Thoroughbred Handicapping:
Learning, earning and loving the track.
Handicapping Books:

NetCapper Store
New Stuff

The Grandstand
Player Picks
Player Data
Racing Gates
Capper Demo

Payment Plan
New Features
Track Tracts
TTs Archive
Contact Info
More Books

Capper's Corner
NetCapper's Handicapping Email Newsletter - July 9, 2004

Half the Race is Out of Your Control (Part 4)
by Joe Takach


I don’t know how many times the morning linesmaker and myself have been worlds apart, but I probably wouldn’t be lying if I said nearly every day. Not every race on the entire card, but most races on most cards.

This has been true for me on both coasts.

Perhaps that’s why long ago I gave up the allegedly essential “old school” time-honored practice of making one’s own morning line.

I can see money management enthusiasts charging me with torches and pitchforks!

“Burn the heretical fool. Tie him to the stake and be quick about it”!

Chill people-----don’t be so fast with that torch!

Why would I stop making my own morning line you ask?

Simply because it’s a waste of one’s time and serves no purpose whatsoever. It doesn’t matter what you think the morning line “should be” on any horse in any race. Unless you’re betting $10,000 or more a race on a major circuit like Southern California or New York, your wagers have no bearing on the odds whatsoever.

The odds are dictated to you----you either take them or you don’t!

Handicapper’s making a morning line usually arrive at their personal odds line by saying something like this to themselves. If this race were run 100 times, how many times would this horse win? This process is continued until completing every horse in that specific field.

Those of you who have tenure reading my musings have often heard me pontificate about the fallacy of this type of thinking.

In the entire history of “horseydom” no single race has ever been run twice, let alone 100 times!

Therefore, the basic premise of making the “traditional” morning line is wrong---period!

So why waste your time making one?

The morning lines seen in track programs are an attempt to predict what the final odds of each horse will be at the “end of any race”.

I say at the “end of the race” and not at the bell, because in today’s game, we see odds change as fields turn for home and not when the mutuel bell sounds. While the mutuel bell literally locks all tote machines on and off track, electronic money is still in the state of transfer and thus the reason we see odds change so late in the running of the race.

Getting back to the track programs with their morning lines, understand that they are created by a track employee who is paid by the track to keep track management happy while at the same time coaxing the public to bet as much money as possible each and every race.

So how does a race track employee accomplish this?

Real simple!

How often have we seen a lopsided race where the eventual odds-on race winner was offered a morning line of 8-5 by the track linesmaker, when any blind moron could see that the horse would never in a hundred million years go off at more than 3-5?

Did someone say too often?

You’re right, but don’t blame the track’s linesmaker. He’s only doing the job that he’s instructed to do thru actual words or implication upon his hiring. Were he to attach too many 3-5, 4-5, even money and 6-5 horses in any day’s card, daily track handle would fall.

In today’s game, even Joe Six-Pack knows the fallacy of chasing too many odd-on runners. Joe’s reasoning comes down to “why bet when you can’t make any money”. A bit crude for sure, but basically correct!

To further darken the picture of any track’s morning line, are the odds offered to non-favorites in most races. Far too often I’ve seen horses offered morning lines of 7-2 or 4-1, when in actuality they should and would be given 8-1 or higher were the morning line created by an independent outside Ralph Nadar-like organization. These manufactured numbers would at least be totally honest (accuracy aside), because the creators have no interest in the outcomes.

The racetracks sure do!

In any given race, once the morning linesmaker gets past making his race favorite, he then has to create odds for the balance of that field.

Keeping in mind that he works for the track and all the implications that go along with that, it is to the track’s morning linesmaker advantage to create as much “doubt” as possible with the balance of the field.

Whudda he say?

Listen up.

If the track’s morning linesmaker had a short field of 6 horses and had installed the race favorite at 8-5, his next job is to create “doubt”. He can do this by placing the remaining odds left on each of the other 5 horses as close to each other as possible.

I realize that my example below might not add up 120 points or to whatever it is supposed to add up to, but bear with me for merely wishing to make a point.

In our hypothetical scenario, placing 3-1, 7-2, 4-1, 9-2, and 5-1 odds on the remaining 5 horses in that 6 horse field with the 8-5 favorite will make them all kinda look almost equal in ability. If they’re almost equal in ability, then any one of them could finish second.

