This past weekend's racing proves to me that this game, although, yes, with less public money, with the teams, with the sharps (which now includes anyone with a computer and some skill), and with some hard takeout to beat, it still has some sizeable opportunity.
Looking at the Pick 4 at Monmouth for Haskell Day, this sequence was, at the surface, a dead end. A spread, back up cover bases ticket was ticket hell - the dreaded $42 payoff for $48. But when it was sliced and diced, the skinny ticket with some coverage foreshadowed some good things.
Marcus Hersh and the boys on the Sport of Kings pod talked about the last leg - the Haskell. And they landed on Cyberknife. This wasn't a stab (pardon the pun), it was based on two knocks on the chalk - Jack Christopher's distance limitations, and the sporadic work pattern of Taiba (a red flag for a long time with Baffert). With those two question marks, a lean on Cyberknife (in this presumed chalky sequence) made it playable for a very small investment. Using a key that everyone used (why try to beat him) in Search Results, it still was playable.
It paid 250-1 for $1. Even if you spread legs one and three, you could have this for $6 or $8.
Sunday at Saratoga there was an interesting early pick 5 sequence that looked formful. We probably didn't expect this thing to pay, especially with the last leg containing Clariere and Malathaat in a four horse field. But, Malathaat has not exactly looked like last year's Malathaat, and she was adding blinkers (not exactly good impact value or ROI on a 3-5 shot). If we looked at that in the same context as the Haskell, we could fade, keying the Asmussen runner. This cuts our ticket price in half. The rest were A or AB and it paid around 800-1 for again, a pretty modest investment.
One ticket that caught my eye was on twitter this past week, at Mohawk. This was such an interesting, smart ticket, in my opinion.
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