,4/1/1,2,3,4; if knocked out, then I would play all/1/1,2,3

You will see that I adjust my tickets accordingly. I am either expanding a few longshots if I have a few good pick 3 tickets going, so if I lose a final leg, I am “covering” a little (having a longshot that is coming in that I will now have).

In all cases I need to hit one of my keys somewhere to win. Playing the above tickets keeps the ticket size down but allows you many options to hit a nice ticket or hit a few tickets in a row. Either way you are making some money.

Feel free to comment or question on why I play it this way, and even tell me that this is the wrong way to play. I am always open to discuss new ways to play or learn something new.

Know When to Choose the “ALL” Button

by Glen S.

“Buying” a race or buying a level in a vertical sequence, such as a trifecta or superfecta wager, can get costly, but if done correctl,y it can pay off huge.

There are a few situations where I believe hitting the “ALL” button is a good idea:

* A vulnerable favorite that you believe will not win but you do not know who will beat him.

* Lots of unknowns, for example several first time starters or most of the horses racing first time on turf or most stretching out for the first time in distance.

* None of the horses able to run to the par figures of the class level. When you know all the horses are slow then it allows anyone to win the race.

* You have a field of eight horses and you feel six or seven of them can win.  It is obvious you do not have a good feeling for the race. My rule is never leave out one horse.  It has happened that one horse [I left out] has beaten me and also that horse is the one that really makes the wager pay.

* Using the all in a trifecta race is good when you have a standout in your mind, especially if  between 3-1 to 5-1. Also if you like the horse and then would need a bunch underneath because the others are all similar types.

* If you have two horses that stand above the rest and the rest are running for 3rd or 4th.  This is a great type of race to use the all in the bottom of the trifectas and supers.

When NOT to hit the “All” button:

* When it is lazy handicapping.

* You’ve run out of time handicapping and simply hit the All in the last leg or a leg you did not look at closely.

* The favorite looks like he has a decent chance to win, but you are simply hoping that he doesn’t.

* If you have a 10-1 or higher horse and you’re using the All underneath for trifectas or supers.  It is much better to bet the horse to win instead of keying in the exotics.

* When each horse you use in the All is costing way to much because you haven’t keyed elsewhere.

Select your situations wisely, and good luck!

How to Find Value: 4 Angles for Horseplayers

by Glen S.  for AGameofSkill.com

Sharp horse players are always looking for value.   Are you? It is tough enough to make money at the races, so betting underlays means you need to pick even more winners. The easiest way to find value is when the wagering consensus on the race, in your perspective, is incorrect.

I find the best way to find value is by uncovering overbet, vulnerable favorites.

Here are a few horse racing angles I always like to watch for to bet against:

-Maidens that finished 2nd and are now dropping a level.

Why would you drop a horse to a lower level when you just beat everyone at a higher level. The only way I may consider betting this horse is if the higher level was really slow time and the trainer knows that he needs to drop

– 28 days of no activity.

When a horse has not raced or worked out in over 28 days, I find this is a bad sign. Why wouldn’t you at least work your horse out if you can’t find a race for him to enter?  At “A” tracks this is a very strong angle, “B and C” tracks the top trainers still get away with it and may even hide a few works from time to time. I still would not make a strong bet on them.

-Dropping a horse after a good performance.

Why drop when the horse is competitive at a higher level while posting strong numbers? Sure the top trainers will run the horse down the others’ throat and you need to be aware of that. The poor trainers are poor oftentimes because they don’t have the stock to win. However, if a drop down off a good performance is trained by a weak (low %) trainer, then the class drop surely means a sore animals.  Small barns don’t have the luxury of “playing poker” like the big outfits, e.g. David Jacobson.

-First time front bandages.

This is strong when a horse was running well and is dropping. Also a horse that has had a good career and not worn them before, especially when the horse will be the favorite.

When these “bet against” angles occur, really take the time to find something to take a shot on. You will get your value. Maybe you will not win, but will feel much better knowing by picking a winner you will be rewarded. A few ways to play the race would be box a few horses in an exacta or take a bunch in a rolling pick three.   Consider even a bet in the win, place or show pool on your choice of the race.

