January '00 Archived Newsletters

Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter
Saturday, January 15, 2000

There are quite a few reasons why people play the thoroughbreds. Some like going to the track on weekends to get away from the intense pressure and demands from their jobs. Others have been playing for years and love the excitement and atmosphere of racing. I myself have been at it for 30 years and I guess I've seen all kinds of players with various reasons for being there.

I've heard some mumble loud enough for anyone and everyone to hear that the outcome is fixed, that no one wins at this game, that no one stands a chance, etc. You've probably heard the same kind of stuff. Then there are the guys who act like they know everything and then you spot that all they have as an arsenal is a program and realize that the reason they are there is simply to be heard.

I have to believe that everyone on this forum has one thing in common, however. And that is that we play the horses with one overriding motive and that is to WIN. Believe it or not, there are many horseplayers who play without any expectation of making money. They just do it and are happy every once in a while when they cash a ticket. I'm not knocking anyone. Whatever their reasons so be it; they are entitled to do what they want, even if that includes playing blindly or without having any real idea of what makes horses win races.

Those of us who are continually striving to find ways to get an edge over our competition are obviously at an advantage. Once we have found that edge, however, it would really be in our best interest to focus on that particular play. What I'm saying is that we should find our niche and stay pretty close to what is actually making money for us.

I've said in the past that it's my opinion that we should "specialize." If we try to play all nine races on a card and expect to make money consistently, I believe we're fooling ourselves. One nine-race card at Belmont, for example could include two sprint races for 2-yr.-olds, inluding first-time starters, one at 4 1/2F and one at 5F. In addition there may be two races on the turf, one at a mile and another at a mile and an a half. Throw in a couple of 6, 6 1/2 or 7 furlong sprints and a few route races on the dirt and you have a fairly typical card for early June.

I know I can't expect to make money by playing all those different circumstances because I need an edge and I know I can't get one with every one of those complicated match ups. First of all, I don't like playing races with first-time starters entered. To me it's like rolling dice and if I want to do that I may as well go to a casino. So if I see a race with more than a few first-timers, I'll ususally pass.

The same goes for a race that is too contentious. Often I'll see a race that looks like it's my kind of match up. A 6F claiming sprint with 8 entries, all of which ran at 6F in their last outing, all of which have won against winners, etc. Then when I look at the pace shape and internal fractions, I see that 5 out of the 8 horses have legitimate shots to win. Should I roll the dice and pick one or more of those 5 and make wagers? Or should I pass the race and wait for a match up in which I have a better edge and advantage?

The answer depends on my real motive. If I want to enjoy watching the race with a few bucks riding on it, I can go ahead and put in a fun wager. If as in my particular case I don't want to risk any money whatsoever on any wager in which I don't feel I have a pretty good advantage, I will definitely pass the race and look for the next playable one.

The bottom line is that for me to stay ahead of this game in terms of a positive ROI, I have to play the races in which I feel I have an advantage over my competition and avoid totally the races in which either I come up with the same contenders as John Q. Public or in which I really can't determine using my techniques that there is an outstanding play. In other words, as I've said so many times, I need value and I need an edge.

What this all adds up to is that I must be selective. I must make wagers only on the races in which I feel I have a distinct advantage because the horse or horses I like figure strongly by my calculations and also are not likely to be thought of as contenders by most players.

Now on to a race from last Saturday. It was the 9th at Aqueduct, a 6 furlong sprint for 3-year-olds which had not won a race other than maiden or claiming or that had never won two races, which is also known as non-winners of one other than or NW1X. As per usual you will need an Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the past performances I've included. To download a copy Click Here. To get todays file Click Here.

Originally a field of 13, it was narrowed down to 10 with the late scratches of #1 Rich Emotions, #3 Angel's Sing and #13 Live Wire Lil. This left the following running styles from #2 through #12: P, E, E, EP, E, EP, EP, EP, EP, and P. As can be easily seen, this pace shape of EEE is greatly tilted toward early speed. The way I had it figured was that the true speeds were #8 Tranquility Jane and #6 Southern Sandra, based on their common race of 11/5/99 and gave those two the preliminary advantage based only on pace shape.

#2 was an SRE horse but since she had run her 2 lifetime races at the Meadowlands I downgraded her chances and dismissed her based on that and the fact that she had not run in 7 weeks with no great workout pattern.

