July 2003, Number 30
Inside This Newsletter
- The Curse of the Legitimate Favorite
ALL-Ways Data Files and BRIS Ultimate Past Performances at a Bargain Price!
Version 10 Handicapping Profiles
How to Handle the New BRIS Exotic Results Data File
!!! Very Important !!!
Exotics Results Data Files Will Change on July 15, 2003
The Exotic Results Data Files (XRD) will be changed by BRIS on July 15, 2003 such that all payoffs will be normalized to payoffs based on $2 wagers. This change will require some ALL-Ways software users to change the $1 vs $2 Payoff Preference Setting. ALL-Ways software users should read the short article on page 4 of this newsletter for specific instructions.
ALL-Ways Version 10.1 Software
If you have not already done so, ALL-Ways Software users should obtain and install ALL-Ways Version 10.1 software.
We have touched on this subject in prior newsletters. Now, we want to try to really drive the point home. If you are approaching your handicapping in any way that is not reasonably consistent with what you are about to read, chances are you are not making any money at the track.
One solid piece of handicapping advice is to never bet against a legitimate favorite. Another solid piece of handicapping advice is to “never” bet on a legitimate favorite. What? That’s right. In almost every case, it is best to pass the race than to bet on or to bet against a legitimate favorite. About the only exception to this would be if one or two long odds horses (15 to 1 or so) are likely to finish in-the-money. In this case we may play an Exacta and/or a Trifecta with the legitimate favorite over the long odds horse(s). Under no circumstances would we bet against a legitimate favorite.
The reason we pass almost all races with a legitimate favorite is because the payoffs just do not support any kind of a profitable wagering approach. You will have a VERY hard time making money playing favorites. And if you bet against them, they will often come in and ruin your payoffs. Lets look at the payoff situation.
Crowd favorites tend to win, on average, about 1 out of 3 races. If you wager $2 on favorites in three races your single winner must pay you $6 to break-even on your total $6 wagered. This means that the winner has to go off at odds of at least 2 to 1. But, who wants to break even? To make a profit, you are going to need to win with horses paying 5 to 2 or 3 to 1 or higher. The problem is that these slightly higher paying favorites are not going to win as often as even money favorites meaning these higher paying favorites are not going to win 1 out of 3 races and your profit equation falls apart. Studies have shown that betting on favorites to win will eventually cost you, on average, about a 10% loss on the money you wager.
Exactas and Trifectas
We used the Track Payoff Analysis that is built into ALL-Ways software to see what happens to average Exacta and Trifecta payoffs based on the winning horse’s win payoff. We did this for the tracks shown below for which we have a total of approximately 16,000 races in our ALL-Ways software race databases. The charts show the average payoffs where the winners paid $4 or less (even money or less odds), $7 or less (5 to 2 or less odds), $8 or more (3 to 1 or higher odds). We show the $8 or higher payoffs for all such races. (*)We also show the $8 payoffs where we excluded the abnormally high payoffs that may distort the averages.
Average $2 Exacta Payoffs
Winner Paid to Win
Average $2 Trifecta Payoffs
Winner Paid to Win
As you can see, when heavy favorites up to even money ($4 payoffs) win races, the Exacta and Trifecta payoffs are paltry indeed. And, it does not get much better when you add the luke warm favorites all the way up to 5-2 ($7 payoffs). But, look what happens when we exclude these public favorite winners. The Exacta payoffs increase more than four-fold and the Trifecta payoffs increase more than five-fold. (*)Even when we exclude the very large payoffs, Exacta and Trifecta payoffs more than triple. It is extremely difficult to make any money betting favorites to win when playing Exactas and Trifectas.
In ALL-Ways Newsletter #15, we published an extensive article on how best to play the Pick 3. It included a chart first published in Dick Mitchell’s book “Commonsense Betting”. The chart shows the average Pick 3 payoffs at Santa Anita based on the number of favorites that won each leg.
Number Average Average
of All Excluding
Favorites Payoffs Large
0 $1,768 $567
1 $ 641 $353
2 $ 119 $119
3 $ 31 $ 31
Winning only $31 or $119 for a $2 Pick 3 is simply not going to make you any money at the track. It is clear that you need at least two legs of the Pick 3 to be won by non-favorites.
