Feb 05, 2004
Quick Picks for the Casual Player
By: Ray Taulbot
It isn't difficult to present a method that will produce good prices,
but it is an exacting task to find such a method that also produces a reasonable winning
percentage. Most difficult of all is to develop a price method that avoids extensive runs
of consecutive losers. Price and good winning percentage are not kissing cousins.
It also involves a toilsome effort to create a price method that
requires only a little time in which to make the selections. In short, it is a job that
requires more research than we could accomplish in the limited time at our disposal for
such work. Therefore, we have assigned the research to one individual who has devoted a
lot of time to checking a basic idea we had in mind.
Over the years, we have noted that many of the better-priced winners
were horses that were very close up at both the first and second calls in their
last race. This was the starting point at which our researcher began his work.
It soon developed that if price was to be the main objective, and if
long runs of consecutive losses were to be avoided, certain types of races had to be
eliminated from consideration.
For example, added-money races, turf races and steeplechase events
proved to be unprofitable. Likewise, horses who won their last start did not show a margin
of profit sufficient to warrant their inclusion.
Surprisingly, maidens proved to be profitable when played in
conjunction with the basic idea upon which the research was based.
As might have been expected, the date of the last race revealed itself
as more important than any other single factor. In short, it was found that 15 days was
the most profitable date spread between a horse's last race and today.
The reader may wonder why 15? Why not seven, or eight, or ten? Fifteen
proved to be the best because it allows the trainer a three-day margin in which to find a
suitable race beyond 23 days which is generally accepted as the ideal rest period
following the last race.
When all tracks are considered, regardless of their class, we find that
the highest percentage of winners are horses that started within 12 days.
This means that to take full advantage of this race a trainer must find
a race within that period where his horse is eligible for entry. This is not always
possible. Research revealed that in a number of instances a suitable race was found within
15 days. So it became clear the highest percentage date of 12 days should be extended by
After extensive study of this problem, we found that where separation
is necessary it was better to use a point credit separation than it was to attempt to
apply one rigid rule.
We found that five factors (which we'll outline below) produced better
results than could be obtained by laying down one hard and fast separation rule. When each
of these factors was given a value of one point, they proved successful in separating
Price proved troublesome in that frequently a qualified horse went off
at short odds. After experimenting with several ideas, we found that the only possible way
the player could be sure or receiving 4-1 or higher on his winning selection was to make a
price rule part of the qualification for play. Therefore, no horse is played unless its
odds are 4-1 or more five minutes before post time.
In order to meet the request for a non-time-consuming method, we had to
eliminate pace ratings entirely and depend upon the time in which the winner ran each
contender's last race in tie-breaking situations.
The method we developed is by no means the best way to make thoroughly
sound selections. However, it is the best "quick pick" method developed to date.
It is easy to use, isolates a reasonably good percentage of winners at
odds of 4-1 or higher, and does avoid unreasonable runs of consecutive losers.
We do not advocate its use by those who are sophisticated handicappers.
The method was researched and designed to fill the needs of recreational horseplayers. We
present this method with the hope that it will fulfill their needs. Following are the
1. Play no added money races, no turf races, no steeplechase
events. All other types may be played.
2. First eliminate all horses whose last race was run more than
15 days ago, and all horses that won their last race.
3. Eliminate any non-maiden that has not won in the two
years (as shown in its two-year and career box score) or does not show a win in its past
4. In order to qualify, a horse must have been leading, that is
running first, at one or both of the first two calls in its last race, and it must
have been within one-half length of the leader at the other of the first two calls. For
First Call Second Call
30Apr98 1 3h
17Apr98 2 1/2 1
20Mar98 1 1
5. The selection must go off at 4-1 or higher.
If two or more horses qualify under the rules at this point, separate
them according to the following point system:
a. Earned highest speed rating last start: one point.
b. Started on latest date: one point.
c. Faster winner's time in last start: one point.
d. Entered in highest class most recent race: one point.
e. Finished closest up in top race: one point.
The contender with the highest number of points is the final selection.
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