10/21/2007 11:00PM

Managing your BC wagers

EmailA lot will happen fast at the Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park this weekend, so it's crucial to go in with a financial plan.

There are so many races, so many options, so many ways to play the Breeders' Cup cards that a sensible wagering plan is essential.

What you do and how effectively you do it will be as important as the accuracy of your handicapping. Moreover, the amount of money you comfortably commit to this smorgasbord of high-class stakes will realistically limit or expand what type of wagers - and how many of them - you can make.

For someone with a modest $100-$400 Breeders' Cup bankroll, it would make no sense to bet $10-$30 on each of the 11 BC races, unless all you want is action at a novice level.

For someone who has no interest or insight in any race except the BC Classic, you might take a small shot on an earlier race or two, but save your big play for the race winner, the exacta, the trifecta and/or the superfecta with one bold concentrated shot.

If you want to play both BC days, better to focus on one of the three BC races on Friday, with about 20 percent of your capital, making a win bet, an exacta with two or three contenders, and a pair of $1 pick threes, saving the rest for a similar but more aggressive approach to the eight BC races on Saturday.

Should you produce a profit Friday, your bankroll for Saturday will expand. Should you lose, you still will have enough cash to take good shots the next day. Whether or not you play the Friday card, you should watch all the races carefully to see if Monmouth's notorious inside, speed-favoring track bias has been muted by the cooler fall weather, or if it is in play with all its summer fury. What you learn about the track - including the possible negative tendencies of wide trips on the seven-furlong turf course - could save you money or direct you more astutely towards insightful Saturday wagers.

On Saturday, with 80 percent or more of your original BC bankroll intact, I would suggest expanding your horizons proportionately.

Instead of one key horse, you might pick out two or three BC races in which you like a horse well enough to make proportionate win bets, plus an exacta or two and a series of pick threes that single your most preferred choice. You also could link two preferred choices in a pick four if they are in the same sequence.

Notwithstanding your belief that each of your preferred selections deserve an edge in their respective races, try not to be stubborn. Accept the fact that picking cold winners is difficult on the complex Breeders' Cup card. Use a contender or two on back-up tickets to give yourself some flexibility and protection. Spread to include three-to-five contenders in the companion races. Double up your play on a pick three or pick four ticket that includes both of your primary selections. If they both connect, you have the makings of a home run with runners on base.

You also might see that one of your preferred choices is in a field that seems likely to produce a sizeable trifecta or superfecta payoff. We get lots of them on Breeders' Cup days. So, if you're working with $200 or so, it would pay to structure a small $1 trifecta play along one of the approaches illustrated below.

* $1 trifecta layout X: Key Horse A; with BCD; with BCDEFG (15 combinations, $15)

* $1 Companion Trifecta layout XY: BCD; with Key Horse A; with BCDEFG (15 combinations, $15)

The two tickets together would cost $30 and the approach could be expanded as illustrated below.

* $1 Trifecta Layout Z: Key Horse A; with BCDEFG; with BCDEFG (30 combos, $30).

* $1 Trifecta Layout ZY: BCDEFG; with Key Horse A; with BCDEFG. This, too, would cost $30.

Should you want to experiment with the new 10-cent superfecta option that will be available on all BC races, a dime superfecta ticket in a field of 13 would cost the same as any of the above $1 trifecta layouts without brain drain. Simply expand the selected trifecta layout to include all horses on the fourth level.

If you see a BC race clearly but feel there are two primary contenders at reasonable or generous odds, I would suggest structuring a modest trifecta play in a layout similar to the one labeled XX below.

* $1 Trifecta Layout XX: AB; with ABCD; with ABCDEF. That's $24 worth of $1 combinations. Of course, total investment would increase with every horse you add to the second and/or third levels.

Before you settle on which pick three(s) and which trifecta(s) you intend to play, I strongly recommend that all players set aside about 25 to 33 percent of their available bankroll to bet horses that go to the post at odds more generous than they should be based on one's comprehensive overnight handicapping analysis.

Be mindful that on a day that contains so many betting pools, and so many good horses with so little time to digest last minute observations and information, you really need to come prepared with opinions on as many horses and races as possible in order to make intelligent, on-the-spot bets. Anyone can get lucky with a sudden whim, or a hunch. But Breeders' Cup Day is not the best day to apply luck as your leading handicapping factor.

Players with larger bankrolls certainly can expand their play to include a few more pick-three and pick-four plays at higher wagering units, as well as a much larger win bet on a preferred selection going off at generous odds. Moreover, a good bankroll is needed to take a realistic shot at the pick six. Players with modest or small bankrolls might consider joining forces with friends to create a reasonable pick-six play.

Players with large bankrolls have an inherent advantage on BC Day. Not only can they play more actively, they can lose a few more of their plays and still come out with big profits by hitting just one of the larger-than-life exotic bets. Their bankroll also gives them more coverage and allows for larger wagering units. But just because someone next to you is betting $5,000 or $10,000 on the BC card does not mean he has an edge in understanding what these complex races are all about. Moreover, too many high rolling players overbet their knowledge out of sheer arrogance. Thus they contribute huge sums of dead money alongside thousands of casual novices who combine to make the Breeders' Cup a lucrative target for astute players who wisely use their available capital.