Sunday Notes

Here are a few things that caught my eye this morning:

Kingdom for a Horse

"The horses made three turns in the ring--two is a little unusual; I can say I’ve ever seen three—and each time the fans greeted the Derby champion with applause," wrote John Pricci today.

For fans the horses are the stars and it sure is better to see a horse like Animal Kingdom racing. Could you see fans lined up to watch him have sex instead? I guess we could, but the fans would probably be creepy.

Big bettor, Big Colt

Dana Parham was interviewed in HRU about racing and his excellent three year old colt. I happen to agree with him. I expect Odds on Equuleus to do quite well this year. (pdf)

Good Production, Good Info

I watched the Meadowlands last evening and found the structure of their presentation quite good.  While the horse's are parading they give some insight, while keeping the cameras on the horses, and Sam McKee adds some "sneaky good" comments to the mix. If you are at home you can find a reason to bet, and tracks giving people a reason to bet is what running a track is about.

Paying For A Really Bad Menu

Tom LaMarra was tweeting yesterday about the lack of uniform information in past performances. Past performances are a cottage industry in racing, built for another time. He has a point. They're like a restaurant making money by printing menus.

Stop Showing Races, Someone Might Watch Them

One of my 'sneaky' favorite races of all time is not a Meadowlands Pace or a Derby. I love seeing two horses go at it, with a nice race call. The 2005 edition of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream had all that. It was on youtube for years and I would watch it every so often. Several years ago it disappeared with the message "this race has been taken off youtube for Copyright infringement". What does Magna feel so threatened about they have to take a good race off youtube? I have no idea.

Betting 101

I had a chat yesterday with a twitter peep about record keeping. ADW's (some) allow you to track your bet, by bet, and by track, and from there you can figure out your ROI.  As the sample size gets large, you can see exactly what you do best, and worst. Adjusting your play can up your ROI by at least five points. If you are a 0.85 player, who is beating the rake and you add five points, you are at 0.90. Improve a little more, and add a rebate of five points and you are close to break even. If you are close to break even you can bet thousands more a year than you do now, and you can enjoy horse racing a whole lot more. It's not a sin to say "I suck betting Yonkers" or "I suck betting daily doubles"; it's smart to do that.

Being honest with yourself is one of the more important things for a horseplayer. You have to be able to say you stink at something; you have to take ownership of your own failings as a player. A sure sign of a losing player is one who constantly blames his losses on a jockey or rider, or trip. Those might make a difference on one day, but being a winning or losing player is based on understanding why we win or lose, or why a horse won or lost. It's based on what we do, not what someone else does.

Did the Harness Races Break Out?

Two of the top Turf races yesterday at Gulfstream had halfs in the 50 second range. Animal Kingdom, for example, shot through and went 22 and change for the fourth quarter of that race, which is astounding. Sometimes it happens, especially in turf races - pace and riding tactics matter. Conversely, on dirt for the Donn, we had the usual American Dirt race - no tactics, just go. 23, 23, 23 and then "for the love of god don't go decelerate slower than everyone else please"

Win Some, Lose Some

I really, really liked a horse yesterday. He was the two, his main foe was the three, who was 3-5. I made my bets, watched the race and the two won easily, defeating the huge favorite. When I checked my tickets, I bet the three horse that I was trying to beat.

A few hours later I was playing the night cards and saw a horse pop up in the second race at Delta Downs that had some okay numbers and was 20-1 morning line. My software had the horse early consensus 1, and I had a half dozen speed models that I wrote for horses like this. I, like I always do, dug deeper before I made a play (especially because of suspect e1 in short sprints). I checked the races pace index (which was really low; pace index shows the possible pace of the race) and the race volatility (low). I then checked the PP's and saw that the last time this rider rode him a couple of months earlier he sent the horse hard, leading at the quarter in 22 and change. This is a perfect situation to try a horse like this. I said "they are going to send this horse hard in a paceless race and she's 20-1. Time to bet"

The horse broke last, stayed last. Terrible, stupid bet. My numbers were wrong, my handicapping was terrible. But then, all of a sudden, for the first time in her life, she closed like a freight train, passed every horse and won, paying around $40.

You can like a horse and bet the wrong one and lose. You can like a horse for reason 1, and then the opposite happens, and cash. We've all done this 1,000 times. It's what makes racing an amazing, and amazingly frustrating, gambling sport.

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