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May 12, 2007

Betting Odds Angle

By: Ray Taulbot

Circumstances alter cases. A need for the price rule we are going to write about is the circumstance that alters much of what we have written about price rules in past articles.

Every racing fan of any real experience knows that the prices his winners pay is of vital importance to his financial success. However, various turf writers have caused some confusion on this subject. A few writers have suggested that one should confine his wagers to horses that go postward at no less than 8–1; others have argued that the smart player never backs a horse that is held at odds of more than 4–1. Therefore, some fans are confused as to just what they should do about price.

The perfect selection method, of course, is one that produces a good percentage of winners at moderate prices,but which also points out a winner now and then at really high odds. It is not too easy to find this happy combination.

However, one must admit that every player does need a high-priced winner every now and then in order to helpoffset the losses incurred during a given period.

His need for a high price now andthen is obvious because no matter how good his selection method is, or how efficient he may be as a selector, he will always back more losers than winners.

As a matter of fact, about the best winning average anyone can maintain over a year of operation is about 35 percent. There might be periods when the winning percentages will climb as high as 60 percent, but sooner or later the percentage will encounter its low, which may be in the high 20’s.

So every player must face the inevitable fate that at best he is going to lose about 65 wagers out of every 100 bets he makes. And the losing percentage could be still higher, depending onthe capability of the individual selector.

Thus, it is clear that one can’t earn a steady profit if all of his winners are low-priced horses. At least he can’t do it on a flat bet, and progression can prove highly dangerous in thehands of an inexperienced operator.

The advice that one should stick to selections that go postward at 8–1 or more is mathematically sound, butsuch a demand limits the action severely. Further, such a requirement willusually result in a long string of consecutive losses, two facts that the average racing fan dislikes.

Is there a truly satisfactory answer to the price problem? We believe there is, but it involves the use of two methods rather than the usual one mode for making the selection.

A brief example will serve to make this point clear. Suppose that your present method has been found to be entirely sound, but the prices paid by the winners are a bit on the low side as compared to the winning percentage.

Under such circumstances, the method will show a small profit. However, in order to earn an adequate return for your effort it is necessary to increase the amount of each wager to a level that may demand more capital than you have available. For instance, if the method shows a yearly net profit of $3,500 on a flat $10 wager, one would have to back each selection with a $30 wager in order to bring the yearly net up to a worthwhile figure.

The man who does not have sufficient capital to make such an increase in his wagers must either stop betting or be satisfied with a couple of thousand a year, which is hardly sufficient in these days of high costs.

The only alternative this player has is to employ a longshot method in conjunction with his regular method ofmaking selections. However, he should be very careful in his selection of aprice method. He can’t afford to choose a method that gives him too much action because excessive high-priced action could conflict too frequently withhis regular selections. In short, he might find it necessary to back two horses in the same race too frequently for his own good.

Therefore, he must seek out a longshot method that will afford him only a few plays during the course of a week. There are two ways in which this can be accomplished:

1. Make the odds demand for the longshot method 14–1 or more, which will rule out many of the plays the method would normally point out; or,

2. Find a system, if possible,that will point out only a few plays each week at any one track.

The latter will prove difficult to accomplish. Hence the odds demand of 14–1 or more is the more logical choice.

It is our belief that a supplementary longshot method, combined with adequate odds, is the correct answer to the price-needed factor in turf speculation.

However, in spite of your bestefforts, you will occasionally encounter conflict between the two methods used.Therefore you must be prepared to back two horses in the same race when this occurs. The trick is to see that it doesn’t occur too frequently, and that is where the odds demand will prove of great help.

There are several good longshot methods available to racing fans. However, all of them present the problem oftoo much action to warrant using them in conjunction with a sound handicapping method.

We suggest that those of you who are interested in solving the price problem through the use of an auxiliary longshot method consider a little plan we have used over the years when seeking a high-priced selection.

Perhaps this is not the best angle ever developed for picking high-priced winners, but it has served usnicely and should prove of help to you.

Several years ago we noted that some horses that won and paid $30 and more followed a distinct odds pattern. Wealso noticed that most horses had moved up in class or claiming price last timeout.

We recall that on the day when we first noticed these points, there were three high-priced winners at two different tracks. In every instance, the three horses won and paid $30 or more.

This triggered our curiosity tothe point where we could not resist checking back to see whether the same situation had prevailed in the past.

We soon discovered that the samething that been happening with reasonable frequency in the recent past. But we noticed that when the odds today were less than 10–1, most of the qualified horses finished up the track.

This called for an examination ofpapers for the previous year, and again we found the same pattern repeating itself. This convinced us that some trainers make a practice of raising a horse in class or claiming price one race before they intend to crack down.

We are not prepared to say whytrainers sometimes do this; however, it appears to be done in the interest ofthe price next start. This assumption is based on the fact that too frequently when such horses were held at moderate odds, they failed to turn in a successful or impressive race.

During the check period, we watched the class factor to the extent of noting whether or not the horse wasdropping in class or claiming price today. We found that in most instances, thehorse dropped in class or claiming price today. However, in some instances, the horse went back for its trying effort at the same price for which it was entered last start, and in a few instances and under peculiar conditions, a few of the winners went up in class again today.

This latter situation occurredusually in starter allowance and starter handicap races, where the events were conditioned for horses that had previously been entered for a stated claiming price. Technically, such animals were moving up from a claiming event into either an allowance or handicap race. But in actuality, the field was madeup of nothing but claiming platers of a given grade.

However, we decided to confine our selections to qualified horses that were not moving up in class again today,accepting only those horses that were re-entered for a price identical to theirl ast entered price as well as those that were dropping down today.

This has caused us to miss some good longshots. Therefore, it is a question you should decide for yourself aftermaking a check of no less than three months.

Following are the selection rules to qualify a longshot selection:

1. The horse must have moved upin claiming price last start if entered in a claiming race, or one full grade or more if it was entered in a non-claiming race in its next-to-last race.

2. The horse must have started at a major track within the past 30 days, and its last race must have been run overa major track it if is running today over a major course.

3. The horse must have finished in the money in its next-to-last race, or it must have been running first,second or third at the stretch call in its next-to-last race, being no more than three lengths off the leader at that point.

4. The horse’s odds in its most recent race must have been 10–1 or more and they must be at least two times higher than the horse’s odds in its next-to-last race.

5. The horse must not be moving up in class or claiming price today. It must be entered for the same class or ata lower class than its entered class last time out. The odds today must be 14–1or higher.


December 14 3rd Aqueduct

1 mile 70 yards

Maiden claiming price $50,000

Can’t Stop Dancingc.2 $40,000

1Dec00-4Aqu fst 1 m Md clm 50000

7 8 6 6 23.30

9Nov00-9Med fst 1-70 Md clm 250008 5 4 2 9.90


Look at the past performances of the two-year-old maiden Can’t Stop Dancing who won and paid $48.80 inthe third race at Aqueduct on December 14, 2000. He was a perfect claiming qualifier.

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