2001, Number 23
Handicapping Breeder’s Cup
Lessons from Last Year
The 2001 Breeder’s Cup at Belmont Park
If You Are Not an ALL-Ways Software Handicapper
The Pick 3 Vs. the Pick 4 Vs. the Pick 6
Simple Handicapping Tips That May Quickly Improve Your Play
Handicapping Profiles, aimed specifically at the 2001 Breeder’s Cup at
We have also posted profiles for Keeneland, which should be helpful for playing the short Fall meet this October.
Handicapping Breeder’s Cup Races
... Lessons from Last Year
In our January
Newsletter earlier this year, we included an article that recapped the 2000
Breeder’s Cup run at Churchill Downs with an eye towards “next year”. Well,
“next year” is here with the 2001 Breeder’s Cup about to be run at
Major Thought #1: Look for races with 3 or more horses that have an Early (“E”) running style. Such races are designated by ALL-Ways software as “EEE” races. These races almost always produce surprise, in-the-money finishers at big prices. The chart below shows the running style and the going off odds (odds-to-1) of the top three finishers in each of the three “EEE” races in the 2000 Breeder’s Cup.
Distaff 1 1/8 EP E P
55.90 10.30 12.30
Juv. Fillies 1 1/16 EP EP S
47.00 11.20 8.00
Sprint 6 fur EP S S
1.70 31.30 20.20
Note that “EP” horses won every race, only one “E” horse finished in-the-money and “P” and “S” horses fared well.
Major Thought #2: Do not over handicap for the winner. A better approach to the Breeder’s Cup, we believe, is to handicap for the top 3 or 4 finishers, including looking for potential long odds, in-the-money horses. Then, spend considerable time structuring wagers for Exactas, Trifectas and Superfectas. Here are the payoffs for these three kinds of wagers at the 2000 Breeder’s Cup.
2000 Breeder’s Cup Payoffs
|Race||$2 Exacta||$2Trifecta||$1 Superfecta|
Major Thought #3: Expect the unexpected. Resist being overly influenced by the “experts” and by the crowd favorites. Only one favorite, Kona Gold, won in 2001, paying $3.40 to win. The two expert “locks”, Riboletta and Fusaichi Pegasus, finished 7th and 6th, respectively, in their races. We recommend that you pro-actively search hard for possible surprises. Surprises are the “order of the day” on most Breeder’s Cup days.
Major thought #4: Get the Timeform Ratings from BRIS. These ratings are absolutely indispensable for handicapping the three Breeder’s Cup turf races and for evaluating horses shipping in from overseas.
Major thought #5: For ALL-Ways software users, pay attention to the long-shot factors discussed in the January 2000 Newsletter. These factors are:
- Brohamer Total Pace Ranking
- BRIS and Hall Combined Pace Ratings
- BRIS and Hall Final Fraction Ratings
- Timeform Ratings (turf races only)
- Top SRTV horse with a 3 point or more advantage over the next horse
- Quirin Speed Point figure of 8 with a 3 point or more advantage over the next horse.
Eighteen of the 24 win, place and show horses went off at odds of 9-to-1 or higher. All told, 16 of the 18 were ranked in the top 3 of at least one of these factors including all five horses that went off at 30-1 or higher. For details, you may want to go back and read the original article.
“The Breeder’s Cup World Thoroughbred Championship”, the Breeder’s Cup will be
run on October 27th at
The eight BC races, listed below, are races 3 through 10 on the card. All BC races are, of course, Grade I events.
|3) Distaff||3 YO+ F&M||1 1/8||$2 mil|
|4) Juvenile Fillies||2 YO F||1 1/16||$1 mil|
|5) Mile (turf)||3 YO+||1 mile||$1 mil|
|6) Sprint||3 YO+||6 fur||$1 mil|
|7) Filly/Mare(turf)||3 YO+ F&M||1 1/4||$1 mil|
|8) Juvenile||2 YO C&G||1 1/16||$1 mil|
|9) Turf (turf)||3 YO+||1 1/2||$2 mil|
|10) Classic||3 YO+||1 1/4||$4 mil|
Now, here are the wagers that will be available for the entire day’s card. Note that every race includes WPS, Exacta and Trifecta wagering.
