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Goldfeder: What Was I Thinking – taking advantage of wagering menu
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?”
On Valentine’s Day, I was in love with a horse. Love can sometimes raise you to heights you never imagined you can reach or disappoint you based on unrealistic expectations clouded in fantasy. Having been infatuated by my selection in advance, I failed to capitalize when a more attractive suitor materialized. The situation seemed complicated, but had I gone in with a more open mind and made the necessary adjustments I would have felt like I was flying in the air with my arms spread out like wings instead of walking away, shaking my head, and muttering, “What was I thinking?”
Multiple win exotic options
One of the great things about many wagering menus is that they have rolling multiple win exotics such as daily doubles and pick threes. One problem I've experienced is that when you get going with rolling pick threes and pick fours, you forget about opportunities in the wager before the final leg. If you have a pick four and you’re alive to that last leg, why didn’t you have the pick three that ended with the race that just crossed the finish line? Or why didn’t you have the daily double if you were alive in the pick three?
This becomes a pertinent question if a longshot was part of your sequence and you could have cashed had you been paying better attention.
While playing the Aqueduct card, I observed a hint of a speed bias as the afternoon developed. I was pointing toward playing the late daily double, but, given the track trend, I decided to take a stab at the late pick three using a few horses that might benefit from the way the surface was playing.
Aqueduct pick three Feb. 14 (Races 7-9)
(10) Darn That Trip (ML 5-2): Parx shipper was in good form and figured to be forwardly placed. Sported the top lifetime Beyer (87) of any horse in the field, which was earned just three races back. In the past year, three of the nine horses Patricia Farro shipped to Aqueduct had won with an ROI of $5.06. Solid contender.
(7) Jazzminegem (ML 3-1): Beaten favorite who finished second in a key race where the horses that came in first and third both came back to win. Third off a layoff, with wins both at the distance and over the surface. Figured to improve.
(9) Town Kitty (ML 15-1): Best race came on the front end with honest fractions, so she had shown the ability to flash early speed. Given the way the track was playing, it figured to play to her advantage. Her wire-to-wire win at Finger Lakes two back was very impressive, and if she were to repeat that type of effort she could be a player at a price. The reason I made her a B was because I thought she would need the lead to pull off the upset and I wasn't sure that was going to happen. However, the likelihood of her being forwardly placed made her a must use as at least a B.
(1) My Won Love (ML 5-1): Consistent performer who improved since being claimed by Steve Klesaris and figured to get a good trip from the inside post. Last two wins came over wet tracks, so even though snow was beginning to fall, the track was still fast. I was not sure that she would perform well enough to win over a fast surface but if she did, I wanted her covered; hence a C.
(2) Rock N Cozy (ML 6-1): First off the claim by Abigail Adsit from David Jacobson. More likely to finish second or third than first but used defensively, given that her best races had come over the inner track, including one of her two wins.
(5) Atlantic's Smile (ML 7-2): Coming off a game second to Isabelle in her last race. I liked that effort, and with the track playing the way it was, I liked her even more. Her last two efforts appeared to be the best of her career, and she seemed to be in the best form of her life. She was my best bet of the day at Aqueduct and the horse I was in love with. I did not see her as the favorite in this race which added to her appeal.
(4) Isabelle (ML 5-2): The horse that recently beat my key horse, she showed the ability to rate just off the leaders and if the pace were to get hot, it was possible that the outcome could be the same. If that were to happen, I did not want her to knock me out of the pick 3. She was 3 for 3 at the distance and 1 for 1 over the course. She merited respect.
(1) Blithely (ML 3-1): Everybody at the track saw the tough trip she had in her last race, so she did not figure to have great value. That said, she ran a good race and was established at the distance. I didn't see her as being as quick as Atlantic's Smile or Uncle Southern, and given the way the track was playing, I changed her from a B to a C. She could win if the pace got hot, but in previous races she had ways of making her trips worse than they should be. On this day, I thought she'd need to have things go her way. If they did, she most certainly was dangerous.
