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Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk -- Part 2
by Joe Takach

How would you rate yourself when it comes to understanding �upside vs. downside� risk or �value vs. non value� if you like those words better?

Do you think you could pass my 50-question test asking you to identify specific situations as possessing either upside or downside risk? Do you think you could score a perfect �100� on this test or at least in the �90s�?

Why not give it a try?

Half of this test will be presented to you in this installment, with the balance offered in Part 3. Just fill in the blank before each question with either the word upside (risk) or downside (risk).

If you plan on taking this test, do yourself a favor. Print it out and answer it on paper, or at least answer it on you computer in the space provided. Just make sure that all your final answers are in place and recorded before grading yourself.

Don�t read more into the questions than what is before you. There are no �conditions� in these propositions other than those that are clearly stated. The test merely wants your �opinion�.

You remember that word don�t you? That�s the word that �drives� our great game.

This test has little to do with odds.

It was designed to see if one really knows the �basic� difference between upside and downside risk regardless of odds. Any consideration of odds for any specific situation will be spelled out in that specific situation. Otherwise, forget odds as if they didn�t exist.

One other thing before beginning to take the test. Any questions asking whether a horse is upside or downside risk assumes he is returning for his next race in a reasonable period of time with a fully acceptable morning worktab in tow.

I�ll offer you my answers for all 50 situations in PART 4 of UPSIDE VS. DOWNSIDE RISK.

Here goes!

1���..A capable journeyman jockey (not a superstar) comes to your circuit and states he�s going to make it his �new home�. For the 2 months on his newly adopted circuit, would betting his mounts be upside or downside risk?

2���.A horse wins a race and puts up a �huge� number for the class in which he was just victorious. The number suggests he could take a 3-step jump in class and still win if he only repeated that number. What�s more, he gained ground at each running call and won by 6 lengths. This afternoon, his trainer gives him only a 1-step jump up in class instead of the 3 steps that his last number suggests would be absolutely no problem. Is he upside or downside risk?

3���.A horse that you absolutely love is going off @ 2-5 and your personal win percentage is 34%. Is this horse upside or downside risk?

4���.You equally like 2 horses in the same race. One is going off @ 7-5 and the other is going off at a generous 7-1. You read somewhere from a noted money management guru that you should always bet the horse with the longer odds. And if you do that, you�ll end up with more money in the long run. Is following this advice upside or downside risk?

5���.You see a winning horse pulled up within 150 yards of passing the finish line instead of galloping out to the backside, turning, and lightly cantering back to the winner�s circle. Today he takes a single step up in class as is the norm with most winners. Is he upside or downside risk?

6���.A horse runs a huge winning race against good company for that level of competition and not only wins, but does so running against the track bias. Today he takes a single step up in class. Is he upside or downside risk?

7���.A horse wins convincingly from the 12 hole in a route and today takes a single step up in class. Is he upside or downside risk?

8���.One of the talented journeyman jockeys on your circuit is in a bad slump and hasn�t won a race in over 2 weeks. This afternoon he�s riding a horse that you�re infatuated with. You decide to bet him anyway. Was that wager upside or downside risk?

9���.You take a 15 minute look at the past performances of the day�s first event which is a
6 horse field. The race seems unplayable and you move to the balance of the day�s card. Upon completing your handicapping for that day�s card, you find yourself with an extra half-hour of free time and decide to re-handicap the 1st race that you initially deemed �unplayable�. That 30 minutes of free time changes your mind about the race and you come up with a selection. Is that selection upside or downside risk?

10���You win the 8th race but are taken down by the state stewards and are more than pissed off. You end up making a bet in the 9th race even though you had no intentions of playing this race before your takedown. Is betting the 9th race upside or downside risk?

11���When handicapping a turf race, you use �universal turf ratings� such as Tomlinson�s or Helm�s to make your pedigree decisions vs. a service that only offers �track-specific� ratings for the track that you are actually playing. Does your breeding methodology offer you upside or downside risk with �universal turf ratings�?

12���You bet at least 5 races a day. Overall, is this upside or downside risk?

13���You bet a horse that gets steadied hard at the � pole in middle of putting in his run. He manages to re-rally and puts in another good run nearing the 1/8 pole only to get checked sharply when the leader drifts out badly as your horse is about to blow by him. While this is going on, another horse gets a dream run along the inside and just beats the drifting out leader at the wire. You get placed 2nd thru a DQ because you finished 3rd, but there is no question in anyone�s mind that your horse was clearly the best. This horse comes back in 2 weeks and faces similar company. You bet him based solely on his trouble 2 weeks ago. Is this upside or downside risk?

14���A horse gets a �dream trip� sitting behind a 2 horse speed duel that falls apart at the
1/8 pole. He wins drawing off by 3 lengths in the final furlong and puts up a big number. He returns within 3 weeks with 2 solid morning drills in tow and takes a modest one step jump up in class. You bet him based on the �number� he ran last out. Is this upside or downside risk?

15���A talented runner makes his first start returning from a 6 month hiatus. This horse has fired fresh off the bench in the past more than once. In fact, you�ve won with him off a layoff before. He�s trained by a conditioner that is among the best on your circuit at bringing back vacationing runners. He shows a 12-drill morning worktab with only 1 flaw. His first 10 workouts are spaced every 6 or 7 days. However, the number of days in between his 10 and 11th morning drill are not 6 or 7, but rather 15. His final 12th drill comes 6 days after his 11th. You decide to bet him. Was that bet upside or downside risk?

16���You find yourself in the middle of a �cold streak�, but you continue to wager as if all were normal. Is this upside or downside risk?

17���Every day before you leave for the track, you glance at your local newspaper to see who the public handicappers are picking in the races that you intend to bet. Is this upside or downside risk?

18���You find yourself in the middle of a �hot� streak and you can�t seem to make a mistake at the mutuel windows. You double the size of your wagers. Is this upside or downside risk?

19���Is wagering on small fields (5 or less horses) upside or downside risk?

20���You intended to make 3 bets on today�s card and the first 2 lose with no apparent excuses. You complete your �battle plan� for the day and bet your 3rd selection. Was that 3rd wager upside or downside risk?

21���You like a horse in the 3rd race today. He looks acceptable in the paddock and warms up well in the pre-race. You begin walking to the mutuel windows and notice that he�s going off at 3-5. Since you know that a steady diet of betting odds-on horses is hazardous to your betting bankroll, you decide to pass him. However, you notice that your 2nd choice is overlaid and going off @ 8-1 which is twice his morning line. You decide to bet your 2nd choice. Was that wager upside or downside risk?

22���It�s the last race of the day. You�ve had a very tough afternoon with innumerable �tough beats� and more seconds than a Church thrift shop. You haven�t cashed a ticket all day, but you still have plenty of money in your pocket. You decide to try and �get out� in the last race and recoup the day�s losses. Is betting that last race upside or downside risk?

23���Last month you collected a nice 4 digit mutuel on a horse in a 20K claimer. In that win, he just held on at the wire after being out by 4 lengths passing the 1/8 pole. That same horse shows up 5 weeks later with a decent worktab and takes a modest one step jump up in class. You decide to bet him once again. Was that wager upside or downside risk?

24���You like betting last out maiden winners to repeat, but only when they meet two mandatory requirements. First, they must have gained ground at every running call. Secondly, they had to have put up a �number� when breaking their maiden that was good enough to beat the class level that they are attempting this afternoon. Is this upside or downside risk?

25���You like to bet last out beaten favorites. Is this upside or downside risk?



Copyright �2003 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

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