Turning the Page to 2016


“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.” – Brad Paisley, American country music singer and songwriter.


Flipping the calendar from December to January is a symbolic event.  The New Year is upon us.  The cynic might say it’s just the next day in an endless series of days, but the optimist will embrace the new beginning.  Every year we are given the opportunity to reflect back and plan ahead, and January 1 is that day.  On January 1 in the world of thoroughbred racing, the horses turn a year older, and the players are all back to even.

For better or worse.

I’ve written about playing this game with a “long run” mentality in previous articles on this blog.  If you are so inclined to try that approach, here are a few resolutions for 2016 that might help you achieve your pari-mutuel goals this year.


Resolution #1 – Record Keeping:  It’s difficult to have a long term plan if you don’t know where you stand with your wagering.  Keep track of your wagers by bet type and track, and do a periodic analysis of the results.  Personally, my 2015 records showed that I was much stronger with my win bets than I was with my Pick 4 and Pick 5 plays.  In 2016, I will put a greater emphasis on playing the win pool, and leave those potentially larger scores in the exotic pools to those with deeper pockets than I have.  If my win bets are successful and the bankroll expands, then I may consider dedicating a portion of that bankroll to the horizontal pools again later in the year.


Resolution #2 – Bankroll Management:  Having a dollar amount in mind that will be your dedicated “horse racing fund” for the year is a solid idea.  This is also known as a bankroll, and there are two goals with this bankroll.  The primary goal with this bankroll is that it does not reach $0.00 before the end of the year.  Tapping out is not an option.  If there is going to be that dreaded “all-in” moment at some point, it should be at Santa Anita in the Malibu Stakes on December 26 and not at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby on May 7.  The secondary goal for this bankroll is to grow it larger than its original size by the end of the year.  Obviously, if the secondary goal is accomplished then the primary goal is also accomplished!  We all want to win, but you can’t win if you’re not in the game.

To be clear, a player’s yearly bankroll is not the same as their yearly handle.  A player’s handle will be much larger than their bankroll.  With a yearly bankroll of $5,000, a player should reasonably expect to turn that bankroll over about ten times ($50,000) annually if they have the conservative strategy of not risking more than 1% of their starting bankroll ($50) on any individual play.  That’s about 1,000 plays in a year.  The more aggressive the player is with their wagering, the higher the risk of tapping out.

One way to manage bet size is to do an analysis every month of where the bankroll stands, and adjust accordingly.  If, at the end of January the bankroll has grown to $7,000, then the bet size may be increased accordingly and reevaluated next month.  Conversely, if the bankroll is down to $2,500 on January 31, then changes to the wager size and frequency should be made because the Malibu is still a long ways away.


These are simply a few ideas to consider when drawing up your game plan for 2016.  As always, best wishes for a fun and profitable year.

The Oracle



  1. It is a 366 page book this year!

  2. Lori Locken says:

    Thanks for providing a good strategy plan. I tend to budget per Canterbury visit but you have provided some good food for thought on how I might want to manage my bankroll for the “long run”.

  3. Some good thoughts and I have been actually thinking about this issue recently as my 2015 at the track was pretty bad from wagering standpoint. A friend suggested that you bring a certain amount to gamble per day and if you win a race you put the winnings in your wallet/purse and promise yourself you will go home after you run out of your original day bankroll and do not dip into the wallet/purse. So, if you bet $50 on a race and come out with $75, you take $25 and put it in your wallet and continue to gamble with your original bankroll.

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