INSIDE THIS NEWSLETTER
Pass or Play
The Inner Dirt Track at Aqueduct
A 1998 Breeders Cup Classic Handicapping Lesson
Downloadable Handicapping Profiles
Handicapping Profiles for Downloading ...... an Update.
In our previous Newsletter, we announced ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles for many tracks that were available for downloading from our Web site. The response has been truly amazing. Literally thousands of sets of profiles have been downloaded by ALL-Ways handicappers. And, much to our delight, many of you have indeed been Makers as well as Takers by contributing your own ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles for other ALL-Ways software handicappers to use. Please see the article on page four of this Newsletter for more information.
Pass or Play
That Should Be the Question
When we started to write this article for the January 1999 Newsletter, we planned on it being a relatively short, three column piece on when to pass and when to play races. As we discussed the subject with other successful horseplayers, including a number of professional players that use ALL-Ways software, and as we started to put our thoughts down on paper, we came to realize something significant. This truly is a critically important topic. It may well be the key to turning many unprofitable players into profitable ones.
By far, the question we are most often asked is: How can I tell which races I should pass and which races I should play?. It is essential that you know the answer to this question if you intend to be a profitable handicapper. We want to first dispense with the notion of mechanical pass/play decisions and then we will look at the whole issue in some detail.
Do not make mechanical pass/play decisions!
Many people who ask us to answer this question are hoping we will give them an answer that they can apply in a mechanical manner. Sorry, but that would be the wrong way to approach this issue of pass or play.
So, what do we mean by mechanical? Here are some not so hypothetical examples of mechanical rules for passing races. I never play Maiden races. I never play races for 2 year olds. I never play low level claiming races. I never play races if there are six or more contenders. I never play races if the top four horses have BRIS Speed figures within a two point range. I never play a race that does not have one horse as a clear standout in both speed and class. And on and on.
If you were to adopt hard and fast rules such as these for passing races, you would be making mechanical pass decisions. And, you would be missing some of the very best wagering opportunities available to you. Stop and think of the logic here. When someone sets mechanical rules such as these, they are simply saying that these races tend to be more contentious and/or more difficult to reliably predict the outcome. It also follows that the winners of these races tend to pay premium prices because the races are difficult to handicap. Why would anyone want to automatically (mechanically) eliminate the possibility of winning high payoff races? It makes more sense, in our opinion, to at least examine such races in more detail to look for evidence that one or two horses might have the best chance of winning.
Remember that ALL-Ways software provides you with powerful information that the public never sees such as real insights into the pace match-ups in the race and each horses current form. Indeed, pace handicapping and form analysis will often lead you to the winning horse.
If you examine ten races that you would have passed on a mechanical basis, chances are you will still pass on seven or eight of them. But, the two or three that you end up playing may turn out to be some of your most profitable plays.
Another type of mechanical pass or play decision with which we disagree is when someone sets a minimum odds number that is too high. For example, one might say I never play a race unless my first pick is going off at 3-to-1 or better. Certainly there is a limit to how low a payoff we will accept. But, we think 3-to-1 is too high. In our way of thinking, if a 2-to-1 horse or even an even-money horse is an overlay, we will make the wager. Now, if it gets below even-money, then we too start to have reservations, although there are times we have supported a 4-to-5 horse.
Why pass races
Professional handicappers will tell you they typically get 2 to 3 plays on a race card. We know of successful ALL-Ways software handicappers that typically play as many as 4 or 5 races on a card. Regardless, the message here is very clear.
Not all races on a card are playable. Successful players know when to pass a race and they typically pass more races than they play.
There are two fundamental reasons why a race should be passed. One is because you cant get comfortable and confident with your selection(s). The other is because the race offers no value from a wagering perspective. We will touch on both these reasons in more detail. But, here is the main point regarding why you should pass races.
You are better off saving the money you would have wagered ineffectively on non-playable races and adding that money to your wagers on playable races, where, by definition, you are confident with your selection(s) and where the wagers offer value.
If you have $100 to wager for the day, you are better off wagering $20 per race for 5 playable races as opposed to $10 per race on all races, many/most of which should not be played at all.
