Welcome to another edition of Horseracing Info Newsletter.

Today I'll be discussing a number of things pertaining to handicapping the thoroughbreds, all of which are geared to improving your bottom line or R.O.I. (Return On Investment).

My focus will be on a topic I consider to be equally important to success as the handicapping process itself - wagering. Without a sound wagering plan, making money at the thoroughbreds will be that much more difficult than it already is.

I have developed a 2-page wagering plan that I have printed and laminated in plastic. Each time I prepare to construct wagers for a race, I review this plan, and it has served me well since its inception.

With all the possible wagers and situations we confront, making the most productive wagers is no easy task, and this wagering plan has in and of itself strongly contributed to me being a winning player.

Don't get me wrong, in order to make money at this game, you have to at least occasionally come up with horses the public does not consider top contenders. But it is crucial to be able to make the proper wagers for each individual situation.

Anyone who wants to view and/or print out a copy of my wagering plan can click here.

Or you can get the same information on my website by clicking here.


It will be a common practice in this forum for me to review past races, giving you my thoughts on why they were good betting opportunities. While I will be illustrating successful results, it should be understood that most such occasions will not pan out for a variety of reasons.

Because of the nature of this challenge we call handicapping and playing the horses, a success rate of near 50%, let alone better than that is in my opinion impossible.

There are too many things that can go wrong, including results that are unpredictable. But if we stay with what we know gives us the best advantage possible, we can indeed stay ahead of this game despite having a relatively low hit rate.

That's accomplished of course by playing value situations only. When I say low hit rate, I mean 18% to 22% on the win end and lower than that on the exotic plays.

If you are playing strictly to win and have your standard minimum odds at 3-1 or higher, connecting at an average of 20% of the time with an average payoff of $11.60, you will make $32 for every $200 wagered. This comes out to a 16% R.O.I, which any professional player would certainly appreciate.

Hitting on 1 of 5 win wagers at the above connect rate and average payoff can make one a decent living of $32,000 annual cash income (no taxes) for 10 $200 wagers per week 50 weeks a year.

Why don't more people do this? Simple answer that will surprise no one. It ain't that easy to consistently come up with winners at that rate and at that average payoff.

But if you have a handicapping formula that works and you understand the concept of value, you can do this well or better if you have the proper control and discipline.


Now I want to discuss a race I played on October 14, 2002. It was Monday and Columbus Day was being celebrated, so my home track of Belmont was open for business as opposed to normally being dark.

Since racing at Belmont was being run for the 3rd consecutive day on a severe off track, I decided to skip trying to guess which horses would prefer or dislike those conditions.

I had in my possession the Daily Racing Form, and decided to look for a possible wagering opportunity at Santa Anita Park, 3 thousand miles away. I could watch on my television and wager on the races there just as I could at Belmont through TVG (Television Games Network) since I have Dish Network instead of cable.

Following are my thoughts on the 4th race that day, a field of 7 after the late scratches of #3 Pick Of The Valley and #4 J J Wantsthefront.

It was a group of 3-year-olds going a mile and a sixteenth for claiming tags of $16K down to $14K. You can view and/or print the DRF past performances for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

Following was the field in post position order with running style, last-out final fraction (raw/actual), Beyer speed figure, and any moves-within-a-race as per my book Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level:

1. Proud Alvin P 25.0/25.4 71 -

2. Six G's S 23.4/24.0 77 -

5. High On The Throne EP 24.4/24.4 72 -

6. Mamone P 25.4/26.3 67 -

7. Slouisiana Lew P 24.2/26.4 55 -

8. Jared's Pride S 27.0/27.0 80 SRE-T/M

9. Butte City P 26.1/27.2 61 -

I'll handicap each of these entries as I did using the approach I use as described in my book. The first thing I do is give the field a quick look as per my Red-Scan Qualifying Technique.

While doing this simple 2-minute exercise I also locate and label any "move" horses. Then I label running styles and note any pace shape advantage(s). Finally, I calculate and compare final fractions.

1.) Proud Alvin - I use the BRIS abbreviations for labeling running styles, E, EP, P and S for Early, Early Presser, Presser and Sustained or late closer.

I could have labeled this horse either P or S. What I do to differentiate when it's a close call between those 2 styles is look at the beaten lengths at the pace calls showing in the past performances.

In the case of Proud Alvin, his pace call beaten lengths for the 12 races showing were 2 3/4, 6, 2 3/4, 6 3/4, 1 1/2, 5 1/2, 4, 1 3/4, 7, 8 1/2, 3 1/4 and a head.

