Handicapping Tip of the Day #66 – 1 Turn Races vs. 2 Turn Races

by Rich Nilsen for Agameofskill.com

Some racehorses excel around two turns and a route of ground, whereas other runners are best suited to sprints or one-turn contests.  Sometimes this preference is simply due to a stamina issue.  Some horses don’t ‘corner’ well and can lose precious ground or momentum around the turns.  Other horses have issues with lead changes and that can affect their ability to perform at their best around two turns.

In this year’s G1 Whitney, one of the premier races of the Saratoga meeting, the heavy favorite was superstar Cody’s Wish. The five-year-old horse from the Bill Mott barn had won 9 of 13 races lifetime, including his last six in a row.  The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ had won both starts this year versus Grade 1 company by a combined eight lengths.

One of the victims in his start was one of his main rivals in the Whitney Stakes, White Abarrio.  At a cursory glance and without taking a deep dive, many in the public just assumed that Cody’s Wish would dominate that rival just like he did last time.  However, the circumstances were vastly different in their next meet-up.

The Whitney is a two-turn 1 1/8 miles races, a test of stamina in this era of racehorses.  With a powerful finish last out in the G1 Met Mile, and showing a plethora of ‘routes’ in his past performances, Cody’s Wish figured to handle the added ground without any problem.  Or would he?

In his 13 career races, Cody’s Wish had only competed around two turns on one occasion, and that came in the G3 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs early last year.  The result was a neck loss to a horse that would hypothetically be 50-1 in the Whitney.  That was all I needed to see to flag Cody’s Wish as an overbet and vulnerable favorite.  The icing on the cake was that Cody’s Wish figured to be in the back of the pack with a modest pace up front, meaning his rivals would have first jump on him.

So, who could beat him would be the next question.  Historically, this was a pretty weak Whitney Stakes which added to the Cody’s Wish appeal and favoritism.  One horse leaped off the page to me and it was runner that I was interested in last time out in the Met Mile, Rick Dutrow’s White Abarrio.

Unlike the favorite, White Abarrio was a proven winner going two turns.  In fact, he was a 2022 Florida Derby winner at nine furlongs for former trainer Saffie Joseph.  Dutrow had recently taken over the care of this runner, and the Met Mile represented his first start with limited training of the Grade 1 winner.  In my view, Dutrow had not had time to fully bring out the best in White Abarrio.  That would not be the care heading into the Whitney as he had an additional two months with the four-year-old colt.

It was no secret that Dutrow, who had returned from his controversial 10-year ban, was one of racing’s greatest trainers at improving new acquisitions.  So, there was every reason to believe that White Abarrio would move forward of the first start going one turn at Belmont Park.  Below is my writeup on my top selection.

Sometimes in racing, it can be difficult for the horseplayer to overlook the hype of a superstar like Cody’s Wish.  There is no doubt he is one of the best and most exciting milers that we have seen in recent years, but that did not mean he had to win the two-turn Whitney Stakes.

Off at 45 cents on the dollar, Cody’s Wish flattened to be third, 10 lengths behind the winner White Abarrio.  Rick Dutrow returned to the winner’s circle in a Grade 1 with White Abarrio returning $22.40 to win!

When the handicapper can find a couple of solid reasons to go against a huge favorite, it opens the door to potentially a nice score.  In this case, the difference between one turn and two turns played a major role.

 

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

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

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

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

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

by Glen S.

Bad Beats, Bad Betting or Bad Selections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

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

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

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

Lessons from the First Big Online Tournament of the Year

By Rich Nilsen

The first big online handicapping tournament of the year was held over the weekend of Jan. 9-10 at horsetourneys.com, and I was fortunate enough to win into this $1,500 buy-in event via an initial $28 feeder.  It was also the same weekend at the local Tampa Bay Downs handicapping contest, so plenty of work was required to prepare for both events.

The Flo-Cal Faceoff, the Players Championship (April 2-3) and the Spa & Surf Showdown (August 14-15) comprise the new 2021 Tourney Triple series at HorseTourneys which features additional bonuses and prizes if you do well over the three contests.  The Flo-Cal closed on the morning of January 9th with a staggering purse of $570,373 based on 429 entries and a top prize set at $205,019.  The contest was comprised of full-card mandatory races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita on both Saturday and Sunday, so this was going to be a long weekend.

