Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post Race Analysis for Race Day 28 August 2011: Travers Day Pick Six

Which makes you look thinner, horizontal or vertical stripes? The Ol' Turk doesn't have a clue about fashion but he knows that his horizontal handicapping and betting on the Travers Stakes Pick Six card made him a whole lot phatter in wallet than his "on a diet" vertical bet Pick Six effort.

The handicaps utilized my "layer handicapping" approach and the bets followed my handicaps without deviation. I did my thinking pre-race and that allowed me to sit back, not feel that sense of panic that can arise as post time approaches, and I didn't over think the races. Regardless of the surface I focus squarely on current form, past three race run lines, over time history on surface/at distance/at course, and where and against whom the animal has been running against. On turf I place great emphasis on late turn of foot.

I only feel comfortable talking about how I go about my handicapping. I don't like to read about the races I'm handicapping until after I've completed my handicapping, as I prefer to avoid the hype and bias of the writer whose income is derived from entertaining readers and not necessarily from tossing contestants, some of whom have a better story to tell than a race to run.

A factor I really discount in comparison to contemporaries who I talk shop with is pace. I take into account where each horse will most likely be at the break and then at the top of the stretch, but I do it in broadstrokes and seldom do I predict a winner on the likely pace scenario. OK Turk, WTF does all that mean? It just means I have my own, not that complicated manner of slotting the horses into expected finish. The beauty of handicapping is there is an infinite number of ways to approach the problem but the results are the results and they can be arrived at from many different roads.

Handicapping and betting are two VERY different things. Some do one well and do OK, some do neither well and some get both ends right. Forget what they are doing and ask yourself what you are doing right and wrong. Ripping up the tickets and not taking the time to do a handicapping autopsy is a huge mistake. If you take anything away from my ramblings each each, do this step and you'll see your skills increase.

I do completely ignore morning lines before I handicap and as I said, I do my best to not read about the races I'm handicapping. I treat each race with a fresh mind and no preconceived notions. Track handicappers are pretty sharp folks, some sharper than others, but pretty sharp nonetheless. I like to see where I have runners in relation to the track handicapper. What that does for me is give me feedback, something I lack in the vacuum of kitchen table 'capping. It took me years to believe in myself when I disagreed with the track handicapper. It's those differences of opinion that often lead to my best scores, the contrarian viewpoint.

Let's review and then I'll babble some more.

My list of HITS would be placing Daveron high in the Ballston Spa, not having Sassy Image to high on my board, not betting a Trifecta in the Ballerina, even if I did leave a profit on the table, having Caleb's Posse and Uncle Mo in the exacta that drove my Superfecta and having Justin Phillips higher than other bettors. On my MISSES list would be not valuing Hot Summer and over rating the chances of Precious Soul in the Victory Ride, consistently missing on Stay Thirsty, but my Travers Coil/Shackleford placings was a bust and the Pick Six in general was just a mess.

I put about $540 dollars of capital on table yesterday. I would not have hit that Pick Six if I invested all $540 on the bet or double that. I think the bet is the "bridge too far" for the average bettor and the Pick 3 and 4 are much more achievable targets. That said, the cards always offer juicy exotics that can be hit if you layer the horses properly and you build good bets. I didn't make $6 for every dollar I bet yesterday by just having good handicaps, it was sound betting practices that you learn over time. I felt comfortable that I had the exactas and then I went five and six deep for spots Place and Show and then slimmed back for fourth. That bet structure was what I used twice yesterday and I went as exactly deep as I had color coded pre race.

I hope some of what I'm saying helps someone out there sharpen their own skills. My methods came from reading the works of Brad Free, Steve Crist, Andy Beyer, Tom Ainsile and Steve Davidowitz. I enjoy the articles in American Turf Monthly as well, and I take all this and I have my own, derivative methods. I call them derivative because nothing I do I would call original.

Have fun, Turk Out!


Nicholas said...

At some point derivative become original. I don't have a big enough bankroll (or pay enough attention) to play, but really enjoy reading someone who does.

Keep up the great work.

The Turk said...

Thanks for reading Nicholas. I urge everyone who tells me they don't have a bankroll to make bets everyweek on a spreadsheet using monopoly money. You'll learn about your skills and what sort of rate of return on your investment you can expect if you do have a bankroll. You'll learn what sort of races to skip and which ones are your bread and butter.

Again, thanks for reading!