Sunday, August 14, 2011

Post Race Analysis for Race Day August 13, 2011: The Arlington Millions and the Anatomy of the Bet

I love Arlington Park. It's a real treat for me to go to a track that gets it so well. I love buying my seats online, getting a box for seven so I can stretch out and spread out, just like if I'm at my kitchen table. I appreciate the kind and hard working folks that come and take my order and entertain me with stories of high rollers, real and imagined. I could prattle on about not enjoying the poly track, but I'd be lying: I've grown use to it and I think it plays pretty fair. I come for that lush green turf. I come for that magnificent paddock. and I come for the people I meet and the city that doesn't appreciate it enough.

Yeah I'm a bit giddy, but that's what winning my first Super High Five bet has done for me. Readers of the Turk will remember that I kicked myself rather hard for leaving my 1991 annual salary on the table by not placing the Super High Five Bet on the Preakness when I had the sequence nailed. I was livid with myself in May and I've waited for an opportunity to wipe this shame off my handicappers report card.

When preparing my handicap for The Thorofan's Handicappers Corner, I completed my base handicap and concluded that just betting a trifecta wasn't going to be worth it: I didn't see any scenario where some real long money was going to crack the ticket. I decided early on that this was my Super High Five Moment. But how to bet is the question. Taking the top six of the base handicap and boxing them is not an option as to that would cost you $720.

Let's get after how I approached that.

My base handicap is a breakdown of the layers of expected finish in the field. I had a WTF moment a few blog entries back and explained my layer handicapping philosophy. As a layer handicapper, I'm less concerned about the actual winner and more interested in "slotting" the horses properly and then having them finish within their slot somewhere, anywhere. I'm seldom emotionally wrapped up with having to have a horse win. Perhaps Zenyatta at the Breeders' Cup Classic was the last time I felt that pang. I have my favorites; my sentimentality is what makes me a fan, being a cold hearted calculator is what makes me a good bettor.

I wanted my risk exposure to be much less than $720 and I started by eliminating some horses who I didn't think would win and I scratched Dean's Kitten and Wigmore Hall from the WIN spot. This isn't a smart move, but its a fiscally sound move. The way you get to a $50,000 high five is by having $19.30 to 1 shot Dean's Kitten win. That said, I didn't want to spend $720 and someone had to get chopped.

Next I make a stand at who won't finish Exotic-Fifth. If I'm going to chop the long shots from winning, it doesn't make much sense to have the Chalk and Place contenders fifth. That eliminated Gio Ponti and Cape Blanco. This isn't a smart move either but hey, listen to me, unless you want to spend $720 you have to make tough choices. This is gambling after all.

Those trims of the WIN and the Fifth Spot took the bet down to $288. While not outside my price range, I thought it was too much of a capital risk and wanted it a bit smaller.

I took the red pen and took the biggest stand that would determine if I won or lost: I eliminated Gio Ponti from any finish except Win and Place. I also eliminated Wigmore Hall and Dean's Kitten from Place.

Sitting at $152, I rested.

What went right? Discounting Zack Hall (Fr) completely and putting Dean's Kitten, who I thought was way too low at a Morning Line 50-1 in the top six. The turf was much softer than I predicted Thursday night and that played to our Euro friends. I also paid attention to the turf conditions and reduced the chance Cape Blanco would drop.

What went wrong? I thought the turf would be a little firmer and Mission Approved's speed would carry far enough. He dropped like a rock in the stretch. Respecting Rahystrada from 1-5. I really thought he could be the value driver.

I've had a full weekend with friends and family. For only having time to handicap and bet one race, I'm feeling pretty good about this.

Enjoy the day, Turk Out!


Valerie Grash said...

Way to go! Congrats on the $$

The Turk said...

Thanks Valerie.