Go find your value, it’s out there.

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Handicapping Tips #5 – Do This With Your Bankroll

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Handicapping Tip of the Day – Budget Your Wagering Dollars

One of the most important aspects of the game for horseplayers is to wager with money that they are comfortable losing.  Sure, no one wants to or plans to lose money when they play the horses, but you also don’t want to be risking the rent money, either.  Regardless, you should have a separate budget for investing in horse racing.  By keeping wagering dollars apart from your personal funds, you can avoid any confusion…and most importantly, any problems.

The additional benefit of having a separate fund for wagering is that you can then budget from within that pool of funds.  Ideally, you should never risk more than five percent of your dollar wagering budget in any one race.  Wagering on horses can oftentimes be a streaky proposition.  By budgeting your dollars appropriately and professionally, you can withstand a losing streak.  When you have the money situation under control, your chances for success rise dramatically.

The Docket

A Horseplayer’s Starting and Ending Point

by Art Parker, author of the upcoming 2014 Spring Meet edition of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns

My occasional OTB location is a greyhound track that gradually built something of a customer base of horseplayers via simulcasting. I say occasional because for the last seven to eights years I have pretty much stuck to wagering from home or office with Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW). At first this OTB location offered a couple of lesser named tracks then expanded to four of the same. A couple of years after that, they got tired of listening to some of us experienced horseplayers complain about quality, so they started to simulcast most every horse track especially the top circuits.

One Saturday, about ten years ago, I was sitting at my usual table when a couple of guys came to the table next to me carrying what appeared to be a U-Haul full of programs. There were nine thoroughbred tracks running that afternoon, a couple of harness tracks and about a dozen greyhound tracks. Plus live greyhound races as well. The thoroughbred programs at the OTB were copied past performances sheets from some unknown source stapled together with a cover. The information was not too good and it was very limited. The greyhound programs were of traditional form for that sport. Most of the experienced horseplayers at the time were using either their own Equibase information, the Daily Racing Form or Brisnet information.

When these guys dropped all of the programs on the table they scattered and went everywhere, a few crashed underneath my table and of course I gathered up the AWOL programs and handed them to their rightful owners. The elder fellow, thanked me and then said, “We got so many damn programs we don’t know what to do.” I smiled and casually said, “You must have bought one for every track, for both of you.” He looked at me seriously and said, “That’s exactly what we did. We don’t get to come to the track but every few weeks, and we don’t want to miss anything.”

I quickly prayed for the poor souls sitting next to me.

The youngest said, “We spent over a $100 on programs, but we got them all.” They went on to tell me that they were father-in-law and son-in-law. I was curious and asked who corrupted who when it came to wagering at the track. The father-in-law said, “My son-in-law got me involved in the track and I love it,” as he slapped his son-in-law on the shoulder with love, admiration and pride.

I couldn’t help but think to myself… what a fool this guy was for letting his daughter marrying any idiot that tries to play every horse race and every dog race in an afternoon. You should have seen them-they looked like a pair of 3 year olds with Alzheimer’s attending a Barnum and Bailey Circus. They lost tickets. They lost programs. They looked at the wrong monitors. They bet the right horses at the wrong dog tracks. You name it and they did it. And all of the time they were talking about making money.

I’m just glad I never heard the old question, “Who do you like?” I would have had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out who I could like at 19 different cities across North America.

“A successful horseplayer must have a plan and must keep information for future use. “

That story reminds me of the many times I have written about track and wagering behavior. There is nothing wrong with someone who goes to the track and bets a couple of bucks on every race (at just one or two tracks). Going to the track and playing races can be good recreation and good therapy.

But on the days where making money is important, which should be almost every time you play (if not every time), then trying to do too much will kill you. On my typical day I review the entries and find the tracks that offer several of the type of races I play. Some days I may download information from only two tracks. Other days I may download information from five or six.