#4 Crescent Coast was coming off a good-looking wire-to-wire win in her only race lifetime.

#5 South City Missy had done the same but at an inferior track and in slower time.

#6 Southern Sandra was a Profile/Wide Out play who was getting blinkers back on. Right away she had two things going for her, pace advantage and a last-out move-within-a race.

#7 Twilightinthe City was another who had just broken her maiden wire-to-wire in her first and only start. She had done so in the maiden claiming ranks. #8 Tranquility Jane was a Profile horse adding blinkers and had enough early zip to be a contender. #9 Book Smart had shown early speed in Canada but did not match up with some of these in the internal fractions comparison.

#10 Annie's Honor was another with some early presence but her outside post would hinder her chances. #11 Cherokee Racer was outrun in her last and her lone win was on a sloppy track. She and #12 Starship Kimberly, who had raced at Calder were also compromised by their outside post positions.

So what was I left with for contenders using my 3-component method? As I said earlier, #6 Southern Sandra fit two of the 3 components - favorable running style in relation to the pace shape of the race and the fact that she is a Profile/Wide Out horse. I kept Tranquility Jane as a contender because of her running style and also because she too had a last-out move- within-a-race being a Profile horse. The 3rd element of internal fractions comparison would bring out my top or co-choice. Here are the final fractions for each horse, listing the raw fraction first and then the horse's actual fraction:

 2.) 26.1 / 24.4
 4.) 24.2 / 24.2
 5.) 27.0 / 27.0
 6.) 24.2 / 25.1
 7.) 25.4 / 25.4
 8.) 25.0 / 27.0
 9.) 26.1 / 27.1
10.) 24.3 / 25.1
11.) 24.4 / 25.4
12.) 26.2 / 27.0

You can see that other than #2 Cinnaminson, who I threw out (correctly as it turns out as she finished dead last), the standout final fraction horse was #4 Crescent Coast. You can also see that the raw time of the race #6 Southern Sandra was exiting was the same strong 24.2 and all the raw internal fractions of that race were superior. I went back and forth between the 4 and 6 before listing the 4 on top due to her final fraction advantage. My comment for #6 was "dangerous Profile/W.O. w/hood back on" because I knew she looked pretty good in this match up also.

My 3 picks (after #13 was scratched) then in order were 4-6-8 and the results were 6 ($11.40), 4 (6-4 ex. paid $35.60), 7, 8. We'll never know how #4 would have done had she not taken a bad step on the backstretch while approaching the far turn, but she did a remarkable job to get 2nd after that mishap. I also collected $63 on the late D/D because my 2nd choice won race 8.

Hopefully this will help you to see how comparing running styles and internal fractions and using horses that show advantages in those areas along with any horses with last-out moves-within-a-race can help us in our quest for maintaining a positive ROI.

Clear skies and fast tracks.

Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter
Saturday, January 22, 2000

Welcome to another edition of "Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter." Some of you have asked why I don't simply shift my entire focus from the cold climate of Aqueduct to the balmy conditions down at Gulfstream Park. For one thing, I have local knowledge of the racing here in New York and for another, many of the races so far at Gulfstream have had less than ideal match ups, which may partially explain some of the recent wild and wooly unexpected large payoffs at Gulfstream. For instance, a typical field of 12 going 7F may include a number of horses who have last raced at routes, and even routes on the turf.

I prefer to wait out the fields that are more closely matched in terms of internal fraction comparison. When I do find the right plays at Gulfstream, however, I will of course pass them on. As a matter of fact, today's example race is one I played at Gulfstream last Monday when Aqueduct was closed due to frigid temperatures coupled with fierce winds. It will serve as a case-in-point of what I consider to be a playable race with an advantage horse.

I'm convinced that if we play the waiting game, we will come across a steady flow of pretty straightforward opportunities for value plays. Whatever our strength races may be, we should wait for those inevitable occasions. In my case, I try to locate match ups that present internal fraction advantages and then look for any value plays that such an advantage horse may initiate while also focusing on pace shape and any last-out moves-within-a-race. The best situation of course is when we find an advantage horse that does not have competitive recent speed figures.

