Friday, January 25, 2008

A Day at the Track Using Tote Analysis

Yesterday (Thursday, January 24th) I went to my local track (Remington Park) and chose Gulfstream as the track to play for the day. I went for the purpose of writing this article for my blog and to give you some insight into toteboard analysis.

Before I went to the track I did some preparatory work in my notebook and wrote down the morning line (M/L) and Profit Line (P/L) for each horse in each race. After getting to the track I located a good seat where I could watch the toteboard and record the odds as they came up. Basically from the 20 minute (20m) mark to the 5 minute (5m) mark I recorded the odds on each horse at 5 minute intervals. This is simple enough to do provided you don't get distracted. At the 3 minute mark I would go to the betting machine (there are lots of them at the track) and place my bet. For instructional purposes I kept everything very simple. I would only make $2 win bets on any race. (I'm usually a bit more agressive than that.) In later articles I will demonstrate other kinds of bets, but not today.

Here is how things went for the day along with my thinking as we went from race to race. I have scanned my hand notes and furnish them for you so you can see what (I recorded and) what I was looking at before the race started.

[Tote analysis for races 1,2,and 3: ]

Race #1 was scheduled to go off at 1:15 Eastern time. At 12:45 I was ready to start recording. I started noting that at the 20m mark that the #2 horse and the #5 horse odds both got competitive with the rest of the horses all between 2/1 and 5/1. This pattern remained about the same right down to the 5m mark. I concluded that it appeared that any of the 5 horses could win. I decided to not bet (NB) this race. (There were 8 more races to go and with plenty of opportunities to choose from.)

Race # 2 was scheduled at 1:44. There were 6 entries in race 2. As I recorded at each 5m interval I could see that the number 3 horse (the morning line favorite at 9/5 as well as the Profit Line favorite at 9/5) was going to also be the tote pick. I bet $2 to win on the #3 horse. The result was that #3 came in to place. I lost this one. There's an old saying at the track "you can't win them all, but you can lose them all".

On to race #3. 7 horses in this race. After getting down to the 3m mark it is obvious that the M/L, P/L and tote pick point to the #3 horse. Glancing at the program I noticed that Elvis Truillo was riding #3. (He's one of the leading riders in Florida.) It looked like a solid bet. #3 did win and paid $4.20.

[Tote analysis for races 4 and 5: ]

Race #4 has 10 horses. However, 4 horses were scratched. (4,5,8,9). We now had a 6 horse race. With so many scratches the race changes with the M/L and P/L having little significance any longer. As I began recording the odds I began to focus on 4 horses: 1,2,7,and 10. Why? Because at the 3m mark #1 had gone from (M/L) 9/5 down to 6/5. #2 went from 6 down to 7/2. #7 went from 9 down to 7/2. #10 went from 12 down to 7/2. I did a quick calculation in my head. Tote divided by M/L. For the 10 horse this was about .3 and anything below .3333 I like. The #10 horse at the 5m mark was taking a lot of money. I bet the 10 horse to win. The horse won and paid a handsome $15.

Race #5 had 3 scratches: 5, 8 and 10. Again we can ignore the M/L and P/L and concentrate on the toteboard. At the 3m mark no horse seemed to be taking a lot of money. It was too inconclusive. I decided not to bet this race.

[Tote analysis for races 6 and 7: ]

On to race #6. Again 5 scratches this time including the favorite, the #6 horse. Among the six remaining horses the #1 horse was the tote pick. I bet the #1 horse. 2b beat the 1 horse and I lost this one.

In race #7 the #4 horse was a very strong pick. The horse won and paid $3.40.

[Tote analysis for races 8 and 9: ]

The quality race of the day, race #8, had a late scratch of the #1 horse. The tote and P/L pick was the #3 horse. John Velazquez, Gulfstream's leading rider brought the horse in to win. #3 paid $5.20 to win.

Race #9 had 1 scratched horse and ended up with 12 horses in the race. The tote analysis was inconclusive and didn't show much, so I didn't bet this race.

For the afternoon $12 was bet and $27.80 was won for a net return of $15.80 for the afternoon.

You can see a table of the results at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where do I find horse statistics and handicapping information?

