“Handicapping Is Hard Work…”


Helen Twelvetrees during filming of Thoroughbred in 1936.

Bill Peterson wrote the following in an article he posted on the web in 2008.

“Handicapping is hard work if you take it seriously and many of us remember Dr. Z who taught us that it was possible to find real horse racing betting bargains, or overlays, just by reading the odds board.

“But like Any [sic] Beyer’s Speed Ratings, Dr. Z’s methods have made the rounds and there are now thousands of people who employ his methods at the track. Therefore, it is getting nearly impossible to make money on overlays from the tote board.

Aside from his misspelling of Andy and his lack of proper punctuation, what utter hogwash. Just yesterday in the ninth race at Hollywood Park My Dividend was the lukewarm morning line favorite at 4-1, followed by Patriotic Lion at 9-2, Swiss Emperor at 5-1, Public Defender at 6-1, and Amp and Adrenalin, Milk Man Ray, and Ancient Stone, all at 8-1. The track odds maker told us the event was wide open. That there were no “obvious” bets.

Patriotic Lion wound up the favorite at 2-1 (odds dropped five notches), followed by My Dividend at 9-2 (odds rose one notch), Milk Man Ray at 5-1 (odds dropped three notches), Ancient Stone at 6-1 (odds dropped two notches), Swiss Emperor at 7-1 (odds rose two notches), Public Defender at 7-1 (odds rose one notch), and Amp and Adrenalin at 13-1 (odds rose five notches). The Logical Choice from a betting standpoint was to place equal sized bets on Swiss Emperor and Amp and Adrenalin, both solid overlays.

Peterson went on to write,

“What happens on the toteboard [sic] is still very important because it will indicate to you whether or not the people who control a horse plan on winning or trying to win with the runner.”

That implies you should be looking for a horse with odds that dropped substantially after the pool was opened for wagering. So-called “inside money.” What I call an Action Play. In the above race, Patriotic Lion fit that criteria.

If an Action Play is all I find available on a race, I will wager on such a horse. Provided, of course, the odds on the horse are at least 2-1. When there are Value Plays in the race, I will wager on them. The results of the above event speak for themselves. A $2 Place bet on Amp and Adrenalin was worth nearly twice what one would have received for a $2 Win bet on Patriotic Lion had he won the race.

May 26, 2013, Hollywood Park, Race 9

Race Results From Equibase.com


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