When we can locate a horse that has a standout final fraction or even better has also made a move-within-a-race during that effort, and earned a speed figure that is 5 to 10 points less than many of his opponents, we have a value situation. And we can also be fairly confident that if such a horse runs the race we expect due to his advantage, he will increase his speed figure by 5 to 15 points in a big next-out performance.

That's the ideal situation. Locating a horse that we expect to run much better than he did in his last few races. The public is truly mesmorized by speed figures and will refuse to play a horse who does not have equal numbers. They will also avoid horses that have gone off at large prices recently. Another value situation can be a horse that has won his last race and is moving way up in class. If he shows us through fractions or specific moves in his last race or a pace advantage in today's match up that he may very well run big again, he should be considered a value play. The public will often overlook sharp class-hikers thinking they cannot compete at such a higher level and overlay payoffs are often the result when such horses give us the right signals.

Race 3 at Gulfstream on Monday January 17th is an example of a race with a standout final fraction advantage horse. The only problem was that due to his previous race Beyer speed figure, he was made the favorite. Upon seeing this, I was left with a decision. Do I bet this horse at 8-5 or do I see if there is any value in exactas? First of all, the decision of whether or not to play to win should be determined by what WE think the odds should be. Maybe 8-5 is an overlay in our minds if we think he should be even money. It also depends on how many races we are playing on a given day and how much we are going to risk.

For instance, in my case I had played race 2. I liked the 1-entry and decided to play a few daily doubles into that entry. After losing the first race, I then decided to play the entry to win at 3-1. When the best the entry could do was 3rd, I was now down 2 wagers. I knew that I really liked the big final fraction advantage horse in Race 3, but had a decision to make. If I was ready to risk $200 on the race, I may have opted to put the whole thing on the nose to win and if the horse won, I would collect $520 and make $320 on the bet, which would have covered my previous losses and still made me a decent day's pay.

But since I will reserve such large wagers for very rare occasions (such as Artax in the Breeder's Cup) in which the horse has a whole lot going for him, I couldn't make much of a profit with a much smaller win bet. So I decided to look around to see if any exacta with my horse on top would pay enough to be considered value. When I saw that a couple of my other contenders would complete pretty decent exactas, my decision was made for me.

Attached are the Daily Racing Form past performances for this race, which was an allowance NW1X for fillies & mares 4-years-old and upward going 6 furlongs. You'll need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these past performances and if you don't have one, you can download a free copy Here.To get the file for today Click Here.

I assigned this field of 7 the following running styles beginning with #1: EP, P, EP, EP, EP, P and EP. Right away it was clear that there was a lot of early speed in this EP-EP pace shape, with 5 early speed types and 2 pressers. If you have access to the charts of the race, you will see that after the 1st quarter, 5 horses were within about a length and a half of the lead, which confirmed the amount of early speed.

The first thing we want to do in such a match up is to determine if there is a dominant early speed horse from among the group of 5 early speed types. Here are the last-race turn times of the 5 EP horses, who were #'s 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7; the turn times will be followed by the track variant for the day of their last race: 23.2-10, 23.4-18, 24.0-18, 23.4-18 and 24.2-16. Going by turn time and early fractions in general, it appeared as though #1 Stealth would be out for the early lead, but with so much potential for a battle, she did not have the look of a horse that would survive a multi-horse duel and then pull away to a wire-to-wire win.

The only last-out move-within-a-race was made by #7, Glitter Space who was a Profile horse. Since she was one of the EP runners as well, she was immediately put on the short list of contenders if the price was right and as it turned out her post time odds of better than 47-1 made her quite an overlay in a 7-horse field.

Having covered the first 2 steps of running style comparison and pace shape examination along with moves-within-a-race, the remaining comparison I had to make was final fractions to see if there was an advantage horse. Actually, with a quick perusal of the entries, it was easy to spot that there was a horse exiting a race with much stronger fractions than the others. So seeing that apparent advantage, I would declare this as a race to handicap and look for potential value.

As I said, in sprints I compare final fractions, or more specifically 3rd quarter fractions. Since this field had 3 horses exiting 5F races, a projection of the last furlong time was necessary for those. That estimate for the final furlong is 13 seconds, so for the 3 horses that ran at 5F I added 13 seconds to the final times of their races.