On day one I got off to a very good start in the Flo-Cal Faceoff by hitting five winners from the first nine races at Gulfstream Park.  The problem was that I missed the big longshot that came in early in the day ($37.00 to win, $17 to place) and that missed $54 in bankroll was going to be difficult to overcome.

Unfortunately, I did not fare nearly as well at Santa Anita, so most of my Saturday bankroll came from South Florida.  I ended the day with over $97, an admirable score that was within ‘shouting’ distance, but that only put me in the top 25% of the field.  The lucrative prize structure was paying down to the top 28 players at the conclusion of the weekend.

Day Two of Flo-Cal

I decided I was going to swing for the fences on Sunday.  ‘Grinding it out’ seemed like a difficult strategy to make up the $60-90 deficit.  Hindsight is 20/20 and that proved to be a mistake on a day where shorter price horses were consistently winning throughout the afternoon.  The first longshot of the day wouldn’t come in until nearly 4pm when Weisser scored in Gulfstream Park’s 8th race, paying $27.80, $11.80.  I did not have him, and the situation was looking bleak.

However, I am not one to give up, knowing that in the span of just one-two races, a tournament player can make up huge strides on the leaderboard.  In the very next race at Gulfstream Park (race 9), I eyed a runner that was trying the turf for the first time.  The Munnings filly had won two of her three starts when sprinting and she had good tactical, early speed.  She looked like the type of filly that could win going 5 furlongs on the grass.  She was a juicy 17-1 and I knew if I could get this horse home, I was back in the top 50 of the standings.  I would then have a chance for some nice prize money if I could finish the day strong.

Choose Joy, my bomber, tracked closely in third and was loaded turning for home.  She surged in the final strides at the leader, but the front runner who had been off since June fought back and held on by a diminishing nose.  I got a $15.00 place payoff but missed out on an additional $36 for the win.  Numerous players had the 14-1 winner, and, instead of sitting on the first page of the leaderboard,  I was now sitting in around 170th  and the light at the end of the tunnel was very dim.

It wasn’t too long before the final race of the long weekend was upon us.  Sitting in about 140th and being only $20 out of the top 100, I had to decide if I was going to shoot for the top 100 to earn some points in this Triple Tourney event, or if hitting a bomb could move me into the top 28 of the cash prize winners.

In the field of 11 there were only three cappers and a 17-1 shot on the board.   The math told me I was blocked.  There was simply no way that I was going to pass over 100 players no matter what horse won.  It made more sense to find a horse I really liked at good odds.  [In the end my calculations were correct and even if I had hit the final contest race winner, I would have only ended up about 40th… but I digress.]

Not that I was considering the favorites, but the shorter priced horses in the field did not strike fear into anyone.  #11 Miss Dracarys had only raced one time.  She was let off at odds of 23-1 in her debut, indicating that she wasn’t exactly ‘well meant’ by her connections.  Despite that, she won, but now she was being asked to transfer that form on the other side of the country – not an easy task for a young horse.

So, I was on the lookout for a runner that had a strong chance of winning and represented some value.  I needed at least 6-1 odds to secure a top 100 finish, but of course, the higher the odds the better.

Santa Anita race favorites

#10 Empire House was starting for the dangerous Jonathan Wong outfit, but this runner had never attempted the turf.  She was getting first time Lasix and had a pedigree to handle the surface switch.  She made sense at odds of 9-1, but #4 Magical Thought was even more appealing.  Starting for trainer Peter Miller, arguably the best turf sprint trainer in California, this horse was dropping out of a graded stakes race and was cutting back from one mile to a preferred sprint distance.  She was also 9-1 and just the odds I needed to pass a lot of players on the leaderboard.

The Pivotal Question

When I first handicapped the race, it didn’t take my long to pass right over the #1 horse.  Having seen Mountaineers shippers lose at an extraordinarily high rate over the years, I didn’t care for the cheap maiden graduate to move to Santa Anita and win.  Although she had won by a large margin (over a bad field) she had “lugged out” in the lane, another negative note.  Two races back this horse had lost at Belterra Park.  Win at Santa Anita…are you kidding me?  Next.

