January 2004, Number 32
ALL-WaysTM Newsletter


 

Inside This Newsletter

 

Call for Handicapping Profiles
 

New Age Handicapping and Wagering

Impact Values vs. Percentages

For ALL-Ways Handicappers


       • Backing up ALL-Ways Data


 

Announcements
 

ALL-Ways Version 11 Update and Call for “Wish Lists"

The development of  ALL-Ways Version 11 handicapping software is well underway. At this writing, the release of Version 11 is planned for this coming Spring, most likely in April or in early May of 2004. Every new version of ALL-Ways software includes many new features that were recommended by ALL-Ways software handicappers. If you have ideas you would like us to consider for Version 11 or subsequent versions, we would like to hear from you. Please put your suggestions into an e-mail and send it to frandsen@qwest.net. If you have already submitted your “Wish List” to us, there is no need to do so again. All suggestions are catalogued and retained for consideration to be included in an appropriate new version. Thank you, in advance, for your support.

 


 

Call for Handicapping Profiles

 

As we enter the new year of 2004, we would like to update the ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles that are posted in the User’s Corner of our Web site at www.frandsen.com. For those who may not know, the profiles posted on our Web site have been created by ALL-Ways software handicappers using their large Race Databases for each individual track in North America. These Handicapping Profiles may be downloaded by other ALL-Ways software handicappers and used to handicap each track in a manner that is both race type and racetrack specific. This is a great way for new ALL-Ways software users to get started while they are building up their own Race Databases for the tracks they play. It is also a great way to play a track on special occasions, such as the Triple Crown races at Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park. And, it is a great way to play races at different tracks that you include in your special BRIS Custom Card ALL-Ways data files (See the article on New Age Handicapping in this newsletter.).

 

For ALL-Ways software users, sending your Handicapping Profiles to us for posting is very easy to do. We ask that you click the MRA Default and MRA Pace buttons in the Analysis Module before sending the profiles to us. Then simply send an e-mail to us indicating the number of races in your Race Database for the track and attach two files to the e-mail. One file is IV.xxx and the other is IVDEX.xxx where xxx is the track code for the track. Both files are in your Franfile folder. Again, thank you for your continued support.

 


 

New Age Handicapping and Wagering

 

Preamble

 

As we were developing our advertising campaigns to run in American Turf Monthly and HorsePlayer Magazine during 2004, we realized how dramatically the landscape has changed during the past several years for handicapping and wagering on horse races. We all seem to talk about these positive “New Age” handicapping and wagering aids. Indeed, many handicappers are taking advantage of some of the developments. But, we suspect very few horseplayers are putting it all together. The purpose of this article is to explore how all this can work together for maximum benefit. We apologize if this seems to be a bit of a promotion for ALL-Ways software and for Bloodstock Research (BRIS). The facts are, ALL-Ways software is the leading handicapping software in North America and BRIS is the leading provider of handicapping information in North America. You cannot discuss “New Age” handicapping without mentioning both.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

It goes without saying that handicapping horse races has come a long, long way in the past decade. On the racing side of things, one of the most important advances has been the proliferation of simulcasts from and at most tracks in North America. On the information side of things, we have seen the availability of tremendous new electronic handicapping information as well as handicapping software that helps us take full advantage of all the new information. Most readers of this ALL-Ways Newsletter are also BRIS subscribers. They know that BRIS has been at the forefront of this handicapping revolution by offering extensive new handicapping information in electronic format on an on-line basis. Then there is BRIS Custom Card that lets you build your own personalized race cards, including a very special ALL-Ways software version of Custom Card that is explained a little later on. And, the revolution also includes the advent of telephone and Internet based account wagering. BRIS is a leader here as well with www.TwinSpires.com. All of this, however, is of little value unless we, as handicappers, can turn this new help into profitable playing of the races. Again, the purpose of this newsletter article is to explore ways of approaching our handicapping and wagering to make the best use out of all this new “New Age” handicapping and wagering help.