Here's how I figured the final fraction for each horse. #1 - 45.2 from 111.3 equals a raw time of 26.1. Since she gained more than a half length during that segment, her time is 26.0.

#2 was away from the races for more than 7 months and as such was what I call stale. Generally such a horse, unless it has shown speed figures superior to the rest of the field in most if not all of it's races before the layoff, should be given a race before being considered as a contender. For the purposes of this exercise I'll figure the final fraction of it's last race anyway: 45.3 from 110.3 equals a raw time of 25.0 plus 6 5ths for losing 6 1/2 lengths for a time of 26.1.

For #3 after adding 13 seconds to the final time of 58.3 we get 111.3, less the half mile time of 46.0 equals a raw final fraction of 25.3. Subtract 3 5ths of a second for the gain of 3 1/4 lenths and her final fraction time is 25.0.

For #4 we add 13 seconds to the final time of 59.1 and get 112.1 as a projected 6F time. Since she lost less than a length, the raw time is her time: 112.1 less 47.0 equals 25.1.

For #5 we add 13 seconds to the raw final time of 58.3 and get 111.3. From that we subtract the half-mile time of 46.0 and get 25.3. Since she neither gained nor lost a length or more, her time is the same as the raw time of 25.3.

For #6, we subtract the half-mile time of 46.2 from the 6F time of 110.3 and get a raw time of 24.2. Since during that 3rd quarter she gained a only half length, the raw time of 24.2 is her actual time.

And for the final horse, #7, we subtract the half-mile time of 46.2 from the final time of 112.4 and get a raw time of 26.2. Since she lost 12 lengths during the final quarter, we add 12 5ths and get her final fraction time of 28.4.

Here then is a list of the horses with the raw times and the actual times, each of which I put next to each entry's p.p.'s on the far right side of my Daily Racing Form to compare:

1.) 26.1 / 26.0
2.) 25.0 / 26.1
3.) 25.3 / 25.0
4.) 25.1 / 25.1
5.) 25.3 / 25.3
6.) 24.1 / 24.1
7.) 26.2 / 28.4

Like I said, by simply skimming over the entries and doing some quick subtraction of the fractions, it quickly becomes evident that there is a standout in this group. A difference of 2 points, or fifths of a second, is significant, so 4 points is a big internal final fraction advantage and should get our attention immediately. In this case, like I said, #6 Hello Bertie earned a big Beyer Speed number in her race prior, which enamored the betting public as well as the public handicappers and reduced her oddsto 8-5.

Many times, however, you will come across significant advantage horses who will not have any recent Beyer speed figure advantage, and those will be value plays in and of themselves. For instance, in last Saturday's newsletter selections at the Big A, I made the following comments next to my top picks for races 1 and 5 respectively, "big internal fraction advantage" and "clear edge in fractions." They each won, paying $10.60 and $7.20.

Another horse with a clear final fraction advantage also won that day and that was #4 Spunoutacontrol in race 7 who paid $19.80. My comment on her was "broke maiden at Laurel with 24.3 final split." The only reason why I listed her 3rd was that she had run at Laurel and I downgraded her race. Obviously I shouldn't have and this is an example of what I referred to earlier; a horse that won and is stepping up in class with a clear final fraction advantage.

So what horses did I use in exactas in place of a win bet with the clear standout horse, #6? I had to use the Profile horse at 47-1, but to be honest about it, those odds were mighty high in a 7-horse field and I flinched a little bit and put in a smaller exacta with her. The next-best final fraction horses were in order, #3, #4 and #5. The odds for those horses were 3-1, 4-1 and 19-1.

Although I put in a part-wheel exacta of 6/3-4-5-7, I focused more on the 2 longshots for second and put a little more on the 6-7 combo and then most on the 6-5 combo, which if successful would pay around $50 and would certainly leave me with a nice profit for the day.

As it turned out #6 Hello Bertie stalked from a 4-wide position and went on to win fairly handily. 19 to 1 shot #5 Petite's Dowery, who cut out all the fractions, held up for 2nd to complete the exacta in a remarkably strong effort, holding the place spot safe by more than 11 lengths. After seeing on my computer screen that #7 Glitter Space got 3rd, (Gulfstream Park permits a live video stream through Broadcast.com) I wished that I had gone with the trifecta also.

