Now’s a great time to regroup

Sep 11, 2019 3:00 AM

There are different focus points to the horse racing calendar, at least from a national perspective.

Nearly all of the attention is on the Triple Crown, and Kentucky Derby in particular, during the first third of the year. The summer months are when most of the best horses and highly anticipated newcomers are in action with the public devoting attention to the boutique summer meets of Saratoga and Del Mar.

We are currently in a bit of a lull as we get closer to fall and await the upswing leading to the early November Breeders’ Cup action. It gives us an opportunity to recalibrate and recharge going forward.

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Betting on thoroughbred horse racing, like many gambling endeavors, requires a strong mental approach to handicapping, and more importantly, the bankroll discipline. It isn’t uncommon, even for longtime horseplayers, to slip into some bad habits.

The first way to correct this is to step back and analyze what is working and what isn’t.

It’s very easy to handicap a race, make a bet, watch the race and then move on quickly afterwards. It is an effective practice to “re-handicap” the race when a horse not considered winds up winning.

The best way to improve handicapping is to get familiar with what patterns are repeated. For example, a second-time starter who was sluggish from the gate in the debut, flashed speed and faded, often is undervalued and improves dramatically in the next start.

Another good idea is to read (or re-read) some of the better handicapping books to reinforce good practices. Incorporating good handicapping strategies and methods is paramount to creating separation from the pari-mutuel competition.

The wagering component normally requires a deeper dive. For those that wager online there is an easy way to analyze your wagering history and digest what wager types or tracks have been successful and which haven’t.

Reviewing your wagering history can be eye-opening. Quite often a go-to wager is proving to be highly unsuccessful and should be altered. For me, superfectas have been a losing proposition but I have stubbornly refused to eliminate them.

Using less volatile times to review tendencies will keep your approach fresher and fluid. When in the eye of the storm it can often be difficult to ascertain what is chipping away at your bankroll.

Mandatory payouts

On Tuesday, Prairie Meadows had its mandatory payout on their pick 5 wager. The pool had swelled to more than $326,000 and was sure to attract double or triple that amount on race day.

While the jackpot bets are normally disadvantageous to the bettor on an ongoing basis due to the effective take-out rate, they are fantastic bets on mandatory payout days. Many tracks have some sort of jackpot wager that requires a full pool distribution on certain days.

Set reminders for yourself to check dates when mandatory payouts are set to happen. The next one to pay attention to is the .20 pick 6 at Gulfstream Park that is over $1.2 million right now.

Play of the week

Canterbury Park concludes its racing season on Saturday. They have amazing cards on both Friday and Saturday which will produce massive payoffs.

There are 14 races on each day and the majority of the fields are 12 horses or more.

Race 7 on Friday is a maiden allowance and a deep field. Hondo Lane (No. 11) who is 4-1 and is a sib to Grade 2 sprint winner, Chief Chicatriz, also campaigned for this high percentage stable.

The works are fast and the outside post will be an advantage if he breaks cleanly. 

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