Passing races that offer no value
Remember that successful wagering requires that we only wager on propositions that offer us value or, in other words, on overlays. We define an overlay as when a horse will pay us more than it should when compared to its realistic chance of winning. A horse that ALL-Ways software makes as a 2-to-1 horse would be an overlay if it is paying more than 2-to-1 and it would be an underlay if it is paying less than 2-to-1. Successful players do not bet on underlays and they generally require a premium overlay payoff. Using the example of our 2-to-1 horse, a successful player will probably be looking for a payoff at or over 5-to-2.
There is another axiom in this area of value. Never bet against a legitimate odds-on favorite. We would define a legitimate odds-on favorite as a horse going off at low odds, say 7-to-5 or lower, that you believe deserves this kind of strong support and that will, in all likelihood, win the race.
So, for win betting, we will not wager on any horse that is an underlay and we will not make a win bet on a horse if it is going up against an odds-on legitimate favorite. In these situations, we will pass these races as far as making win bets.
In this whole area of demanding value, you should also trust your instincts. You have probably said hundreds of times: There is no way to make any money in this race. Generally, there is an odds-on legitimate favorite that is not paying much and the probable Exacta Payoffs look very low. Many handicappers still try to force a bet in these situations just to get in on the action. The right thing to do is to trust your instincts and pass the race.
Passing races when you are not comfortable or confident with your selection(s).
What we are going to advise you here, plain and simple, is to pass any race that you just cant figure out. Just about everyone will react to this by saying Well, of course. Or as Jay Leno would put it, Well, da. If it really is so simple, then why do so many players ask the pass or play question? Lets do a little soul searching. See if you have ever been caught up in the kind of scenario described in the rather long paragraph below.
Could this be you? The race has a full field of horses. There appear to be six and maybe even seven horses that have a legitimate shot of winning the race. All their speed and class figures are pretty close. There are not any tell tale signs pointing to a specific horse or two such as a pace match-up advantage or an unusually fast early pace figure or final fraction figure or a superior workout, etc. But, look at the odds on the tote board. These horses are going off at 4-to-1, 5-to-1, 10-to-1 and up. WOW! And, look at the probable Exacta payoffs that are on the monitor. They are $60, $80 and $100 or more depending on the combination. WOW! Imagine what the Trifecta will pay! With these kinds of payoffs, I need to CRUSH this race. I am not really sure which horse is going to win, so I am going to pass on making a win bet and focus on the Exacta and Trifecta. I obviously do not want to box six or seven horses in an Exacta, so I will go with ABC/ABCDE. This will cost me $24 but remember how big the Exacta probable payoffs look. I better stick to a one dollar Trifecta to keep the cost down. I will play it as ABC/ABCDE/ABCDEFG. This gets all the contenders in at least the show spot. It will cost me $60, but the payoff should be huge. Oh-Oh! I am running out of time. I better get to the window so I do not get shut out. I am a bit worried about the D horse. He could really win this thing. I better add another Trifecta ticket of D/ABC/ABCEFG. It will cost another $15 but the payoffs will be huge.
So what has happened here? Before you know it, this person has wagered upwards of a hundred dollars on a race that has not been handicapped. There are so many combinations being wagered and so many other combinations that could actually come in that this really is a confusing situation. This leads to last minute, rushed, confused and very undisciplined wagering. The chances of cashing the wagers are very poor indeed. The result is typically a surprise winner, a lost wager and the person goes in the hole for the day.
The fundamental problem here is that this race cannot be handicapped successfully. It is just too contentious. It should be passed. But, many players get caught up in the euphoria of a possible big payoff and then base their wagers on a wing and a prayer.
This example is not as extreme as it may appear. Such races show up at least once on most cards just about every day. And, there is probably another race or two that, while not quite so difficult, should still be passed because of the difficulty of narrowing the potential winners down to no more than three horses.
If this scenario has happened to you in the past, do not despair. Most successful handicappers have gone through this costly learning process somewhere along the way.
