Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Movie 50/1

If you love horse racing you'll love this movie.  My wife and I happened to be in Louisville the first Saturday in May 2009 for the Kentucky Derby.  We witnessed 'Mine that Bird' coming along the rail from last to first being ridden by Calvin Borel (he's sometimes referred to as Calvin Bo-rail).  Calvin is a fantastic rider at Churchill Downs and rides the rail with many of his mounts. He has won the Kentucky Derby three times in four consecutive years.

The story behind 'Mine that Byrd' is just remarkable.  He was transported by horse van from New Mexico to Louisville just days before the Kentucky Derby.  They made fun of the 'cowboys' who trained and owned him.  He turned the tables on them in one of the most exciting Kentucky Derbys ever.

Now each Kentucky Derby day I watch the movie Again! I never get tired of watching 50/1.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What makes Exotic Bets so interesting?

What makes exotic bets so interesting? 
1 - You can determine the upper limit on the number of combinations in the bet.
2 - You can determine the number of combinations in your particular bet.
3 - By examples I will try to show you how realistic the chances are of winning certain exotic bets.
Let's take a simple example.  In a particular race you have the number of horses in that race. Say 8 horses (for example).  If you are betting an exacta in this race and let's assume you decide to bet 1,2 with 3,4,5.  The number of combinations is six.  They are 13, 14, 15, 23, 24, 25.  With 8 horses in the race the upper limit is 8x7 or 56 total possible combinations (box 8 horses).  The probability of winning is 6/56 or 0.10714285.  Therefore you have approximately a 10.7% chance of winning. (This assumes you give each horse an equal chance of winning.)  Fortunately or unfortunately there is a toteboard that gives you an indication of where the money is being bet.  Statistics have shown that the toteboard favorite only wins 1/3 of the time so you have to be careful when using favorites.  Together with the low payoffs using only favorites your return to cover any of your losses will only put you in an overall losing situation.  So let's try to see what spending more money on your bet will do for you in terms of a higher probability of winning.  In the same example using 8 horses in the race, let's say your bet is to box 4 horses.  Let's randomly chose say, 1 3 6 8.  To box these four you now have 4x3 or 12 combinations working for you.  A $1 exacta box will cost you $12.  Now the probability of winning rises to 12/56 or 0.21428571.  A 21.4% chance of winning.  Now rather than randomly picking 4  horses to box, let's say you chose the lowest 4 morning line favorites to box.  You are now using the top horses that the track handicapper is picking in his morning line picks.  This will also be the lowest payoff.  So what can be done to improve your chances of winning.  Let's change the bet a bit.  Let's look to see what the morning line favorite is and also what the toteboard favorite is.  If they are the same horse then both the morning line handicapper and the money bet are on this horse.  So let's change the bet to (Morning Line Favorite) MLF/ALL horses (assuming MLF is both the tote pick and the morningline favorite).  With 8 horses in the race and assuming a $1 exacta bet the cost would be $7.  Now if MLF wins the race then you have won the exacta bet.  The payoff will now depend on final tote odds of the second place finisher. Suppose MLF does not win but is beaten by one of the 7 other horses.   You could hedge your bet with another $7 bet.  This bet could have
even a better payoff.  Bet ALL/MLF.  This bet will be a winning bet if MLF comes in second or places. On your original bet MLF/ALL, you will get the least return if the horse that comes in second is the second favorite.  You will make the most money when the highest odd horse comes in second.

Taking this to a higher level let's look at a trifecta bet.  In our example let's again use 8 horses in the race.  Calculating the upper limit (possible) of combinations to win the bet, we have 8 x 7 x 6 or 336 ways a trifecta bet can be won.  Note that there are 6 times (336) as many combinations compared to the exacta bet (56).  Consider an example trifecta bet 1 2 / 3 4 5 / 3 4 5 .  This bet will cover (2 x 3 x 2) = 12 combinations out of the possible 336 for a trifecta bet. There is 12/336 = 0.036 or 3.6% chance of winning this bet assuming all of the horses in the race have an equal chance of winning.  If we change our bet so we have a much greater chance of winning the bet, let's make the $1 trifecta
bet 1 2 / ALL / ALL.  How does this improve our chances?  We have 2 x 8 x 7 = 112.  So 112/336 = 0.3333 or 1/3 chance of winning.  Depending on how good your horse pick 1 and 2 are, the only way you can lose the bet is if neither the 1 or 2 horse win the race.  Now to just place this bet it will cost you $112. If the cost of this bet is way too much for you to risk some tracks have a minimum trifecta bet of $0.50.  This would cost you $56. The question then becomes do you want to spend $56 on this bet?  The chance of winning the bet are much better but even if you win the bet, the payoff may be so small that you lose money even when you win the bet.  One way to get the size of the bet, that you can live with, is to start using the morning line (ML) picks and the toteboard picks with the top ML picks.  Let's use the notation ML1, ML2, ML3, etc.  ML1 represents the morning line favorite.  ML2 represents the 2nd morning line favorite.  ML3 represents the 3rd morning line favorite and so on.
The ranking here is lowest odds to highest.   If we box (ML1,ML2,ML3) and make it a $1 trifecta then it will cost 3 x 2 x 1 = $6.  Putting an upper limit of say, $24, that you're willing to spend on the bet you could even for a $1 trifecta bet, box four horses (ML1,ML2,ML3,ML4).  The cost of this bet is 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = $24.  Many tracks now have $0.50 trifectas.  This $0.50 trifecta would cost you $12.

