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Jun 17, 2004

Half the Race is Out of Your Control (Part 4)

By: Joe Takach


I don’t know how many times the morning linesmaker and myself have been worlds apart, but I probably wouldn’t be lying if I said nearly every day.  Not every race on the entire card, but most races on most cards.


This has been true for me on both coasts.


Perhaps that’s why long ago I gave up the allegedly essential  “old school” time-honored practice of making one’s own morning line. 


I can see money management enthusiasts charging me with torches and pitchforks!


“Burn the heretical fool.  Tie him to the stake and be quick about it”!


Chill people-----don’t be so fast with that torch!


Why would I stop making my own morning line you ask? 


Simply because it’s a waste of one’s time and serves no purpose whatsoever.  It doesn’t matter what you think the morning line “should be” on any horse in any race.  Unless you’re betting $10,000 or more a race on a major circuit like Southern California or New York, your wagers have no bearing on the odds whatsoever.


The odds are dictated to you----you either take them or you don’t!


Handicapper’s making a morning line usually arrive at their personal odds line by saying something like this to themselves.  If this race were run 100 times, how many times would this horse win?  This process is continued until completing every horse in that specific field.


Those of you who have tenure reading my musings have often heard me pontificate about the fallacy of this type of thinking. 


In the entire history of “horseydom” no single race has ever been run twice, let alone 100 times! 


Therefore, the basic premise of making the “traditional” morning line is wrong---period!


So why waste your time making one?


The morning lines seen in track programs are an attempt to predict what the final odds of each horse will be at the “end of any race”. 


I say at the “end of the race” and not at the bell, because in today’s game, we see odds change as fields turn for home and not when the mutuel bell sounds.  While the mutuel bell literally locks all tote machines on and off track, electronic money is still in the state of transfer and thus the reason we see odds change so late in the running of the race.


Getting back to the track programs with their morning lines, understand that they are created by a track employee who is paid by the track to keep track management happy while at the same time coaxing the public to bet as much money as possible each and every race.


So how does a race track employee accomplish this?


Real simple! 


How often have we seen a lopsided race where the eventual odds-on race winner was offered a morning line of 8-5 by the track linesmaker, when any blind moron could see that the horse would never in a hundred million years go off at more than 3-5?


Did someone say too often? 


You’re right, but don’t blame the track’s linesmaker.  He’s only doing the job that he’s instructed to do thru actual words or implication upon his hiring.  Were he to attach too many 3-5, 4-5, even money and 6-5 horses in any day’s card, daily track handle would fall. 


In today’s game, even Joe Six-Pack knows the fallacy of chasing too many odd-on runners.  Joe’s reasoning comes down to “why bet when you can’t make any money”.  A bit crude for sure, but basically correct!


To further darken the picture of any track’s morning line, are the odds offered to non-favorites in most races.  Far too often I’ve seen horses offered morning lines of 7-2 or 4-1, when in actuality they should and would be given 8-1 or higher were the morning line created by an independent outside Ralph Nadar-like organization.  These manufactured numbers would at least be totally honest (accuracy aside), because the creators have no interest in the outcomes. 


The racetracks sure do!


In any given race, once the morning linesmaker gets past making his race favorite, he then has to create odds for the balance of that field.


Keeping in mind that he works for the track and all the implications that go along with that, it is to the track’s morning linesmaker advantage to create as much “doubt” as possible with the balance of the field.


Whudda he say?


Listen up.


If the track’s morning linesmaker had a short field of 6 horses and had installed the race favorite at 8-5, his next job is to create “doubt”.   He can do this by placing the remaining odds left on each of the other 5 horses as close to each other as possible. 


I realize that my example below might not add up 120 points or to whatever it is supposed to add up to, but bear with me for merely wishing to make a point.


In our hypothetical scenario, placing 3-1, 7-2, 4-1, 9-2, and 5-1 odds on the remaining 5 horses in that 6 horse field with the 8-5 favorite will make them all kinda look almost equal in ability.  If they’re almost equal in ability, then any one of them could finish second.


The morning linesmaker knows that 2 of the remaining 5 horses should be 10-1 and 15-1.  But by keeping the odds of all remaining 5 contenders closer together, he also knows that handle per race will always go up or at least be more than what it would be if his odds were more realistic.


This manufactured malpractice by the track employee almost forces exacta players to “spread” more money in every race by making them buy more combinations.  They buy more exacta combinations because they are influenced by the close-knit track program morning line odds.


Suddenly, they begin to question their own handicapping last night by mumbling to themselves “maybe that 9-2 or 5-1 shot can get there late in the drive.  I better buy a few savers and put them both under the favorite”!


Nearly all exacta players are guilty of this-------they simply buy too many tickets! 


And when they buy more tickets, the track just made 20% more of whatever they bet because the track’s linesmaker was successful in creating “doubt”. 


(And no, I don’t play exactas, trifectas, pick 3s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 9s or whatever.  Once in a blue moon, with the operative words being “blue moon”, I’ll bet a daily double, but beyond that, I don’t play exotics of any kind-----period!)


This brings us full circle.


We have absolutely no control over the odds in any race, so that part of the race is literally out of our control!





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