The payoffs were $5.20 to win on #6, a 6-5 exacta of $53.20 and a 6-5-7 trifecta of $582.20.

I hope that this exercise has helped you to see the power of internal fractions comparison and hopefully it will help your bottom line in the future. When I spot such plays on the days I give selections, I'll continue to mention them.

Clear skies and fast tracks.

Horseracing Handicappers' Free Picks Newsletter
Saturday, January 29, 2000

I read an interesting article in this past Saturday's Daily Racing Form. It was by Dave Litfin and concerned one of the more mysterious phenomena surrounding thoroughbred racing and handicapping. I'm referring to the occurrence known as "bouncing." Bouncing, as many of you know, is the term used to describe an "off" race or an inferior performance by a horse in his next start after a very strong outing.

When a horse "bounces" or reacts negatively to a strong effort, his speed figures will almost always decline, sometimes sharply. Although there are cases in which a horse bounces and still wins or runs in the money in his next start, his speed figures will still generally decline significantly. Most of the time, however, when a horse bounces, he will be off the board and out of the money.

What causes bouncing? I don't know of any clearly defined reason. In my opinion, as I've said in a past newsletter, bouncing occurs in other sporting events also. I've seen many top individual and even team efforts be followed up by an off outing. For some mysterious reason, a top effort is sometimes, but not always, followed by a real dud of a performance.

As far as horseracing goes, I think one thing to look for are horses that have run big after an extended layoff. I think they may have slightly more of a propensity to react negatively in their next start. It's also my opinion that a horse who ran well and gained significant ground in what I refer to as "the golden eighth" will have a much less chance of bouncing. A strong move during the "golden eighth" is one of the moves-within-a-race described in my book, "Calibration Handicapping."

So now back to the interesting case-in-point as told by Dave Litfin last Saturday. The featured 9th race that day was the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap. The morning line favorite was a horse called Badge. To most handicappers, Badge looked like a strong candidate, thus his post time odds of 4-5. He had just won his last race quite easily with a 4-wide move going away as the favorite at odds of 7-5. This money allowance race win looked like a perfect prep for Saturday's stakes event.

Badge had some other things going for him. He was 1 for 2 at the distance of a mile and a sixteenth; he was 4 for 5 on the Aqueduct Inner Dirt Track, with a 3rd place finish the one time he didn't win; he won that last race as the highweight in the field; he had run against some mighty tough competition in 1999, including a 3rd-place finish in the Preakness against eventual horse-of-the-year Charismatic; and he ran a strong final fraction in his last-race win. He also ran a Beyer speed figure of 100 in his first race back off a layoff of nearly 7 months.

Badge had a string of strong workouts after having been rested for about 7 weeks subsequent to his comeback victory. In other words, add all this together and the result to most handicappers was that Badge was an extremely strong candidate to run well in the Aqueduct Handicap. His trainer even rested him long enough to avoid a potential bounce.

But there were sinister forces at work. Hidden forces that defy logical explanation. Badge was doomed. Statistically he had no chance to win the race. Why? Dave Litfin explained in his column why eventual 4-5 shot favorite Badge had little or no chance of winning because of what he accomplished in his last race. Badge did something that only an extremely small number of horses have been able to do. And that is to win a race as a 3-year-old against older horses while being the actual highweight in the race.

Now for some of us who don't focus all that heavily on weight assignments, this feat went completely unnoticed and was not looked upon as anything extraordinary. Not only that but Badge did this less than a month before he turned 4 years old. What was so great about this? Well according to an exhaustive and thorough study done by Steve Davidowitz, this was truly a rare and very impressive feat.

In his book, "Betting Thoroughbreds" Davidowitz wrote: "When a 3-year-old is assigned actual top weight in a race for three years and up, the 3-year-old has little or no chance of winning." But as Dave said, consider the ramifications of that effort: in Davidowitz's original study of stakes and allowance races during the 1970's, there were only 10 documented exceptions to the rule, and as the author noted, "all 10 horses in the original study who defied the age-linked weight concessions "bounced" or showed a decline in their form in subsequent starts."

