July 2002, Number 26
Inside This Newsletter
Call for Wish Lists
When an Exacta is a Better Wager than a Trifecta
Guest Article: Hitting the Trifecta at the Kentucky Derby
Turf Sprint Surprises
ALL-Ways Version 9.1 Software Now Available
Version 9.1 is now the most current version of ALL-Ways software. Although version 9.1 adds a new capability to print out race results using the Exotics Results Data File (XRD), it is primarily a technical upgrade. Version 9.1 will also prepare your databases for features coming in version 10.0 late this year. We highly recommend that ALL-Ways handicappers upgrade to version 9.1 as soon as it is reasonable to do so. The Standard Edition of version 9.1 is available on the ALL-Ways Free Software page at the BRIS website (www.brisnet.com).
Call for "Wish Lists"
ALL-Ways software version 10.0 is well along in development. Availability is expected to be late in 2002. But, there is still time to add additional features over and above what are already included/planned. As always, we would very much like to receive suggestions from ALL-Ways software handicappers for new features that they would like to see in future versions of the software. Please give us a phone call or send a letter or an e-mail to Frandsen Publishing with your "Wish Lists". See "How to Contact Frandsen Publishing" on the back page of this newsletter. We thank you, in advance, for your support. We do listen!
It is a good idea to periodically check the Frandsen Publishing Web site. We frequently add new information and items of interest for handicappers. For example, we recently added updated Handicapping Profiles for Arlington Park. And, we will be expanding on Arlington Park information as we get closer to the 2002 Breeder’s Cup to be run at Arlington on October 26th. You may also want to use our very handy and popular Track Information Page with its direct links to individual, multi-day weather forecasts for each track in North America. To quickly check for items of interest, simply click the Home Page link to the "What’s New" page.
When an Exacta is a Better Wager Than a Trifecta
Many, perhaps even most, handicappers will play an Exacta in the same race they play a Trifecta. This often makes perfect sense, particularly if you believe the favorite is likely to finish off-the-board. There are times, however, when it is best to play a larger Exacta instead of playing the Trifecta at all. During the time we were putting this newsletter together, we had several of these situations arise that we actually wagered on and that, quite clearly, illustrate this kind of opportunity.
How often have you said to yourself when looking at the payoffs after a race: "It would have been better to play the Exacta than the Trifecta!". Most handicappers have said, or at least thought, this many times. It happens every day and at least once on just about every race card. Let’s see how to spot this situation/opportunity in advance of the race being run.
In ALL-Ways Newsletters #5 and #6, we presented a two-part article on how best to play the Trifecta. We made the very strong point that you should almost never play the Trifecta if the betting favorite is likely to finish in-the-money.
To win decent money in the Trifecta, you really need the favorite to finish off-the-board. In this situation, we will generally play both the Exacta and the Trifecta. We play the Exacta in case we have the win and place horses but not the show horse. And, remember that neither the Exacta or the Trifecta include the betting favorite.
Now, if we figure the betting favorite may be in-the-money but that it will not win the race, then we will not play the Trifecta. Instead, we will play only the Exacta and we will increase the size of our normal Exacta wager. Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples of how this works. As we discuss these examples, we are going to provide some incite into how we use ALL-Ways software to help us find these opportunities and to help us craft our specific wagers. Please note, if you are not an ALL-Ways software handicapper, you can still use many of the concepts described below. As you review these examples, please note how we have blended our own handicapping knowledge and judgment with the handicapping done by ALL-Ways software. These are all good examples of what we mean when we advise against purely "mechanical play".
Note that the betting favorites are indicated with an asterisk (*) to the right of the horse’s going-off-odds.
5th Race @ Belmont on 5/25/02
This was a 6 furlong dirt sprint Allowance race for 4-year olds and up with an ALL-Ways Honest Race Pace Shape of E-EP. (See Pace Handicapping in Newsletter #3).
The Race Results were:
Say Florida Sandy
|$8.30 to win
$7.30 to place
$2.30 to show
All-Ways profile selections were:
1st Appealing Danger
2nd Say Florida Sandy
3rd Marshall Greeley
Belmont had a very strong early speed bias for this race. "E" and "EP" horses win at an impressive 84.6% rate. Even 80% of place horses are within 2 lengths of the lead at the 2nd Call. The key to this race was that Appealing Danger was the only "E" horse in the race. And, he had a Quirin Speed Rating of 8 indicating he would likely be on the lead at the 1st Call (See Quirin Speed Points in Newsletter #13). The only "EP" horse in the race had much lower Early Pace figures than Appealing danger and only 4 Quirin Speed Points. This race set up for Appealing Danger getting loose on the lead in a race that heavily favors front-runners. And, Appealing Danger had decent class and speed figures making him a strong contender. This was enough to make Say Florida Sandy a vulnerable favorite in our mind.