Regardless of the number of tracks you try to play, the important thing is to only play races that are comfortable to play, or at least only examine races with which you are comfortable. One of the things I do, which I recommend to anyone especially if you are going to examine more than a few races, is to use a docket. I chose that word because it is a list of those “cases” that must be examined. It is the word used in our judicial system for what comes before the court on a certain day.

I make my docket in chronological order based upon post times. Next to the time I place the track code and race number and a brief note as to the importance, such as “stakes race” or “short field” or “Daily Double possibility.” Any note that may encourage me or discourage me from examining a race based upon time or other impediments. When I first review the docket I eliminate races if I see a time conflict, such as two races going off a few minutes from one another with one appearing less inviting than the other.

When I make my final review I make sure that every race on the docket is a possible race to play. I also make it final in my mind that all of the racing I will consider is within the time frame on the docket. In other words, that’s it. It’s final. This is the job for the day.

The docket is also used for other things such as making trip notes or trainer notes. I go over the docket at the end of the day and, if something needs to be logged into a file, I have it right there. All of this may sound elementary and it is. But it works. A successful horseplayer must have a plan and must keep information for future use. Most of all I have found that using my little docket keeps me focused on the task.

Occasionally my wife will make the sad mistake of walking into my office at home, late on a Saturday morning, and ask me what I am doing. I usually hand her the docket for the day and say nothing. That’s when she says, “Never mind.”

New to Playing the Horses? This is the Easy Way to Start

Wagering Tote self service machine

copyright AGameofSkill.com

By Art Parker, author of the upcoming “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns”

For several years my OTB location was a greyhound track.  This was not the best atmosphere for a horse player, sitting among a large number of those that play greyhound races. They think differently than horse players, handicap differently than horseplayers and, to a great extent, wager differently than horse players.

The pari-mutuel system is the same for both greyhound and thoroughbred racing, obviously, but the popularity of wagers differs. At greyhound tracks the quinella is the favorite bet and it seems like most greyhound tracks have a special tote board just for quinella odds. Exactas, trifectas and superfectas are popular at greyhound tracks also but there is little interest in horizontal wagers such as a pick 3, pick 4 or pick 6, which are popular at thoroughbred tracks.  Straight bets, such as win place or show, do not seem to appeal to those that play the greyhound races.

While I was using the greyhound location as my OTB home, I made several friends that played the other quadrupeds faithfully. Most of those tried to take an interest in horse racing since it was available. One of the attractions was the occasional big payout at the horse tracks in the vertical wagers, e.g. trifecta. Obviously one of the biggest factors for larger payouts is the size of the pools. At many greyhound tracks a big trifecta pool may be $8,000; trifecta pools at a thoroughbred track are often 10-20 times that amount, depending on the track. At almost all greyhound tracks fields are limited to 8 runners, and larger fields in a horse race can help trigger a larger payout especially when the longshots come home. The vertical wagers are often astronomical compared to those at a greyhound track.

One of the things that I could never get the greyhound enthusiast to grasp was the importance of betting to win or to win and place. It is deeply rooted with greyhound players to only play exotics wagers. Often I was asked for my favorite horse in a race. After telling my friend who I liked, he would go and throw my choice in an exacta box or trifecta box with a couple of other runners, only to tear the ticket up when his other horses didn’t run. I would often ask, “What happened? My horse won the race.” And then I would hear “Well I didn’t have the others,” or something like that. “Why didn’t you just bet the horse win,” I would ask only to receive crazy looks. I would hear “You can’t make any money,” or “That’s no fun,” or something else senseless.

All of this is one reason why I say, to anyone that is learning to play the horses or wants to learn, when it comes to wagering learn how to bet to win or bet to win and place first. It’s hard enough to pick winners so why make it more difficult on trying to figure out who will be there for second and third, etc.? Besides, if you are going to play any wager at a track you must first have some idea who can win the race, right?

The first advice I give anyone who is new to the game is this: Do not try and get rich in one day. The worst thing that can happen to a “debut” horseplayer is to hit a trifecta or superfecta and go home with $800 in their pocket. That person will be so entrenched on betting the bigger vertical exotics again they will probably send out $2,000 in the next few visits trying to score big again.

