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Horse Race Tips

Racebook Betting Tips and Strategies

There is no other investment quite like betting on horses.  There is no other investment vehicle where gamblers can make 200% or more on a single wager.  In horse racing, making profits well beyond initial investments is the norm.

Then again, you can lose a lot wagering on horses as well.  A $1 Trifecta Box with 4 horses is going to cost you $48 because there are 48 total combinations and you are wagering a $1 on each one of those combinations.  Playing the Pick 6 can get into the thousand dollars range because in almost all cases you are doubling the bet every time that you add a horse to the ticket.  Then, you are doubling the entire wager because the minimum allowed to bet on the Pick 6 is $2.

Because betting on horse races can be both a financial boon and a bust, it’s important to come up with strategies.  Below are betting tips and strategies that should help your bottom line when betting on the ponies.

Horse Racing Betting Tips and Strategies

Betting Tips - - What to Remember when Wagering on the Ponies

  1.  Money management is key - - Start with a bankroll and then decide on a per race unit.  Tell yourself that you’re only going to wager $10 on the exacta and $4 on the horse that you like to win because you’ve decided that $14 is your max risk on each race that you bet.  When it comes to vertical and horizontal exotic wagers, money management is exceptionally important because combinations add up so quickly, and don’t ever, under any circumstances, chase bad wagers.  If you lost your bet in Race 6, don’t chase the losses with a wager in Race 7 just because you want to win your money back.  Races occur every day all over the world.   
  2. Don’t bet every race - - There isn’t a single handicapper in the universe that can make winning bets on every single race at every card on every day at every track.  Be very judicious about the races on which you wager.  I prefer to wager on graded and high stakes races.  I also wager on feature races at major tracks.  The reason I do this is because those races tend to have larger pools and larger pools lead to bigger payouts.  Also, there’s often a run on the chalk in well publicized races meaning that a horse that should be going off at 4 to 1 is often times going off at 6 to 1.
  3. Forget about the “stories” - - The TV networks are great at talking about jockeys, trainers and horses as if they lived next door to you.  When it comes to making money at the racetrack, you really need to forget about all that and think about everybody involved in terms of numbers.  Sure, it’s cool that Mario Gonzalez is only 25 years old and won the Kentucky Derby in his first try, but unless he’s winning at least 20% of his races, he’s probably not going to add value to the horse he’s riding on in the race that you’re handicapping.
  4. It still comes down to the horse - -Trainer trends have been, and are still, all the rage when it comes to thoroughbred handicapping.  Yes, trainer trends matter, a horse that runs for a trainer who wins with 35% of his horses first or second time off of the claim is a very strong trend, but trends are only as good as the horse.  If the horse is a pig, it will most likely remain a pig for its entire career no matter what trainer it ends up with. 
  5. Respect jockeys - - CC Lopez said in a Wall Street Journal article that I read a while ago that what he does, Lopez is a jockey, doesn’t matter all that much.  Here’s the thing, CC, the jockey is the human that’s guiding a four-legged, ton weighing, animal that’s running roughly 30 to 40 miles while being crowded by other animals to a finish line.  The jockey makes split decisions, amazing decisions, during the running of the race.  Yeah…that guy doesn’t mean squat.  Okay.
  6. Don’t be afraid to hedge - -There are a lot of horseplayers that will tell you to not consider hedging.  “If you really likes that horse to win, then just bet it to win.  Why bet it to show?”  First, about a million things that can happen during the course of horse race that prevents your pick from winning the race.  Second, hedging can lower your stake.  This is particularly true when it comes to betting on favorites.  The win pool, often times, is so overweighted on favorites that the show money can pay overlaid prices in the show pool.  For instance, an even money horse pays $4 to win.  It has to pay at least $2.05 to place and in most cases, because a lot of horseplayers like to bet longshots in the show pool, the show payoff will be around $3 or so.  That’s 1 to 2 on an even money win horse to finish third or better.  Pay attention to all pools on the horse that you like in a race.  Sometimes your hedge bet could be a better payoff than your actual bet.
  7. Don’t be a figure slave - - Figure slaves, I might be the only person who uses that term, is a slave to speed, pace or class ratings.  A horse is an animal.  Sometimes horses have bad days.  Sometimes they have great days.  Because horse’s can’t speak, us horse bettors have no idea if the horse that we like to win a race is going to have a good day or bad day.  So, we need to make sure that figures, which represent the past, something that’s already happened, don’t keep us shackled and bound to past handicapping.  We’re trying to predict the future and the future is rarely the same as the past.

Betting Strategies

  1.  Never box more than 4 horses in any exacta, superfecta or trifecta wager - - It’s all about money management.  Boxing more than four horses in an exacta can often times takes away from profits.  It’s like buying stock at its highest price point instead of waiting for it to go down first.  Boxing more than 4 horses in superfectas and trifectas makes individual investments unbelievably large.  The risk versus reward makes no sense.
  2. Always try and use key horses before boxes - - The key horse is magical.  See below for an example of using 2 key horses in the win slot for a trifecta wager involving 5 horses.
    1-2 with 1-2-3 with 1-2-3-4-5
    The total investment for this wager is only $16 for $1 bet.  I used this exact same key horse wager method in order to make on the 2012 Stephen Foster Handicap.  The trifecta paid over $300.  $300 - $16 = $284.  $284 profit off of a $16 investment isn’t bad.
  3.  It’s okay to bet on a horse to win - - Betting on a horse to win is easy, and because win pools are usually gigantic on big races, the best wagers to make.
  4.  But only bet on horses to win if the odds are fair - - Expect value on chalk if you want to wager on them to win.  If the horse that you like is going off at 8/5 but you think fair odds are 2/1, don’t bet on it to win.  Use money to make an exacta wager around it that juices the odds.
  5.  When betting Pick 3s and Pick 4s use singles - - Always try and use at least a horse, a single, in one race in a Pick 3 sequence.  Never go beyond 2 horses in every race in a Pick 3 sequence. The cost will skyrocket.  When it comes to Pick 4 and Pick 6 wagering, 2 singles is paramount to good money management.

Good luck! 


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