Thoroughbred Handicapping:
Learning, earning and loving the track.

NetCapper Store
New Stuff

The Grandstand
Capper Demo
Spot Play Demo
New Features
Track Tracts
TTs Archive
Contact Info
More Books
Capper Email























Track Tracts

Soft Spots
by Gordon Pine

Here�s an important handicapping term you may not have heard of: Effective Takeout. This is the amount of each dollar wagered that you can expect to lose in a given situation. The Effective Takeout (ET) of all win bets, for instance, is about 22 cents per dollar bet. Only an estimated 3% of long-term handicappers can make money in a 22% negative expectation situation like this. I know � here I go bumming you out. Don�t get depressed � there are better situations available. We can make our handicapping job much easier if we find situations where the ET is lowest.

Do you bet a lot of favorites? The ET for favorites to win is about 18% � better than win betting in general. However, the ET for favorites to show is only 10%. Generally speaking, you�re better off betting favorites to show than to win. You move almost half the distance to profitability just by changing your bet type. Favorites-to-show is what I call a "soft spot" in thoroughbred wagering. These are situations where the distance to profitability is significantly smaller than average. By restricting yourself to these situations, you are effectively playing a much easier game than most of your competition.

Handicapping is a filtering process. We�re all using our own filters, whatever they may be, to find a subset of all available bets that we will wager on. We�re looking, in our different ways, for a subset that�s profitable. Why not start with broad subsets that improve your chances before you even begin handicapping? You can apply your handicapping filter to these situations, and will stand a much better chance of making money in the long run.

Here�s another example of a soft spot: in one large study, the rail horse in turf routes actually had a 1.03 ROI. They didn�t win much more than the other posts. The odds were a bit higher, though, probably due to the public�s unjustified fear of traffic problems coming from the rail.

Or, one of the top four last-race-Beyer horses moving from a fast track to an off track has an ET of 8%. The same type of horse running on a fast track today has an ET of 17%. Perhaps the public�s overemphasis of "mud" sires allows the competitive horses to go off at better odds on off tracks.

Some other soft spots: In dirt sprints, horses with 6+ Quirin Speed Points have an ET of less than 10% � the public still underestimates the importance of early speed. In dirt routes, the inside horse has less than a 10% ET. In dirt routes, horses with 7+ Quirin Speed Points have an ET of 7%. In turf routes, the horse with the most earnings in the last two years has less than a 9% ET. Interestingly, in turf routes, horses with 6+ Quirin Speed Points have an ET of 5%. Also in turf routes, second-race-after-a-layoff horses have an ET of 7%. And so on.

You can also improve your Effective Takeout by eliminating types of horses with low ROIs as discussed in my article Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Semi-Mechanical Contender Selection. By removing horses with very high ET�s, you lower the ET for the rest of the field.

The point isn�t for me to quote all the soft spots caused by low Effective Takeouts which you can find in legitimate thoroughbred handicapping studies. They�re out there if you want to purchase them, or you can do your own studies. But it�s important to realize they exist. Rather than jumping into a negative 22% pool, why not start with a more favorable situation? NC

Copyright �2001 NetCapper Inc. All rights reserved.

Back to Top