(7) Uncle Southern (ML 8-1): The other speed of the race besides Atlantic's Smile. Had the ability to soften her up or even get the lead and not look back. Seemed better with moisture, and although I didn't think she was as good as the top three, I used her as a C. At a price, she could get loose and improve the payoff nicely with an upset.
(5) Little Gidding (ML 4-1): Coming off a game second against Island Candy, where she was claimed by the white-hot Gary Gullo. I thought she fit well in a race where it looked like the main competition was the David Jacobson dropper who disappointed as the favorite first time out for him in her last race at Laurel. A hard-trying horse who pretty much gave an honest effort every time, she seemed well-spotted.
(7) Iknewuweretrouble (ML 8-5): Although not crazy about her, I thought she was the only other horse I needed to use in the race where I would feel comfortable about my chances. It was still Jacobson, and he generally puts his horses in positions where they have a good chance to win.
I used Ticktmaker to put together the ticket:
As the horses got to the gate, Darn That Trip was a late scratch. There was not that much of a delay and the horses loaded quickly. This scratch changed the shape of the race, making Town Kitty a much greater threat than her 28-1 odds.
Town Kitty broke sharply and pressed My Won Love through the backstretch leaving the rest of the field far behind. She challenged My Won Love deep on the turn and dueled through upper stretch. After she changed leads, she drew away in midstretch and maintained her advantage to the wire.
The scratch of Darn That Trip took away a very strong speed threat and probably prevented a speed duel, benefitting Town Kitty who had plenty left when they got to the stretch to score at big odds. I felt good with the win but having not yet cashed a ticket, the wheels were beginning to turn in my head as to other plays I could have made. The late scratch meant a refund on all the tickets with the Darn That Trip, changing the cost of the pick three tickets from $90 to $58.
When the wagering opened for this race, Atlantic's Smile was the early favorite taking money in the win pool because bettors saw her as the likely speed of the race. Given the way the day was going, I felt good having her but already I saw that I had made a huge mistake. I was not alive to her in multiple win exotics. Not in a pick three nor a daily double. This took away my ability to maximize my wagering options on the race. Now, I needed a fair win price and/or fair probable exacta values to try to start cashing in on my key horse of the day.
Granted, I still felt good about my chances of cashing a good pick three ticket if she won, so I didn't want to use unnecessary bankroll if I didn't have to. As the race approached, she drifted up to 7-2, which gave me value in the win pool, so I bet $50 on her to win. If she won and something unforeseen happened in the final leg, I would not walk away empty handed.
I felt the exacta probables were too short with Isabelle and Blithely to spend any more money on the race and I didn't have enough confidence in Uncle Southern to use in an exacta at this point, so I stood with the win bet and hoped to move forward with the pick three.
Atlantic's Smile broke well and opened up by two lengths on the backstretch. Challenged mid-turn by (6) Vicki's Dancer, she dueled with that rival through midstretch repelling her and edging away. She was ultimately run down by Isabelle who got up for the win. Atlantic's Smile gamely held second and showed grit through the stretch. He probably ran the best race, but that doesn't always translate to a win. I was okay with her effort and I was still alive with a $3 pick three ticket into the next leg.
The $1 pick three will pays to my two live horses were $563 to Little Gidding and $262 to Iknewuweretrouble, which meant I was in line to cash either $1,689 or $786. With the $58 spent on the pick three and the $50 win bet, I'd get either 15-1 or 7-1 on my total investment in this sequence.
Iknewuweretrouble broke well and set the early pace while pressed by the (8) Casual Elegance. Challenged by her rival deep turn, she dueled briefly but came up empty in the stretch as Casual Elegance went on to victory at 26-1. Little Giddings was bumped slightly at the start and didn't break that well. Other than that, she was never involved and had no real excuse, except it wasn't her day nor mine.
