09/10/2014 10:33AM

Pandolfo: Embrace the inside bias

Mike Lizzi
Inside horses win most of the races on half-mile tracks.

When betting exotics on half mile tracks, you don't necessarily have to go for low payoffs. It's a bit of an oddity, but the biggest longshot winners often win at the tracks that have the most winning favorites. The high percentage of winning favorites leads to over confidence by chalk bettors. With so much money bet on the favorites, these races often produce huge longshot winners.

I've been studying the results on the half mile tracks and I've come up with a game plan for playing multiple-race exotics, such as the Pick 4. My theory is based on a few simple observations.

A). Most races are won by posts 1 through 5.

B). Many longshot bombs come in from posts 1 through 5.

In the four races, find the two races where you feel that the favorite has the best chance of winning. Handicap the race, and find the horse that you think has the best chance of beating the favorite. In these two races, use both horses—the favorite and your upset pick. If you want to simplify it further, use the favorite and second choice.

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In the other two legs, use 5 horses in each race, but don't handicap the race, just use horses 1 through 5.

Your ticket will look like this: X,X / X,X / 1,2,3,4,5 / 1,2,3,4,5. That is a $100 cost for a $1 ticket.

Let's look at the Pick 4 from last Friday (September 5) at Northfield. The 8th race was a 2-year-old Ohio Sire Stakes filly trotting race. Several times in my columns I've advocated wheeling these races in multiple race exotics. The reasoning is simple, and obvious, 2-year-old trotters often break stride and big longshots come in. So, in the first leg, using my Pick 4 Strategy, it would make sense to use five horses.

In the 9th race, it was another Ohio Sire Stakes race for 2-year-olds, a pace. The favorite was 6-5 but the race looked competitive. This would be another good race to use five horses.

In the 10th and 11th race, the odds-on favorites looked tough. These would be good races to use two horses. In the Friday night sequence, the favorite broke in the first leg and the winner paid $53.40. In the 9th, the favorite lost and the winner paid $12.00. In the last two legs, the odds-on favorites won at $3.40 and $3.00.  The Pick 4 paid $639.90 for $1.00.

Let's look at Yonkers. Last Thursday (September 4), in the Pick 4, three favorites won, paying $3.50, $3.50, and $2.50. In the other leg, the 1 horse won and paid $15.20. The Pick 4 paid $224.25 for $1.00. Here was a sequence where only one favorite won, and no outside posts came in.

Last Tuesday (September 2) at Yonkers, in the first leg of the early pick four, the 3 horse won and paid $35.80. In the 4th race, the second choice won and paid $6.30. In this race, the 9-5 favorite had post 6 and appeared vulnerable. In the 5th race, the favorite won and paid $3.30. In the last leg, the second choice won and paid $8.80. The $1.00 Pick 4 payoff was $1648.50. Using my strategy, if you had used all 5 horses in the first leg, and the favorite and second choices in two legs, you would have hit it. The key was that the first leg had to be one of the races where you used five horses.

I'm not saying it's easy, mind you. But, this is a good approach for someone who wants to spend about $100, and doesn't want to target the low payoff Pick 4s.  A similar approach could be used in Doubles and Pick 3 wagers. For instance, in a Pick 3, you could use horses 1 through 5 in two legs, and either single the favorite in one leg (a $25 wager), or use two horses in that leg, which would be a $50 wager. This strategy can also be used by singling the favorite in two legs and using horses 1 through 5 in the other two legs, which cuts the cost in half.

One thing I've learned from handicapping and studying the Pick 4 is that you can't win if you bet the horses that figure. Here's a typical scenario: We play this $1.00 ticket: 1, 2, 3, 4 with 4, 5, with 6, 7, with 1, 2, 4 = $48.00. In the first leg, the 1 horse wins and pays $7.00. In the second leg, the 5 horse wins and pays $9.00. In the third leg, the 6 horse wins and pays $5.00. In the 4th leg, the 8 horse wins and pays $49.00. You know the drill, we hit the first three legs. Why? Because the winner of those races figured. But, the reason why the Pick 4 is so difficult to hit is that some bizarre longshot wins one of the legs and blows our ticket out of the water. And, once you get into the Pick 5 and Pick 6, the chances of this happening are increased exponentially.

Sure, every once in a while, all four legs are going to be won by a logical horse, and our $48 ticket is actually going to hit. But you will only get back a small return. The key to showing a profit in these exotic wagers is hitting the big ones. The small wins may boost your ego, or keep you in the game for a few more weeks, but ultimately, the people that are actually showing a profit at the end of the year hit a few big-paying exotic wagers.

The reason why I created this Pick 4 strategy for half mile tracks is that there's a pattern here. Almost all of the races are won by posts 1 through 5. As I've mentioned a couple of times in prior columns, I see a lot of huge underlays from posts 6, 7 and 8 on half mile tracks. The way I see it, if there are ridiculous underlays from outside posts, then there are overlays from inside posts.

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If you look over the Pick 4 sequences, you'll see many that are hittable using this method. At Harrington on Monday (September 8), three odds-on favorites won in the Pick 4, $2.40, $2.60, and $3.40. Still, the Pick 4 paid $553.20 for a $1.00 because the favorite broke in the first leg and the winner paid $48.40 from post 2.

It would be difficult to implement this strategy on a one mile track, but it's perfect for attacking the speed and post position-biased half mile tracks.

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.