The payoffs discussion above presents a pretty compelling case as to why you should not wager on legitimate favorites. But, why do we also say “Do not wager against a legitimate favorite”. If, in your handicapping, you designate the favorite as legitimate, then you would be just engaging in wishful thinking to bet against it. This is just not a good way to approach the races. When the legitimate favorite does win the race, the payoffs are devastatingly low. How many times have you heard someone say: “I didn’t even get back the amount of my wager. “
Here is a profound piece of handicapping advice: If you want to make money at the track, your primary handicapping job is NOT to find the winning horse. Instead, it is to find one or more horses that will most likely finish ahead of the public favorite. If you are not already doing this and if you really let this sink in, it will, or at least it should, change the way you approach the whole handicapping process.
Let’s look at a simple “top level” 3-step process that has as its focus finding false favorites and exploiting the opportunities. The first two steps have served us well personally for many years. The third step is something we added last year when we began testing and using the Show Partial Parlay wager. We call it a “top level” process because it is intended to define the overall flow of your more comprehensive handicapping methods. For example, this compliments and channels a good pace handicapping process. It does not replace it. This will help bring simple order and consistency to your handicapping approach. And, this order and consistency provides the opportunity for you to continuously improve, particularly if you keep written notes on what works and what does not work for you.
The three steps in this process are:
1. Classify the favorite as legitimate or vulnerable or false.
2. Select your Key Horse
3. Select your Show Partial Parlay horse, even if you do not play this wager.
Step 1: Classify the favorite
In this first step, you will classify the public favorite as being either legitimate or vulnerable or false. If at the end of the process you agree with the public’s choice, then you have a legitimate favorite. However, if you are convinced that the favorite will not win and if you have identified the horse or the horses that will most likely finish ahead of the favorite, then you have a clear false favorite. More often than not, it will not be so “cut and dried”. Instead, you will classify the favorite as vulnerable and you will need to make a further assessment as to just how vulnerable the favorite really is.
You should start out from the perspective of only looking at the favorite horse itself (or favorite horses if the public is closely supporting more than one horse). You must start out assuming the favorite is legitimate and mark it down to vulnerable or false as you identify real reasons to do so. There are many ways to approach this and most of our readers will have their favorite methods. We tend to approach the task the way ALL-Ways Key Handicapping Factors are organized. Remember, at this point we are only looking at the favorite and we are looking for specific, real reasons to mark the favorite down to vulnerable or false.
Suitability to Distance and Surface
Mark the favorite down if it is going back to a distance or a surface (dirt, mud, turf) on which it did not perform well in the past; or if it will not like a slight increase or decrease in distance such as a move from 6 to 6 1/2 furlongs; or if it is trying the surface for the first time and has a bad pedigree for the surface; or, and this is our favorite, if the horse’s Best 2 of 3 figures are good but its paceline figures are poor and the horse had no excuse for its paceline race.
Mark the favorite down if its recent performances have not been particularly good and there is no change today that would portend a better performance; or the horse has poor BRIS and Hall Weighted Moving Average Total figures compared to the other horses in the race.
Mark the horse down if, based on the Race Rating of today’s race, it is going back to a level at which it has not performed well; or if the public believes the horse is running at about the same class level as its last race but the Race Rating of today’s race is actually substantially higher than the horse’s last race; or if the horse is taking a rise in Race Rating today that will take it up to its “Level of Incompetence” which, in the business world, is known as The Peter Principle. This principle simply says that all managers will keep getting promoted until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent. Horses are the same way.
Mark the favorite down if it has low speed figures (This won’t happen very often because the public is in tune with speed figures to a fault); or the horse’s Best 2 of 3 figures are good but its paceline figures are poor and the horse had no excuse for its paceline race (This was repeated on purpose.); or the horse has low Hall Speed figures and is changing distance category (sprint vs route) and/or changing surface (dirt vs turf); or the horse does not have a top 10 BRIS speed figure on the Top 10/Ranking report.
ALL-Ways Newsletters #3 and #21 have extensive articles on pace handicapping that will be useful here. Mark the favorite down if it looks to have a pace disadvantage such as getting caught up in an early speed duel; or such as being a late closer in a Lone Early or a Honest Pace Shape race where the early pace will not tire out the front runners; or such as the horse being an Early (E) runner with an outside post and other Early (E) runners with high Quirin Speed Points in the middle and/or inside post positions; or the ALL-Ways Past Performance Report shows the horse does not do well in races with the likely Quirin Race Shape of today’s race (see ALL-Ways Newsletter #4).
Now we suggest you look at the other horses in the race to determine which horse (or horses) have a real shot at finishing ahead of the favorite. You really cannot label a favorite as vulnerable or false unless you can identify the horse(s) that can beat it. And, the more such horses you can identify, the more vulnerable the favorite is. So, at this point you should be able to classify the favorite as legitimate, slightly vulnerable, highly vulnerable or false. We will usually play the race if the favorite is highly vulnerable or false.
