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Sep 24, 2004

AMERICAN TURF LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            If you look hard enough and long enough you will find that there are solid betting

opportunities at the racetrack that you can take advantage of if you just take your time and apply some

sound handicapping principles.

            On Saturday September 18th there was a solid betting opportunity. It wasn’t a specific horse

to bet on, instead it was a horse to bet against. The favorite in the 10th race at Belmont on

September 18th was very vulnerable and was a type of horse that if he didn’t win the race he probably

wouldn’t run on the board.

            In that race the 6-5 favorite was RAFFIT, who was trained by H. James Bond. This New York

bred by RAFFIE’S MAJESTY had three career starts, finishing first once, second once and third once.

His last race was a head defeat to GREY COMET (solid New York bred) in the $150,000 New York

Stallion series in April. However, that was April of 2003. This was the second time in his short career

that he had a layoff of more than five months and this one lasted almost 17 months.

            Trainer Bond is good at getting horses back off layoffs but this one is an extended layoff and

there were only three published workouts, all at the Saratoga training track. The distance of today’s

race was a mile, not an easy returning race for any horse especially one with a 17 month layoff and

only three published workouts. In most cases with these types of layoffs one is to expect that there

was an injury which may have caused the extended rest. This is even more the reason to play against

this horse today.

            The track was very sloppy from a few days of rain and the rain continued throughout the

day, rendering the track a sloppy mess. Certainly not an ideal situation for a horse coming off a huge

layoff. With a guaranteed pick four on the last four races that day at Belmont this was an ideal spot

to step in and play against the favorite. If you didn’t play multi race bets and were waiting for the race

itself to play you would have had even more of a push to play against RAFFIT. For the first time in his

career he came out on the track with front bandages. This is usually a negative sign especially if a

horse has not worn any in the past. Now some trainers use front bandages for sloppy tracks to protect

the horse but in a case like this when you have a horse with this type of talent if you were trying to

protect the horse then the trainer should have scratched him.

            After breaking midpack, RAFFIT, steadily backed through the field and finished last in the field

of eight. The comment from the Equibase charts was “finished early”. The horse was not handling the

footing and it didn’t seem like he was ready to run as he was done past the half. At 6-5 however this

was an ideal play against.

            If you decided to play against this horse and boxed the rest of the field, a $1 triple box would

have cost $210. The triple paid a surprisingly short $2,050. The reason for this is that many people

playing the race used common sense and threw this horse out. A $1 superfecta box would have cost

a pretty $840, and the return for a $1 would have been $5,325.50.

            The pick four with a favorite and two second choices with the winner of the last paid $1,366.

That payoff was more than double the parlay. With a pool of $358,038 you could have really went to

town by taking a strong play against RAFFIT. The pick three paid $505, much higher than the $287

parlay on those three races. Even the late double paid almost $60 more than the parlay

(DD $142.50, parlay $84.50).

            This was just a few examples of how you can get inflated value if you look hard enough. The

best play in horse racing is a bet against a poor favorite. There are so many pools that have the

favorite top heavy in the win end as well as the other slots. This race was a prime example if you

just took some time to look at the past performances. If you waited until the race was about to be run

and watched the horse come on the track you would have increased your play.

            These opportunities are there you just have to take the time to look for them. Be patient and

you can make yourself a winning horseplayer. Remember, just be patient and not play every race,

play the races where you have an edge, whether you win or lose, make sure you have an edge.

 



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