Fortunately there is a wonderful web site that provides this information. That web site is There is so much on the site that I will just give you a sampling of what you can find.

I have been using Equibase for years to keep track of my favorite jockeys, trainers and horses. Every day I look in the section called "Who's in Today". This is where you can find your favorites. You can look for today, tommorrow, the next day, and by track. If you are betting online this allows you to home in on horses that you like and what race they will be in for that day.

Another feature is the "North American Racing Leaders". Here you can keep track of the top horses, jockeys, owners and trainers. They are listed by 'Leaders By Track', 'International Races', 'Top 100' and 'Top 10 All Time'. In addition they have Free and 'Pay For' products. These include: Race Entries, Race Programs, Expert Selections, Thoro-Graph Form Ratings, TrackMaster FlashNet, Daily Racing Form, Results, as well as Video Race Replays. As you can see you can get as sophisticated as you wish and are willing to spend.

Lastly, let me point out another feature especially for beginners. This is the 'FREE selection of the Day'.

If you are unaware of this site I think you will soon find it extremely useful and informative. Check it out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Days Analysis at the Track

So many times a horseplayer goes to the track and at the end of the day he only knows he has less money in his pocket than what he went with. He doesn't really keep track of what happened that day. It may be just a blurr in his mind. I'm going to go through a little exercise that can give some control and insight into your betting.

I've started as simple as possible with just the win bet. I'll also pick a track and the complete card (all the races) for the day. I'll also choose the M/L (morning line) favorite for my pick in each race. (This is to keep things simple.) First, there is no way to tell which races that the M/L favorite will win so we must bet the M/L favorite in each race. Again, just for simplicity let's just assume we place a $2 to win bet on the M/L favorite in each race.

I have arbitarily picked Turfway Park on the 9th of January to analyze. Here is the analysis at the end of the day. Click here:
Note that the cost of our bets was $18 (that's $2 X 9 races). Note that the M/L favorite won in races 1, 4, and 8. Our winnings were $15.40. So we lost $2.60 for the day with this strategy.

As an alternative to the M/L I have also done an analysis using the P/L (Profit Line) that is available to you with a Twinspires account ( Click on
to see what the P/L picks were for the same day. Note that the P/L pick won in races 1,2,4 and 6. Again note that the cost of betting the P/L pick in each race is $18. However, the winnings amounted to $25 so the net winnings for the day was $7.

What does this analysis tell us? First, we know where we stand at the end of the day. Secondly we are adding some discipline to our betting strategy. We also gain some insight into the lack of rewards of going with the M/L favorite all the time. I also picked a slight variation with the P/L picks to show how sensitive your betting can be. It may be the difference between winning and losing for the day. This should in no way convince you that the P/L will always produce better results. (This would need to be tested over a long period of time. I've been working on this.) However, it does show the sensitivity of outcomes depending on how you bet. This is what I am trying to illustrate here. I am also trying to show you how to raise your level of awareness in your own betting.

May luck always be with you 'til next time.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Where to Find Free Picks

One of the questions I am asked the most is: Where do I find free picks on the internet?Indeed an interesting question. Right now (01/05/08) there are a number of tracks having live racing. Some of the most popular tracks are: Calder, Santa Anita, Fairgrounds, Aqueduct, Turfway, Laurel, and Hawthorne.

One of the first places to look is Eponies at . There are free picks at Eponies for all the tracks except the Fairgrounds. If you want free picks at the Fairgrounds you can go to the Fairgrounds web site ( ) and Jessica Pacheco has free picks for you.

A second place to look is at the web site for the track you're interested in. For example, if you go to Calder ( ) under "Racing information/Handicapping" you will find free picks by Ron Nicoletti, an excellent handicapper with a 34% win percentage. He is dynamite with all Florida tracks.

At Santa Anita ( ) select Racing Information/Handicapping. You have your choice of "House Handicap" or "DRF Handicap".

At Aqueduct, , there is Dave Litfin's Race Analysis.

Here are the links to Turfway, Laurel, and Hawthorne:(Hint: look under "Racing Information/ Handicapping".)




Free picks are just fine but remember to do some handicapping on your own. Nothing is "free" if you lose the bet. Free picks should be just your starting point. (Money management hint: keep bad bets to a minimum.)

Good luck and have fun.