The only other horses that would be close enough at the 2nd Call to have a chance for a Place finish were Marshall Greeley and Say Florida Sandy.
Our favorite Exacta wager for this kind of Exacta-Only situation is AB/ABC where the "C" horse is the betting favorite. In this case, the "A" horse was Appealing Danger, the "B" horse was Marshall Greeley and the "C" horse was Say Florida Sandy. We played a $10 Exacta for a total wager of $40.
The $2 Exacta paid $63.00, giving us $315 for our $10 Exacta. The $2 Trifecta, which we did not bet, paid only $117.
4th Race @ Belmont on 6/1/02
This was a 1 1/4 mile turf route Allowance race for 3-year and up Fillies and Mares, run on the Inner Turf course. ALL-Ways software designated this as an Honest Race Pace Shape of E-EP.
The Race Results were:
|$12.00 to win
$7.00 to place
$2.20 to show
All-Ways profile selections were:
2nd Tara Gold
This was clearly only a four horse race in a field of nine horses. The four horses included the top 3 finishers and a horse named Shouldn’t We All, ALL-Ways 3rd selection. Shouldn’t We All seemed better suited to the dirt and had the lowest BRIS Turf Class figure in the field, which is usually the "kiss of death" in a turf race. She was also an "E" horse that would have to fight the very strong bias at Belmont AGAINST front runners in turf routes. Only 11.54% of such races are won in wire-to-wire fashion.
Now, let’s look at why we concluded the favorite, Tara Gold, was vulnerable and likely to not win the race. First, Ready was far and away the class in this race with a Turf Class rating 2.2 points above Tara Gold and 2.3 points above Offtheturf. Second, looking at the powerful ALL-Ways Top 10/Ranking Report, we saw that Ready had 4 of the top 10 BRIS Speed performances including the 1st, 3rd and 4th best performances. Offtheturf had 3 of the Top 10 BRIS Speed performances including the 2nd best rating in the top 10 that she earned in her most recent race. Tara Gold showed up in the Top 10 list only once and that was in 5th place behind Ready and behind Offtheturf. Offtheturf also had the best closing ability of all the contenders. All of this was enough to make Tara Gold a very vulnerable favorite, in our mind.
We again employed our favorite AB/ABC Exacta wager with Ready as our "A" horse, Offtheturf as our "B" horse and Tara Gold, the favorite, as our "C" horse. The $10 Exacta cost us $40.
The $2 Exacta paid $67.50 giving us $337.50 for our $10 Exacta. The $2 Trifecta, which we did not play, paid only $141.00.
9th Race @ Lone Star on 6/1/02
This was a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint Allowance race for 3-year and up Fillies and Mares. ALL-Ways software designated this as a Fast Race Pace Shape of EEE.
The Race Results were:
|$9.00 to win
$10.00 to place
$2.60 to show
All-Ways profile selections were:
1st Leslie’s Love
4th Darlin Dixie
Turf Sprints generally favor off-the-pace horses at Lone Star. And there were no fewer than 5 "E" horses in this race. All this seemed to make Leslie’s Love, one of the "E" horses, very vulnerable. But a close examination revealed two important points in favor of Leslie’s Love. First, Leslie’s Love was vastly superior to all the other "E" horses in the race and would have no trouble putting the others away without much sustained pace pressure. Second, the very strong paceline automatically selected by ALL-Ways software for Leslie’s Love was the T3 race, meaning the race was 3 races back and was True (i.e., a turf sprint). She not only won that paceline race, and the turf sprint race before it, but did so with big pace and speed figures against similar company. This is the very powerful "Going Back" spot play we discussed in ALL-Ways Newsletter # 18.
We could safely eliminate the other four "E" horses, including ALL-Ways 3rd selection, leaving us with the two best "P" horses as the prime candidates for the place position. These horses were Darlin Dixie and Repository. They had the best figures after Leslie’s Love including very strong final fraction pace ratings.
We played our favorite AB/ABC Exacta with Leslie’s Love as our "A" horse, Darling Dixie as our "B" horse and the favorite, Repository, as our "C" horse. Again, we played a $10 Exacta for a total cost of $40.
The $2 Exacta paid $90.00 giving us a nice $450.00 for our $10 Exacta. The Trifecta, which we did not play, paid $190.80.
8th Race @ Churchill Downs on 6/1/02
This was a one-mile dirt route Allowance race for 3-year old and up Fillies and Mares with an ALL-Ways Honest Race Pace Shape of E-EP.
The Race Results were:
Our Majestic Cat
|$15.00 to win
$3.80 to place
$3.00 to show
All-Ways profile selections were:
1st Our Majestic Cat
2nd Lead Story
4th Patti Peach
This was a very interesting race. The probable payoffs showed that if both the co-favorites failed to win the race, the Exacta payoff would be reasonably good.