After reading Litfin's article, I took another careful look at Badge. Being a believer in the bounce theory and with the overwhelming evidence against him, I wanted to throw him out completely, but looking at his overall past performances, the worst I was able to list him was 2nd. In Saturday's race in a field of 8, Badge went on to stalk the leaders to the upper stretch and at odds of 4-5 proceeded to completely drop anchor in the dullest race of his entire career, beating only 2 horses in the process. Yes, forces beyond his control were at work. Badge really had little chance to win that race as he was destined to "bounce" right off the board.

The race I would like to review this week is the 4th at Aqueduct last Sunday, 1/23/00. It was a 6-furlong race for fillies and mares with a claiming tag of $35,000 down to $30,000. Attached are the Daily Racing Form® past performances for this race. You can get the PDF file Here.

I chose this race not simply because I had the winner ($23.60) listed as my top pick, but because it is a good example of a value race that with a little "reading between the lines" could result in a nice payoff. When I handicap the day before the races, I try to spend extra time trying to spot value plays. But this does not include how to bet the races. I've previously given a simple wagering plan that hopefully has produced some profit, but it does not cover all the bases by any means. That plan included playing the top two (or three) picks to win if the odds warranted it as well as playing all three in an exacta box.

When I look at the current odds of a horse I feel is the most likely to win and see 12-1 or so, which the winner of this race was until the odds dropped to 10-1 at post time, I realize that this is the time to check out all the wagering options because if I'm right and this horse wins or runs second, I can be pretty certain that the exotic wagers will pay well also. In other words, if the horse I like to win a race is 9-5 or 2-1, I may not want to consider keying that horse in the first 2 slots of a trifecta. But anything 5-1 or better should get my attention to at least check out such a wager. I usually don't focus on trifectas unless my top choice is a longshot overlay.

By check out a trifecta wager I mean to see how many contenders I feel there are for each position of the wager. How many horses do I feel have the most realistic shot of winning the race? How many have a shot to be there for second or third but not to win? How many are periphery plays who have a shot at getting 3rd money but in my opinion not all that great of a chance at the win or even 2nd? Well, these are the questions I asked myself here in front of my computer last Sunday as I was preparing to play race 4 at Aqueduct.

Now let's take a look at race 4 from last Sunday. I assigned the following running styles to horses 1 through 11: P, S, EP, EP, P, EP, P, EP, EP, P and P. This was an EP-EP pace shape and an honest race shape. With 5 of the field of 11 being EP runners, it's always wise to try to determine the speed of the speed and also if that horse has a good shot at going all the way. Of the 5 EP horses, one had run last at Mnr, wherever that is, and another had last run at Woodbine in Canada 15 months ago and right away due to that layoff was tossed by me. I also discounted the early speed of the horse from Mnr due to not having remembered any horses doing well in New York on their first try from there.

I was down to 3 EP horses, and from that group #8 Flag On the Gate sure seemed to be the likeliest front runner. #3 Is A Doll had the potential to go to the lead as did #9 Latifah, but Flag On the Gate showed an absolute preference to be on top. Could she go wire to wire? In my opinion no. As a matter of fact, when I made the selections for this race, I figured that she would face some pressure early and I didn't even list her 2nd or 3rd.

There were two horses that had made a last-out move-within-a-race and they were both Profile horses. #1 Maggie May's Sword and #11 Swift Sword. Since I only list 3 horses, I left out Maggie May's Sword in spite of being a Profile play. I went with the horses with the best final fractions and also a horse who was taking a significant drop in class and had run as a Wide Out in her prior two races, #3 Is A Doll. But Maggie May's Sword certainly had the look of a periphery player for a trifecta wager.

Here is the breakdown of the field with the final fractions next to each, the raw time followed by the actual time for the horse. To the right is the last-race Beyer speed figure:

 1.) 25.4 / 27.0  57
 2.) 25.4 / 25.3  66
 3.) 26.3 / 26.4  66
 4.) 25.3 / 26.0  67
 5.) 25.4 / 26.3  53
 6.) 25.2 / 25.2  76 STALE
 7.) 25.1 / 27.0  50 STALE
 8.) 25.4 / 26.0  66
 9.) 25.4 / 26.0  70
10.) 25.0 / 24.4  73
11.) 24.0 / 25.0  58

Two things are immediately evident here. First, the best last race final fraction horse is also the best last race Beyer speed figure horse other than the stale entry, #6, whom I threw out. It doesn't hurt to underline in red in each race the highest last-race Beyer speed figure. I underline the highest Beyer showing for EACH horse in the race to get an idea what its top number is and how its last race or 2 compare to that. In the case of #10, Fast And Fortunate, her best of the bunch last Beyer of 73 was not her lifetime top; 83 was and she had run 79 twice in her last 12 races. This means that she was not a likely bounce candidate based on that alone.

