06/27/2017 4:51PM

In rough times keep a steady hand


“What you know today can affect what you do tomorrow but not what you did yesterday.”

--Condoleezza Rice

The best thing about playing within the structure of a bankroll strategy is that is helps minimize losses. Like basketball, horseplaying can consist of a series of good runs and bad runs. Often the bad runs outweigh the good runs so it is important to maximize opportunities and minimize losses.

Over the last three weeks I believe my handicapping has been subpar. There are a number of possible reasons for this, including bad weather and perhaps I’ve been pressing, given the volume of races I’m looking at in so short a period of time. I can’t control the weather but I can control myself and I try to adjust my wagering when track conditions change.

The added variable often means you need to call audibles and pass races you might have wanted to play. As for the volume, I am used to studying multiple race cards and looking at a lot of PPs and videos. However, sometimes I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my process when the results are not living up to the work. My fix is usually creating an odds line.

This means breaking down each race into multiple factors, finding the key variables that meet each race condition and determining who fits the criterion best. I don’t always do this because it’s time-consuming but when I hit a cold streak I need to be proactive. That is my assignment for this week.

So what happened this past weekend? For one thing we had a downpour in New York which basically destroyed the card. For the second straight Saturday, Belmont, my primary track, was unplayable. I didn’t have great opinions so I played it close to vest and adhered strongly to the rules of the bankroll. This allowed me to play within myself as I worked on getting my groove back.

A quick review of a core approach:

I try to bet around 5 percent of bankroll on any individual race. If I have a strong opinion I will raise that to 10 percent. The initial approach is to try to attack with simple methods, such as betting basic win-place and then jabbing with exactas and DDs. If I have strong keys I will go further and play doubles, pick threes, and pick fours

I prepare a list of horses that I think have the chance to be potential keys and put them in chronological order based on post time.

I played 14 horses from a list that included 15 options. These were the plays:

Review of some key plays:

Belmont 5: After not cashing a ticket over the first five races and losing 20 percent of my bankroll, it was important to get a win. I preferred 3-Court Savvy’s turf races to her synthetic races and felt the cutback to seven furlongs from a mile on turf would work very nicely. She broke well, cleared the field and never looked back. I was hoping for something closer to her 7-2 morning line but she got bet down to 2-1 late and I had to settle for $6.50 on the win.

Monmouth 4: The favorite, 2-Bonita Bianca, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, was getting ridiculously overbet at even money and I had positive trip notes on 3-Thirstforthecup, so I felt good about the 9-2 price. I was surprised to see 1-Frank’s Folly, hustle out and wire the field and relieved to see my horse and get second. The one thing I was right about in this race was the vulnerable favorite. Given my tough run of luck of late I was conservative in my play but I did cash for the second straight race.

Laurel 4: Took a shot with a pick three ticket using 4-Gin Makes Ya Sin, as an "A," thinking that she would get loose and hopefully wire the field. As it turned out, 6-Never Gone South, who was running with blinkers for the first time pressed the pace and took over late to run away with the win. I had her as a "C" on my ticket and the pick three basically was a wash.

Laurel 6: The horse I keyed in the last leg of the pick three, 7-Daylight Ahead, was only going to get me even for that investment but at odds of 6-1 there was value in the win pool, so it became an automatic play. She broke sharply, controlled the pace and gamely held off a rival through the stretch to narrowly prevail. Perhaps the tide was turning and breaks were starting to come my way. This actually put me in the plus column for the day.

Gulfstream 11: Perhaps the biggest risk in playing, 9-Sir Hannoun, was the trainer change to Ulysses Matos, who I had never heard of. Combine that with a rise in class and there were red flags of vulnerability staring me in the face. That said, he was in strong form and his last few races had been impressive. I liked the cutback from one mile to seven furlongs and was surprised to see him hovering in the 7-1 range. He ultimately went off at 5-1. He broke well, contested the pace and had a two-length lead at the top of stretch. Battling the closers on his wrong lead he drifted out and bumped one his rivals. After changing to his correct lead he finished well to get second. I also used him in exactas with four horses including the horse who finished first, 8-Papa Pig, at 11-1. The exacta was paying $126. Unfortunately, the 8 lugged in while the 9 was drifting out sandwiching the two horses between them. Hence, both of my horses were correctly disqualified. Maybe the tide wasn’t turning.

If I don’t hit at a win rate of at least 20 percent, the chances of a winning are greatly diminished. It’s frustrating to struggle but it’s important to weather the storm. I am committed to getting back on track and the signs of improvement are there. However, because I’m working hard doesn’t mean I’m working correctly.

I need to review the horses on the list that don’t run well and make sure I am not making mistakes like over-emphasizing a variable that doesn’t carry as much weight as I originally thought. I can’t change the losses and tough beats, but I can l prepare to make better decisions. Handicapping is a complex art with many variables, but as long as you have a wagering plan you can survive the cold streaks while incurring minimal damage.

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