The morning linesmaker knows that 2 of the remaining 5 horses should be 10-1 and 15-1. But by keeping the odds of all remaining 5 contenders closer together, he also knows that handle per race will always go up or at least be more than what it would be if his odds were more realistic.

This manufactured malpractice by the track employee almost forces exacta players to “spread” more money in every race by making them buy more combinations. They buy more exacta combinations because they are influenced by the close-knit track program morning line odds.

Suddenly, they begin to question their own handicapping last night by mumbling to themselves “maybe that 9-2 or 5-1 shot can get there late in the drive. I better buy a few savers and put them both under the favorite”!

Nearly all exacta players are guilty of this-------they simply buy too many tickets!

And when they buy more tickets, the track just made 20% more of whatever they bet because the track’s linesmaker was successful in creating “doubt”.

(And no, I don’t play exactas, trifectas, pick 3s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 9s or whatever. Once in a blue moon, with the operative words being “blue moon”, I’ll bet a daily double, but beyond that, I don’t play exotics of any kind-----period!)

This brings us full circle.

We have absolutely no control over the odds in any race, so that part of the race is literally out of our control!


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

Track Tracts Archive

Weekly Racing Quote

"Every racing circuit has its overbet connections. This goes for trainers and jockeys. Always remember, even the highest percentage jockeys and trainers (Baze/Hollendorfer and the like) hover around 25% wins. They lose 75% of the time... the public sends these connections to the post frequently as false favorites. Steve Fierro, The Four Quarters of Horse Investing

The Capper's New Features

For more information on The Capper, click here.

Note: The features are displayed in reverse chronological order, with the newest additions on the top of this page.

•Added a new icon to the icon bar and a new menu choice to the View menu: DIRP.  This stands for Download, Import, Recalculate and Print new races.  In my ongoing effort to reduce all human endeavor to one click of the mouse, the DIRP icon is a milestone.  I now sometimes say I'm going to "DIRP" the races rather than handicap them -- it's becoming part of my personal lexicon.

When you click the DIRP icon, the Download form will appear, with a slight difference.  (Although first you may get prompted as to whether you want The Capper to process your Spot Play Breakdowns.)  Instead of "Download Selected Files" and "Close", the buttons on the Download form say "DIRP" and "Cancel DIRP": 

After you've selected your files for download (or accepted the pre-selected ones), you just click the DIRP button.  That's it -- just walk away from it.  It's still not really one-click handicapping -- there are actually still at least two clicks.  (I'll work on that.)  But it's a great process if you want The Capper to do everything overnight so you'll have your reports in the morning.  4/26/2004

•The Spot Plays tab of the Setup dialog has a few more settings in the bottom-left corner.  These help with the processing and printing of your Spot Play Breakdowns.  (This process happens, if you choose, while recalculating your models, or if you go to the Spot Play Breakdown tab of the General Reports dialog and click the button.)  First, these new settings allow you to choose whether your Spot Play Breakdowns will be processed in alphabetical order or by starting with the one that's had the longest time since it was last processed.  The latter choice is the default, and the one I suggest you stick with.  Second, you can choose the amount of time you let The Capper take when it starts processing your breakdowns.  It default to 4 Hours, which is probably about right for most users.:

This new feature is for the convenience of those of you who like to import, recalculate and print new races at night while you're sleeping.  You can now answer Yes to the prompt that asks you if you want to process your breakdowns.  The Capper will import your files, recalculate your models, process your breakdowns for 4 hours (or however long you set it), and then print out your new races.  This way, all your races should be waiting for you in the morning and your most out-of-date spot plays will have been updated.  If The Capper is still processing when you get up in the morning, that's a sign to set the "Time Allowed to Process" prompt to something shorter.

Remember that this Process and Print Spot Play Breakdowns process doesn't just create the spot play breakdown reports that you look at.  It also compiles the statistics that the PQ Spot Plays report uses.  That's one of the reasons it's good to keep your breakdowns as up-to-date as possible.  This new feature should help with that, even as the list of spot plays in The Capper grows ever larger.  4/26/2004

Tech Tips: Using The Capper

Effective Payback

Chart Handicapping: Using the PQ Spot Plays Report and the Spot Play Charts

The PQ Report: What It Does and Recommended Settings

Using the Spot Play Charts: A Positive Pattern

Handicapping With the Race Reports: Using the Betting Line and Predictors Output

DSP: Diagnostic Spot Plays

Progress Report on the New Spot Plays

The Importance of the Charts When Using Spot Plays

•You can email a spot play chart to someone.  To do this, while the chart is on your screen, click the Show Editor button.  Click the Export tab, choose "as PDF", and click the Send button.  Fill out the "To" field in your email program and send the email.  Using this method, it's easy to share charts.