 

At the heart of what we are about to discuss is what we believe to be a fundamental approach to profitable play. We believe that the vast majority of players who make money playing the races have at least one very important trait in common. They are very disciplined and  do not try to play every race. Instead, they only play the races that meet their requirements. Typically, these players will find only 2 or 3 races on a card to play. It is not uncommon at all to handicap a full race card only to end up with no qualifying races on which to wager. You may want to read the article in our January 1999 ALL-Ways Newsletter (#12) titled “Pass or Play: That Should Be the Question”.

 

Being selective in the races we play is problematic for most handicappers in that they prefer more wagering action. They do not want to go to the track and then play just 1 or 2 or 3 races. This can lead to a breakdown in discipline where the handicapper plays races that simply should be passed. One solution to this problem that is frequently suggested in handicapping books is for a player to maintain two bankrolls, one for larger prime wagers on qualifying races and one for smaller action bets on other races. Indeed, this can be a big help for players who are not making money on the races. The Show Partial Parlay wager explained in ALL-Ways Newsletters #28 and #29 can also be helpful in keeping wagering discipline under control by adding more races to the “playable” side of the ledger. With all of this said, however, we can now do even better. The more races you play on a card, the more likely you are to wager on or against legitimate favorites and that will, more often than not, lead to unprofitable play. If the favorite wins the race, all payoffs are greatly reduced., including Exactas, Trifectas, Superfectas, Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s and even Place and Show payoffs. See the article in ALL-Ways Newsletter #30 titled “The Curse of the Legitimate Favorite”.

 

So, what is the solution to all of this? Well, the new age handicapping and wagering tools made available during the past ten or so years have given us better options for being selective in the races we play. The key is the availability of simulcast racing either at your track, your off-track betting facility or through on-line account wagering services. Simulcasts allow us to play just a few select races at a track, but to play multiple tracks in order to get the action we like to have. And, this helps us stay disciplined to play just the races we should be playing.

 

This approach of playing selected races at multiple tracks does present some new challenges for us. One of those challenges IS NOT the cost of data. If you spend an extra $12 to $14 or so for the data covering two additional tracks, you should get this back many times over simply because you are wagering on races that will provide you with better returns on your wagering dollars. The main challenge comes from the fact that you cannot handicap exactly the same way for every track. The heavily speed favoring Belmont track is very different than The Fairgrounds which is very kind to horses coming from off the pace. The downhill turf course at Santa Anita is very different from all other turf courses in the country. The jockey/trainer colony is different at most tracks that are not on the same circuit. Field sizes vary. Lone Star frequently has great large fields up to 14 horses while Southern California tracks tend to have smaller fields. The handicapping skills of your handicapping competitors will be different from track-to-track as will the wagers offered and the size of the wagering pools.

 

Overcoming the Challenges

 

By far the biggest challenges are being able to handicap multiple tracks on a track specific basis and to do so in an efficient manner. This is where the availability of extensive on-line electronic information and modern handicapping software programs can help. No surprise here. We strongly recommend ALL-Ways software. ALL-Ways software not only automates much of the handicapping process to make it feasible to handicap multiple tracks in a reasonable amount of time, but also ALL-Ways software’s handicapping is both race track and race type specific. You can handicap just as effectively at Belmont as you can at Philadelphia Park as you can at Churchill Downs as you can at Santa Anita, ... and on and on and on. This is because ALL-Ways software automatically builds and maintains a Race Database for each individual track you handicap.

 

The ALL-Ways Race Database for each track includes 87 key handicapping factors for each horse in each race covering the horse’s suitability to the distance and surface, current form, class level and ability to handle the probable pace and speed demands in the race taking into account the pace match-up in the race and the prevailing track bias. It also includes extensive jockey and trainer and pedigree information as well. When you handicap a race, ALL-Ways software looks at all similar races in your Race Database for the track and finds the 6 or 7 handicapping factors that work best in combination with each other for the specific type of race being handicapped. ALL-Ways software then automatically creates a Handicapping Profile made up of these optimum factors and weights them using their Impact Values. ALL-Ways software uses this Handicapping Profile to handicap the race in a manner that is both race track and race type specific.