So, it is important to acknowledge that there are some races that are just too difficult to handicap successfully. We will define successful as being able to narrow the list of probable winners down to no more than three horses. These difficult races are not restricted to Maiden and low level Claiming races. They can very well be some of the higher caliber races run at your track where most of the horses are in good form, at the same relative class level and can all run to the par times of todays race.
ALL-Ways software will give you powerful indicators of these unplayable races. Typically, ALL-Ways will identify six or more contenders and ALL-Ways softwares first selection will be assigned odds of 4-to-1 or higher. The ALL-Ways Comprehensive Ratings of the contenders will tend to fall into a narrow range as will the speed figures and the class figures. ALL-Ways software is telling you that it does not have great confidence in its selections for this race. This is not only good, it is GREAT! It is Wonderful! Some races are just not playable and they should (MUST) be passed. When ALL-Ways software helps you do this, it is doing its job very well indeed.
The most powerful signal you can get to pass these kinds of races is your own intellectual honesty. If you cannot narrow your candidate(s) to win the race down to three horses or less such that you are comfortable and confident with your selections, then you must acknowledge it and pass the race. And, any handicapper that does not have the probable win candidate(s) pegged should not be playing Exactas or Trifectas.
When you come across a difficult race, by all means look for angles that can point you to the probable winners. ALL-Ways software is full of information, that the public never sees, that can help you do this. If you can narrow it down to three horses, chances are that two of them are overlays and you will have a good two horse win bet opportunity. If you can narrow it down to only two horses, you may have a good two horse win bet or, if not, you can bet on the horse that is an overlay.
Note that you can also, look at past ALL-Ways Newsletters for important tips on how to handicap tough races including how to handicap Contentious and Chaos races, how to use Race Pace Shapes, how to handicap Honest Pace Shape races, how to identify long shots, how to evaluate Dangerous Non Contenders, and more. You can get all past issues of ALL-Ways Newsletters off our Web site or by calling or writing to us.
Not all races are playable. Some, perhaps most, should be passed.
Do not pass races using mechanical decisions. Give yourself a chance to handicap every race. If you do not, you will miss some very good opportunities.
Pass any race that does not offer you a value wagering opportunity.
Never bet against a legitimate odds-on favorite.
Pass races where you cannot comfortably and confidently narrow the probable winner(s) down to one, two or three horses.
If you get it down to three horses, bet the two that are overlays. If you get it down to two horses, bet them both if both are overlays. Otherwise bet the one that is an overlay.
Use the money you save by not wagering on a passed race to increase your wagers on races you do play.
If you simply need the action of betting on every race, then establish one bankroll for your serious wagers and another Action Bankroll that you are prepared to lose betting on the races you really should pass. An even better way to get the action you desire is to play two tracks, wagering on the good 3 to 5 races at each track.
The Inner Dirt Track at Aqueduct
The Winter Meet at Aqueduct is underway, meaning races are now being run on the Inner Dirt Track. Those that play Aqueduct regularly know that the Inner Track is quite different from the Main Track. So, you will want to use ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles aimed specifically at the Inner Track races. There are several ways you can begin using Inner Dirt Track profiles.
1.You can download Aqueduct Handicapping Profiles from our Web site at www.frandsen.com. Up-to-date Inner Track profiles are included. Be sure to download the file labeled as the Winter Meet Profiles.
2. In both the Standard and Professional Editions, you can automatically create Inner Track Handicapping Profiles using the MRA Default and MRA Pace functions. To do so, simply click on the Inner Track selection for dirt races and then click the MRA default and/or MRA Pace functions to automatically create the profiles. The resulting profiles will be aimed at dirt races run on the Inner Dirt track and turf races run on the main turf course.
3. In the Professional Edition, you can use the MRA Custom function to create custom profiles for the various types of dirt races run on the Inner Dirt Track including separate win, place and show profiles.
4. In both the Standard and Professional Editions you can manually create your own Inner Track profiles. Simply select the Inner Track option for dirt races, run an Impact Value Analysis and then create the profiles using the ALL-Ways Profile module.