Step 2: Identify your Key Horse
ALL-Ways Version 10 provides you with its top four Key Horse Candidates. After completing Step #1 above, you should be in a very good, knowledgeable position to select your Key Horse from these four candidates. Remember, the Key Horse you select must never be the favorite.
Step 3: Selecting your Show Partial Parlay horse.
Please see ALL-Ways Newsletters #28 and #29 for a thorough explanation of identifying this horse. Again, Step 1 has put you in a great position to make a knowledgeable selection of this horse.
It is important to go through all three steps. It is possible that the most likely horse to beat the favorite and the Key Horse and the Show Partial Parlay horse are all the same horse. However, we always try to end up with at least two different horses and, if possible, we would like them to be three different horses. The reason is simple. If we have three different horses then we have a horse we believe will beat the favorite, a horse that may not win but that we are confident will be in-the-money (Key Horse) and a horse that is not in the top three public choices that may not win but that we are confident will finish in-the-money (Show Partial Parlay horse). Think about this for a minute. If you have three horses, you probably have the primary horses for Exacta, Trifecta, Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagers. And remember, we will not play any of these wagers unless we have identified a false or highly vulnerable favorite.
Again, this simple “top level” 3-step process can bring order and consistency to your whole handicapping process. It will really help you focus on whether or not the race is playable and, if it is, which entrants should be the primary horses used in your wagers. We have presented some of the ideas we use to identify false favorites. It is very important that you develop your own methods. And, we cannot stress enough how important it is for you to keep written notes so you develop an accurate understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t.
The following article has been taken, with permission, from e-mails sent to us by a long time ALL-Ways software handicapper from Streamwood, Illinois. It is clear that this handicapper embraces the concept of avoiding legitimate favorites. This ALL-Ways software user is also making good use of the new Gap Analysis and Key Horse Candidate features introduced in ALL-Ways Version 10.
First let me say (and I never get effusive) the changes in version 10 are nothing short of miraculous. The BRIS and Hall Weighted Moving Average Total figures are the best thing I’ve ever seen for form and the Gap Analysis is amazing. It is like being the first to be let in on Beyer speed figures several years ago. The custom search feature is a handicapper’s dream. I’d thought I would write today with an illustration from yesterday’s card (March 11, 2003) at Hawthorne.
The first four races were not very exciting. Two were totally un-playable (short priced favorites who looked very good) and the other two were tough to separate. The fifth race, brought a great opportunity. The 3/5 favorite was extremely vulnerable. It had not run for almost a year and then only a 4 1/2 furlong race (this was a 6 furlong Allowance). This was also the top ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidate. The second ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidate (Road Closed) was a dual qualifier with six mentions in the gap category (the top horse had 5 gap mentions). With a 6-1 morning line, it looked like a perfect time to key him. When the race was done, he had won by 6 and paid $43.60. The 3/5 shot ran 2nd for a $75.20 Exacta and the third ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidate ran 3rd at 18-1 to complete a $473.20 Trifecta. And the fun was just beginning.
A couple of years ago I started using a Pick 3 strategy I picked up from ALL-Ways Newsletter #15. I buy 3 tickets and I key one horse in each race using 3-4 horses in the others. That way if all my key horses were to win, I’d win 3 times (but why am I telling you this, Frandsen Publishing wrote the article). Anyway, since Version 10, the top 3 ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidates have won such a great percentage of races, I generally use them, keying the first horse that’s not the favorite.
The three races making up the Pick 3 I played at Hawthorne were races 7, 8 and 9. In race 7, the 3rd ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidate (Barney’s Misstress) won and paid $15.
In the eighth race, another great wagering opportunity came up. The 3rd ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidate (Money River) looked exceptional at a 20-1 morning line. In a EP P sprint she had a 6 point gap advantage in the BRIS Total figure (Early Pace + Speed) and 4 other gap mentions. She also had the rail which had a 1.64 IV and the track’s hottest trainer/jockey combo. I was a little worried about her “S” running style, but the only “EP” style horse was normally a route horse without the early pace figures to coast out front. I played the horse, made him my key in the Pick 3, and used him first and second with the other 4 Always contenders. They did bet him down some and when he won by 8 lengths, he only paid $26.00. The Exacta was $130.60 and the Trifecta was $782.
In the ninth race, the top 2 ALL-Ways Key Horse Candidates looked pretty solid, so I chose to use the 2nd one, Big Dividend, since the top one was the favorite. He returned $14.60 and the Pick 3 (which I had twice) paid $2,662. Oh yeah, the top choice finished 2nd for a $57 Exacta and I hit the $228.60 Trifecta. Ho hum. And if I had played it (I didn’t) the Superfecta was an easy hit at $1,275.