My rule of thumb is when behind most often by 4 lengths or more at that pace call, which is the 4 furlong point in sprints and 6F point in routes, I will consider him as more of a closer than a presser.

Proud Alvin showed a mixture of 4 & over and less than 4, more toward the latter, which made me go with the P label.

The art of running style labeling can be learned pretty quickly and takes very little time per race. But as you will see in this example, it can be time very well spent.

Proud Alvin had won 2 of his last 3 outings, at a mile for $14K, and his last at 7F for $16K. With a pace shape here of 1 EP - (7) or Lone Early, he looked like a contender for a minor share. His last-out final fraction (FF) of 25.4, however, which was adjusted from 24.4 for stretching out for this, was not as good as those of the top contenders.

2.) Six G's - I labeled him an S runner off his last few tries, which had him pretty far off the pace, even at the stretch call let alone the pace call.

But it was hard to miss the fact that he had been running with better company, including a last try against $100K rivals. The purse of this race was $20K. He didn't show much in that last one, but still recorded a 24.0 FF (actually for mile and an eighth races I measure the 4th quarter and call it the FF).

When I see a horse like this who was obviously overmatched in his last, I'll go back further in the p.p.'s. His prior was on the turf at $40K, again not similar to today's conditions.

But his 3-back effort was better and more comparable, having run 2nd against $20K claimers going a mile. As a matter of fact, that 3-back 2nd was preceded by 4 straight good races, 2 wins and 2 seconds.

All things considered, Six G's would have to be placed on my short list of contenders in this field, and the public liked him also, sending him off as the 8-5 favorite.

5.) High On The Throne - this one caught my attention immediately since he was labeled the only speed horse, an EP. But was it enough to be the lone early runner?

Many times it is enough as long as the horse shows at least something in his recent past performances. In his case, he exhibited more than just good early speed.

His last was a win at today's distance, and only he, Six G's and Jared's Pride had won at the trip. What really sealed the deal was his 24.4 FF to go along with his perceived early pace advantage.

When a horse shows a match up advantage of both early and late, he is usually one that should be taken very seriously for the win.

His last-out Beyer of 72 was in the neighborhood of the best showing, and the jump back up in class from his win at $12.5K meant that he was likely to be an underlay, or a value horse that would be under bet by the pubic because of their assumption that the class hike would be a significant hurdle to overcome.

This type of horse is what I define as value. One that is in good form, and in his case it was not prolonged good form, only recent good form. And also one that showed other strong factors pointing to a possible top next-out performance, in his case a pace shape advantage and a very good FF match up.

6.) Mamone - was coming off a series of sprints, including double Beyer tops. His 26.3 FF, adjusted up from 25.3 at 6 1/2F was not good enough for me to consider him as a prime contender.

7.) Slouisiana Lew - ran decently at a mile 3 races back, but his last 2 non efforts at 6F did not include any signals of a pending strong next out performance, so in spite of the drop in claiming price, he had to be considered a non-contender.

8.) Jared's Pride - the Red-Scan Qualifying technique pointed out this one, and since he was also a double move horse (SRE and T/M) he had to be included on the short list of contenders.

Here is another point regarding last-out final fractions and especially speed figures.

When a horse makes a last-out move, in particular what I call a T/M move, on many occasions that horse will have derived enough energy from his performance that will enable him to run a much better next-out FF and especially a much higher speed figure than he has been recently.

There was a prime example of this phenomenon in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile race run last Saturday.

My top 2 selections for that race, #2 Kafwain and #7 Vindication had prior 3 Beyer speed figures of 93, 92, 92 and 87, 84, 87.

I don't make selections based on speed figures, I'm just using these 2 as examples of how horses that are overlooked to varying extents by the betting public can and often do surprise with strong efforts and better speed figures.

In that B.C. Juvenile the favorite and 4th choice in the wagering, WhyWhyWhy and Toccet had last-out Beyers of 102 and 97 respectively.

Whywhywhy was made the 5-2 public choice off that last-out 102 Beyer speed figure, which in effect towered over Vindication's 87.

But what the public didn't see were the last-out "moves" that were made by both the $10.20 winner Vindication and the 19.80 to 1 Kafwain.

These "moves" signaled the potential for strong next out performances, and as things turned out, those 2 were all by themselves during the last 70 yards, producing a $164.60 exacta.

By the way, Vindication sure did increase his Beyer speed figure. His 102 was the 2nd highest in the 19-year history of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, behind only the 103 recorded by Unbridled's Song in 1995.

The reason I did not have either Whywhywhy or Toccet on my 4 horse contender list was simple.