Now, my Dad, who taught me how to handicap, would not have been so rash.  He would have looked at this odd shipper and asked himself the question, “What is this horse doing in this race?”  And that is the question that would have led to the correct answer.  He was here to win.

Santa Anita race 9 winner

The Mountaineer shipper had moved into one of the top barns in Southern California, that of John Sadler.  He had given the filly a long string of workouts, fairly consistent and dating back to at least early October.  She showed two bullet works in early October and a sharp 47.3 drill, sixth best of 52 at the distance on October 17.

Sadler was putting up one of the top jockeys in Southern California, Umberto Rispoli.  Rispoli is one of the best on the grass and also one of the best out of the gate.  This horse had flashed very quick early speed in her two races, and that is one of the main assets you typically want in a 6 furlong turf horse.

Why in the world would a top California barn obtain a lowly maiden winner from West Virginia?  By the stallion Cinco Charlie and out of a modest winner, the filly didn’t have much of a pedigree.  However, they clearly saw something in this runner and felt that she could fit a certain profile out West.  The connections were right, and they were handsomely rewarded.

The Final Race Result

With dusk falling over the stunning San Gabriel Mountains, Five Pics Please cruised to the front right out of the gate and ran the field off their feet.  At odds of 29-1 she easily held on for the shocking score in the $63,000 race.  She stopped the timer in a swift 1:08.91.

By not closely analyzing Five Pics Please and failing to ask the obvious question that my father would have asked, I missed out on a big longshot winner.  The Flo-Cal Faceoff champ turned out to be Alan Levitt, a 12-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship.  Back in 2012 he compiled a $195.20 bankroll en route to a 7th place overall finish in Las Vegas.  With one race to go Levitt was sitting in 19th place in the Flo-Cal Faceoff, and he wisely pulled the trigger on the Mountaineer bomber.  He catapulted past the 18 players in front of him and took down the lucrative six-figure cash prize.

The Final Race Result winner Santa Anita

copyright 2021 Equibase.com

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

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

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

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

Handicapping Tip of the Day #64 – Red Flags on Rag Tag

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

On a recent Wednesday card at Tampa Bay Downs (Dec. 9, 2020), the 2nd race of the day featured a nice field of maiden special weight runners going 6 1/2 furlongs.  The 3/2 morning line favorite in the race was the Eoin Harty-trained Rag Tag, a three year old who sported good form and superior numbers (speed figures, class ratings, BRIS Prime Power rating, etc.).  The well-bred colt from famed Calumet Farm also was coming in off a solid workout pattern.  What wasn’t there to like?

In Rag Tag’s case, quite a bit.  In his brief, nine-race career the colt had been beaten at short odds SIX times.  Three of those times he was the heavy favorite, as he was expected to be on this sunny Florida afternoon.

The most dangerous ‘Professional Maidens’ for chalk lovers (bettors who like to wager on favorites) are those that have numerous changes applied by their trainer(s) and continue to fail.  Rag Tag was a shining example:

  • He had raced at four different distances, from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.
  • He had tried the dirt, the turf, and the slop.
  • He had been ridden by six different jockeys, including top jocks Luis Saez and John Velasquez, Jr.
  • He had run with blinkers and without blinkers.
  • He had dropped in class and lost.
  • He had attempted five different racetracks.
  • He had never gained ground AND passed a horse in the stretch…ever.
  • Finally, he had raced for three different barns (Pletcher, Sisterson, and Harty)

All this in a 9-race career.  When the morning line favorite has been beaten, especially recently, at short odds, that is the first neon light to the handicapper to dig deeper.  Has this horse been in races where he or she should have won previously and didn’t?  When there is a lot of evidence pointing out that this horse is a hanger and lacks the will to win, it can open up a big opportunity for the horseplayer.  It doesn’t mean you’re going to pick the winner, but it does guarantee that you get extra value on your play(s).

Rag Tag went off at 70 cents on the dollar and was a closing 2nd to the lukewarm 2nd choice, a lightly raced Monmouth Park shipper.  He’ll got into his next race with a record of 10-0-5-1 and he’ll be heavily bet again.

Did you miss this Handicapping Tip of the Day?

