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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

 be played.

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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