•You can enlarge a certain area of the Spot Play Charts by dragging your mouse pointer over the area you want enlarged in an "L" pattern.  Be sure to hold down your left mouse button while dragging the L pattern.  To bring the chart back to full size, drag a backwards L pattern.

•To keep The Capper running as fast as possible, keep your database lean and mean.  The best way to do this is to delete your race data as soon as possible.  After you've downloaded, imported and recalculated the binary charts for a particular day, you can delete the old race data from that day.  Here's what I do: every day, before I download yesterday's binaries and today's race files, I go into the Delete Race Data tab of the Utilities dialog and use the calendar to delete all race data from the day before yesterday and before.  Then I quit The Capper, start the Database Utility and hit the Compact/Repair button.  That compacts the database and helps speed it up significantly.  Then, when I download and Import, Recalculate and Print New Races, everything goes really fast.  With a relatively new computer, each race file will generally import in about half a second.  Also, note that I pretty much never delete model data (using the Delete Model Data tab) -- only race data.

The Prize-Free Handicapping Contest

Join in!  Here are the rules: You pick one horse per weekend (either Saturday or Sunday) to win and post it on The Grandstand message board (before race-time).  We keep track of the flat bet Return On Investment, win percentage and other nifty stats for each contestant.  If more than one horse is mentioned, the first one mentioned is taken as the selection.  The profitable handicappers (as measured by flat ROI) are listed on the leader board on NetCapper's home page.  The top handicapper (the Handicapping God) has his name shamelessly flashed all over the page as long as he retains his top ranking.  The Handicapping God also receives the coveted NotaPrize.  The NotaPrize is invisible, ineffable, and completely without weight, worth or substance, but is much sought after nonetheless.

Weekend Recap: Jed takes the weekend off but maintains his lead, while longshotlouie holds second place despite a loss. Just off the leader board, Zman hits a winner at Pleasanton as Vicente goes gate-to-wire in a 2YO MSW race and pays $7.20.

Racing Headlines

Buy $25 Get $100 Free - All Slots Casino...
Ad -   Fri Jul 9 09:49:00 PDT 2004
Phoenix Ready To Rise Again ...
Sporting Life   Fri Jul 9 04:07:00 PDT 2004
HORSE RACINGFlorida sprint will test 'Bovary' ...
San Francisco Chronicle   Fri Jul 9 03:43:00 PDT 2004
Polar Looks York Jem ...
Sporting Life   Fri Jul 9 00:59:00 PDT 2004
Mighty Invictus fast at Rainbow trials ...
SportsLine   Thu Jul 8 21:46:00 PDT 2004
Ky. trying to host Equestrian Games ...
SportsLine   Thu Jul 8 21:46:00 PDT 2004
Coconut Girl Takes Crack at Elloluv in A Gleam ...
Blood-Horse   Thu Jul 8 20:05:00 PDT 2004
Hills Hopes Short Ship Holds Key for Lojo ...
Blood-Horse   Thu Jul 8 20:05:00 PDT 2004
Bejarano in Hollywood Debut Aboard Suave ...
Blood-Horse   Thu Jul 8 20:05:00 PDT 2004
Vengeance on the upgrade ...
Telegraph   reg   Thu Jul 8 19:52:00 PDT 2004
Murtagh excels, Exceed doesn't ...
Telegraph   reg   Thu Jul 8 19:52:00 PDT 2004

Handicapping Books:

Capper's Corner is sent only to NetCapper customers who have provided their email address or people who have purposely sent us their email address so they can receive news and offers. If this does not apply to you, we apologize.  Please be assured that we do not want to send email you do not want to receive. Please click on this link and send us a blank email message if you would like to be permanently deleted from our mailing list:

Copyright ©2004 NetCapper Inc. All rights reserved.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.

Back to Top