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Pretzel Logic

Posted by on 12/17/2014 12:11:05 AM

Steely Dan released Pretzel Logic as its 3rd studio album and sometimes horseplayers can’t see the forest for the trees so logic must be reintroduce to maintain sanity.

So often in this game bettors, whether wagering at Aqueduct, Santa Anita or Churchill Downs, just take things at face value and go off a horse’s last race without delving into all of the factors that produce that last outcome.

A horse seldom is as good or as bad as his last race. This habitual reliance on a horse’s last out can open the door to opportunity for the contrary player. Here’s a possible way to approach a most recent running line: If the last was outstanding—far better than the horse usually delivers—downgrade that runner today. He probably won’t duplicate the big race and he will be over-bet. If the last race was poor, but there’s a recent race that fits, give such runners extra credit. The odds will be juicy and there’s a decent chance this kind of runner will turn things around.

For all of its complexities, at its heart wagering on the races is as basic as two kids squaring off in a schoolyard—monkey bars to the sandbox—first one there wins. Always initiate the handicapping process by identifying the fastest horse or horses in the race. Sometimes that’s all we need to do to pick a winner. But don’t stop there and look into the underlying reasons why a horse will or won’t be able to put up a peak performance.

For novices that attend the track, one of the first things that are good for them to do is to familiarize themselves with the leading jockey at the meet.

Sure, the differences between a really top rider and a struggling guy that doesn’t get a lot of mounts can be minute or the ability can be huge. But the concept of winning is rolled into one. The successful riders get the best horses and the best horses win. So it goes hand in hand.

Just as a quarterback at the line of scrimmage points out the middle linebacker or a potential blitzing safety to his offensive line, I want to know where the meet’s top jocks are. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to play one of the horses they’re riding, but I want to know which horses they’re on and why—if I can figure that out.

Think of it this way with a reference to baseball.

Just as some baseball hitters are better than others, there can be a difference in riding ability between jockeys. In baseball if one guy hits .200 and the other guy is Mike Trout. Which guy do you want at the plate with the game on the line?”

Sometimes players can just over think at times. Everyone and their brother look for racing biases. They are there at times, but sometimes they are over emphasized. Try not to get all wrapped up in looking for such incidents.

If a bias becomes evident include it in the handicapping process. But don’t manufacture some overwhelming bias simply because three of the first four winners on any particular day went wire-to-wire.

Basic handicapping should tell me whether or not those horses were likely to wire their fields on a fair track. If the answer is ‘yes’ there’s probably no bias. If the answer is ‘no,’ I’ll dig deeper to find a track-bias edge.

Lastly be true to yourself. If something hasn’t been working for you, try to figure out why. Is your angle solid? Does it make sense? Can you refine it a bit to make it more effective?

Take the ego out of the process and get down to doing the due diligence.


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