Both had run their last race around one turn at Belmont. Whywhywhy at only 1 mile, and Toccet at 16th further.

Without having made a "move" in their prior outing, or having a final fraction advantage, they did not figure according to the way I handicap.

While I did not have a high hit rate for the 8 B.C. races, this race as well as the other 2-year-old race produced results that were plenty good enough to put me well in the black for that big day of racing.

Later I'll discuss how I constructed wagers on both.

But now back to our example race. I was discussing #8 Jared's Pride.

His last-out FF of 27.0 was not as good as my other 2 primary picks, but that was at a mile and 3/8ths. Going back one more race showed a 24.3 FF going this trip of 8 1/2F, making Jared's Pride a dangerous looking horse in this match up despite his sustained closer running style.

9.) Butte City - was stepping up from being claimed for $12.5K off a race in which he beat one horse after making a good middle move.

Going back to his prior, he recorded a 25.2 FF when winning at a mile at somewhere with the initials of Bmf when in for $12.5K.

He could be considered for a small share of this, but with only 7 horses going, I had to whittle this group down to 3 prime contenders.

I did remember him and Proud Alvin, however, with inclusion of both in the show spot in my trifecta plays.

My final 3 were #5 High On The Throne, #8 Jared's Pride, and #2 Six G's. I thought that Six G's could be a false favorite of sorts that would be played because of the big drop in class.

He definitely could get into the money, but was worth trying to beat for the win.

That left High On The Throne with the pace shape advantage, and SRE-T/M play Jared's Pride.

When I saw the price differential between the two, it was obvious which I would go with for the win. High On The Throne was 10-1 and Jared's Pride 7-2.

As per my wagering strategy, this was a small field with a situation in which I preferred 2 of the 3 contenders, #5 High On The Throne, and #8 Jared's Pride.

Since the near-post time odds on those 2 were 10-1 and 3-1, I went with the longer one, High On The Throne for the win wager, 20 units.

I placed the following exotic plays also:

ex.p/w 5-8/2-5-8 for 5 units
ex.p/w 2/5-8 for 3 units
tri.p/w 5-8/2-5-8/1-2-5-8-9 for 1 unit.

The cost of these wagers per $1 unit was: $20 for the win bet, $26 for the exactas, and $12 for the tri.

The return for that $58 outlay would have been $596.60 for a profit of $538.60. The race unfolded in a bit of a surprise to me as I had High On The Throne pegged as the lone speed.

As it turned out, Slouisiana Lew took over the lead from him on the first turn and held it for 6F, at which point High On The Throne assumed command again.

Inside the furlong marker it was a 2-horse battle between my top 2 picks, and High On The Throne barely held off Jared's Pride by a nose for the win. Six G's, like Jared's Pride an S horse, closed from dead last to get the show by a length over Proud Alvin, who was a neck in front of Butte City.

Prices were:

5 Win $22.60
5-8 $2 ex. $90.60
5-8-2 $2 tri. $288.20

Since I had a tri. p/w wager of 5-8/2-5-8/1-2-5-8-9, I was rooting for Proud Alvin or Butte City to save the show, but class dropper Six G's was too strong and completed a decent payoff anyway.

This is an example of not only a pace advantage situation, but also of the other 2 areas of handicapping I stress, "moves-within-a-race", and final fraction advantages.

As well as, of course, the all-important wagering plan.


Here's a quick review of how I structured wagers on the 2 Juvenile races last Saturday.

This was my order of preference in the Juvenile Fillies race, followed by the morning line, my value line and the final odds.

3. Composure (5-1) (5-2) (7-2)
4. Storm Flag Flying (1-1) (1-1) (4-5)
7. Sea Jewel (50-1) (12-1) (27-1)

Periphery Play

1. Santa Catarina (4-1) (3-1) (5-1)

As per my wagering plan, I came to the conclusion that this was a situation in which I preferred the top 2 over the other 2. The exacta option was eliminated due to the 4-3 probable near-post payoff of $13 to $14.

The trifecta was also not an option due to the odds of my top 3 selections adding up to only around 10.

In this particular circumstance, the superfecta became the actual lone play. While my top choice was a slight overlay (7-2 vs. my value line of 5-2), it was not as attractive to me as the superfecta since my 3rd choice was around 25 to 30 to 1.

My wagers were simple. A part wheel as follows:

3-4/3-4/1-7/1-7. At a cost of $8 per $2 wager, it was an inexpensive way to play the race with a shot at a decent payoff. And if it didn't work out, it was no big deal in terms of net loss for the race.

