03/25/2015 11:06AM

Goldfeder: What Was I Thinking - Spiral Stakes


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?”

It is not often when you bet a race, end up cashing the win ticket and a nice exacta, and then come away asking yourself, “What was I thinking?” I was a upset with myself for not playing triples in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 21. It’s like I was dating a girl for a long time, wined and dined her, and was getting to know who she was, but in the end we were never more than friends. Firespike, a horse I had bet many times, got up for a good third, almost got second, and rounded off a nice triple where the first and second horses were my top selections.

Turfway Park, Race 11

My Key Horse: A

(12) Dubai Sky (7-1 final odds): I have been a fan of his since I got the word from a guy I know who knows a guy who said the barn was high on this horse. In his intended first start, he was 7-2 but acted up in the paddock and ended up being scratched. That was good for me, because I didn’t want to bet a Bill Mott first-time starter at a short price, given his record with firsters. Nevertheless, I bet him next time out – his real first start at 9-2. He finished what I considered a good third, showing good run into a slow pace. I have bet him every time since and have been well compensated for my efforts. Coming into this spot, I didn’t expect him to be any place near the 8-1 morning line, even with the bad outside draw. He has always been game in his races, was getting first-time Lasix, and being a full brother to Twirling Candy, who excelled on the synthetic, all signs pointed to a good performance. In addition, he had good tactical speed, and I felt he would be able to get good position early. However, the price would dictate my play.

Contenders: B’s

(9) Conquest Typhoon (4-1 final odds): Experienced in graded stakes competition with good efforts over both turf and synthetic, he seemed like a logical player. I had used him in the El Camino Real Derby, when he tired late and just got outfinished for second, costing me the exacta. Overall, he had been facing better, and I thought he was the most logical horse to play underneath in exactas.

(10) Firespike (37-1 final odds): I became a fan when he showed versatility winning a maiden race on Aug. 30 at Saratoga. In fact, he was my longshot play at 19-1 in the Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 4 at Keeneland, where he finished a non-threatening seventh. Of course, he came back to win in his next start, but I didn’t play him that day at Gulfstream Park West when he won at 8-5. I did key him on top in exactas and triples in his subsequent start when he was 6-5, but he finished out of the money. He then won at Ocala in a non-wagering event. When he showed up at 6-1 in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park on Feb. 28, I played him again. Bore in and bumped at the start followed by a wide trip, he flattened out and never threatened. I still felt he was a proven runner over both the turf and synthetic, but my question was should I keep using him? The answer was yes, because I felt a kind of commitment to his talent and potential. Was he was fast enough to win this race? I did not think so, but I saw him as a good exotic play and a horse that could repay me for all the times I chased him.

Contenders: C’s

(11) Metaboss (9-5 final odds): Likely favorite was 2 for 2 at the distance, winning once on turf and once on Tapeta at Golden Gate. He ran a good race in the El Camino Real Derby, but that race set up pretty well for him. Today’s race didn’t figure to have a great deal of pace, so I was skeptical of his chances at a short price. Nonetheless, if Dubai Sky was going to be a good price I wasn’t going to leave Metaboss out of my exotics.

(1) Royal Son (5-2 final odds): Wired the field over this surface in the John Battaglia against many entered today. That was his lone race over the synthetic, and he had things his own way. It was possible that could happen again, but the last race was such a dramatic jump from his previous races that it was hard for me to trust that last figure. That said, pace and surface potential made him a must use in exotics.

The Play

With my bankroll at $1,400 and with Dubai Sky at an attractive price, I was willing to risk 10 percent to 15 percent or somewhere between $140 and $200 on the race. I made a $50 win bet. I followed that with a $20 exacta (12/9-10) and a $10 exacta (12/11-1). I then reversed the exacta wagering $10 (9-10/12) and $5 (1-11/12). The total wager at this point was $140. I waited until closer to post to make my next decision. With Dubai Sky paying between 5-1 and 8-1, I decided not to get fancy and just put an additional $50 to win, bringing the investment to $190 or 13 percent of my bankroll. As the horses headed toward the gate, I watched and considered putting more to win on Dubai Sky. At this point, I was having an up-and-down day and was down a few hundred, so I decided to just let it go and see what happened.

The Race

Dubai Sky broke well and was forwardly placed but wide throughout. As they raced through the far turn, the jockey clearly had horse. When Dubai Sky changed leads in upper stretch, he separated from the field and was clear to the wire. Conquest Typhoon had a great trip and just held off a fast-closing Firespike for second.

I never really felt nervous while watching the race and was very happy with the result, winning $740 on the win and $748 on the exacta wagers for a total profit of $1,488. Then I looked at the payouts for the triple and saw that it paid $1,369 for $2. That is when I said to myself, “What was I thinking?”

I had a solid key on top. The natural play was a $1 trifecta: 12/9-10/1-9-10-11 for a base cost of $6. Then I could have done 12/1-11/9-10 for a base cost of $4. With around $20 left to get to the 15 percent max range of bankroll for the race I could have done a $4 trifecta with 12/9-10/1-9-10-11 (cost $24) and a $1 trifecta with 12/1-11/9-10 (cost $4). This would be a total trifecta wager of $28 bringing the investment to $218 (15.5 percent of bankroll). Had I done this, I would have had the triple two times for an additional profit of $2,710.20, which turns a good profit into something much better bringing the overall profit to $4,198.20.

I had a personal history with the top three horses. I was familiar with them and had the experience of wagering on all of them and living through the results. With a longshot key on top, the subsequent exotic payoffs had to be good. I knew this about the exacta, but because I decided to take a conservative approach in my wagering I cost myself the type of score that can offset the down periods that inevitably come.

Overall, I am not upset with the outcome, but in the long run to sustain the losses you need to maximize the wins. I need to squeeze the most out of my good opinions. That is why you should review this type of play, even if you win. You need to maximize your potential return, particularly when you have all the principles as your top contenders. I did not have to go that deep, so it was a natural triple play for me. The horse that really would have made the difference was Firespike who went off at a ridiculous 37-1. I will likely continue my relationship with him, but I’m doubtful the stars will align with the same value he offered at the bottom part of a triple I should have had but didn’t.