Patti Peach appeared to be a bit outclassed in this race with a BRIS Class rating about two points lower than the favorites. This is why ALL-Ways software did not rate the horse higher than its fourth selection. But, the horse’s paceline figures were the best in the race. We were particularly impressed with the Hall pace and speed figures (See Hall Figures in Newsletter #16). Patti Peach’s paceline race was her last race, a 7 1/2 furlong dirt sprint, which she won going away. As ALL-Ways software handicappers know, the Hall pace and speed figures use a "conservation of energy" approach to convert the 7 1/2 furlong sprint performance to what it would be at today’s one-mile dirt route distance. The Hall figures showed that Patti Peach was the only horse with a demonstrated ability to run to the Par times of this race. See "Breaking News" on this page! One other factor in Patti Peach’s favor was that she had the very best Top 10 BRIS Speed performance of all the horses in the race. This, of course, was evident on the ALL-Ways Top 10/Ranking Report.
The best closers in the race were the co-favorites, Our Majestic Cat and Lead Story. We structured our Exacta wager a bit different for this race. We keyed Patti Peach over and under Lead Story and Our Majestic Cat in the Exacta. Our $10 Exacta still cost us $40.
The $2 Exacta paid $52.60 giving us $263.00 for our $10 Exacta. The Trifecta, which we did not play, paid $165.20.
We do not, of course, win all these types of wagers. But, by searching for races that meet the criteria we discussed in this article, the payoffs for winning these Exacta wagers are quite good and leave us with very nice profits, even after covering the times we don’t win the wager.
So, our recommendation is, if it fits your playing strategy, play both the Trifecta and the Exacta if the favorite figures to finish off-the-board. If the favorite might be in-the-money but figures to not win the race, play a larger Exacta in lieu of playing the Trifecta. This is just another example of why it is important to pro-actively look for reasons why the favorite might not win the race. The really nice payoffs occur when your selections do well and the crowd favorite does not.
!! Breaking News !!
Sarava, the 70-to-1 winner of the Belmont Stakes, had the best Hall pace and speed figures of all the horses in the race. In this case, the Hall figures converted Sarava’s performance in its last race, a 1 1/16 mile dirt route at Pimlico, to how that same performance would have been in a 1 1/2 mile dirt route at Belmont. The Hall figures are frequently a source of high priced horses.
Guest Article: Hitting the Trifecta At the Kentucky Derby
The following article is based on an e-mail sent to us by a long-time ALL-Ways software handicapper the evening of May 4th, 2002. This was Kentucky Derby day.
"Bob Gregory here. Just wanted to let you know that I had the Trifecta today in the Kentucky Derby. Here is how ALL-Ways and I did it:
At 10:30 this morning central time I printed out every ALL-Ways handicapping report available and everything I was seeing pointed to War Emblem being able to control the pace of the race on the front end. The early pace ratings of the other "E" horses were not in the same league as War Emblem. I did expect Medaglia D’Oro and Harlan’s Holiday, both EP horses to be near the lead. However, two other pieces of information that I noticed while looking at two different All-Ways reports caused me to focus on War Emblem being able to control the pace of the race.
The All-Ways paceline report showed that War Emblem had the fastest Bris speed rating of 109 in its last race. Harlan’s Holidays speed numbers were decreasing and I thought it was possible that he had peaked in Florida. Medaglia D’Oro’s numbers were very close to War Emblem. However, a glance at the past performance report showed that his last race at Aqueduct was a head-to-head race from start to finish, losing by a head. This race could knock Medaglia D’Oro off form just enough to spell doom in the Derby. The Derby has seen its share of front-running winners in the recent past and usually at very good prices. I guess most horseplayers just cannot accept the fact that most races are won by front-runners.
The ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles I used chose Harlan’s Holiday first and Medaglia D’Oro second. War Emblem showed up as a strong contender. With eighteen horses going to post, "EP", "P" and especially "S" horses all have so many obstacles to overcome to get home. So, I made the decision to discount the chances of the favorite, Harlan’s Holiday, to hit the board. This decision went against the profile choices, but this is, in my opinion, the beauty of ALL-Ways. The program says to me: Here are the figures. Here are the facts. Here are my selections. Do with them what your experience tells you. Guess that is why it is named ALL-Ways.
Since I had to bet 4 hours prior to race time, I would not know the going-off odds. But, I figured on the crowd looking in their programs and seeing a speed duel developing and eliminating the front-runners. If they had ALL-Ways, they would see that the only true speed in the race was War Emblem. Couple this with the fact that War Emblem was coming from Illinois, I did not think the horse would be bet heavily at the windows. After all this figuring, guess what? I had a Key-Horse at a nice price. I played War Emblem in the win and place positions with eight other horses, a $1 Trifecta bet costing $112, using ALL-Ways of course. The rest is history.
