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Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk -- Part 3
by Joe Takach

The test continues:

26���You�ve made a healthy bet in a Graded race after your horse came into the paddock looking like a million bucks and warmed up smartly under one of the top riders at your track. He completes his warm-up with 3 minutes to post, turns around, and begins the long walk to the starting gate. As he nears the gate with a minute to post, he starts getting �hot� and a bit fractious. You have time to cancel your wager. You decide to hold on to it. Was that decision upside or downside risk?

27���The morning line in a race that you intend to bet shows your selection going off at a generous 12-1. The night before when you made your own morning line, you had this same horse @ 3-1. That brings you to an inescapable conclusion. Either the linesmaker is correct and you�re wrong or vice versa. You decide not to re-handicap the race and you stick with your selection. Is that upside or downside risk?

28���You plan on going to the track on Saturday, but get in late Friday night after attending a great party and oversleep the next morning. You get up 3 hours late and give the day�s racing card the equivalent of a 2-minute drill in football. Was that �hurry up� handicapping upside or downside risk?

29���You have no reservations about betting back foreign debut winners in their 2nd stateside starts. Is that upside or downside risk?

30���A horse gets claimed on your home circuit by a top claiming trainer. In his first start for his new connections 45 days later, he shows up at the same level at which he was claimed with a decent morning worktab in tow. Would betting him today be upside or downside risk?

31���You keep track of the running profiles of the track(s) that you are handicapping at the moment so that you know exactly how the surfaces are playing. Is this upside or downside risk?

32���Whenever you wager, you always bet the fastest horse in the past performances. Is this upside or downside risk?

33���Tomorrow you plan on making one of the largest wagers of your betting career. You handicapped this race and re-handicapped this race. You came up with the same horse both times and you can�t wait for the sun to rise the next day. Upon getting out of bed the next morning, you decide to give the race one more hard look. Will this wager be upside or downside risk?

34���You bet one of your selections even though he fails to canter for at least 4 furlongs before loading into the starting gate. Is this upside or downside risk?

35���You compute a daily track variant for the turf courses that you play. Is this upside or downside risk?

36���A claiming trainer on your circuit reclaims a horse in his very next start from the trainer that claimed it from him last out. From a handicapping standpoint, was this reclaim upside or downside risk?

37���For no discernable reason, a top trainer runs a winning turf horse over the dirt where the horse has never won before. You decide to bet the horse. Was your decision to wager upside or downside risk?

38���A successful front running sprinter is being stretched out this afternoon around 2 turns for the first time in his career and is at his proper class level. His distance pedigree says absolutely �no problem�, but he faces rugged and proven 2-turn winners. Would betting him today be upside or downside risk?

39���You incorporate �physicality handicapping� into your overall handicapping methodology. Is this upside or downside risk?

40���You wagered on 1 or more of the recently completed Breeder�s Cup Races. Was your wager(s) upside or downside risk?

41���You wagered on the Kentucky Derby. Was your wager upside or downside risk?

42���You saw a jockey literally �stiff� a horse last out when sent postward at 8-5. He comes back in his next race 3 weeks later at the same class level with the same jockey and shows 2 morning drills. You have no �knocks� on him whatsoever. However, his morning line of 5-2 balloons up to 8-1 with 3 minutes to post. You bet him anyway. Was that wager upside or downside risk?

43���You incorporated �nuances� into your overall handicapping methodology. Is this upside or downside risk?

44���You take your own trip notes rather than depending on comments at the end of a horse�s running line in his past performances. Is your trip note taking upside or downside risk considering the time it takes away from your other handicapping duties?

45���You�re a dyed-in-the-wool �weekend warrior� and religiously play every weekend, every holiday, and any other day that you can escape from the �real world�. On Saturday, you get your clock thoroughly cleaned and go 0 for 4 for the afternoon. You walk out of the track pissed off and scratching your head, hop in your car for the drive home, and manage to repeat the phrase �I shoulda� exactly 9,327 times before pulling into your driveway. You eat dinner, watch some TV and call it a day. Bed turns out to be the �best bet� of the long losing day. You get a solid night�s rest, get up feeling refreshed and handicap Sunday�s card as usual with no deviations because of yesterday�s humbling experience. You end up locating 3 playable races and end up betting 2 of the 3 as you would on any other afternoon. Were those wagers upside or downside risk?

46���You keep impeccable records of every one of your wagers. Is this upside or downside risk?

47���Over the years you�ve developed very strong prejudices against certain jockeys and trainers. You been around long enough to know that these disliked jockeys and trainers actually do occasionally win races. What�s more, you accept the fact that once in a while when they win, they might even beat you. Is your prejudiced thinking upside or downside risk?

48���You always spend a lot more time handicapping better races that on the surface seem more playable, rather than spending a like amount of time on the cheapest races on the card. Is this extra expenditure of time on the better races during your limited handicapping period upside or downside risk?

49���You bet as many low end claiming races as you do high end claiming or allowance races? Is this upside or downside risk?

50���You just spent a considerable amount of your precious time taking this test to see if you have a basic understanding of the difference between upside and downside risk. Was the time spent upside or downside risk?

That concludes my 50-question test and challenge to you to see if you�re a �top banana� when it comes to risk management.

In my next installment, you�ll get the answers with my full explanations.

In the meantime, please print out the entire test and answer each question with a pen. If you�d rather do it on your computer and feel more comfortable doing so, that�s fully acceptable. Nobody is good enough to keep all 50 answers in their heads. Just make sure your answers are in place before you start reading any answers.

Stay tuned! 


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

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