How to Play Every Race and Not Lose Your Shirt

One of the quickest ways to lose money at the horse races is to play every race. Anyone will tell you that. We all know it, but we still do it. Why? Because it’s really boring to sit there through several races, waiting for a race where you have a solid bet.

I used to bring a ten dollar bill with me and use it to make “side bets”, usually win or win and place, sometimes an exacta, on races where I didn’t really have a clue, but felt like “having something going” as I called it. Almost always, I went home with ten dollars less than I came with and sometimes more when the ten dollar bill ran out before the races did.

One day not too long ago when I was bored to tears while waiting for one of only two bets I really wanted to bet on at OTB, I realized that there was another alternative. I could play cheap ten cent super bets, something to keep me from frittering away two dollars or more a race. Here’s how I do it for less than a buck a race and still cover five horses.

I play a ten cent straight super with my top pick to win, my 2nd and 3rd picks for second, and my 3rd, 4th and 5th picks for third and fourth. It costs 60 cents and covers 5 horses. As long as my top pick wins, I have a very good chance of hitting the ten cent super and I’ve never seen one that didn’t pay at least 60 cents.

If you find yourself bored and spending too much money on side bets, you might want to try this approach. You can use the morning line, a public handicapper’s picks, or wait for a race where you really like one horse to win and then go with the crowd’s picks for the rest of your super bet.

I hit several supers last Saturday, including a $23.60 one at Delaware in the second race, using IHandicapWithPacePals picks. I use them because they’re much better at picking winners than I am and very often have the super in their first five horses. If you want to add a horse, you can play around with six horse supers and spend a little more, but I’ve found that 60 cents a race works for me.

It hits often enough so that I usually get my investment back. And if I don’t, I didn’t lose the farm. On a ten race program, I spend $6 and get a lot of bang for my buck. I have something going in every race and have a good chance of at least hitting something. And, of course, there’s always the chance for a big score. The biggest super I’ve hit this way paid $233 and change. That’s a LOT of 60 cent super bets for future programs!


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Been There, Done That

My good friend and fellow handicapper Bill Peterson told me a long time ago that the best horse to bet in a race is the one that’s already done what they’re asking it to do in today’s race. Ever since he said that, probably about forty years ago, I’ve pored through programs looking for horses that have “been there and done that” or BTDT’s as I call them. If there’s only one in a race at long odds, I’ll put something on it to win. If it’s at really long odds, I’ll play it to win and place. I also play it with the favorite and two or three other horses that look like they could run in the money.

It’s a pain and very time consuming to go through programs looking for these horses, so I’ve been a lot happier since iHandicapRaces with Pace Pals made it easier for me by indicating BTDT’s with an icon. It’s in the Stats section that can be accessed by clicking on the horse’s Pace Pal graphic. I find that it really delivers the goods in big stakes races. Case in point – last Saturday’s United Nations Stakes at Monmouth.

I’ve always liked Joe Bravo, especially in long turf races for big purses. He’s what they call a money jockey, one who seems to be able to win races when there’s big money at stake, even though he’s no spring chicken and doesn’t have as high a win percentage as some of the leading jockeys like the Ortizes or John Velazquez. I thought he would be a big favorite in the United Nations Stakes, because he’d won it in three out of the last six years.

When I handicapped the race with IHR with Pace Pals and saw that his horse, Bigger Picture, was the only horse with the icon that told me that it had won at the distance on that surface at that track, I knew I had my bet on that race, but didn’t think I’d get very good odds. I was wrong. Joe and Bigger Picture went off at 10-1 and paid $23.40 to win. I had played Bigger Picture with three other horses in an exacta key and one of those exactas, the one with Can’t Stop Believing, came in second at long odds. The exacta was $238.60.

There were a lot of stakes races that day. I’m not sure I could have handicapped all of them if not for iHandicapRaces with Pace Pals. It takes a long time to go through past performances, looking for races at exactly the same distance, surface and track as today’s race. As far as I can tell, all of the past performance producers have stats for distance and track wins, but they give them within a furlong of today’s race, not for the exact distance. For many horses, there’s a big difference between a 5 furlong and 5 1/2 furlong race, or a 6 1/2 furlong and a 7 furlong race.

Many horses are specialists, I’ve found. They find a distance that suits their run style and stamina and excel at it, especially the odd distances. Take my advice and look for BTDT’s in 5 1/2 furlong, 6 1/2 furlong and 7 furlong races. Then focus on races over a mile, especially the classic distances like a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. Horses that can handle these distances are a goldmine.

I’ve noticed that they’re often late maturing horses and that they tend to have long careers. Bigger Picture is 8 years old and still winning at a mile and a quarter. Use the IHR with Pace Pals icons to find horses that have been there and done that, then play some exotics with horses with the icons for distance and surface wins, even if they haven’t won at the track. You’ll find that your win and exotics ROI will improve even though it will take you less time to handicap than searching for BTDT’s in past performances does.

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