Years ago - maybe eight or ten - I could download some files, or take a look at a few harness programs and almost always find four or five or six somethings I could take a shot on. That kind of feels like an epoch ago.
Today, for me, trying to manufacture a bet is like trying to figure out the latest COVID stat. It's pretty elusive. You can still dig - look for that one little thing, whether it be an angle, or a hidden positive or something else - but the end result looks a whole lot different.
Last Friday at the Big M I was searching for something to play in the pick 5. I found an amateur race, which is usually good if you can find a single (most people spread), and I thought I did. 10-1 morning line, and perusing the selections, no one had the horse in the top three. I keyed for a small amount, and watched the races.
Come the third leg, my horse opens at 4-5, which is fine, because he'll probably go up and isn't used a lot in the pick 5. But, a half minute later, the pick 5 live money came up and the horse was ...... about 3-2. They were all over this horse. He got a nice trip, won, and paid $5.
When I was chatting with ITP this weekend he said "it's smart people against smart people now" and he's right. The horse we think we find through accumulated knowledge and work, which years ago might be double digits, sometimes doesn't even pay $6.
Barn money is usually not smart, but that too is exacerbated in the pools when it is. How did that Moreau horse a month ago at Mohawk end up 4th choice when she was a slam dunk key? How did the new Burke horse with mediocre lines open at 3-5 and stay there to win, while another with better lines opens at 5-1 and loses badly?
Moreau and Burke ain't betting - they've got more important things to do - but someone is. And with so little public money in the pools it sticks out like a sore thumb.
With all this, manufacturing bets takes time and effort, and there is an opportunity cost. Sooner or later the work doesn't equal the benefit.
When I talk to seasoned players I get more and more responses like this one I got this morning, after asking a friend to run some numbers in his database for me.
"Sorry, I don't collect data anymore. I have just lost interest. I play a few dollars for fun, but that's it."
The game has waned and I am not sure what can be done to improve it. Until then the old advice - pick your spots - is probably sound.
Have a nice Tuesday evening everyone.