|1) Sport Page H||Daily Double, Pick 3|
|2) Stuyvesant H||Pick 3|
|3) Distaff||Pick 3, Daily Double|
|4) Juvenile Fillies||Pick 3|
|5) Mile||Pick 3, Pick 6|
|6) Sprint||Pick 3, Superfecta|
|7) Filly/Mare Turf||Pick 3, Superfecta, Pick 4|
|8) Juvenile||Pick 3, Superfecta|
|9) Turf||Daily Double, Superfecta|
Once again, the Pick 6 will have a guaranteed $5 million pool. Note also that there may be as many as 14 betting interests in a race, which bodes well for payoffs.
As has been
our custom the past several years, we are providing some insight into the track
influences on the Breeder’s Cup races. We used the ALL-Ways Impact Value
Analysis and Top 3 Analysis functions to examine our ALL-Ways Race Database for
First, lets look at the track bias statistics for
1 2 3 4 5 +
Position 52% 21% 8% 9% 5% 5%
Lengths 69% 15% 4% 7% 1% 4%
Here is how to read this chart. Winning horses were 1st at the 2nd Call 52% of the time. Winning horses were either 1st or 2nd at the 2nd Call 73% of the time (52% + 21%). Winning horses were on the lead or within 1 length of the leader 69% of the time. Winning horses were leading or within 2 lengths of the leader 84% of the time (69% + 15%).
ALL-Ways software also maintains these statistics for Place horses. They show that 86% of place horses were no worse than 4th at the 2nd Call and were within 3 lengths of the leader.
are consistent with BRIS bias statistics for the 2001
It is obvious
that front-of-the-pack horses have a distinct advantage in dirt sprints at
look at some key handicapping factors. Here are the best handicapping factors
for high caliber dirt sprints at
|BRIS Speed 2/3||2.30||$2.49|
|BRIS Combined 2/3||2.09||$2.22|
PCR = Performance Class Rating
Combined = Early Pace + Final Fraction
2/3 = average of the best 2 out of last 3 races
Comprehensive is derived from 22 different factors
As expected, the early speed bias is reduced for dirt route races, although we were a bit surprised that the differences were not greater. Indeed, 85% (65% + 20%) of the winners were either on the lead or within 2 lengths of the leader at the 2nd Call.
1 2 3 4 5 +
Position 41% 25% 8% 13% 6% 7%
Lengths 65% 20% 3% 4% 3% 5%
Again, ALL-Ways software maintains these statistics for Place horses as well. They show that a whopping 90% of place horses were no worse than 4th at the 2nd Call and 82% were on the lead or within 3 lengths of the leader at the 2nd Call.
The BRIS bias statistics show 59% of Belmont dirt route races are won by “E” or “EP” horses and that the Average Beaten Lengths at the 1st Call and 2nd Call are 2.34 and 1.01 lengths respectively.
So, we see
that horses with good early speed to the 2nd Call still have a significant
advantage in dirt routes at
Here are the
best handicapping factors for high caliber dirt routes at
|True Dirt Speed||2.68||$2.11|
|BRIS Combined 2/3||2.46||$2.19|
Hambleton Form is derived from 16 form factors.
True Dirt Speed = dirt route races on a fast track.
ALL-Ways software maintains completely separate records for these two turf courses. This includes separate Par Times, Daily Track Variants, Track-to-Track Adjustments, track bias statistics and handicapping factor analyses. We will cover both tracks below. You will see that the track bias statistics are quite similar. However, the handicapping factor analysis yields some interesting differences.