 

You can also use the ALL-Ways Race Database for a track to run an Impact Values Analysis, to test how well your Handicapping Profiles perform, to run an extensive Gap Analysis showing how well horses perform based on the size (Gap) of their advantage for each handicapping factor. Even the Key Horse Candidates recommended by ALL-Ways software in each race are done so on a track specific and race type specific basis.

 

Here is some more “New Age” handicapping and wagering help. If you want to build an instant Race Database in ALL-Ways software for a track, you can download ALL-Ways data files from the BRIS Archive File Server. These race card data files are available for all races run at the track dating back about three years. A 300-race database or so (about 30 race days) is a very good starting point. BRIS does charge for these data files.  If you prefer to build a Race Database for a track over time as you use ALL-Ways software, then you can download ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles that are posted on the Frandsen Publishing Web site that were created by other ALL-Ways software handicappers using their large Race Databases for the tracks. These downloaded profiles are also racetrack and race type specific.

 

Targeting Tracks and Race Types

 

In “the old days”, a handicapper’s racing calendar included the handicapper’s home track and possibly other tracks on the local circuit. That has all changed. If you are going to adopt a multiple track handicapping and wagering strategy, we recommend you create your own personal racing calendar made up of the tracks you want to play. It is best to focus on a finite number of tracks than it is to skip around from track-to-track. At any one time there will be upwards of thirty tracks running in North America. The reason for focusing on selected tracks is so you can get better and better at each track and so you can continually evaluate how well you are doing at each track. You will find that you do better at some tracks than at others, in which case you will want to make changes to your personal racing calendar.

 

If you are an ALL-Ways software handicapper, there is another reason you will want to focus on your selected tracks, specifically so you can build your ALL-Ways Race Databases for the tracks. ALL-Ways software gives you tremendous tools for evaluating the kinds of races you want to play and the tracks you want to play. This includes the Database Run Analysis that evaluates how well your Handicapping Profiles are working in terms of identifying win, place and show horses, average payoffs and return-on-investment. The “What if?” Going-Off-Odds Wagering Analysis shows you how well you would have done wagering on various minimum going-off-odds, at various levels of Overlays and using two-horse win betting. Finally, the Track Payoff Analysis shows you the average Win, Exacta and Trifecta payoffs for different race distances, race types (Stakes, Allowance, Maiden Claiming, etc.), degrees of pace pressure, age and sex restrictions, field sizes, days of the week, purse values, Race Ratings, and more.

 

Perhaps the most frequently asked question we are asked is what tracks we like to play. Personally, this writer/handicapper likes to have three target tracks just about at all times during the year. Sometimes there are four target tracks running at the same time in which case we look at all four and select the three to play. Working from the West Coast to the East Coast, here are the tracks on our racing calendar: Santa Anita (the 7th and 8th and sometimes the 9th races are often very high payoff races), Del Mar (great money to be made playing DMR turf races), Lone Star (big fields up to 14 betting interests, favorites often go off at 4 to 1), Fairgrounds (very kind to high priced off-the-pace horses), Louisiana Downs (a good friend runs horses here and there are one or two nice payoffs on most cards), Canterbury Park (our home track with a nice live meet), Hawthorne (like the payoffs), Arlington (also kind to off the pace horses … but still under evaluation), Churchill Downs (horses run very true to handicapping factors yielding frequent payoffs), Keeneland (just because its Keeneland), Turfway Park (nice payoffs, repeat winter weather good races angle), Gulfstream (our annual trek to Florida to handicap with friends), Aqueduct (when on the main dirt track),  Belmont Park (again, horses run very true to handicapping factors) and Saratoga (because it is Saratoga).