S.U. from Streamwood, Illinois
ALL-Ways Data Files and BRIS Ultimate PPs at a Bargain Price
(As low as $5.60)
We want to remind current and potential ALL-Ways software users that the ALL-Ways software data files you download from BRIS to drive your ALL-Ways software can also be used to drive the BRIS Past Performance Generator Software to print the BRIS Ultimate PPs With Comments. Simply download and install the free BRIS PP Generator software. It is very easy to do. Then, after starting up the PP Generator software, use the Load File function to load the ALL-Ways Data File that is located in your Frandata folder. You can even set the default folder to Frandata by using the SYSTEM-DEFAULT FILE DIRECTORY function.
OK, so what about the bargain price? If you are a BRIS Gold Plan Member, the ALL-Ways file costs you only $7. Then, if you make just a single $2 wager on TwinSpires.com in a month, you will receive a 20% discount on your entire BRIS bill for the month. That brings the file cost down to only $5.60. Now, consider that the typical ALL-Ways software handicapper plays two tracks at a time. The two ALL-Ways files would cost them $11.20. But, since they do not need to buy a racing form, their net cost for both tracks is actually less than $8.00. That is a pretty small investment to bring all the power of ALL-Ways software into your handicapping process, an investment that only requires you to hit one more winning ticket on two full race cards to earn a very handsome return-on-investment.
Version 10 Handicapping Profiles
New Version 10 Handicapping Profiles have been posted in the User’s Corner on the Frandsen Publishing Web site at www.frandsen.com. New profiles are posted for almost all North American tracks. We would like to receive new profiles from Version 10 users for the following tracks: Fairplex, Hoosier Park, Remington Park and Suffolk Downs. Just send us an e-mail indicating the number of races in your ALL-Ways Race Database for the track and attach two files to the e-mail. The two files are IV.xxx and IVDEX.xxx where xxx is the track code. Both these files are in your Franfile folder. Send the e-mail to email@example.com. Note: The importance of these Version 10 Handicapping Profiles is that they consider all 87 Key Handicapping Factors in Version 10 as opposed to just the 71 factors in prior versions.
How to Handle the New BRIS Exotic Results Data File (XRD File)
A few years back, some tracks in North America started to report Exacta, Trifecta and Pick 3 payoffs based on $1 wagers instead of based on $2 wagers. This was true for virtually all California tracks and has spread to other selected tracks such as Gulfstream. Up until now, the XRD file has not included the amount of the base wager and so it was not possible to automatically determine if the payoffs were based on $1 or $2 wagers. ALL-Ways software solved this problem by allowing ALL-Ways users to set a Preference item in ALL-Ways software that told ALL-Ways which tracks use $1 base wagers and for what kind of wagers.
On July 15th, 2003, the payoffs in all XRD files posted by BRIS for downloading will all be normalized to be based on $2 wagers. This applies to all XRD files including those for race cards run before, on and after July 15th. So, in order to capture the correct Exacta, Trifecta and Pick 3 payoffs, ALL-Ways software users need to do one of two things:
1) Change the Payoff Preference setting back to $2 for all tracks currently set at $1
2) Delete the file named “PAYOFF” that is in the Franfile folder.
If you should happen to process new XRD file(s) after the July 15th date before you change the Preference setting you can still easily get back to the correct payoffs. Simply change the Preference setting using one of the two options above and then reprocess the XRD file(s).
!! Important Correction !!
The green ALL-Ways Newsletter distributed inside the July issue of the BRIS Handicapping Times indicated that the new $2 Exotic Results Data Files would apply to races actually run on or after July 15th, 2003. This was an error. The new $2 Exotic Results Data Files will apply to all Exotic Results Data Files posted by BRIS for downloading including races run before July 15th and including all such files that are available in the BRIS Archive File Server.
Frandsen Publishing Hiatus
Frandsen Publishing will be temporarily closed from July 23, 2003 through August 3, 2003. We will re-open the business on Monday August 4, 2003. You will, of course, be able to download ALL-Ways Data Files and Exotic Results Data Files from BRIS. If you need technical support during this period, please call BRIS at 1 800 354 9206. You may also call Frandsen Publishing at 952 937 9180 and leave a message for us to call you back after we return. You may also call the same number during this time to place orders for ALL-Ways Version 10 Professional Edition software. We will fill these orders on a first-come first-served basis as soon as we return on August 4th.
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