The 2nd Call position bias is really reduced for turf routes. The chart below shows this. But, it also shows another interesting thing: While it is not essential for a horse to be 1st or 2nd, it is important for the horse to be up close to the leader. Indeed, 79% (64% + 15%) of winners were within 2 lengths of the lead at the 2nd Call and 90% (64% + 15% + 11%) were within 3 lengths. What this chart shows is that there is often a crowd of horses bunched up coming out of the turn going into the stretch and the winners are, more often than not, towards the front of the pack. This does not bode well for horses at the rear of the pack that need to make a sweeping wide turn to get in good position for the stretch run.
Second Call Position and Beaten Lengths for
(Widener Turf Curse)
1 2 3 4 5 +
Position 28% 13% 25% 9% 10% 15%
Lengths 64% 15% 11% 4% 3% 3%
Position is less important for Place horses too, but they still need to be up close. ALL-Ways software shows that 81% of place horses are within 3 lengths of the lead at the 2nd Call.
BRIS bias statistics show only 39% of turf route races are won by “E” or “EP” horses and that the Average Beaten Lengths at the 1st Call and 2nd Call are 3.31 and 1.88 lengths respectively.
Here are the bias statistics for the Inner Turf Course. They are very similar to the Widener Turf Course.
Second Call Position and Beaten Lengths for
(Inner Turf Curse)
1 2 3 4 5 +
Position 24% 23% 20% 5% 8% 20%
Lengths 53% 24% 11% 4% 4% 4%
Here are the
best handicapping factors for high caliber turf routes at
|BRIS Speed Last||2.79||$2.73|
SRTV = PP Data Speed Rating + Track Variant
Here are the
best handicapping factors for high caliber turf routes at
|Hall Speed P/L||2.03||$3.01|
|Hall Combined P/L||1.70||$2.81|
P/L = paceline
Values are lower for the Inner Turf Course than the Widener Turf Course. This
would imply that the Inner Turf Course is a bit more difficult to handicap. Note, however, the very good $2 ROI figures. ALL-Ways software handicappers take note:
There is a very good reason why the Hall and Brohamer handicapping factors do
well on the Inner Turf Course at
It is obvious that you should pay attention to pace considerations when handicapping Breeder’s Cup races. You should identify the “E” and “EP” horses with the best BRIS and/or Hall Early Pace figures. This will point you towards the most likely leader(s) at the 2nd Call. Then, look at the BRIS and Hall Early Pace ratings for the other horses. Since one pace rating point is equal to about 1/2 length at the 2nd Call, you can determine which horses will be close to the leaders. Closers with high BRIS and/or Hall Final Fraction ratings AND with good Combined Pace ratings figure to challenge the leaders down the stretch.
And, remember that “EEE” races as well as the longer route distances will help the closers.
Even if you are not currently an ALL-Ways software handicapper, you can still easily use ALL-Ways software just for Breeder’s Cup day. Here is how:
1. Download and install the FREE ALL-Ways software from the BRIS Web site.
2. Do the practice handicapping session described in the 2-page Quick Start Guide. It will only take a few minutes.
3. Download the special Belmont Breeder’s Cup Handicapping Profiles from the Frandsen Publishing Web site.
4. For the Breeder’s Cup itself, simply download the ALL-Ways software datafile from BRIS and repeat what you did in Step #2 above.
That’s it. It really is that easy. We suggest you print just the Paceline Report and the All Factors Report. This will arm you with everything you need to handicap the Breeder’s Cup using the information in this newsletter.
Be sure to visit the “What’s New” page on our Web site for other information that may be helpful to you on Breeder’s Cup day.
The Breeder’s Cup ... what a great day of racing. Enjoy!
This is NOT an article on how to play these wagers. ALL-Ways Newsletter #15 (October 1999) includes a comprehensive article on “The Very Best Way We Know to Play the Pick 3”. It really is “must” reading. But, that is another subject. What we want to do in this brief article is to shed some light on the probabilities of winning these wagers. Then, we have a recommendation for you.