 

The fact that you do not see a particular track in our list does not mean it is not a good track to play. For example, we have hundreds of ALL-Ways software users who play Philadelphia Park. It did not make our list simply because the track is never on a big screen TV in our simulcast area. Virtually every track in North America is played successfully by a significant number of ALL-Ways software handicappers. The key is to determine what tracks you want to play and the types of races on which you want to focus. Many considerations may influence your decisions. Profitable play is, of course, a very significant reason. Other reasons may include whether the track runs the kinds of races you like, whether the track offers the kinds of wagers you like, the availability of a simulcast signal, fit with your personal and business schedules ... and on and on.

 

The Ultimate in New Age Handicapping

 

This brings us to what we believe is one of the most powerful new handicapping and wagering tools and that is the BRIS Custom Card capability, particularly the unique ALL-Ways software version of Custom Card.  Custom Card offers you the ability to specify exactly the kinds of races and the tracks you want to play and then have Custom Card search all races being run in North America and construct a custom race card for you made up of just the races meeting your specifications. Here are the various items you can use in any combination to create your personal specification:

 

•  Race Date

•  Tracks

•  Post Times

•  Race Distances

•  Surfaces

•  Field Sizes

•  Race Type (Stakes, Claiming, Maiden Special Weight, etc.)

•  State Bred

•  First Timers

•  Purse Values

•  Age and Sex Restrictions

•  Wager Types

 

The ALL-Ways software version of Custom Card gives you two more items you may specify for your personal race card. ALL-Ways software adds the ALL-Ways Race Rating for today’s race, a rating comparable to BRIS Race Ratings. ALL-Ways software also adds what is perhaps the most powerful feature in all of horse race handicapping, namely ALL-Ways Race Pace Shapes. ALL-Ways Race Pace Shapes let you specify the degree of pace pressure you want included in the races making up your personal race card such as lone front runners who may run away from the field or very severe early pace pressure that may set the race up for high priced late runners or honest pace races that will most likely have a combination of the best early running and best late running horses making up the Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta finishers.

 

Account Wagering

 

If you do not have a handy simulcast facility to go to, then, if it is available in your area, consider using TwinSpires.com to make your wagers over the Internet or by telephone. You can have ALL-Ways software running in your computer along with TwinSpires or BRIS SuperTote at the same time.  You can have ALL-Ways software handicap a race and display the results on part of your computer screen while keeping an eye on the continuously updated betting odds, probable Exotics payoffs and the size of wagering pools. And then you can watch the streaming video on your computer of the race being run.

 

Summary

 

So, here is a summary of our recommendations for taking advantage of the incredible “New Age” handicapping aids that have been made available over the past several years:

 

•  Be very selective in the races you play

 

•  Play multiple tracks to get more action

 

•  Use the extensive handicapping data available from BRIS

 

•  Use handicapping software such as ALL-Ways to help you handicap efficiently and to help you handicap on a track specific and race type specific basis

 

•  Develop your own personal racing calendar of the tracks you want to play.

 

•  Use the BRIS Archive files to build your ALL-Ways Race Databases for the tracks you play or download Handicapping Profiles for the tracks from the Frandsen Publishing Web site.

 

•  Make use of the powerful ALL-Ways software version of BRIS Custom Card.

 

•  If available and if it fits your needs, use TwinSpires.com to make your wagers

 

All the incredible “New Age” handicapping and wagering tools are there for you. It is up to you to make use of them.

 


 

Impact Values vs. Percentages

 

We are often asked what Impact Values are and how they are different from statistics expressed by percentages. “In a nutshell”, Impact Values provide for the most accurate and reliable measurement of the influence handicapping factors have had on prior races. They are far more revealing than measuring percentages. Let’s look at why this is the case.

