The Long Run Part 4: Fishing in the Proper Pool


“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope”.  – John Buchan, Author

The horse was circled in your Racing Form.  He had two stars next to his name with a bold YES written next to it.  The YES was written in red pen, which you had specifically gotten off the couch to find because you loved the horse that much.  And just to be clear, there were twoexclamation points (also in red!!) next to the breeding on this horse, indicating that he truly had a hot pedigree.  At 15-1 on the tote board nearing post time, the public was staying away because the trainer was only 1/40 with first time starters.

But you knew better.

You had done your homework, and even though the trainer had been ice cold with first time starters for several months, the one win he did have was with this horse’s full brother last year.  And he was a price also.  This was a green light situation and you walked to the window confidently and placed your bets.

With the horse standing in the Winner’s Circle and the tote board flashing $32.40 to win, you would think this story would have a happy ending.

But not necessarily.

It happens all the time.  A long shot wins and you will hear somebody say: “I had it, but I didn’t bet it right”.  Or, “He was my key but I missed the exacta”.  Or, “I liked him but the odds scared me so I bet him to show instead of win”.  Woulda.  Coulda.  Shoulda.

Wagering is equally important to handicapping, perhaps more so.  Sharp wagering and average handicapping will likely outperform sharp handicapping and average wagering in the long run.  So establishing your wagering plan from the start is very important.  As I mentioned in a prior post, your wagering menu should match your starting bankroll if you are in it for the long run.  One percent of the starting bankroll is my recommended amount.  Players with a starting bankroll of less than $2,500 may be wise to stick to the win, daily double and exacta pools.  If your bankroll is in the $2,500 to $5,000 range, playing trifectas and Pick 3’s become a viable option.  Bankrolls of $5,000 and above can probably handle the Pick 4 and Superfecta wagers and still maintain long run viability.

If you are a win bettor, I would recommend doing exactly that.  Bet to win.  My studies have shown that in the long run, a $6 win bet will outperform betting $3 to win-place or betting $2 across the board.  It’s true that you don’t cash as many tickets, and sometimes it hurts when your longshots run second or third and you don’t cash, but cashing more tickets doesn’t necessarily equal a larger ROI.  This theory might be worth individual testing with your own selections.  As the 2014 Horseplayer World Series champion Christian Hellmers said on one episode of Horseplayers (as shown on the Esquire network) last season:  “When you win, you have to make it count”.

There’s a very good book on the market called “Exotic Betting” (written by Steven Crist of Daily Racing Form) that goes into good detail on strategies for playing the multi-race and vertical wagers.  If you have read it, or plan to, you will understand why I recommend starting bankrolls in excess of $2,500 to tackle these wagers.  They are complex but can be potentially lucrative!

In the quote at the top of the article, you could replace the word “fishing” with “horse racing” and the quote would be equally true.  Wager in the proper pool based on your bankroll size and enjoy this game for the long run.  Continued success at the windows!

The Oracle



  1. John Ronan says:

    Steve Davidowitz when he was commenting for Canterbury Downs recommended action money (a small amount on those races where the odds on a horse you want to play to win just aren’t high enough for making it count,) separate from a bankroll for serious betting. With the 50 cent trifecta and dime superfecta common, that is a painless way to play every race while you wait for the winner everybody missed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: