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Track Tracts

Betting Lines and Business 101
by Steve Fierro

(Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Steve Fierro's new book, The Four Quarters of Horse Investing, now available in the NetCapper Store.)

It is absolutely amazing to me that the betting line portion of the handicapping process does not exist for 97% of the everyday horseplayers. I am talking about the players who put serious money through the windows. Try this the next time you are at the track. Take a trip through the grandstand, clubhouse, racebook or wherever it is you play. Check out any player�s set of past performances. You will see every mark known to man. You will see speed figures, jockey/trainer numbers, trip and trouble notes, and those are just a few. If you look closer it is a rare moment indeed when you find a player that has actually assigned a number that represents at what price they will play their contenders. The majority of players only want to zero in on a single horse that winds up the answer to the ever so popular question, "Who do ya like?"

"It is a rare moment indeed when you find a player that has actually assigned a number that represents at what price they will play their contenders."

When you cross the plateau of playing the game for profit instead of for winners, the more important question is, "Who is the value?" "Who do you like" then has a number of answers instead of a singular one. "I like the one horse at 3/1 or higher, but I will take a shot with the four if he�s 6/1 or better." You may laugh now, but when you give this very logical answer to the question you were asked, you will immediately be re-asked, "No, no, no, I want to know who do you like?" The name of the game is to become decision-oriented, not selection-oriented.

Let�s get back to the definition of a betting line. A betting line creates so much controversy that it is a big reason why so many players abandon it or never start the process at all. A betting line is your personal, subjective look at a race from a purely financial standpoint. It attaches what you feel is a fair price to every contender you have in any given race. The subjectivity of a betting line is the source of many differing opinions come race time. It is also the source of much antagonism on the part of those that treat subjectivity in racing like some type of black magic. I will cover this in depth later.

Let�s just say if you�ve handicapped a race and the fruits of the handicapping process have left you with four contenders, you�ve decided that any of the four can win. After all, they are your contenders to win the race. So why does the "top choice" have to be the automatic play? They are all contenders, so they all have some sort of percentage/chance to win the race.

The betting line process attaches this percentage/odds value to your contender selection process. This number (odds amount) is the final separator when it comes time to put the money down. The more betting lines you make, the more proficient you will get at the process.

The betting line is your own personal stock quote, if you will. The contender selection process is your prospectus. I will repeat this constantly since it needs to sink in. Throughout The Four Quarters of Horse Investing you will see many analogies referring to the stock market, real estate, etc. I do this so you can get the overall perspective that racing is no different from any other business or financial venture you may attempt in your lifetime. In fact, the sameness of other lifetime/financial events when compared to racing is scary. The best part is the racetrack creates an even playing field for all. The difference between winning and losing money is primarily a state of mind. This is even a more dominant factor than the approach that is employed.

There are those among the racing public that feel the need to treat racing like an intellectual event. They will lead you to believe you need a level of intelligence and skill only a few possess or are privy to. These are the ones that will argue about this number and that number. Sorry, folks, it isn�t so. Racing isn�t about any magic number. All you need is a strong mind set that allows you to conduct Business 101. NC

Copyright �2002 Steve Fierro.  All rights reserved.

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