A 1998 Breeders Cup Classic Handicapping Lesson
This years Breeders Cup Classic race was won by Awesome Again with Pat Day aboard. Awesome Again did this racing against the likes of Silver Charm, Skip Away and Gentleman and, in doing so, demonstrated a very powerful angle that we seem to see several times every year and that seems to work a high percentage of the time. This angle was obvious for this race and we credit it for allowing us to cash Win, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Double and Pick 3 tickets in this, the last race on the Breeders Cup card.
The angle we are referring to is The Rabbit angle. Here is how it works. Awesome Again (designated by ALL-Ways as a Presser), Touch Gold (a Presser) and Coronados Quest (an Early Presser but close to an Early runner) were coupled as one betting interest in this race because of ownership and trainer connections. The favorites in this race were Skip Away (an Early runner), Silver Charm (an Early Presser) and Gentleman (an Early Presser). As expected, Coronados Quest went out on a suicide pace with the clear intent of burning up Silver Charm, Skip Away and Gentleman and setting the race up for Awesome Again or Touch Gold from off the pace.
ALL-Ways software showed that Skip Away and Gentlemen had relatively poor Final Fraction figures and were likely to fold under this kind of pace pressure. Silver Charm, with better Final Fraction figures, looked like he could handle the pace but would be compromised by it. Coronados Quest was an automatic toss out as was his stablemate, Touch Gold who had a real Class Rating problem. Awesome Again, Swain and Victory Gallop were all designated as Pressers and were in the ALL-Ways software contender list. These horses finished first, third and fourth, respectively and Silver Charm hung on, as expected, for the Place spot.
Here are the payoffs:
|$2 Win||$ 11.40|
|$2 Exacta||$ 32.20|
|$2 Double||$ 57.00|
|$2 Pick 3||$270.00|
So, the top four finishers came out of the six horses ALL-Ways software designated as contenders. The other two ALL-Ways software contenders, Skip Away and Gentleman, were burned out from the blistering pace set by Coronados Quest, who was the Rabbit in this race. The message here is to always look at coupled entries to see if the Rabbit Angle might come into play.
Downloadable Handicapping Profiles
As we said earlier, the Users Corner of our Web site at www.frandsen.com has been a big hit with ALL-Ways software handicappers. We offer a big THANK YOU to all of you who submitted your own ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles for sharing with other ALL-Ways software users.
Remember, the value of these Handicapping Profiles is that you can use them when you first start handicapping a track and until you have built up your own Race Database to the size where you can create the profiles in your own computer.
At the time we were writing this newsletter, we had 52 different sets of Handicapping Profiles covering 32 different tracks in North America. And, some of them were created from ALL-Ways Race Databases that were in excess of 1,000 races including profiles for Calder Race Course which were created from an ALL-Ways Race Database of 3199 races. Most profiles were created with ALL-Ways Race Databases containing more than 500 races.
As good as it is, we need to keep working to make it even better and to keep it current. We ask all ALL-Ways software users with access to the Internet to visit the Users Corner of our Web site where we have listed all the sets of Handicapping Profiles that are available for downloading. We also show how many races were in the Race Database for the track from which the profiles were created as well as the date the profiles were posted. We would very much appreciate it if ALL-Ways software handicappers would help us, and help each other, by e-mailing your ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles to us for posting on the Web site. We are specifically after three things:
1. Profiles for Tracks that we do not yet have covered.
2. Profiles made from larger Race Databases than the size of the databases we show.
3. Profiles that were made after the posting dates we show.
Item #1 is an immediate need. Items #2 and #3 are on-going needs. We would always like to have the latest ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles made from reasonably good sized Race Databases.
We have asked everyone to include profiles that are automatically made by ALL-Ways software when you click the MRA Default button and when you click the MRA Pace button. MRA, of course, refers to Multiple Regression Analysis. When you download ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles that were made by another ALL-Ways software handicapper using the MRA functions, you can be confident the profiles will be just as good as if you had created them on your own computer with a similar sized Race Database.
Sending us profiles and downloading profiles are both very easy to do. Simple printed instructions are available on our Web site. And, if you need personal help, just call Frandsen Publishing at the number shown below.
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