Making money at the track is like eating an elephant. You got to take one bite at a time and not try to eat the whole thing.

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13 Mistakes Horseplayers Need to Avoid in the New Year

A Method for Attacking Lightly Raced Horses

Interview with George Woolf winner, jockey Mario Pino

13 Mistakes Horseplayers Need to Avoid in the New Year.

steps to success for horseplayersby Rich Nilsen

With nearly any problem in life, the first road to recovery is admitting your mistakes. As horseplayers we all make blunders and some of us continue to commit the same handicapping mistakes on an all-too frequent basis. In fact, I dare say that if we had a dollar for every mistake we made this past year, we would have enough funds to go after one of those big Southern California Pick-6 carryovers.

It is never too late to learn from the errors we made over the past year (or past week, for that matter) and make corrections for future attempts at the parimutuel windows. In fact, this decision to learn from experience is vital to our long-term success as horseplayers.

“Horse racing will teach a person to lose better than any other sport.” ~ My Father

Wise words, indeed. Anyone who has played the horses long enough understands that this game can be like a roller coaster ride. Your emotions can be riding sky high one moment and, less than 25 minutes later, plummeted to rock bottom.

Successful horseplayers are able to ride out the low times in order to reach the peak moments. Winning players also recognize their faults and consequently make fewer mistakes than their competition, their fellow horseplayer.

If you’re not pleased with the results you had in 2013, then check off the following mistakes that you made this past year and feel free to add your own in the comments below. Put a star next to the areas that you really need to improve on.

1-      You lack conviction in your wagers.

2-      Instead of selecting prime wagering opportunities or spot plays, you are betting nearly every race you handicap or every race on the card.

3-      You are using the same information to handicap that the majority of the general public utilizes. If the only thing you are using to handicap is the track program, it is not going to be easy to out-handicap the thousands of others who are using the same program.  Unique information can include your personal trip notes, bias notes, or premium information such as clocker’s reports.

4-      You are easily swayed by other peoples’ opinions. What you hear on TVG or HRTV, for example, influences how you will wager on the upcoming race.  Or you let your neighbor at the track, who can’t remember the last winning day he had, make a comment that influences your decision making on the upcoming race.  We’ve all done it.

5-      You know that you are selecting a high or respectable percentage of winners, but your wagering strategies have caused you to lose money on days when you should have won based on your handicapping.  For example, you ‘gimmick’ a horse away, missing the exacta on a horse you loved that paid $12.60 to win.

6-      You concentrate most of your wagers on low-percentage wagers, e.g. trifectas, superfectas, Pick-4s, Pick-6s, etc.

7-      You look for the quick fix, such as a hot tip from an insider or some mail order ‘winning’ system that promises ridiculous win percentages or ROIs.

8-      You pay no attention to how the track is playing, ignoring any potential track biases at work.   Because of this oversight, you are betting closers on a day when early speed is dominating.  Or, you are wagering on running styles that rarely win because you are not aware or don’t incorporate the predominant bias at the track and distance.

9-      You wager with scared money, having not set aside a bankroll strictly for horse racing investments.

10-    You blame a losing outcome on ‘shenanigans,’ instead of searching for the clues that pointed to the rightful winner.

11-  You shoot from the hip, wagering on a race that you didn’t handicapping effectively and/or which you don’t have a good opinion.

12-  You’re not playing with a rebate.  If you are making your wagers at a location in which you are not receiving cash back on your wagers, you’re throwing money away.  This is true even if you are a small player.

[Editor’s Note: enter promo code AGOS at www.betptc.com for special cash back rewards on your horse racing, harness and greyhound wagers]

13-  Last but not least, you lack a plan or strategy for wagering. It is commonplace for you to get online with only a few minutes to post without knowing what wagers you plan to make.

If you’ve been playing the horses long enough, then chances are you have committed all of the mistakes listed above. Hopefully, you are at a point where you have only committed a few on this list within the past year. The difference between the everyday handicapper and the successful horseplayer is who continues to make the same mistakes and who does not.