When Sea Jewel appeared on the TV screen late and finished 4th, it turned out to be the right play as the 4-3-1-7 combo paid $189.40 for each $8 wager.

In the Juvenile 5 races later, there was a completely different situation at hand. Here was my order of preference for that one:

2. Kafwain (12-1) (7-2) (19-1)
6. Vindication (4-1) (3-1) (4-1)
4. Listen Indy (30-1) (6-1) (13-1)

Periphery Play

5. Bull Market (12-1) (6-1) (12-1)

In this case I was looking squarely at a nice overlay on my top choice, and since it was a situation in which I preferred my top 2 over the others, it was a no-brainer as to which I would play to win.

Since the near-post odds were 20-1 to 22-1, as per the wagering plan, this was a win/place wager on T/M play Kafwain.

Following the plan, since there was very good value showing in this race, I could not play a "futures" bet in the form of a Pick 3.

The other options were indeed okay though, and here is how I constructed wagers, again using $1 as the unit.

20 units win, 20 units place ($40 bet). Since I really liked my top 2 T/M plays over the others, I immediately put in a 20 unit exacta box of 2-6 ($40) and then also played:

5 unit ex.p/w 2-6/2-4-5-6 ($20)
3 unit ex.p/w 4-5/2-6 ($12)
2 unit tri.p/w 2-6/2-4-5-6/2-4-5-6 ($24)

For that particular series of wagers totaling $136, the payoff would have been $2,217.50 for a profit of $2,081.50.

If Bull Market had been able to hold 3rd, the tri. would have been at least $3,000, but he had to settle for 4th as Hold That Tiger put in a great performance to get the show after a horror trip.

The wager structure of these 2 B.C. races typifies how one can get the most out of the occasions when they are right about their contenders.

Had I not taken the time to review all aspects of the plan, I very possibly would have missed out on the superfecta of $189.40 because I'm not at all accustomed to making that wager.

If you wonder why I didn't play the superfecta in the Juvenile, it was simply because as I say, I normally don't consider that wager, preferring to opt for the much easier exacta and trifecta plays.

Any number of non-contenders can clunk up for a 4th place finish that can result in a loss, when perhaps the trifecta clicked and was lost due to opting for the superfecta play.

In other words, I prefer to take what I can from the easier exotic play(s) rather than spread myself too thin by trying to cover each and every wagering possibility.

But a review of each is extremely important.


Here is another quick review of a race I had posted on the private subscriber selections page.

It was the finale, race 9 on October 24, 2002, a field of 9 three year olds going a mile and an 8th for tags of $20K down to $18K.

To view and/or print the p.p.'s for this one you can click here.

And for the results chart click here.

My order of preference was:

8. Boldest Heart (6-1) (3-1) (6-1)
2. Smokester's Knight (5-1) (7-2) (3-1)
6. Mystic Storm (5-2) (5-2) (2-1)

Periphery Play

9 Gleam Supreme (4-1) (4-1) (9-2)

I decided it was a situation in which I preferred Boldest Heart over the others, but since I thought Smokester's Knight had at least somewhat of a chance at the win, I decided to key both of my top 2 in the exotic plays.

This was a no-brainer as to the win bet since Boldest Heart had near-post odds of 7-1 and my value line was 3-1.

For those who play to win or win and place only, the 3 races discussed today that had overlay odds on the top picks, illustrate that money can indeed be made with that or those wagers.

It may seem like a simple thing to recognize an overlay. A 6-1 shot is a 6-1 shot, which is value. But learning to and making your own value lines is a valuable part of the whole process. Trust me, people who consistently make money on the thoroughbreds make their own value lines.

My plays for this situation were:

20 units to win on WIR/W.O. play #8
4 units ex.p/w (part-wheel) 2-8/2-6-8-9,
3 units ex.p/w 8/2-6-9
3 units ex.p/w 6-9/2-8
1 unit tri.p/w 2-8/2-6-8-9/2-6-8-9

The cost for these plays using $1 as the unit would be $20, $24, $9, $12, and $12 for a total of $77, a return of $643.15 and a profit of $566.15.

Obviously, it is not written in stone that one must opt for all possible wagers. Settling for the win wager alone or that play with just the exacta or trifecta can often get us the results we want.

But I firmly believe that if one has a sound wagering plan that they stick to like glue, they can and will construct the proper wagers for each unique situation, including and foremost the win wager at appropriate odds.

There is no need for me to duplicate in this forum my selections for today. You can find them in the usual place.

Until Saturday December 7th, 2002, I wish you Fair Skies and Fast Tracks.

Jim