Nov 19, 2004
Quick Picks for the Casual Player
By: Ray Taulbot
The following is an angle from Ray Taulbot. This angle can be helpful to the
casual player who is looking for a quick pick method. Next week we will cover the
opening of the Fair Grounds.
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.
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.
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.
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 within15 days. So it became clear the highest percentage
date of 12 days should be extended by three days.
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 contenders.
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 of
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
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 selection rules:
1. Play no added money races, no turf races, and no steeplechase events. All other types may
2. First eliminate all horses whose last race was run more than15 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 performance.
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.
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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