This site will repeatedly focus on two elements of horse racing in 2013.
1. Avoiding losses
Here are the ten most costly mistakes made in horse race handicapping.
Who hasn't thought this a thousand times: I should have seen that.
And "that" usually pays $40 to win. "That" is a cheap race that should have been thrown out, an over-valued successful effort that should have been ignored.
There's a lot transpiring on all the horse race screens. But the more you focus on a single race, the better chance to have to solve it. What's the rush? There's always another puzzle. Slow down.
OBSERVING OLD RULES
Time was, a horse making even a minor drop in class was thought to be giving up: he's hurt, she's bent, wouldn't bet that one with your money.
Then along came slot-stocked purses, cuts of slot machine profits that enable average horses to run for $25,000 pots instead of half that.
And you know who follows the money, people looking to swipe it.
And all of a sudden, horses looking like mummies began shipping to out of the way places, taking big class drops, and winning the fat purses. Given the money involved, class drops should be judged on an individual basis.
Old handicapping rules were made to be hustled.
IGNORING WHAT WORKS
Some handicapping keys are timeless.
It's amazing what prices open runners pay after obliterating state bred horses that look better in the Form than on the track.
The competition in open races is so much better than state bred contests, you can oftentimes get what's easily the best horse in a race at a double-figure win price.
And, unless there's an abundance of speed involved, short-priced horses making a surface change rarely win. Surface changes beat me so infrequently, I hardly even mourn the fluke.
If you like it, bet it.
If you're worried about it, bet it.
If you almost like it, bet it.
This isn't a game for the frugal.
If you can't cover everything that deserves to be bet, pass on the race.
Betting more will eliminate many of the close calls and tragic near misses that have driven many horse players to the edge of some bad places.
NOT PASSING ON A RACE
If you can't articulate a reason to make a bet, pass, watch the horses you would have wagered run up the track. Try sitting out a race that you have doubts about. Few that you were guessing about ever win.
Having a normal friend at the races can be a great advantage.
Talking out a race has a way of highlighting junk and calling attention to contenders.
LISTENING FOR THE WRONG REASONS
I listen to all available expert handicappers.
Most experts offer picks that are automatic throw-outs.
That's because so-called experts side with the obvious. Fear of appearing foolish inhibits taking chances.
Listen closely to eliminate.
MAKING THE WRONG BET
Focus on picking winners.
That involves limiting exactas and trifectas and superfectas and playing instead doubles and pick 3's and 4's. Trying to pick three winners is usually easier than taking wild stabs at seconds and thirds, and pays as much if not more. There's lots more unpredictable happenstance going on in the run for second or third or fourth.
Science indicates that the human brain works best when focused on one task at a time.
Keep this most difficult gamble as simple as possible: look for who is apt to run first.
IGNORING LUCKY NAMES
Betting a horse named for something unique to your existence sounds silly until it wins and you don't have it.
NOT KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT
Quit after a big win or a bad loss.
Quit a lot ahead or a little behind.
If you're any good, there's always tomorrow or the day after.
GOING AGAINST A MOOD
If you don't feel right, you won't see things right, or bet correctly.
Some days you know you're winning. Take a great mood to the races, take a bad one right on by.
Write to Jay at email@example.com.