Horse racing

SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
edited November 2015 in Off Topic Chat
Anyone here a horseplayer? I follow the game but tend to only bet major tracks and big races. The takeout at tracks is fairly brutal, but I wonder for the serious, dedicated player if the game is +EV these days. The general public certainly isn't as horse-savvy as they were back in the day.

There were great money opportunities this summer in a race like the Travers, where American Pharoah was bet down to 1-5 and it was wildly profitable to play combos without him. The Breeder's Cup figures to be much the same where the public will likely still have him around even money, turning better contenders into huge overlays. I've seen arguments that the smaller tracks with less attention can even better plays (like how there are savvy sports bettors who focus on the WNBA, where the lines are much softer than trying to beat the NFL).


  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 4,030 -
    I know nothing about horses =(
  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    I'll say this, at least. The game has a similar appeal to poker in that it's potentially beatable if you're willing to put in the work, and it's one big, complex logic puzzle for the most part (breaking down past performances) with a reasonable element of luck (animals being animals and all) to keep things spicy.
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 4,030 -
    it certainly sounds spicy lol
  • billconklinbillconklin Red Chipper Posts: 102 ✭✭
    Before I moved to Vegas 12 yrs ago, I played the horses professionally for ten years. It's not for everyone, but it is the kind of game even a complete novice can have fun with on his yearly trip to the track. Or you can put in 80 hour weeks as I did.
    To do well, you have to put in a lot of time and pay a lot of dues. I won't go into all of it.
    But I will say that in the end, like so many other gambling ventures, it comes down to a seemingly simple answer: You have to have a good opinion. And you have to be able to express that opinion as odds and be correct. Then, having narrowed the field down to 2-3-4 contenders you make an odds line and compare it to the odds you are offered. You bet the overlays.
    I stopped playing horses (that's how I got into poker) because the things I did at the track are not available to me in race books. And without that, I was barely break-even; a waste of time.
    I would advise you to regard the big races as strictly entertainment. The fields are too solid to do much separating.
    FWIW, almost nothing I used was in The Racing Form, which my buddy and I referred to as "That lyin' son-of-a-bitch!"
  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    Interesting. What kind of info were you gleaning at the track that you couldn't get at the books? Were you one of those people who can pick up a lot of info from a horse's body language? (I grew up going to Saratoga, and I've never been any good at that at all.)

    I'm always looking to get my game better, if you have any particular insights, I'd love to hear them. I'm rereading the Complete Handicapper right now and there's always a lot to get out of that book, but other than that, my handicapping tends toward speed/class. Trying to get better about pace and form.
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 482 ✭✭✭
    I had wrote a long response that I decided to delete. I'll say this, I tried my hand at horses. I couldn't pass a race to save my life. I found this odd cause I'm a tight poker player. I tiled all the time with horses, I almost never tilt when playing poker.

    There are so many factors you have no control of in horse racing. Drugs, jockeys, trainers and so many other outside influences. I just wasn't for me. I made a lot and lost a ton more. I most importantly lost my mind.

    Yet I left a community of players (similar to a forum like this) who do nothing but win and they win A LOT! I truly tip my hat to them and anyone who can play this game to make money. If you guys want more specifics, just ask.

  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    I'd love to hear the specifics if you want to share. I could use any and all help after getting my ass handed to be during Breeders' Cup weekend.
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 482 ✭✭✭
    SicSemper wrote:
    I'd love to hear the specifics if you want to share. I could use any and all help after getting my ass handed to be during Breeders' Cup weekend.

    Disclaimer!!! This might sound like a commercial but I promise it's not. This is really how I feel.
    I used a program called "Black Magic" In a nut shell is takes past performances and does a million calculations based on the creator (Michael Pizzolla) years of research and produces an odds line. It's put A LOT of long shots on the top of the odds line. Most of them don't run a lick. The ones that do....... Avg. $20 mutual for a $2 bet.

    I may have failed in my horse racing venture but this piece of software is far and away the best thing out there. Comes with a hearty price tag and monthly fees. Deff not for everyone. The best advice I can give you is this; be contrarian! Does the exact opposite as the public.

    Public hates horses trying grass races for the first time, I LOVE THEM. One of the best angles out there. Basically the public hates horses trying something for the first time. Weather it be surface,speed,distance,jockey,track. You name it, they wont bet it. Whatever they do, do the opposite!!!

    If you have specific questions, fire away.
  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    If you have specific questions, fire away.

    Ok, so I don't have PPs in front of me, but what savvy handicappers seem to be able to do that I haven't yet figured out is finding underlays based on pace lines and trips. I use Formulator a bit, but still don't have a great feel for the pace lines there. And when it comes to trips, watching the videos, I can see the super obvious stuff when a horse comes out five wide or has a terrible break or completely hits a wall of traffic, but the subtler aspects elude me still. What kinds of things are you looking for htere, and how are you interpreting pace lines? My wins tend to come on speed and class performing. Not to a degree where clear favorites mean cashing on $4 win tickets, but in cases where, say, stretch run times in turf races show a quality horse that the public isn't on. That sort of thing.

    When I was handicapping the BC races, I was fading most of the favorites but still not coming up with winners. The Juvenile is a great example. I looooved Greenpointcrusader based on the prior two races at Belmont, but Runhappy just romped. I felt like GPC was being overlooked, and the speed was absolutely there, and his last race coming in the slop gave him a lower figure than he likely would have earned on a fast track, but then he just didn't fire. So it's one of those things where I'm not sure if my read was wrong, or the horse just didn't perform. That's another area I'm struggling: Going back with the answers and trying to suss out where the errors were in the process.

    The third area I'm still shaky on is ticket structure. Finding the ways to profit on the exotics and multirace wagers through careful ticket construction. I know Crist has written some about that, but I haven't seen a good comprehensive guide anywhere yet.

    If you have any thoughts on those, fire away!
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 482 ✭✭✭
    I forgot to respond to you, I will do so tonight.

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file