Winning When You Lose

by Jude “Pontiff of the Pick Four” Feld

(reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerWagering on Thoroughbred racing is a game of probabilities, not certainties. Anyone who tells you, “This horse can’t lose,” is full of crap. Even Zenyatta got beat.

As horseplayers, it is our job to study the race before us, determine the top contenders and then decide at what price we will bet them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we won money, even if our selection got beat?

In his popular book, Thoroughbred Horse Racing – Playing for Profit, the late, great handicapper Ray Taulbot discusses a betting plan invented in 1912 by Robert M. Carlton. Dubbed the Carlton Sureway Method by its author, it is a century old this year and just as effective now, as it was back in the day.

The method is a simple “across-the-board” play – $2 to win, $4 to place and $12 to show. The beauty of this wagering plan is that a show price of only $3.00 will break the player even and anything over that will produce a profit on the race.

Even a chalk player can benefit from wagering this way. A winner that pays $5.00 – $3.60 – $3.00 results in $31.00 in payoffs for the $18.00 wagered – a profit of $13.00 on the race. But the beauty of this plan is that if the horse had finished second, the player would still show a profit of $7.20!

I love it when you win even when you lose.

Even if the above mentioned horse finished third, the player would have broken even on the race, preserving capital and maintaining equilibrium despite being wrong about the result.

In my own play, I rarely make straight wagers on horses less than 4-1 on the board. Those horses finish first or second between 40% to 50% of the time, year in and year out. I prefer to bet more to win and place on my selections and eliminate the show feature of the Carlton Sureway Method, although a few times a year I’ll have a horse finish third, paying big double digits, and I wish otherwise.

With a winner who pays $17.80 and $8.60 you get back $35.00 for your $6.00 investment – a profit of $29.00. Should the horse get nosed out at the wire you still make a profit of $11.20. That’s 44% interest on your wagering dollar!

I love it when you win even when you lose.

In today’s society, instant gratification is the rage. Huge carryovers on exotic bets offer payoffs that could be life changers, but remember the story of the tortoise and the hare…slow and steady wins the race. Everybody likes to shoot for the moon once in a while, but building a bankroll through steady profits is the really the way to play successfully…not the only way, but the Sureway.

— Jude Feld