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!

Kelzenberg’s Late Pick-4 Analysis for Prairie Meadows Iowa Festival of Racing

by Anthony Kelzenberg, The Flat Bet Prophet

Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s time for the Iowa Festival of Racing! And that means a few good horses running in shorts fields for great money.

Race 6) Saylorville Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 6 furlongs

This is a contentious field, with every horse having a chance. Most of the mares know only one way to go – to the lead! As such, I will go with classy midpack-running animal #5 BEAT THE BLUES as my top pick, as she can close off fast fractions. She likes to win too – 10 wins in 24 starts while racing in top company. #4 LIVI MAKENZIE and #3 LULU WONG would both appreciate it if the other horse wasn’t in the race – they are both one-dimensional speed balls. But both are capable of winning. #1 SECOND STREET CITY intrigues me because she’ll be a relatively high price and she’s in great form. I will throw her in my pick 4.

Race 7) Iowa Distaff Stakes (Race restricted to Fillies and Mares) – Purse $100k, 1 1/16 miles

I am lukewarm on #2 FLASHY AMERICAN. Her last race was dynamite, but it took her 18 starts to get through her “two other than” allowance condition. I am going to use her but I would not be surprised to see her defeated. #4 CRUZETTE is the speed of the race and will have to be caught. Her speed figures are good enough to contend and the trainer and jock hit at a 30% rate together. #7 QUEEN LILY KAY’s speed and pace figures also put her in the mix if Flashy American falters.

Race 8) [Feature] Iowa Sprint Handicap – Purse $125k, 6 furlongs

In possibly one the the most significant owner/trainer switches since Seabiscuit (okay, may not that many years), #3 DELAUNAY has turned into a win machine, winning seven stakes in his last eight starts, running huge figures. #2 GENTLEMAN’S BET is nearly as good, showing four wins and a third in five starts. Should be a great race for all the fans who come watch Friday night.

Race 9) Claiming $12,500, 6 furlongs

#1(1a is OK but I much prefer the #1) 8-5 morning line

PICK 4 Ticket: 1,3,4,5 with 2,4,7 with 2,3 with 1,5,8  ($36 cost for a 50 cent base wager)

Always remember to wager within your comfort level.

— Kelzenberg has a B.S. Degree in Engineering from U of Minnesota, M.S. Degree in Engineering from Northwestern University. He has run a Math/Science tutoring business since Sept. 2003

Is Sports Betting a Game of Skill?

Sports bettingFamed Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters shared his opinion on the issue of legalizing both poker and sports betting.

“I used to be a professional poker player,” Walters said, “and, they’re right, if you’re a good poker player, it’s a game of skill. Well, betting sports is much more of a game of skill than poker. I’m living proof that betting sports is a game of skill. I’ve won 37 years in a row. If that’s not a skill, then I don’t know what is.”

“They’ve legalized lotteries, and you can walk into an off-track betting parlor and bet on any horse race in the country,” said Walters. “And why can they do that? Because of the horse lobby; the people who control the horse lobby have a lot of juice; so does the poker lobby, but there is no such thing as a sports betting lobby. I think they’ll get poker approved, and hopefully sports betting will be next. People are doing it, and they’re not going to stop. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Walters believes that the National Football League (NFL) is another big obstacle in the fight for legalization. Read the full interview from Covers earlier this year.

Ten Pitfalls Handicappers Need to Avoid in 2012

With pretty much any problem the first road to recovery is admitting your mistakes. As horseplayers we all made blunders this past year. In fact, I dare say that if we had a dollar for every mistake we made in 2011, we would have enough funds to go after one of those big Southern California carryovers.

 It is never too late to learn from the mistakes we made over the past year and make corrections for future days at the parimutuel windows. In fact, it is vital to our success as horseplayers.

My father, one of the best handicappers I know, often reminded me that horse racing will teach a person to lose better than any other sport or recreation. 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. And who is that? Their fellow horseplayer.

 If you’re not pleased with the results you had in 2011, then check off the following mistakes that you made this past year. Put a star next to the areas you really need to improve on.

1-      You know that you are selecting a high percentage of winners, but your wagering strategies have caused you to lose money on days when you should have won based on your handicapping.

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

3-      You are using the same general 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.

4-      You are swayed easily by others’ opinions, lacking conviction in your own selections and analysis. What you hear on TVG or HRTV, for example, influences how you will wager on the upcoming race.

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

6-      You look for the quick fix, such as a hot tip from an insider or some mail order ‘winning’ system.

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

8-      You pay no attention to how the track is playing, ignoring any potential track biases at play. Are you betting closers on a day when early speed is dominating? Are you wagering on running styles that rarely win at that distance and surface?