You can calculate your probability of winning these wagers by simply multiplying the probabilities of winning each leg. As an example, let’s suppose you use three horses in each leg of a Pick 3. Since you will not be playing the Pick 3 unless at least two of the legs have a false favorite, your probability of winning each leg may be about 60%. Your probability of winning the wager is then:
Pick 3: .6 x .6 x .6 = 21.6%
Let’s carry this on to the Pick 4 and the Pick 6:
Pick 4: .6 x .6 x .6 x .6 = 13.0%
Pick 6: .6 x .6 x .6 x .6 x .6 x .6= 4.7%
These probabilities indicate you would win about 1 out of 5 Pick 3’s, about 1 out of 8 Pick 4’s and about 1 out of 21 Pick 6’s. To reach these probabilities, you will most likely spend more than $50 on the Pick 3 wager, more than $100 on the Pick 4 wager and upwards of a $1,000 on the Pick 6. One other point to keep in mind on Breeder’s Cup day is that the betting syndicates will out in full force to play very serious money on the Guaranteed $5 Million Pick 6. By serious money, we are talking about thousands of dollars.
Now, here is our recommendation: On Breeder’s Cup day, we suggest you forego the Pick 6 in favor of “beefing up” your Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagers. You will have a much better chance at winning these wagers than you would the Pick 6. If you really want to take part in the big Pick 6, we suggest either doing so as part of a syndicate or by treating it as you would the lottery by just buying a few combinations for the fun of being involved.
Never bet against a legitimate favorite. If you determine that the crowd’s favorite is indeed the most likely horse to win the race, then don’t bet against it. That would be like crossing your fingers and saying “I hope. I hope.”
Never bet on a short priced legitimate favorite. You have probably heard someone at your track rooting on a 3-to-5 favorite and then squeal with delight when the horse comes in. There certainly is no delight at the teller window when the paltry payoffs are paid out. And, remember that even these short priced favorites are going to lose 50% or more of the time.
In every race you handicap, you should pro-actively look for reasons why the crowd favorite will not win the race. We are not talking about wishful thinking here. We mean real, substantial reasons why the favorite will fail today. Such reasons might include a horse not being in good form, a horse that may not like the distance or surface of today’s race or a horse that is outclassed at the level of competition in today’s race. By far the most frequent reason to designate a horse as a vulnerable favorite is that the pace match-up sets up wrong for the horse. It may be a front runner that will fold under too much early pace pressure. It may be a closer in an honest or slow pace race that will find it difficult to catch the leaders.
As a general rule, we will not play a Pick 3 or a Pick 4 unless at least two legs include a vulnerable favorite. We will not play a Trifecta or a Superfecta unless the favorite is clearly vulnerable, preferably to the extent that it will finish off-the-board. This is what turns Trifectas and Superfectas wagers into IRS tickets.
In every race you handicap, you should pro-actively try to identify a Key Horse. This is a horse that you are confident will finish-in-the money for your Trifecta and Superfecta wagers and that will either win or place for your Exacta wagers.
The reason for identifying a Key Horse is to reduce the number of combinations you use in your Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta wagers. For example, if you like five horses in a race, you could box all five in a Trifecta wager. That would cost you $60 for a $1 Trifecta. It would be much better to play the three tickets below where the “A” horse is your designated Key Horse.
A / BCDE / BCDE
BCDE / A / BCDE
BCDE / BCDE / A
Each ticket costs $12 for a $1 Trifecta for a total wager of $36. This is a 40% savings over the five horse box and all we had to do was to trust our handicapping to find one horse that we require to finish in-the-money.
There is one “Cardinal Rule” about your Key Horse designation. The Key Horse must NEVER be the crowd favorite. This is because you always want the favorite to finish out-of-the-money in your Trifecta and Superfecta wagers. Again, this is where IRS tickets come from.
In a future newsletter, we will include an article that goes into some depth on how to select a Key Horse. In the meantime, some things to look for in a good Key Horse are: 1) consistent in-the-money finishes; 2) suited well to the pace scenario of today’s race; 3) consistent speed or Combined Pace ratings that rank in the top 3 of today’s horses.
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