02/13/2015 1:33PM

Goldfeder: What Was I Thinking?

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Life and racing can be unpredictable. One minute you’re up and things seem to be going your way, then everything changes and nothing is going your way.

My goal has always been to be the best horseplayer I can possibly be. I am comfortable in the knowledge that no matter how much I think I know about racing, there is a lot more I don’t know. I prepare to the best of my ability only to find out that there is more.

When reviewing any wager, I always think I could have done better. If I make a score, the first question I ask is, “Could I have made more money?” It’s not greed – it’s just me wanting to maximize opportunities (and, okay, perhaps a little bit of greed).

There are times I make a bad bet, review it, and say to myself: “What was I thinking?”

I took a bit of a layoff for the holidays, and when I came back, I thought I saw an opportunity. I jumped in and made a pick four bet. 
I’m not embarrassed to say it was a stupid bet. Even the originally thought-out bet was not a good one. It’s an example of where I made an impulsive wager, and if I had been more centered and focused, I would have been able to make it a better investment with a larger return.

What was I thinking?

Aqueduct pick four, Saturday, Jan. 3 (races 6-9)

My thought process:

Race 6
Contenders: All A’s
(4) Call Daddy (19-1 final odds): Previous race was a good effort on a dead rail against lesser, but he was game in defeat and had reason to improve.

(5) On Tap (5-1 final odds): Well-bred son of Tapit out of Fantastic Shirl. Had a decent debut in a good race, good connections, and good works.

(6) Instructor Kunu (3-1 final odds): Dropping out of a stakes in which he came in second to an impressive winner over the slop at Parx Racing. That winner, Nasa, was entered in the Grade 3 Jerome in race 8. He had the best last-out Beyer Speed Figure.

Race 7
Contenders: A’s
(2) Be Bullish (7-2 ML): Latest racing millionaire reclaimed by trainer David Jacobson after an impressive win in a New York-bred $20,000 claiming race. Although I would prefer to see this old warrior retired, he looks the best in this $40,000 New York-bred optional claimer. He likes the track and distance and is in sharp form. He is the only A in this race.

Contenders: B’s
(5) The Big Deluxe (10-1 ML): Figures to be the speed of the race and is dangerous when loose.

(9) Seek to Destroy (20-1 ML): Coming off a good effort, he was going off at long odds (29-1). In retrospect, this was a reach given that his last race was probably aided by a live rail.

(10) Mine Over Matter (4-1 ML): Sharp trainer Mike Hushion dropping this veteran runner in class. Could be a factor late if speed develops and race breaks down.

Race 8
Contenders
: A’s
(9) El Kabeir (2-1 ML): I’m a fan of this horse, who had already proven he can win going two turns. Horse to beat.

(4) Ostrolenka (7-2 ML): New York-bred showed promise earlier in 2014 before a clunker in the Remsen. The Todd Pletcher trainee was not going to beat me, so he was the other A in this race.

Contenders: B’s
(7) Ackeret (4-1): Impressive in two victories and figured to be higher than the morning line of 4-1, so he was worth a shot on a backup ticket if able to stretch out in distance.

(8) Nasa (8-1 ML): Wire-to-wire winner of a statebred stakes at Parx. Good trainer John Servis teams up with regular jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who is in for the ride. He should handle the distance and is improving, so he is worth using on a backup ticket.

Race 9
Contenders: A’s
(2) Watergate (7-2 ML): Class dropper and first-time gelding with the best figs. Seemed the most likely winner on paper.

(6) Private Thrill (6-1 ML): Class dropper flashed speed in his debut at this same $40,000 statebred maiden-claiming level. If he gets loose, he may not look back.

Contenders: C’s
(5) El Grillo (12-1): First-time starter for a sharp barn. Worth using as a C.

(7) Yourthekingjimmy (12-1 ML): Another firster for Dominick Schettino, who is sharp with debut runners. However, there might be warning signs because he was purchased for $82,000 in August, gelded in September, and debuted for $40,000 in January. Used as a C but should have reconsidered.

(8) Freshman Phenom (6-1 ML): Firster for trainer Graham Motion. This was a defensive trainer play as a C in a New York-bred claiming race.

(10) Norm The Giant (15-1 ML): Used as a C to get full coverage with firsters in a New York-bred event where crazy things sometimes happen.

I used DRF TicketMaker to put together the play.

