To Bet or Not to Bet

Jude Feld, handicapper and blogger for HRRNby Jude Feld (reprinted with permission of our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

When Oakland A’s catcher George Kottaras hit an important game-winning home run against the Texas Rangers in the final throes of the 2012 season, he said, “We stuck to our game plan.”

Often you hear professional golfers say, “You have to take what the course gives you.”

St. Augustine said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

William Shakespeare may have just as well written, “To bet or not to bet. That is the question.”

Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup preview day at Santa Anita on Sept. 29 was the place and time to utilize all of those wise sayings.

The final Pick Four sequence included four stakes, three of them Grade 1 events. It kicked off with the Zenyatta (G1) with local favorites Include Me Out, Amani and Switch squaring off against Todd Pletcher shipper Love and Pride and Larry Jones invader Joyful Victory.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you buy the race with those five.

It could be suggested that the Rodeo Drive (G1) held the best place to single. Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix held a current condition and class edge over the field. To me, the second-best filly in the race was Stormy Lucy, but she is three and although vey talented, not nearly as accomplished as the favorite.

The big race of the day was the Awesome Again (G1). Game On Dude was the heavy favorite, by virtue of his multiple Grade 1 victories and a perfect four-for-four record at The Great Race Place.

Some fans fancied one of the geriatric handicappers – Richard’s Kid and Rail Trip. Suggestive Boy, an Argentine import, had his backers as well. Really, it was all wishful thinking, as “GOD,” as he has become known, looked lengths the best on paper.

Four fillies seemed to dominate the Unzip Me Stakes, the final leg of the Pick Four.

Viva Carina had never run a bad race in three starts. She was shortening up to six and a half furlongs down the hill from a second-place finish in the Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar.

Koko Loca owned a nice turn of foot and seemed like she would like the hill. Her best U.S. race was on the turf and she was getting back on it for this race.

Stable whispers were out on Madoffwiththemoney, a winner of three of her five lifetime starts, shipping in from Golden Gate Fields, whose best Beyer speed figure had been earned on the grass.

Byrama rounded out the contention. She was a stakes winner already and had placed in two graded stakes. Jockey Rafael Bejarano was back aboard her after a three-race absence and he had won twice on her this year.

At the very minimum, your Pick Four ticket is 5 x 1 x 1 x 4 or $20 in $1.00 increments.

If Stormy Lucy or some other filly or mare worried you in the Rodeo Drive (G1), the ticket goes up to $40 and if you thought Richard’s Kid or Rail Trip might give Game On Dude a run for his money, the ticket climbs to $80.

The $1.00 winning Pick Four of Love and Pride, Marketing Mix, Game On Dude and Byrama returned $88 – Certainly far from a life changing payoff and a tremendous risk considering the need to pick four winners in-a-row.

Saturday’s card was not a great opportunity to get wealthy. It was much too chalky. Surely better opportunities await on [future race cards].

Stick to your game plan. Take what the racing secretary gives you. Be patient and save your money for the days when you can make a big score.

You never want to bet a lot to win a little. The idea is to bet a little to win a lot.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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