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

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 63 – What makes a strong play?

Profit Risk Evaluation in Horse Racingby Glen S.

My recent blogs have talked about preparing for betting.  Today’s is all about taking advantage of the prep work that you have done.

You have watched the replays, you have handicapped the race card. At this point you should have a good feeling of the races to take a shot at or pass. One other thing to check would be are there any carryovers and, if so, what type of carryovers. Understand the difference between a good carryover and a jackpot carryover. which are more common nowadays.  A good carryover will be paid out that day.

My recommendation if it is a good carryover, start there with those races. Dead money always is in favor of the horseplayer, don’t miss out, but make sure you like the sequence.

Next step start with your strongest races you like, maybe a replay horse or a race with very few unknowns and then build around that race. If I am playing sequence bets, I need to have at least half of the races I like quite a bit. This doesn’t mean I have keys in every race, but does mean I have the max horses in the race I need.

If the bookends of your strongest race are terrible, then it might just be an individual race bet. If the carryover is big enough in the sequence, I will take a small chance and play the sequence.

What makes a strong play?

Here are a few key points I look for to give myself an advantage over the wagering public:
-Understanding race shape.  Fast pace?  Slow pace?
-A good replay that others might have missed.
-Vulnerable favorite that you think will get beat, but the public doesn’t and over bets that horse.
-Very few unknowns in the race, e.g. first time starters.

Always try and find that value, whether it is there because of a carryover, vulnerable favorite or your horse is paying higher than you thought.

Good luck and good racing.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #62 – What Is Your Betting Strategy?

by Glen S.

Picking winners doesn’t always mean you are making money at the horse races.  Successful betting strategies usually does though.

Let’s begin by realizing that every horse race is a little different. Why is that?  Well, there are  underlays, overlays, big or small fields, where the race is in the race card, etc. If you are a bettor that wagers the same way and amount in each race, then you are behind the eight ball right way. STOP THAT!

Your need to adjust your wagering according to the race in question and how confident you are on the race. How and what should we do?

Here are some do’s and don’t; hopefully you are on more of the do’s.
-Don’t bet the same amount on each race, as there is no way you like each race equally.
-Do step up a little more when you have a strong play, and step down when there are to many unknowns.
-Don’t be one of those people that tell me they never bet favorites.  Favorites win around 35% of the time.
-If you avoid favorites you have already lost on over one-third of the races. Favorites have value at times, too.
-Do understand when to box horses and when to make it a wheel.
-You should figure out the percentage of your opinion on the horses in question; if equal, box, if different wheel.
-Don’t be that lazy handicapper that plays the caveman ticket in pick 4s or pick 5s.
-Oftentimes you need to play multiple tickets – that saves you money and takes advantage of your handicapping ability.

Read Handicapping Tip #16 – 4 Times to Play Against the Favorite!

Here are a few other handicapping tips to set you up for success
-Do take advantage of all the new and improved handicapping tools out there to help you pick more winners.
-Don’t be that handicapper that thinks they know it all and has bet the same way they have for the past 20 years.
-Do the research and pick your spots and make yourself some money at the races.

Comments are always welcome as I want to get better each day as well.

Next Week: Part 2 of Betting strategies, sequence bets,

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Handicapping Tip of the Day #60 – Watch ‘em and Learn

Watch ‘em and Learn, even If You Don’t Bet ‘em

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By Art Parker

We are hitting that time of year when we see frequent two-year-old (juvenile) races. I don‘t care to play juveniles unless there seems to be something unusual or noteworthy.

For a good example of finding something unusual with a juvenile, I go back to August 2013 at Woodbine. In the first race of the day, a two-year-old debut filly by the name of Unspurned stalked a hot early pace and slipped past in mid-stretch for an impressive victory. The race at 7/8 miles had the following fractions: 22 4/5, 45 3/5, 1:10 3/5, and a final of 1:24 1/5. That seemed to be much better than average for baby fillies that time of year. I made a note about the young filly with the cool name.

The next race told me even more. Just 28 minutes later a field of three-year-old Maiden Special Weights males battle at the same distance, 7/8 miles. The fractions for the sophomore males were: 23 2/5, 46 4/5, 1:12, and a final of 1:25.

