On Friday afternoon, historic Saratoga Race Course will begin its seven weeks of excitement in upstate New York. Last weekend, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club – the west coast’s high end track of choice and a former hangout of Bing Crosby – kicked into gear outside of San Diego. Those who play horses with even a passing interest outside of the Triple Crown will be wagering from now until early September. With the summer racing season in full gear, some reminders on what it takes to have a positive return from your wagers.
(If this article uses a word or phrase that you don’t understand, consult our handy horse racing glossary!)
The pundits on TV or at the track are paid to have opinions. They are going to discuss various horses and who they like for every race. The fact that they have an angle on each race, legitimate or contrived, doesn’t mean you have to wager on each event. Would you prefer to bet $60 on a race that you feel very strongly about or $20 on three races, two of which are just to keep you amused?
Every thirty minutes, a new race will be run. Don’t be afraid to take a walk or concentrate on what’s coming up. Making bets for the sake of action is a bad way to be profitable.
Don’t look at every race as an entirely new entity. Learn something along the way. If the first race is a turf sprint that is won wire-to-wire, ask yourself whether there is a front-running bias in such races. Consult the charts from the last day or two: how many turf sprints have been won on the lead? Are horses winning from inside posts or outside?
Being prepared and up-to-date before you go to the track will give you an idea of what has been taking place. Smart bettors don’t try to beat a bias. Hot trainers and jockeys, easier paths to the finish line, and trends can be strong, right up until a change of conditions, which is another factor you need to be ready for.
Ha, you don’t say? It’s easier said than done to pick out the winner of each race. That said, many handicappers get caught up in exotic wagers that require you to complete exactas and trifectas or complicated horizontal bets where you are going to chose multiple horses who can win each race. While there is big-money potential with exotic bets, they key to all betting is finding the winner. Some races will feel like wide open contests while others have a clear favorite, but you can not be successful without identifying winners, regardless of their odds and regardless of the type of bet you want to make.
A very close friend of mine is among the best sports handicappers I know. He understands bankroll, analytics, and patience. A few years ago, I convinced him to try horse racing. He spent 18 months developing a complex computer system for handicapping. Eventually, after wagering for only a couple of months, he decided the sport was not for him. Sports bettors can earn a living on the margins by hitting 55-percent of their plays. In horse racing, you are going to lose a lot. If you bet 100 times, you might lose 70, break even on 20, and make a few bucks on five or six. However, the remaining four or five scores have the potential to make your year.
If you bet exotics, Pick 5s, and Pick 6s day-in and day-out, you will lose. However, if you wait for opportunities and stick to a proven system, eventually a big score will occur. Wait for the one or two spots each day where you have conviction and the ROI is right. Bet those races strongly.
Photo credit: JB82 [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.
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