It's a pretty nice scenario when you come up with a horse that has won her last race at the same track and distance and who also had won before at the track. With the best last-race final fraction, the highest last-race Beyer speed figure and odds of 10-1, what more could one ask for? Why the overlay? Probably because she was stepping up in claiming price and also because she was going from the outside. If she was a plodding closer I would be more leery of playing an outside horse on Aqueduct's inner, but she usually ran fairly close up and I could have even labeled her an EP runner.

As it turned out Fast And Fortunate broke 10th and made a huge late run to get the win, not the kind of trip I would have predicted for her, but she managed to get up by a comfortable length and a quarter at the end. In hindsight, which as I say is always 20-20, and I know that it's real easy to redboard a race after it's finished, I probably should not have listed as my 2nd choice #11 Swift Sword. I did so because she had the 2nd best final fraction, but as Larry S. pointed out to me before the race, she had not run in 50 days and had one lone average workout since.

My picks were in order, #10, #11 and #3. Here is how I played the race. The first thing I wrote down was a win wager on #10 Fast And Fortunate. I then decided to use the exotic calculator and see what the cost of a trifecta would be keying #10. Who would I use on top? After looking the field over closely again and agreeing with Larry that #11 Swift Sword was a periphery play, I decided to go with only #10 in the win slot. For second, I had to use my other two selections #3 and #11, but were there any others who could get the place money? What about the speed?

I figured I HAD to put in the speed for 2nd and 3rd also. In addition, I had to use the other Profile horse, #1 for the place and show spots. Were there any other periphery horses who could get 3rd? I thought that #2 Clear Margins ran a real nice race in her last, but being an S horse/closer on the inside, her chances would be compromised. I threw her in for a chance at the show money. Here then is the trifecta wager I constructed using the exotic calculator on my desktop:

10 / 1-3-8-11 / 1-2-3-8-11

The cost for this $1 trifecta using 6 entries of the 11-horse field was instantly shown to me as $16.00 by the exotic calculator I have on my desktop. Obviously, for a $2 wager the cost was $32.00. I don't know how many of you can quickly calculate yourself the cost of trifecta plays, but I know I can't for all combos, without the help of a calculator. This particular wager is not too difficult to calculate as it's not that complicated. We can simply multiply the number of horses in the win slot times the number of horses in the place slot times the number of horses in the show slot (minus one). In other words, 1 X 4 X 4 times the dollar amount of $1 equals $16. But what if we added another horse to the win slot? What would be the cost of this $1 wager?

3-10 / 1-3-8-11 / 1-2-3-8-11

Is it $32? No, it's actually only $25 and I don't know how to calculate that without a computer of some kind. How about if I wanted to put my top choice in the second slot also since I added another to the win slot? What would this wager cost?

3-10 / 1-3-8-10-11 / 1-2-3-8-11

This would cost $29. Anyway, as you can see, it's pretty handy to know that the cost of covering this many horses behind a key horse or two to win is only $16, $25 or $29.

The results of the race were as follows: #10 won at $23.60, the exacta of 10-8 paid $175.50 and the trifecta of 10-8-1 paid $3,413.00! Was I surprised at that payoff! Here is an imaginary parlay of the first 3 finishers: $23.60 times one-half of what the place horse would have paid to win ($14.40; 7.20 X $23.60 = $169.92) times one-half of what the show horse would have paid to win ($23.00; 11.50 X $169.92 = $1,954.08).

In essence, this trifecta paid over $1,400 more than it should have. Forrest Gump's declaration that "life is like a box of chocolates" because you never know what you're going to get, can be applied to trifecta wagering also. In many cases, when keying on a longshot, the results are a plesant surprise. While the hit rate on these plays may not be extremely high, an occasional investment of $16 or so with a return of $1,700 or so can make up for quite a few losses. Just some food for thought.

Clear skies and fast tracks.

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