 

Let’s say we want to see how the four primary horse running styles fare in Allowance dirt sprints at our favorite hypothetical track. The four running styles are Early (“E”), Early Presser (“EP”), Presser (“P”) and Sustainer (“S”). Early horses want the lead. Early Pressers are comfortable on the lead or slightly behind the leader(s). Presser horses run about mid-pack and Sustainers run at the back of the field. Look at the following table that shows the percentage of Allowance dirt sprint races won by each running style based on a sample of one hundred such races.

 

 

Percentage Wins for 100 Races

 
     
Style #wins %wins
     
“E” 15 15%
     
“EP” 40 40%
     
“P” 30 30%
     
“S” 15 15%

 

On the surface, this shows us that “EP” horses win the most races and that “E” and “S” horses perform about the same, at least they do from a statistical percentage viewpoint. But, what is missing here and, consequently, what is misleading here is that we have no idea how many horses of each running style actually ran in the races.

 

Let’s say in our example that there were a total of 1,000 horses that ran in these 100 races. We have added new columns in the table that show us the number and percentage of horses for each running style and their calculated Impact Values.

 

 

Percentage Wins for 100 Races

Total Number of Horses is 1000

 

Style #wins %wins #horses %horses I.V.
           
“E” 15 15% 100 10% 1.50
           
“EP” 40 40% 350 35% 1.14
           
“P” 30 30% 350 35% 0.86
           
“S” 15 15% 200 20% 0.75

 

When we add this new information, we see things in a whole new light and we get a decidedly different impression. Impact Values are calculated by dividing the percentage of winners having a particular characteristic by the percentage of starters with that characteristic. For example, “E” horses won 15% of the races, but they made up only 10% of the horses. The Impact Value for “E” horses is then:

 

15% / 10% = 1.50

 

An Impact Value of 1.00 indicates horses with the characteristic win exactly their fair share of races, no more and no less. In our example, “E” horses won 1.50 times their “fair share” of races. The “EP” horses no longer look as dominant as they did when we looked only at percentages. They won 40% of the races, but they made up 35% of the horses giving them an Impact Value of 1.14. They won 1.14 times their fair share of races. We also see that “P” and “S” horses both won less than their fair share of races. And, while the percentages showed “E” and “S” horses both won 15% of the races, look how dramatically the picture has changed when we use Impact Values. “E” horses won 1.5 times their fair share of race while “S” horses won only 0.75 times their fair share of races.

 

Impact Values are at the very core of ALL-Ways software. With just one click of the mouse button, ALL-Ways software will run an Impact Value Analysis and show you the Impact Values for each of its 87 Key Handicapping Factors for every different type of race run at the track. ALL-Ways software also uses the calculated Impact Values to weight the Handicapping Factors it uses in its track specific and race type specific Handicapping Profiles. Again, ALL-Ways software uses these profiles to handicap the race.

 


 

For ALL-Ways Handicappers

 

Backing Up Your Key Data

 

We strongly recommend that every ALL-Ways software user back up the valuable ALL-Ways data they have accumulated over time. It has become a cliché we know, probably because it is so true: “The issue is not if you will have a hard disk crash, it is when you will have a hard disk crash.”

 

The ALL-Ways data files and the Exotic Results Data files you download for a track from BRIS into your Frandata folder are used by ALL-Ways software to add both races and results to your Race Database for the track. Your Race Database, along with other very valuable information, is in your Franfile folder. So, the key data you want to regularly back up is the data in your Franfile folder. Then, if you have a disk crash, you can restore all your important data by simply restoring the Franfile folder. Many ALL-Ways software users we know back up their Franfile folder about once per month and then they empty the contents of their Frandata folder. If you have a backup of the Franfile folder, you do not need a backup of the Frandata folder. The easiest way to back up the Franfile folder is simply to copy the whole folder onto a CD using the CD Writer software in your computer. You can also use the ALL-Ways Toolbox to back up the data in your Franfile folder to high capacity Zip Disks or to external hard drives.


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Frandsen Publishing Corporation
PO Box 1439
Minnetonka, MN 55345
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