Going one step further to a superfecta and again assuming just 8 horses in the race we have 8 x 7 x 6 x 5  = 1680 combinations. If we just box 4 horses in the superfecta we have 4 x 3 x 2 x 1  = 24 out of 1680 covered in the bet.  Assuming all the horses have an equal chance of winning (24/1680 = 0.0143) there is just a little over 1% chance of winning the bet.  That's not very good odds.  Fortunately there are $0.10 superfectas so the cost would be $2.40 if you made the bet.  Using $0.10 superfectas you can get alot more combinations for a cost of the bet in a range that will not break your bankroll.

Summary of steps to go further.
1) Take into account the total combinations for an exotic bet.  This will depend on the number of horses in the race.
2) With a particular bet calculate how many combinations are covered by the bet.
3) Take into account various handicapping factors.
   a - The jockey-trainer factor.
   b - The toteboard factor that is, where the money is being bet.
   c - Any heavy favorites.
   d - Look for longshot possibilities.
   e - If you have a Twinspires account (, take into account the 'profit line' rankings for the race.
   f - The number of horses in the race.
4) Consider stacking bets on the race (exacta, trifecta, superfecta).
5) In high quality races, GI, GII, and GIII races "bet them all" may be a good strategy.
6) Consider when to bet just high odd horses either with a win bet or an exotic bet.
7) Here is a special $1 superfecta bet I sometimes use with high powered races.  It's a $20 bet.  It's has paid off  big a number of times for me. Some notation I will use to describe this bet is as follows.  PL will refer to the    "profit line".  You have this available to you when you have a Twinspires account.  Here's the bet with 8 or more horses in the race.

   Notation: PL = Profit Line pick (from

   PL1/PL2 PL3/PL2 PL3 PL4/PL2 PL3 PL4 PL5 PL6 PL7 PL8

Thursday, August 11, 2016

When the Unexpected Happens

I was at the race track watching the tote board for the 8th race at Finger Lakes on Tuesday, August 9th 2016.  From the beginning the #3 horse was the heavy favorite.  In fact, about 5 minutes to post time the tote odds were as low as 1/9.  You can't get any lower than that. All the the "win money" was on the #3 horse. This looked like a good place to play some exotics with the 3 horse on top.  This was an allowance race with 6 horses in the race.  What was interesting was that 5 of the 6 horses were at double digit odds right up to 1 minute to post time.  In fact 3 of the horses were more than 20/1 and one of the horses was 40/1.  This really made the favorite a "shoe in" according to the betting public on the tote board.

Sometimes when something like this looks too good to be true.  Guess what?  The unexpected happens.  From my past experience I have observed that many times, in fact, quite often this heavy favorite gets beat.  So along with exotics that use the heavy favorite in the win position it is worth while placing some hedge bets also.

Here are the final toteboard odds.

Horse 1 15/1
Horse 2 12/1
Horse 3 3/5
Horse 4 4/1
Horse 5 3/1
Horse 6 30/1

Here are the bets I made including hedge bets.

$2 exacta 3/1,2,4,5,6 (Cost: $10)
Hedge bets:
$2 exacta 3,4,5/1,2,6 (Cost: $18)
$1 trifecta 3,4,5/1,2,6/3,4,5 (Cost: $18)
$1 superfecta 3,4,5/1,2,6/3,4,5/1,2,6 (Cost: $36)

Total cost: $82

Here's how the race turned out, the race result. 4-6-3-1

The payouts for this race:

$2 exacta 4-6 paid: $185.00
$1 trifecta 4-6-3 paid: $259.50
$1 superfecta paid: $980.00
Total payout: $1424.50

To verify these results go to Then go to results for Finger Lakes. Select August 9,2016 and race #8.