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

10-  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 have 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 2012?

Interview with 2011 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Winner

Patrick McGoey, a commercial litigation attorney from New Orleans, parlayed a winning $100 entry into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge into winnings of $270,600. McGoey had won his way into the $10,000 event by qualifying online back in May for only $100.

In its third year, the BC Betting Challenge saw 115 of the country’s best horseplayers face-off in a live money $10,000 buy-in betting tournament.

Patrick McGoey

Patrick (left) alongside his brother

McGoey won first place in a dramatic come-from-behind effort in the last race of the contest by wagering $7,000 to win on 14-1 longshot Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Drosselmeyer’s victory resulted in McGoey’s win bet returning an amazing $110,600. Combined with the first place winnings of $160,000, McGoey took home $270,600.

McGoey had earned his spot in the BC Betting Challenge on May 28 by defeating 90 other players in a $100 qualifying event for the Challenge at www.bcqualify.com.

His last-race heroics also earned him an automatic berth into the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) at Treasure Island in Las Vegas where over 500 qualifiers will be shooting for approximately $2 million in prizes.

We sat down with McGoey a few days after his memorable win.

 AGOS:  Patrick, congratulations on a tremendous accomplishment. You defeated 114 of the best handicappers in the country over the two biggest racing days of the year. What was your general philosophy going into the event?

McGoey: You know my basic philosophy for day one was to be conservative and just “hang in there” until day two. I wanted to have some money for the second day. I never planned on letting it all ride like it did on the final race.

 AGOS:  How did you catch the horse racing bug, and how long have been handicapping?

McGoey: I started about 10 years. My brother handicaps a lot and he kind of got me involved. I follow The Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs quite a bit, but I don’t play every day.

Around 2005 some buddies and I said, “wouldn’t it be fun to own a horse?” So a group of us bought a $30,000 claimer and then Katrina kit that summer and shut down the track. The horse ended up running at Louisiana Downs, so we had to drive about six hours to watch him race. But the horse did fairly well, so over the years we got up to six claiming horses.

But owning horses is what really got me into the sport.

AGOS:  How many tournaments a year do you typically play?

McGoey: I played three to four satellite tournaments trying to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. I played a few last year, trying to qualify for this as well as the NHC, but not many.

 AGOS:  Had you played in this tournament or similar money-bankroll tournaments before?

McGoey: I had not. This was my first time in the tournament and I had no experience in this type of contest.

 AGOS: Have you qualified for the National Handicapping Championship before now?

McGoey: This is a first. I had other things on my calendar the last week of January but I have cleared them out!

AGOS:  What handicapping tools did you utilize in ‘capping the Breeders’ Cup cards?

McGoey: I use the Daily Racing Form. Sometimes I will check stuff on Equibase but primarily DRF.

 AGOS: What type of wagers were you making in the two days leading up to the final race?

McGoey: I made some large $500 show bets on Friday which got me through some of the races. I wanted to get the mandatory bets out of the way and just “stay in the game.” I ended Friday with about $8,200.

 Then on Saturday I hit the first couple of races with win/place bets on the favorite along with $200 exactas that were fairly chalky. That got me up to about $12,500, but then I started to give it away after that.

I was on Shackelford and he looked strong turning for home but he got mowed down for the top spot. I lost Union Rags by a nose. I also had bets on Turralure who suffered a tough break getting nosed out at the wire in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

My brother was in the contest as well. With about four races to go, he told me he was “bowing out. I am going to bet some Pick 3s and Pick 4s and I am disqualifying myself.”

 Well about a race or two before the Classic, I told him I was going all-in on Drosselmeyer. My brother just looked at me and said, “nah, don’t do that!”

 AGOS: When did you know that you were going to go all-in on Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and why?  Did you consider other types of wagers, such as exotics?

McGoey: I actually started thinking about this approach only about two races before the Classic.

I was on Flat Out [one of the favorites for the Classic] going into the day. I had bet on Royal Delta on Friday, and that filly closed from off the pace to win for trainer Bill Mott.  Birdrun ran big also, so I was thinking that Mott’s horses were doing really well. I started looking more at Drosselmeyer [also trained by Bill Mott] and noticed the huge improvement in his last race. He had run a big Beyer speed figure and had lost to my top choice, Flat Out, by only 2 1/2 lengths.

Flat Out was 7/2 and Drosselmeyer was 15/1, a big discrepancy in odds despite those horses running one-two in their last start.  Other horses were turning the tables on runners [who defeated them previously] over the weekend, so why not Drosselmeyer? The last time Mike Smith had ridden him, it was the Belmont Stakes and he had won. Good workouts, Mike Smith had ridden him well, and Bill Mott horses were hot, so I decided to take a shot.

