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Track Tracts

Take a Pass on Races with Prohibitive Favorites
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.)

This filter is tricky. Please make sure you read this a couple of times so you understand it. Knowing and understanding this filter is crucial.

The Prohibitive Favorite filter only occurs in about 2% of the races for which I make betting lines. This amounts to one, maybe two races a day. Still, this 2% can represent a few thousand dollars in lost profits over the course of a year. Every little nuance within the betting line that protects your bottom line profit is critical.

The Prohibitive Favorite filter represents life out of balance. Something has occurred in the race that determines we are best off canceling any thought we have of wagering in this race whether there is an overlay or not. Here is what has happened:

P# Horse Current Odds Fair Odds
5 My Horse 6/1 5/2
9 Your Horse 4/5 7/2
1 Their Horse Scratched  
7 Our Horse 15/1 6/1

Your Horse, our second-listed contender..., has received some unexpected heavy betting action. So much so that My Horse at 6/1 is the second choice in the wagering! Imagine you have an entrant that has so much betting action that there is a 14-level difference in odds between the favorite and the second choice.

Here is the all-important definition of the Prohibitive Favorite filter:

"We have a prohibitive favorite in a race when: One of our betting line contenders is sent to post at 3/2 or less and no other entrant in the race is less than 5/1."

Read that again.

Now let�s dissect the italicized sentence. The favorite is prohibitive because it is awfully hard to play against any contender on your betting line that receives such an unexpected amount of wagering. Even when you expect it, it is hard to wager into such a spread from your contending favorite to the second choice in the wagering. Also, the Prohibitive Favorite filter only comes into play if one of my betting line contenders is the odds-on horse in question. If it is not one of my contenders, then I am looking at a false public favorite... The next critical factor is the 3/2 odds level. The chances are likely that if the betting line contender is above this 3/2 amount, someone will be under the critical 5/1 odds level.

So let�s encapsulate the last few paragraphs. When I am faced with the situation that one of my betting line contenders is sent off at 3/2 or less, and none of my other contenders is under 5/1, I pass the race. I am dealing with a very strong prohibitive favorite. I believe this is a filter you will have to incorporate into your tactics. I don�t care who makes the line, they will encounter this situation...

I have tracked this for three years now and the win percentage has fluctuated from a low of 62% to a high of 71%. This is a tremendous win rate. The ROI has remained constant at the 1.03 amount [3 cents profit per dollar bet]... If you are wondering, "Then why does this not become an �automatic� win play?," read on. The total amount wagered on these 124 runners is $2,480. The actual cash in pocket for this six-month period is $64. This example is why I venture away from ROI as the definitive factor as far as overall success is concerned in creating winning players...

The big lesson I learned from this Prohibitive Favorite filter is that I am avoiding a ton of bets that would be primarily losers. Once again, just as with the Legitimate Favorite filter, I am avoiding races where I just can�t win long term. I am facing false overlays because of the heavy action on the Prohibitive Favorite. NC

Copyright �2003 by Steve Fierro.  All rights reserved.

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