Sit back and ponder which mistakes you have committed and which have really cost you on the bottom line. Consider what steps you need to take in order to avoid these same mistakes in the New Year.

If you believe that your handicapping is above average, then look at your wagering strategies. Are you swinging for the fences every time, trying to nail the trifecta, instead of cashing a nice win wager or exacta play? Knock your bets down a level. If Pick-3 wagers have been unsuccessful, then concentrate on the Daily Double instead. The inevitable result is that you will cash more tickets and boost your confidence.

Make a horseplayer’s resolution for the New Year. Correct the mistakes you’ve been making and avoid these pitfalls this season. By doing so, you’ll immediately gain an edge over the wagering public. When you minimize the number of mistakes you make on a daily or weekly basis, your confidence will soar and you’ll be winning more often. Isn’t that a resolution worth keeping in 2014?

Winter Horse Racing Tests Your Patience

winter horse racingBy Art Parker

Now is the time of year that will test your patience as a horse player. It’s winter and the next few months are not the best for thoroughbred racing. For those of you that enjoy turf racing, the choices are pretty much limited to Southern California, New Orleans and Florida. For those of you that require a dry track (me included) those days will be less due to the frequent wintry mix that we see on the east coast. The number of stakes races, especially graded events, is less and that makes for fewer days to look forward to for many players. And of course, we have mountains of maiden races for two year olds, which I detest, and that will carry over for a couple of months when those runners turn three in January. I always say that a three year old maiden in January or February is an extended two year old maiden.

Yes, the choices for thoroughbred racing are limited for a while because of many factors. It is truly a time to be patient. Simulcasting has provided us with a luxury for about nine months of the year where you can throw out one track because you don’t like the card and pick several others that are more appealing. That’s not the case in the winter and besides, you still are faced with tons of baby races.

So what do you do? My first suggestion is to require yourself to play only certain types of races where you have historically experienced the most success and the highest comfort level. This is the same advice I give to anyone in summer, except I think it is even more important in the winter months. In the winter, you will have a lower number of races to play that fit your comfort level and it will really test your patience because you will not have as much available action.

What if the day looks bad everywhere in terms of races? Don’t go. Don’t play. Instead you should use that valuable time to study, learn more about the game, etc.  Information on Thoroughbred racing is so widespread now that anyone can access just about anything to read on the subject. If you are like me there are several editions of the Blood Horse (or other publications) sitting around that I did not fully read. I don’t care if a magazine has aged several months, I read it because I know I can still learn something new about this game every day if I try.

Every winter my wife does the same thing. She comes into my office at home and asks me what I am going to do with all of that stuff. There are stacks of past performances, results charts, pace charts, breeding diagrams, magazines, and articles that I printed from the Internet and the list goes on and on. She usually says, “I guess you are going to do another one of your studies with all of this stuff, huh?” I always responded affirmatively. She shakes her head and then asks if it is time for her to make the annual run of the vacuum cleaner in my office. I simply say “don’t disturb anything even my dirt.”

The moral of the story is to use any down time from the track to make your next visit a more successful one. I know many of you need the action all of the time but failing to take time to learn more about racing is a costly error. It takes study and patience to win at this game. And that’s because it is not a game of luck, it is a game of skill.

8 Strategies and Tips to Help Your Bottom Line – Part II

Ross Gallo continues offering his wisdom from 30 years of handicapping with the remaining five steps from his article last week.

Don’t be afraid to use the “All” button on occasion.  Handicappers are a proud lot.  I know guys who will never press “All”.  “There’s always throwouts.”  Or, “The 5, 7 and 8 can’t win here.”  I get it, really.  You know what you’re doing, you can weed out the race and it’s a waste of money.  Well, I contend that horses win every day that you couldn’t have had with tomorrow’s paper.  And I certainly don’t think you should always use it, but sometimes there are races so hard they can’t be handicapped.  And the extra cost will repay you in the long run with just a couple of those “impossible” wrinkles.