Ticket 1 returned a $148 profit.
Ticket 2-5 lost a combined $54.
The total profit was $94.

Calling an audible in Leg 1

I started with three A’s in Leg 1, a race I thought was pretty wide open given the number of first-time starters (six). As the odds and will pays came up for race 6, I saw that the Pletcher first-time starter Uninfluenced (11) was taking money. I also took a look at the Kiaran McLaughlin horse, Madroos (12), who at 7-1 looked like value, so I made an adjustment and added these to my A’s, increasing the size of my ticket. It became a spread race, and I immediately entered a territory that I shouldn’t have – a bigger ticket with less value from potential payoffs.

Adjusted ticket after adding two A’s in Leg 1
I wanted my A’s for at least $2, so I checked the box to increase the A’s wager.

Ticket 1 returned a profit of $280.
Tickets 2-5 lost a combined $90.
The total profit was $190.

Any way you look at it, adding the two horses as A’s was a bonehead move, as it totally watered down the play. If the ticket hit with the 2-1 favorite, Uninfluenced, the profit would be negligible. If it hits with Madroos at 7-1, I get lucky, and although I’d be happy with the result if he wins, I was not that committed to him, so should I really have had him as an A? The better move would have been to make him a B. As it turned out On Tap (5) ran a good race and held off one of my late add-ons, Madroos (12), to win, paying $12.

In Leg 2, I thought Be Bullish was a solid A, but I used three B’s who I thought had the potential to upset and make it a nice pick four. Be Bullish won easily, paying $6 to win.

In Leg 3, I figured El Kabeir or Ostralenka were the most likely winners, but again I used two others as B’s in case something happened that would leave me sitting on a score in the final leg. El Kabier whistled, justifying the short odds he went off at and paying $4.90.

The final leg looked like two horses to me – Watergate and Private Thrill. I liked Watergate more, and he was my actual choice, but I did fear Private Thrill. Private Thrill should have been respected as a B rather than used as an A. Not completely trusting the $40,000 maiden claimers was the reason I added the four C’s. Watergate pressed the pace and ultimately put away his longshot pace rival to easily prevail and win his maiden.

Other than what I mentioned, I really had no problem with the last three legs as far as whom I used, except that the B’s could have just as easily been C’s in races 7 and 8. Had I done that, not used the 11 and used the 12 as a B in the first leg, this is what the ticket would have looked like using the 4x option for A’s in TicketMaker.

Ticket 1 returned a profit of $1,540.
Tickets 2-7 lost a combined $56.
The total profit was $1,484.                                                                                

The results 5/2/9/2 paid $320 for a $2 bet.

If your budget allows, you have to put more weight on your A’s, particularly if they look as solid as those in this sequence. Given the short prices in Legs 2-4, I would have been happy with the $1,484 profit.

It doesn’t end here. I will go back and make another pick four play and apply the lessons I learned. If I make a last-minute change, it has to show value. Using a Pletcher firster at 2-1 in an open race is the opposite of what I should have done, unless I was singling a longshot in another leg who would inflate the multileg value. This is a horse to play against.

Like in any type of play, the key is to take a stand and then formulate a play that reflects a commitment. Hedging is okay, but if the sequence merits it, you need to commit strongly to your opinion – to your A’s.

Bob More than 1 year ago
The key to the game is betting for value and in this age of hyper-exotic bets it is easy to lose sight of where the real value lies in any race or any parimutuel pool. At the present time this situation has been attenuated to some extent by the introduction of the low takeout Pick 5 at SoCal and NYRA tracks. The 14% takeout means that the P5 is far and away the best "value bet" in racing. No other bet even comes close! The 50 cent increment only makes it more attractive. Prior to the introduction of the P5 my primary wager was always the late P4 at NYRA and SoCal tracks simply because I am not nearly as good at identifying the live 50-1 shot who has the potential to blow up the vertical wagers as I am at separating the real win contenders from the not-so-real contenders to the also-rans; or as most serial bet players call them the A, B and C horses. These days I rarely play a P4 because I would rather save my powder for a shot at major score in the P5 pool, where a wager of $300 to $400 can get you the kind of coverage and potential for a major score that would cost thousands in the P6 pool and which almost never happens in the P4 pools.
The Starter More than 1 year ago
Very nice post: Well articulated and insightful. This gives some good ideas about shaping bets for value. Thank you. The Starter