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Listen up sports bettors and other recreational casino gamblers. Before you fill out that 10-team parlay card this weekend or take a few hundred to a video poker machine, please heed my advice.

There aren’t many wagering opportunities that come along during the course of the year like that of the Breeders’ Cup. The event is horse racing’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. The competition exists in different divisions (age, gender, surface, etc.) and culminates with the $6 million Classic.

Professional sports bettors just read that line and are preparing to give me a lecture about track takeout and house edge. I understand the math on the surface — 5% takeout for losing sports bets, close to 20% in racing. Do me a favor and save the lectures, especially if you profess to earn a living betting the NFL. The arithmetic is different in this unique situation given the size of the wagering pools. Average payouts for any of the exotic bets can be three to four more times than those of a typical race at any major track.

The two days of Breeders’ Cup provide an unbelievably unique opportunity to wager a little bit of money and come out with a big score. In fact, I’ll argue from personal experience that horse race wagering in general can provide a much easier rescue from losing streaks. One can lose 12 horse races but get into positive territory on the 13th. Can you do that betting $1.10 to win $1.00 with the same increments?

My editor says that with gambling, “One week you are the windshield and the next week you are the bug.” This is the week to be an elephant. Some of my greatest memories, both as a horseplayer and attendee of the event, have come from the Breeders’ Cup.

My best score by far was in 2010 at Churchill Downs. That was the year that Zenyatta, arguably the greatest female horse ever, lost by a head-bob to Blame. It wasn’t until the last three races that second day that my luck had changed, yet the shift was monumental.

For those that don’t typically bet horses, or make the once-a-year obligatory Kentucky Derby wager, don’t be intimidated on how to approach the two days of racing. There are a bevy of websites, including Gaming Today, that can provide guidance. We can’t guarantee winners, but our staff has over a century of experience in betting horses.

There’s no question that a Breeders’ Cup learning curve applies to seasoned horseplayers like myself. In the early to mid-2000’s, there was an explosion of digital information that became available. Just as in other major sports, the internet provides a vehicle for legacy publications such as the Daily Racing Form, along with an infinite number of websites and touts.

Early on, I fell into the “analysis by paralysis” trap. There wasn’t enough information that I could attain. I’d end up more confused by measuring other people’s work against each other’s instead of relying on mine. Over the years, I’ve managed to work my way back to a “go with what you know” approach.

An excellent tool for both longtime horseplayers and newcomers is a radio program called At the Races along with a website named, both of which are managed by Steve Byk. The radio program is on Sirius/XM five days a week, but can also be streamed on a computer. Byk has incredible access to many of the key people in the sport, including prominent owners, Hall of Fame trainers and accomplished jockeys. Invariably it takes one little nugget of information or insight that may facilitate  a big score.

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Earlier, I echoed the sentiments of what Byk calls his Breeders’ Cup invocation. This annual pep talk essentially lays out the fortuity at hand.

“These two days offer unique opportunities with chances to be rewarded for creative thinking and audacious risk-taking,” Byk said. “Some will come away delighted and some maddeningly frustrated, but all should approach these races as the curious and challenging puzzles they’ve become.

“No matter how well you ‘handicap’ the races, fields this deep and mysterious will produce several nearly unforeseeable results. Remember that you could be taking an ‘0-fer’ well into Saturday and get it all back (and more) in the weekend’s waning moments.”

My strategy is to play the races horizontally. This means I will try to only find winners in races and play them in Daily Doubles, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s. I find it way more difficult to make vertical bets (exactas and trifectas) with these large, hyper-competitive fields.

Give the Breeders’ Cup a look as the wagering value is immense. They’ll always be another NFL game to sweat.

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