With the advent of Breeders’ Cup 2017 looming, I think it’s important to remember that handicapping is only part of the process of a successful day at the races. If you are not spending much time structuring your wagers over the two days, then as a horseplayer, you are doing yourself a disservice. Here are some points to keep in mind:
1. Know your bankroll. For Breeders’ Cup, the number of betting options can be overwhelming. Appropriate and partition your bankroll for BOTH Friday and Saturday. Worst case scenario, how much are you willing to lose? We all want to win but be disciplined enough to know when NOT to run to the ATM.
2. Find your strongest opinions over the two days and work backwards from there. If you can single a horse in a race, you need to maximize that opinion. Do you hammer an exacta or trifecta? Or play a daily double, pick 3, pick 4, etc. and single your strongest selection? By singling and then spreading in other legs you are turning pick 3’s into a daily double and pick 4’s into pick 3’s. Not only are you putting more value on your strongest play, you are increasing your chances of a higher payout on a lower cost ticket.
3. Don’t be hesitant to bet a horse to win. We all want the life changing score, but if you can double or triple your betting dollar in the win pool and are fairly confident in your selection, why muddle your wager by trying to build vertical wagers when any number of horses can finish in the exotics.*** This strategy is not mutually exclusive to point #2, but rather a way to analyze your potential ROI with less risk from exotic wagers.
4. Formulate your opinions and stick to them. This time of year, a lot like Derby, you are going to see thousands of opinions on horses. If you have been playing the races all year and have done fairly well, why are you now going to start betting money on someone’s else’s selections. I am not saying you turn blindly away from their analysis, just fold in their thoughts with your own handicapping acumen. If you get beat, then you can only blame yourself.
5. Don’t get hooked on a favorite horse. One of the best lessons you can learn is to never let your heart open your wallet. We all have favorite horses, but do not allow your giddiness to influence your analysis. Evaluate the race for what it is based on who else is entered. Your favorite horse is not running in a vacuum and the pace dynamics, post position, etc, all have to be factored in. If you lock in on one horse because it’s a favorite then you are betting with your eyes closed.
6. Get adequate rest the day before. If you are attending the Breeders’ Cup as a social experience, then by all means hit every party and rock it out. If you are trying to pad your back account, buy a new car, or take a vacation with your winnings, then maybe you should attend one less party. If you can do both, then God bless you. Remember, this is pari-mutuel wagering, so the intoxicated money in the pools adds efficiency and liquidity to the market.
7. Enjoy the racing! For two straight days you have OUTSTANDING racing featuring all the stars of our sport at one venue. Don’t allow a losing ticket to dilute your passion for the game.
8. If you do have a great betting day(or days) take some money from your winnings and donate it to a thoroughbred aftercare organization. While most of the horses running at the Breeders’ Cup will not have any issues getting placed after their race careers are over, there are thousands of other horses out there that need our help when they come off the track. Remember, their racing career lasts a couple of years but their journey through life is just beginning. Let’s make sure we take care of our equine friends, as there would be no racing without the horses.