02/11/2015 4:33PM

Pandolfo: The Best Bet System


Is there a "Best Bet" in Harness Racing? Can certain criteria identify a horse that is a consistently good bet? Back in September of 2013, I published rankings based on a large computer database test run by harness handicapper Ray Schell. The top three win predictors in order were:

--Final Time

--Class Drop

--Driver Change

This doesn't necessarily equate to Return On Investment. The stats simply show that if you're trying to pick winners, these three factors are the most important. Since then, I've taken it a few steps further and added some basic rules with the goal of coming up with a “Best Bet” type of spot play for Harness Racing.

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For our “Best Bet” we will want 4-1 odds or higher from good posts with a win percentage of 10% or higher. For the lower percentage post positions, I've established an odds guideline.

Rule 1: The horse must be dropping in class. Often a horse appears to be off its best form but all that’s really needed is a drop in class.

Rule 2: I prefer horses that have what I call ZIP, which is easy to spot. For this method, we'll only use horses that had the lead at the half in at least one in their last 3 starts.

Rule 3: Only look for horses with drivers/trainers that have solid stats.

Rule 4: Look for horses that have a recent speed figure within 3 points of par. If your past performances have speed figures, use them, if not, use final time. Look over the recent performances and pick a speed figure or final time that seems like a good “par” (or average) for this field. In some cases you may want to eliminate the highest figure if it was an aberration. For instance, say a horse has a 98, but the next highest is 90 and two other horses have 88 and 89. I’d make the par 89. This means that a contender needs to have a recent speed figure of 86 or higher in order to qualify as a contender.

Rule 5: Post position win percentage is critical. At some tracks, post 8 only wins about 3%. Horses from these low percentage posts are usually bad bets. If you are going to bet a post with a low win percentage, you need big odds. I've created a set of post position rules for this method:

Post win % is 10% or higher: minimum odds 5-2

Post win % between 8% and 10%: minimum odds 5-1

Post win % between 7% and 8%: minimum odds 6-1

Post win % between 5% and 6%: minimum odds 12-1.

Post win % is less than 5%: minimum odds 15-1.

One final note on the post position percentages . . . sometimes the percentages can be misleading, particularly early in a meet or early in the year. Try to use the long-term post position profile for each track.

Let's look at the current post position percentages at the Meadowlands. Post 4 is winning at 7.7% so far this year. That's less than post 10, which is winning at 7.5%. Yet we know that post 4 is a better post than 10. As the year goes on, it seems likely that the win percentage of post 4 will go up to at least 10%, if not higher. So you have to use common sense. Most handicappers know which are the lower percentage post positions at each track. If you don't, I don't know how you can handicap.

To find out more about Pandy’s handicapping theories check out his www.trotpicks.com or www.handicappingwinners.com websites, his free picks at handicapping.ustrotting.com/pandycapping.cfm or write to Bob Pandolfo, 3386 Creek Road, Northampton, PA 18067.