Thanks for a great product! Keep up the good work.
Bob C. Gregory
San Antonio, Texas
In case our readers do not remember, the $2 Trifecta at this year’s Kentucky Derby paid $18,373.20. Our thanks to Bob for letting us publish his e-mail.
Turf Sprint Surprises
Turf sprints can be particularly profitable races to play. We will explain why this is the case and how to spot the potential high paying opportunities. Even if your local track does not run turf sprints, there are good ways to still gain access to the opportunities. We will explain these as well towards the end of this article.
One thing we instinctively noticed about turf sprints was the high frequency of good Exacta and Trifecta payoffs. We examined a random sample of turf sprints run at Canterbury Park, the Fairgrounds, Hollywood Park, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star and Santa Anita, about 500 races in all. We found that almost 50% of winners paid over $10, that over 30% of Exactas paid over $100 and over 40% of Trifectas paid over $500. When we searched for the reason(s) for these nice payoffs, we found, what we believe to be, the answer. And, it is something we can act upon.
Conventional thinking is that early speed wins sprints both on the dirt and on the turf. This would seem to make sense particularly for the many 5 furlong and 5 1/2 furlong turf sprints run at different tracks around the country. Well the reality is that turf sprints DO NOT favor early runners even at the short distances. These races favor Early Presser (EP) horses with their tactical speed and mid-pack Presser (P) horses and even occasionally late running Sustained (S) horses.
Let’s look at some statistics from our 500 race sample of turf sprints run at the six tracks listed earlier. We will show aggregate figures for all the tracks. While there are some track-to-track differences, the figures are remarkably consistent. Lets first look at the BRIS generated Impact Values (IVs) for the four different running styles. Remember that an IV of one (1.0) means the horses win exactly their fair share of races. An IV above 1.0 means the horses win more than their fair share of races. An IV below 1.0 means the horses win less than their fair share of races. The chart below compares the IVs for the four running styles for turf sprints and, for comparison purposes, for dirt sprints.
Running Style Impact Values
Notice how Early Presser (EP) horses have about the same IVs. But, notice the dramatic reduction in the IVs for pace-setting "E" horses in dirt sprints, with Presser (P) and, to a lesser degree, Sustainer (S) horses being the beneficiaries in turf sprints.
ALL-Ways software also calculates the Percent Early Energy (%Early) figures for these races (See Percent Early in Newsletter #19). The %Early for dirt sprints is 52.5%. For turf sprints it is only 51.1%. The 1.4% drop in %Early is quite significant and indicates that turf sprint winners tend to hold something in reserve for the stretch run.
ALL-Ways software also maintains Second Call position and beaten lengths statistics for winning horses. From a beaten lengths standpoint, winning horses of dirt sprints are on the lead or within 2 lengths of the leader at the 2nd Call 74.2% of the time. This figures drops to only 49.8% for turf sprint winners. Again, this is a very significant shift in the track bias.
So, conventional wisdom says that turf sprints are won by early speed horses. But, reality is that turf sprints favor horses that run off the pace. Obviously, this presents us with the opportunity to go against the conventional thinking (a.k.a. "the public"). Look for higher paying "EP" and "P" horses, and even an occasional "S" horse, that has a good shot at winning against the pace setters favored by the public. This is where you will find those $100 + Exactas and $500 + Trifectas. What you are looking for are "EP", "P" and "S" horses with good BRIS and/or Hall Final Fraction figures and with good BRIS and/or Hall Combined Pace Ratings (Early Pace + Final Fraction). The Final Fraction figure gives you a clue as to how fast the horse will be running from the 2nd Call to the finish. The Combined Pace figure will insure that the horse stays close enough to the leaders at the Second Call to have a shot at crossing the finish line first.
Even if your track does not offer turf sprints, you can probably still play turf sprints at other tracks. One option is to play them at your simulcast facility. Another option is to play them using BRIS’s TwinSpires.com on-line wagering service. And remember, you receive a 20% reduction on your entire BRIS bill for any month in which you make at least one $2 wager on TwinSpires.com.
Finally, here is something very special. You can use the ALL-Ways Custom Card capability on the BRIS Web site to create an ALL-Ways race card data file that includes all the turf sprints being run in North America, or whatever tracks you want to include on the card. At the time we were preparing this newsletter, there were nine turf sprints about to be run on Friday, June 7th at Bay Meadows, Canterbury Park, Hollywood Park, Lone Star Park, Penn National, Pimlico, Riverdowns and Woodbine.
To make consistent profits at the track, you need to be selective in the races you play. Among other things, you want to find wagering opportunities where you have it right and the public has it wrong. Turf sprints can be a rich source of these opportunities.
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