Aug 21, 2003
Straight talk about angles
By: Ray Talbout
It is next to impossible for an impatient player to become a success at turf speculation.
This is due to the fact that so few races on the day"s card offer the investor a real
opportunity to cash a wager. Most of the races cardedevery day defy the skill of even
the most experienced selectors. To put it bluntly, most races are nothing more than guessing games.
Therefore, the individual who is unable to wait for suitable betting spots is doomed to the ranks
of losers before they start. The oldtruism, "horses don"t beat the players, the players beat
themselves"contains more than just a grain of truth. Ninety percent of all chronic losers beat
themselves because they undertake the impossible.
We are aware that many fans do not have the time necessary for detailed, careful handicapping.
But this lack of time is no reason why they should be doomed to failure, provided they have the
patience to wait for certain races and certain types of selections.
From time to time over the past 40 years, we have pointed out in American Turf Monthly that
angle handicapping can be used to advantage byanyone who can read and understand a past
performance block. Some of our articles have been devoted to this type of analysis. Over the
years, we have discussed and explained more than 20 angles which can be employed successfully
for selecting good-priced winners.
We stress good prices because: 1) if you can beatthe price, you can beat the races and, 2) no
matter how proficient one may become in this endeavor, they will always select more losers
than winners. Therefore, we cannot afford to back short-priced selections.
What is a good price? Certainly nothing less than4-1, because it requires a price of this amount
to overcome the inevitable losers. This statement is based on the fact that if the winning
percentage is no higher than 25 percent, one must receive an average of at least 4-1 to
Breaking even is not profitable, of course, but it is better than losing continually. Moreover, a good
angle will produce winners with average prices much higher than 4-1.
Here, we wish to point out that no angle, no matter how good it may be, can keep the player in
the black if they insist on piddling away the angle profits on horses which do not qualify.
In order to profit from the use of a good angle or two,one must be prepared to wait for proper
selections and must not waste profits on horses which do not meet every stipulation of the
angle (or angles) they are using.
Further, one should never forget that the presence of a good angle in a horses" chart does not
necessarily make the horse a goodwager. This is due to the fact that some horses are not
really good racing or bettingtools.
How can one distinguish between a profitable horse and one that is unprofitable? Simply by
observing its earnings record. Any horse today that can"t average purse money of $12,500
or more per year is not a horse that is truly a profitable racing tool. Like everything else, the
cost of shipping, feeding and caring for a race horse has almost doubled within the past 10 years.
But equally important is the fact that horses which do not earn more than their bare keep are
pretty poor competitors. And poor competitors are poor wagers. When one risks their money
on the outcome of a race, theycertainly should do it on horses which they know are profitable
for their owners.
Racing fans who recognize this fact often assume that the number of times a horse has won
as compared to its number of starts will separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately,
this is not always true.
Purse amounts vary from track to track, and even from race to race. The point to remember
is that the higher the class of the race, the greater the purse.
Our angle this month is based on four major factors:
1) The horse must have turned in a good race in its third race back, finishing within two lengths
of the winner, in a race that was run no more than 50 days ago.
2) The winner"s time for the angle horse"s last race must have been as fast as or faster than
the winner"s time for the third raceback. Thus only horses which competed at the same distance
in their third race back andlast race will be eligible for consideration.
3) The horse must have displayed early speed for at least a half mile last start, or it must have
closed ground from the pre-stretchcall to the finish, finishing out of the money, and this last
race must have been run within the past 21 days.
4) The horse must be the only qualified playin the race.
5) The horse should go off today at 4-1 ormore.
Don"t Gamble was a perfect qualifier in the fifth race at Belmont Park on September 3, 1995.
He won his third race back on July 26, within the 50-day time limit required by Rule One. The winner"s
time for his top race was three-fifths of a second faster than his winning time in his third race back and
bothraces were at the same seven-furlong distance (Rule Two).
Don"t Gamble qualified on Rule Three by leading at the first two calls of his top race, 18 days ago.
The colt was the only qualifier on Rules One through Three and he went off at 8-1 today (Rule Five).
His winning payoff was$18.40. Note that he was returning at the same seven-furlong distance today.
One question may arise for fans in future plays.What if a qualified horse is running today at a distance
that is not the same as the distance of the races on which it qualified? In such cases, we would only
take the anglehorse if it showed a win in its past performances at today"s distance.
In closing, let us remind you of what we said about the importance of patience. Without it one,
has very little chance of winning consistently.You actually need only three or four good winners a
week to keep you way out in front, and you can get them if you"ll wait for the right openings.
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