12/21/2007 8:38PM

Q&A 12/21/07


rfb0318 says: What kinds of pools do you think that this bet [the Super High Five] will attract? No consolations and at $1. Also, a 10 cent super will be eliminated.

The "Super High Five" demands picking the first five finishers (a pentafecta) on the last race each day at Santa Anita starting next Wednesday. I think the pools will be tiny until carryovers build because this is an incredibly expensive bet at a $1 minimum. Compare it to a dime super: You can go 3x5x7x9 in a dime super for $36. Mirroring that play in a $1 Super High Five (3x5x7x9x9) will cost you $1800, fifty times as much (five more horses in the fifth slot times a 10x higher base bet.) Given that SA plans to continue making 14-horse maiden-claiming races the last race of the day, it's going to take either a lot of money or a lot of luck to hit the thing. How much money do you really want to spend betting who can or can't finish fifth?

woodridge_phil says: What is your usual day at the track consist of betting wise? My own is betting on 2 or 3 tracks with a mix of multirace bets and super and exacta plays.

My hat is off to those who can follow and play two or three circuits regularly. I focus on two things: NYRA racing, and graded stakes nationally, and that keeps me plenty busy. Following those stakes leads me to play the pick fours involving them on weekends in Kentucky, Florida and California, but I don't handicap those full cards on a regular basis.

stefan says: I've noticed that you've been discussing some recent one-ticket "caveman" pick four plays. Why the change of heart from your message in "Exotic Betting"? Do the lower minimums at some tracks lessen the importance of those ideas for multirace bets?

I think that lower minimums, such as 50-cent pick-fours, actually increase the importance of multiple tickets because they allow you to emphasize some tickets --playing them two to four times stronger than others -- without spending more money overall. The lower minimum also sometimes allows you to play one of those caveman-looking tickets -- not exclusively, but as a catch-all starting point.

I assume you're referring to the 3x3x8x4 ticket that I got lucky with at Calder last Saturday. Here were my ABC's for the Grand Slam II sequence and how my play unfolded:

Race 8: A-5 B-6,11 C-2,3,7
Race 9: A-1,5 B-9 C-3,10
Race 10: A-3,10,12 B-5,6,7,9,11 C-1,2,4,8
Race 11: A-11 B-6.8.12 C-5,9

I don't usually have A's, B's and C's in every race, and this could have been a nightmare of making out dozens of tickets. Due to the 50-cent minimum, I decided to cut through the clutter by stating out with a minimum ticket using all my A's and B's. I then made 50-cent tickets of 3 A's and 1 C. Finally, I went and made $1 tickets of 2 A's and 2 B's, $2 tickets of 3 A's and 1 B, and a $10 AAAA ticket. The whole mess came out to $240. When I discovered NYRA was forcing me to make the bet at a $1 minimum, I doubled everything.

Since the winners were BABB, it turned out to be a fortuitous day to have combined all my A's and B's on that initial ticket.

ogygian23 says: Any chance NYRA could offer an "open ended" Pick 6 bet? By that I mean the bettor wagers the full ticket amount before the first leg, but only picks his first leg horses at this time- e.g. I bet $128 on the pick six before race #4, and I designate horses 3 and 7 as my pick for that leg. If I'm still alive for the 5th, I have 32 combinations left for 5 races. I single the winner in Race 5, then I have 32 combos for the last 4 races...etc..

Interesting idea, but I can't see it happening. "Exchange" bets such as the twin tri have become less popular in the simulcasting era as fewer players are bird-dogging the windows race by race. I can't imagine too many players wanting to be forced into making an exchange every half-hour. And what do you do with an offtrack or home bettor who's alive after five and then his Internet connection cuts out or he gets stuck on a long line at his OTB?

george_quinn says: The Holy Bull Stakes is now after the Florida Derby on April 2 and is a mile and 3 sixteenths. Someone help me understand any logic that Magna Entertainment uses.

It does seem goofy at first glance, but the thinking was that the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby were jammed too closely together and no one was running in all three anyway. No one's going to run in both the Florida Derby (March 29, five weeks from the Kentucky Derby) and the newly-positioned Holy Bull (April 12, three weeks out), but the Holy Bull now becomes a last-chance way to get graded earnings and qualify for the big dance. If Gulfstream had stuck a new race instead of the G3 Holy Bull into that April 12 slot, it wouldn't be graded and earnings wouldn't count for a Derby berth.

machouno says: I've been a serious handicapper for the last fifteen years (and I'm only thirty). Recently, I read a book by Dick Mitchell called "Commonsense Betting" that made me realize for the first time that you can really make a living betting on horses. Do you know of any more literature that could point someone in the right direction if they were looking to make a career out of betting horses?

I don't know of a book on this specific topic but there are several good ones of turning pro as a poker player that deal with a lot of the relevant themes -- bankroll, security, chance of ruin and tax implications. Mark Blade's "Professional Poker" has been well reviewed and recommended. What you're contemplating is a huge decision that requires a lot of thought and soul-searching. I tried it for three years more than a decade ago and while it was fascinating and sometimes exhilirating, it took a lot of the fun out of it for me. For the vast majority of people, this is a game best enjoyed with discretionary funds.