I looked back on the last three races and asked myself if I played this correctly? The answer was a resounding “No!” There were multiple options that I missed. Among them were the win bet in race 7 and the rolling daily from the seventh to eighth race.
I thought enough of Town Kitty in race 7 to make her a B given the way the race pace was shaping up but I did not think enough to make her a key, despite the generous price. What was I thinking? Would it have killed me to play her to win and then key her in exactas with the other contenders I pegged in race 7? She paid $58 to win and the $2 exacta with one of my A's in that race, Jazzminegem, paid $129.50. What was I thinking?
I thought it was a good play to use her as a B in the pick three along with four horses in the next leg moving forward but not once did I think of playing the daily double from race 7 to race 8. On many occasions, sharp handicappers have told me they were alive to a pick three or pick four sequence with high-priced horses and I'd ask them, "Did you have the double?" or "Did you have the pick three" and their answer would be a humble, "No."
The daily double to my B horse in the next race paid $281. I made multiple errors in this sequence. I played pick threes using a 28-1 horse as B but no doubles. On top of that, I did not have a good double to my key horse Atlantic's Smile, which forced me to use a win bet I shouldn't have had to make.
In addition, I should have layered the double plays based on will pays from race 7 to race 8. The $281 payoff to Isabelle was the shortest in that race. As I recall, the double will pay to Atlantic's Smile was more than $300. Even with the scratch of the Darn That Trip, I should have been looking at the double probables with an eye toward opportunity. By not paying attention to this option, I overlooked a great value play and ultimately restricted my ability to maximize my wagering position.
If alive to the double, I could have played around more with exactas or triples. For example, the $50 win bet could have been used instead as a hedge exacta with my B, Isabelle, over Atlantic's Smile because I would have been covered in the win spot with a live double. That exacta paid $21.20 for $2, but for $50 it would have returned $530. I would have had more options.
The one thing I did not have to do was play the late daily double I was pointing to at the beginning of the day because I was alive in the pick three. That said, I did not embrace the changing tide of the day when it presented itself and I missed out on an opportunity because I failed to recognize the value presented in the rolling daily doubles.
When the day was over, I realized I might have been in love with Atlantic’s Smile but I should have shown more love for Town Kitty.
One of the great things about many wagering menus is that they have rolling multiple win exotics, such as daily doubles and pick threes . . .
I think the answer to your overall main question is bankroll. To play all the rolling doubles, pick 3's, 4's, and 5's takes several hundred dollars per track and many players like to play 2 or 3 tracks at a time. If after the first 4 races you haven't hit yet and are down $150-$200 you start to think you don't have that track pegged today. Do I really want to put another $300 in the rest of the card? You have to believe in your capping but at times that's easier said than done.
Nice article. Too many times we as horse players are left with the question, "Do you feel lucky?" The modern day handicapper has a constant need to know, and yet there are so many things in the horse race world that one can't possibly "know". At least, by knowing ones way around a menu, the bettor has a fighting chance. Thanks, Lonnie!
Totally enjoyed this and your last article !
In one of Steve Crist's blogs, he reminded everyone that, as you are waiting out your pick 6, to bet the individual horses you like.
With every goon playing the pick for .50 cents and spreading, Ive always been a huge Daily D player. It was a great bet when for me in the mid 90s and still is. Its great to chase and think big on a pick 4, but the fact is you need to be right 4 times within 2 hours. Good luck. Watching doubles come back that pay super juicy(like this above article) is a great bet and the double pools aren't diluted because it's a forgotten wager. Win/Place and DD for me, now and forever. Nothing is wrong with a nice $44 dollar double, hit hard and your head wont explode trying to chart a impossible pick 4 play. To each his own.
I always enjoy reading handicapping articles like this as we can all learn from each other. One lesson I learned as a young horseplayer, after betting Arcangues to show and in an Exacta box only, is to play a horse you like to win when it is 4/1 or higher. Those double-digit payoffs that you don't play to win just kill you mentally. I wish you all the best that your next article is a more positive one!