Favorites vs. Longs Shots

belmont-stakes_01Your answer to the following hypothetical question will tell you whether you are prone to follow the herd, or whether you are a contrarian when it comes to betting on horse races. Suppose you encounter an eight horse race with a morning line favorite assigned odds of 7/2, a horse that does not stand out from the other horses in the race, at least not on paper. Now suppose also that the other horses in the race were assigned the following odds:

     1st 2nd 3rd 4th  5th  6th  7th  8th
M/L: 7/2 4/1 4/1 5/1 12/1 15/1 15/1 20/1

Now suppose the odds as the horses are entering the starting gate (F/O) are as follows:

     1st 2nd 3rd 4th  5th  6th  7th  8th
M/L: 7/2 4/1 4/1 5/1 12/1 15/1 15/1 20/1
F/O: 3/1 3/1 9/5 5/2 21/1 35/1 40/1 80/1

Which horse or horses would you wager on?

The herd follower will wager on either the third or fourth morning line ranked horse because he will erroneously believe that following “the money” is his only hope of backing a winner in this race. The contrarian and the individual most likely to make money at the end of the year will wager on the morning line fifth-ranked horse, the horse going to post at odds of 21/1.

I, being a contrarian, made just such a wager yesterday in the fourth race at Hollywood Park. Now, as it turned out, “the money” horse at 9/5 ran second, and the horse with final odds of 5/2 finished third. So, you could say “the money” had found the two best horses out of the top four ranked horses on the morning line, but the winning horse comes from the top five ranked horses ninety percent of the time, meaning Stayo should not have been overlooked.

By the way, Stayo paid $44.60 $14.20 $6.20.

I can hear the herd followers screaming, “But… That’s an isolated race.” True, but do the math. I can wager on twenty losing races in a row betting on 21/1 long shots and still make money with one win such as that shown above while the bettor who consistently wagers on 9/5 favorites cannot hope to break even.Horse_50x50

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