This is when Unspurned got my attention.

For the record, Unspurned went on to a very successful career with several stakes victories and ran behind the great filly and future Queen’s Plate winner, Lexie Lou, on a couple of occasions.

The boys in the other race were far from remarkable. The winner was C.C. Mobil, who finished a career with two wins from 46 starts. The second-place horse, Jobber Bill, finished his career with two wins from 34 starts.

One may not play juvenile races, but paying attention to them can be very worthwhile. Not only may one discover a good young ‘un, but it can help sort out some others.

Did you miss this Handicapping Tip of the Day?

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

Is It a Bad Beat or Something Else?

 

Handicapping Tip of the Day #59 – The Off the Turf Bomber

Look for These Attributes for an Off-the-turf Winner

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

This is the story of how I gave my buddies a 27-1 winner that won for fun, and I think they wagered a total of $10 on her.

A few weeks back I picked up my Brisnet Past Performances for the 8th race at Gulfstream Park, an off-the-turf claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.  First thing I did was look at the MTO (Main Track Only) runner who had drawn into the field and was now the favorite. The four year old filly had so-so early speed and just struck me as a one-paced runner, the type that makes a slow, steady late run that isn’t going to win many races…especially at Gulfstream Park.  She also showed declining speed figures for her 9% trainer.

Immediately, I was interested in who might be able to beat this vulnerable favorite.  The #2, 5, and 12 were all turf runners that had no show little-to-no ability on the main track.  Toss.

That left only the #4, 6, 11, and 13.  The #11 was a terribly slow horse for a bad trainer.  Easy toss.   The #4 had won a maiden $10,000 claimer at Tampa and this was a $25,000 2-life at Gulfstream.   She looked slow and outclassed for this level in South Florida.

That left only two possibilities if I was going to play this race.  The #6 Just A Bit Sassy had run twice on the dirt and had placed twice both times while earning decent figures.  However, she was beaten a total of 18 lengths and had failed to show much early speed.  She was being heavily bet as the second choice and I felt the risk/reward wasn’t there.

#13 Lilo’s Call, on the other hand, had gone wire to wire in her maiden win first time out at Laurel last March.  Off that start she ran a lackluster 6th on the turf (toss).  She was then well beaten in her next two starts in tough allowance races and one of those starts came in the slop.  I only needed to forgive her last start in order to make her a play.

Sometimes you just have to forgive a bad last race for no reason.  Today,  the daughter of Drosselmeyer was making her first start for her new trainer, a low profile but solid 21% trainer John Collins.  She had three solid works for the new barn, a very positive sign that she might revert to her prior good form.  Lilo’s Call was bred to love the distance and dirt, and she was already a proven, front-running winner in a one-turn mile race.  Went I looked at the toteboard on my ADW I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was 40-1.

I’m a privileged member of the LoneSpeed.com text thread, a select group of really good handicappers.  The small group of six includes superstar handicapper Dylan Donnelly (currently #1 on the NHC Tour) and wanna-be star Justin Dew.

It was 6 minutes to post and I texted my buddies about a longshot that I thought had a big shot.  Radio silence.

They broke from the gate and Lilo’s Call moved up into a perfect stalking position in third, just off the early pace setters.  At the 3/8th pole Miguel Vasquez asked and Lilo responded, cruising to the front.  From there she took command and then proceeded to just run the rest of her rivals off their feet.  She hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front.   The MTO favorite plodded along in second.  My phone exploded.

Chart of a longshot off the turf winner

copyright 2020 Equibase.com and Brisnet

The filly paid $57.20 win.  The congrats came in via the text thread, and double NHC qualifer Dew acknowledged that he had a few bucks on her.

Overlays like this aren’t easy to come by.  When you handicap an off the turf race, look for a horse that is proven on the dirt or has an excellent dirt pedigree.  Give the edge to runners with good early speed or strong tactical speed.  Couple that with an angle or two that makes sense, and you have the icing on the cake.   Best of luck!

Handicapping Tip of the Day #58 – The Fewer This The Better

Fewer Negatives the Better

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By ART PARKER

 

About forty years ago on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I sat in the old grandstand building at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. I was in the area where you had a seat without a table among many other patrons. It was shortly after noon and an older man sat down in the row in front of me and opened his Daily Racing Form to examine the races.