An example: 2007 the first year the Breeders Cup went to two days, I was at Canterbury Park preparing to play in my handicapping tournament (yes I had a real-money high end BC tournament, LONG before the BCBC.  But that’s a story for another day), a few buddies and I decided to pitch in and play the late Pick 4.  I took everyone’s opinion and started writing up the play.  We agreed on two things, the first leg was impossible and we liked Corinthian in the last leg, the Dirt Mile.  I felt I was done when I noticed we had left four horses out of the first leg.  I wrote one last ticket, those four with our top three horses in both of the next two legs and Corinthian in the last.  $36 out of a total $600 play, only 6% of the play.  Impossible horse wins first leg, $60 or $80 to win I think.  Top 3 win next two, and Corinthian jogs.  The payoff: $24,000.

We’re high fiving and celebrating, another friend comes up to me, ‘How on earth did you guys come up with that first horse?!”  “All” button baby!  Can’t cash a Pick 4 if you’re not alive.”  With 50 cent Pick 3, 4 and 5’s, 10 cents supers and Pick 6’s out there, the cost of this practice, on occasion, is not as severe as one might think.  And I would point out, in a 10 cents super, you might only need one of those 80-1 shots to run third or fourth to make you a big score.

ALWAYS bet against Bridge Jumpers.  Bridge Jumpers, for those of you who might not know, are people who see what looks like a sure thing horse and bet huge amounts to show in order to grab that quick 5% return.  $100,000 to show will earn you a $5,000 profit.  This will often work, but as everyone knows there is no such thing as a sure thing.  Play everyone else to show every time in this scenario.  The risk is minimal.  In a six horse race, for example, a $5 show bet on everyone else in the race (besides the favorite) will cost $25 and you’re guaranteed $10.50 back.  In an extreme situation, if one of those horses miss, you could average $75 a show ticket.  That would get you a return of $562.50.  The payoffs aren’t always that big, but the upside far outweighs the risk.  These horses run out on occasion, and in the long run you can’t lose playing against them.   Bet $2, $5, $10, $20, or even $100.  Whatever your bankroll allows, whenever you see a horse with 95% of the Show pool or more, NEVER pass on any of these opportunities.

“My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got. “

Try to find a rebate program.  There are so many of them out there these days.  Most of the online services, and even some tracks offer cash back.  Ask your friends what they’re doing, but definitely look around.  The more you bet, the more they’ll give you, but even a percentage point back can have a positive effect on your bottom line come year’s end.

Keep a playback/play against list.  DRF and Brisnet.com both offer Stable Mail for free.  Easy to use, for sure, and invaluable.  You see a horse get stopped several times, come late for a sneaky fifth, you have to bet him back.  With horses changing tracks it’s easy to miss him if you don’t have an email notification service.  Conversely, I find keeping horses to play against next out just as valuable.  Odds-on favorite gets perfect trip and is all out to beat a 30-1 shot and looks terrible doing it.  Form will look good with the win, but that’s a horse that will get bet next out that I want to eliminate.  Betting against low priced horses that you’re fairly sure are throwouts?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Wagering Tote self service machine

copyright AGameofSkill.com

Write down your bets before you go to the window.  This sounds simple right?  It is, but I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like this:  “Hey what do you like this race?”  “I love the 6 with 1, 2, 3.”  I watch the race, it runs 621, I see my friend.  “What did you get there?” “I don’t know he says as he rifles through the tickets.”  “Oh no man I forgot to get the $20 exactas 6 over 1-2-3, I only have a stinking $1 tri.”  Exacta paid $60 but the favorite ran third and the trifecta was $150 for a dollar.  My friend just burned $600 because he’s up there calling numbers out and has no clue what he has or hasn’t got.  I always write my bets down before I go to the window or sit down to bet at the computer.  This way I know I’ll get what I want, and if the total comes out different than what I figured, I know I forgot something or messed up a part wheel ticket.  This is a very simple tip that will save you from yourself.  The game is hard enough as it is, you don’t want to leave money behind with human error.

There you have it.  A few things that have worked out well for me over the years; hope they do the same for you.  Happy hunting (winners) my friends!