Wow, when the unexpected happens!  And with just 6 horses in the race.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Building Exactas through Elimination

In our last blog article we presented "The Process of Elimination" for the win bet.  Now let's look at how to build exactas through elimination.

We need to ask two questions.  Which horses in the current race can't win (in your opinion)?  Which horses in the current race can't come in 1st or 2nd (in your opinion)?

Let us assume (for example) there are 10 horses in this race.  Now let's look at all 10 horses one at a time keeping the two questions in mind.  In your opinion you conclude that all but 2 and 5 can't win. Next you conclude that all but 2,5,1,8,9,10 can't come in 2nd.  You can now construct your exacta as 2,5/2,5,1,8,9,10.  Note that we have eliminated 3,4,6,7 from our bet.  As a $1 exacta bet it will cost $10.

How does the elimination process differ from just picking the horses directly?  The elimination process  forces you to look at each horse and to eliminate horses one by one.  If you don't look at each horse in this way you may miss a horse with great potential.  When you overlook a horse like this you've let your ego override your logic when you exercise your opinion.  Spending the time to go through the elimination process can payoff with better constructed exactas and more winning bets.

Take the extra time and try it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Process of Elimination

Let's take a look at why all horses in a race are bet on.  Someone has a belief that a particular horse could win or possibly be in the money.  Every owner and/or trainer puts a horse in a race and has some reason or reasons to believe that his horse can win or be in the money.  There are odds associated with all horses in a race.  Every horse has been placed in a race for some reason.

For the horseplayer, what part do emotions play?  What happens when there is so much confidence in a horse that the toteboard is bid down to very low odds?  What is a "live" horse in the horseplayers lingo?  Is this not a horse that the trainer has gotten ready to win and that trainer is often very effective in doing this?

Is it possible to place a bet (and win) without knowing the answers to all of the above?  Let's start with the most basic of bets, the win bet. Suppose you place a $2 win bet on each of the horses in the race.  If you bet 'um all on one ticket your ticket is a winning ticket.  Depending on the final odds of the horse that won, you either made money or lost money on that ticket.  So it is possible.

Continuing with this logic, let's determine which horses are the least likely to win the race.  This is kind of a reverse engineering type of strategy.  Every horseplayer has an opinion about whether a particular horse could win the race. So use your opinion and rank the horses from least likely to most likely to win the race.  Now rather than betting 'um all remove the horses that you feel can't win (in your opinion) and only bet the horses that are left.  Maybe there are 5 horses left.  Or possibly 4, or 3 or 2.  If you are right in your judgment you have a winning ticket and have increased the  amount of money you have won.  This essentially is the process of elimination.

Try it and see how it works for you.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

10 Cent Superfectas

I have been asked about articles on the 10 cent superfecta on my blog.  As a year end gift here are the links to all of the articles.

Exotic Bets: The 10 Cent Superfecta

A 10-cent Superfecta Experiment

More on the 10-cent Superfecta

10 Cent Superfecta Poll Results

A Ten-Cent Superfecta Favorite Bet of Mine

Superfectas are Popular

Playing the Quarter Horses at Remington Park

Side-by-side Betting with Ten Cent Superfectas

Approaches to Betting the 10-cent Superfecta

The 50 cent Pick 4 and the 10 cent Superfecta 

Going for the Big Payoff 10-cent Superfecta Bet 

The 10-cent Superfecta Revisited 

How to Structure a 10-cent Superfecta - for Fun and Profit

Where do you look for likely signs that a potential long shot could win in a horse race?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Your biggest lessons come from your losses.

I have learned the hard way time and again over the years.  I didn't have confidence in my bet.  Yet, I placed the bet anyway.  Those two sentences have cost me more money in my  career than anything else.  If I could learn from my mistakes, hopefully I wouldn't do it again.  Easy to say but hard to do.  I break my own rules. And that is what gives me my loses.  This is entirely avoidable.

The trouble with 'confidence' is awareness of yourself.  You might think I'm being hard on myself here.  The thing is, you need to be hard on yourself about your mistakes, so you don't repeat them. This is real money we're talking about, after all - it's your money.

I am not smarter than the horses running the race. None of us are. So for optimal results, I know that I need to wait for the "confidence" that I am right about my bet. The simplest, clearest way to do that is to be aware of your own confidence level and wait until you "feel" right about the bet.  Otherwise, don't place the bet.  That is the hardest thing in the world to do.

Learn from your losses when you have them.  Be hard on yourself about your losses. Figure out why they happened so you can prevent them from happening again. Doing this will make you into the best bettor you can be.