I couldn’t help but notice all of the markings on his Form. What I saw was quite an abundance of checkmarks in red ink. I wasn’t surprised to see notations since I, too, make notes all over my racing material. However, I was amazed at the number of markings this man made.

I couldn’t resist, A few minutes later I excused myself and asked, “Did you get the overweights in the first few races?” He responded negatively and smiled. I seized the opportunity and said, “Wow, that’s a lot of checkmarks you got there.” He laughed and said, “I’ve been doing this ever since my dad brought me to the track a long time ago. It was his way of evaluating things.”

Thank goodness I didn’t need to pry further as he simply explained, “I go through the races early in the morning and, I make a checkmark for every negative on each horse. If a horse has a lot more negatives than his competition then it helps in deciding to throw him out.”

I was staying in New Orleans that night and was planning another trip to Fair Grounds the next day. Later that night in my hotel room I was thinking about what the man had told me. At first, it didn’t seem so ingenious. However, the more I thought about it the more sensible the idea became.

I could have kicked myself for not purchasing Sunday‘s Form before I left the track that afternoon. I dashed out of the room and ran a couple of blocks to a liquor store in the French Quarter to buy Sunday’s Form. I purchased the last one sitting on the counter. Back in my hotel room I stayed up late studying the races and making checkmarks by each horse.

I had a good day the next day at Fair Grounds, and I left New Orleans thinking I made a great discovery. In reality, I just stumbled into a new way to improve my selection process.

Over the next couple of weeks, I thought about the negative notations. I realized the first good thing about doing this was that you had to be prepared before you go to the track. Playing the horses well is hard to do. It is very, very difficult. Could you imagine General George Patton leading his army without a plan and without utilizing as much information as possible? Finding the negatives of every horse requires advance study, and you can’t just show up at the track and expect to do all of that between races.

This practice also helped me understand that the best handicapping process must first separate pretenders from contenders. The best way to zero in on a winner is to dismiss those that simply have very little, or no chance to win, and, therefore, picking winners is as much the art of elimination as it is selection.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #54 – Risk Evaluation in Horse Racing

By Art Parker for agameofskill.com

In the financial world the “risk-return tradeoff” states that the potential return rises with an increase in risk. Individuals associate low levels of uncertainty with low potential returns, and high levels of uncertainty or risk with high potential returns. According to the risk-return tradeoff, invested money can render higher profits only if the investor will accept a higher possibility of losses.

What exactly is risk? Risk is the likelihood of an adverse event occurring within an identifiable sector, such as the private sector or government sector. Those who are risk analysts often work with forecasting professionals to minimize future negative unforeseen effects.

Profit Risk Evaluation in Horse RacingLet’s look at what happens when you go to the bank for a loan. The bank asks you to complete the application first. Why? This is the primary method by which the bank can analyze you as a risk. If the application looks good the bank orders a credit report, which is a critical way to evaluate you as a risk. If the bank then lends you the money it will tell you the terms, which is primarily the interest rate and other things. If your interest rate is lower than most, it is because you are a good risk.  If it is higher, then you are riskier to do business with. All of this is done so that the lender can expect a certain return with all risks balanced.

As far as horse racing goes, it would be unwise to select a horse in an upcoming race, regardless of the odds, without considering the risks, or what could happen to prevent the horse from entering the “Winner’s Circle.” Once the risks are analyzed it should be easier to grasp what the return should be.

How many times have we seen the lone speed horse miss the start, get squeezed or have early traffic trouble? If that lone speed horse can’t get the lead and no matter what the odds, all is lost. How many times have we seen the closer from hell become a victim of a slow pace or have traffic trouble and just can’t catch the speed?

It reminds me of a friend of mine, a very good player who loved to analyze pace. If he determined a horse was the lone speed in the race he would then look at those in the adjacent post positions. If those runners next to the lone speed have gate problems then the probability of the lone speed could be compromised. That’s very good risk analysis in our game.

In a recent piece I talked about finding the bargain horse, an effort that requires risk analysis in the overall race evaluation. A horse may be a bargain at 7-1, but if the amount of risk is excessive then 7-1 may not be enough.