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.