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Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk - Part 8 (Answers Continued)
by Joe Takach

21---DOWNSIDE---Betting your second choice at 8-1 because your first choice is underlaid is one of the fastest ways to mutuel insolvency.

I don�t know about you, but when I handicap a race, I don�t look for the second best horse in the field. I look for the winner. Asking me who will run second, would be the same as asking me who will run last. I don�t know and I don�t care.

As I�ve stated innumerable times in past writings, there are many money management �gurus� who would strongly disagree with my opinion. Their position would be that if this race were run 100 times, the 8-1 horse would win enough times to more than compensate.

Of course their thinking is very seriously flawed and totally wrong. Each race is it�s own unique little universe and it happens only once. No single race can be run the same way 2 times, let alone 100 times!

Did I hear someone say what about exactas?

I don�t play exactas, trifectas, pick 3s, pick 6s etc., because I know that I can�t beat a 20 to 30% �takeout� that comes along with each purchased exotic mutuel ticket.

It is one thing to beat a 15% takeout on win bets, but it is quite another when you start approaching the 20% takeout range. While it only appears to be a measly 5%, estimate how much you pushed thru the windows last year and multiply it by 5%.

If you bet $100,000 for the year, that 5% translates to 5 grand!

Don�t ever bet your 2nd choice because the price isn�t right on your 1st choice---simply pass the race!

22---DOWNSIDE---You would most likely be masochistic to bet the last race on the card after losing all day. You�re most likely not going to �get out� and will only end up compounding the felony.

If you were having a nightmarish day like that, you simply weren�t in your �zone� that afternoon for any number of different reasons that could range from lack of sleep to rushing your handicapping procedure. It might even happen thru no fault of your own.

Accept it! It happens to all handicappers to include yours truly, not just to you. Some days you could bet 5 horses in a 6 horse field and still not cash a ticket! Other days when you are in your �zone�, you can�t seem to make a bad bet.

Or put another way, some days you are in your �zone� and other days you just ain�t!

As a sidebar to question 22, if you were having a winning day and were in your �zone� and knew it, by all means bet that last race if you have a strong opinion. �Zones� don�t last forever and should be fully utilized when apparent.

23---DOWNSIDE---Winning horses that lose ground from the 1/8 pole to the wire have most likely emptied their tanks.

Unless a horse is under wraps and being throttled down by his jockey when there is no doubt about his victory, losing ground in that final furlong is a very �telling� sign. It should be telling a handicapper that this horse has �peaked�. In our example, our horse lost 4 lengths and just held on. To expect him to come back with only 5 weeks rest and beat better when taking a one step jump up in class is a tough pill to swallow.

I know that once in a while winning horses ground losers in the final furlong come back and win. But most winning ground losers �bounce� next out even if run back at the same class level, let alone stepped up!

24---UPSIDE---I don�t know who started the misconception that betting last out maiden winners in their very next start against other prior winners or �open company� was a big time �no-no�, but I�d sure like to shake his hand and thank him.

Betting last out maiden winners against �open company� in their next start is one of the very best bets in the game. But two things must be evident and both can be had in the past performances.

Did the winning maiden horse gain ground at every running call in his victory? It matters not whether he set the pace from gate to wire, or came from midpack, or whatever. The point is that he literally gained ground at every running call. This is very hard to do at any class level and even harder at the maiden level. If he did, he�s got class somewhere and he�s a contender if fulfilling the second half of the equation.

Was his winning number good enough to at least run to �par� for today�s class level and hopefully better? Assuming that you make your own numbers as most serious handicappers do, when you put up a number for his winning maiden race, was it good enough to run to par for whatever level he�s running at today?

If it is and he gained ground at every running call, you have a very solid contender and most likely a 4-digit mutuel payoff if he wins. Most handicappers still shy away from last out maiden winners and so do I----unless I see a strong maiden performance that screams �look at me�!

25---DOWNSIDE---Many handicappers gravitate to last out beaten favorites using the rationale of �there must have been a reason they made him the favorite�.

First off, a beaten favorite might have been a false favorite.

Secondly, yesterday was yesterday and today�s race has nothing to do with the race where he was a beaten favorite no matter what the reason.

And finally, since so many handicappers see the fact that he was a beaten favorite last out, his odds will most likely be pushed much lower than what they should actually be. 


Copyright �2004 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

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