Except for those first two races that were chalk, I wasn’t hitting exactas very well during most of the day, so I just decided why not a win bet on a live longshot. I said if I hit this, it could mean $300,000. How often do you get a shot at a $300,000 score? I thought Drosselmeyer should have been about 10-1, but I got about 40-1 on him [by betting him in the contest].

I loved the format of the tournament because you get to keep the money that you won. The guys in the lead late in the day had real money in the bank so I could understand why they wouldn’t take the type of risk I took.

I was sitting next to the guy who hit a huge exacta using Perfect Shirl on Friday so he vaulted to over $40,000. So for most of the tournament I wasn’t even in the same zip code as him.

AGOS: Why do you think you have chosen handicapping over other forms of gambling?

McGoey: I still do fantasy football and I have done some poker. Once I started doing more and more handicapping, the other forms of gambling didn’t interest me at all. The casinos are boring. You don’t get the same types of odds at the casino. The odds are so much better with the horses. For example, I don’t like betting 1/1 shots and in football that is the best case scenario.

It’s super exciting, too. I get a rush when the horses are going into the gate.

If you lose five or six races in a row, you can get it back in the next race. Whereas in a game like blackjack, it can take forever to get back to even.

AGOS: This website is devoted to improving the game of racing. What are the key areas that this industry should focus on in the coming years?

McGoey:  Focus on getting younger people involved. I was probably one of the youngest in the room.

It’s easy to pick a football game, given a 50% chance and everybody has a “gut” feeling about a game without doing any research, but handicapping the horses takes time.

I really think these tournaments are great and should be promoted more. The potential return you can get is excellent. You can play some of them from home online. You can put in picks early, go out and do things, and then come home and see how you did.  There are a lot of opportunities like that. It’s a flexible sport that doesn’t take all of your time.

The industry needs to focus on contests and getting younger people involved. A lot of younger people are just intimidated by both the sport and “The Form.” I learned how to read the form was I was pretty young. I got away from the sport in later years. Didn’t do it much at college or law school. But then when I came back to it, it was much easier for me to picks things up, compared to someone who didn’t have any prior exposure to the game.

AGOS: Yes, there is definitely an intimidation factor when it comes to horse racing.

McGoey: I took my wife and three girls, and then each brought a friend last year at The Fair Grounds. There was a horse with a name the girls liked. I bet the horse for all of them. She won, and I think I hooked every one of those kids!

I have a picture on my wall of The Fair Grounds with 50,000 people in attendance, many dressed to the tilt. Now you go to the track and you can shoot a cannon off in there. To think that is how the track used to be…you got to do something to get people back into the sport.

Online is definitely the best way to grow the sport. The access is so easy.

AGOS: Have you seen any overlap with the casino crowd and the racing fans at The Fair Grounds?

McGoey: To be honest with you, I haven’t even walked through the slot area. For one, I can’t stand slots. I’m sure it is helping their bottom line, but it is not generating more fans for racing.

You know what has been great is the Fair Grounds, like Churchill Downs, has experimented with night racing, and the place is packed on those nights. Tracks could have events like a jazz festival. Fair Grounds could use the facility more and hold a jazz festival inside the track. People would come. We know how to throw a party here in New Orleans. Most people simply can’t attend during the day.

Additional Notes from the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge

Christian Hellmers of Los Angeles California finished in second place behind McGoey, winning $121,700. Hellmers held the contest’s lead over the last four races until Drosselmeyer’s upset and McGoey’s last race theatrics. John Allunario won $78,480 by finishing third in the event. Allunario also qualified in a bcqualify.com on October 1 in a $400 online event.

“The Betting Challenge has quickly become the ‘go to’ tournament for horseplayers throughout North America,” said Kenneth Kirchner, the tournament’s administrator for Breeders’ Cup. “The BCBC has grown by fifty percent in just three years and we are working to expand the opportunities for players to qualify at more racing facilities and sites for next year’s contest. I believe there is tremendous upside for this event in future years.”

For those who didn’t win their way in, the BC Betting Challenge requires a $10,000 buy-in per player, with $2,500 going towards the prize pool and $7,500 towards the player’s two-day betting bankroll. Total prize money was $315,000 with cash prizes to the top ten finishers.

Breeders’ Cup Betting & Handicapping Advice

Jay Conley of ESPN shares his eight tips for attacking the upcoming two-day Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs. Overall, this is pretty good, basic advice.