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  • 29

    ABC Wagering for Multi-Race Bets

    ABC WageringDo you enjoy playing multi-race bets? Whether it’s a pick 3, pick 4, pick 5, or the elusive pick 6, you should be maximizing your opinion and budget every time you bet into these pools using the ABC wagering method. Now, I am not talking about learning the alphabet. The ABC method of structuring tickets should be the starting point for playing multi-race bets. Steve Crist, in his best-selling book Exotic Betting, wrote about this methodology of betting. Not only did he coin the ABC method, but he has shown that over the years if you are an astute horseplayer this is the way to maximize your opinion. So what is the ABC method you ask? Well, first let’s identify what it is not.

    If you are not using the ABC wagering method then you are playing the “caveman” ticket-meaning you are assigning the same weight(chances of winning) to each horse in each race within the sequence. While that method does work, you are not taking advantage of your handicapping acumen. Do you really think that all your selections in a particular race have an equal chance of winning and carry the same amount of value? Do you have an open bankroll where the cost associated with structuring your ticket has no budgetary constraints?  If you meet that criteria, then this article is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a way to enhance your return on investment(ROI) with a given bankroll limit, the ABC wagering method is for you.

    As a horseplayer you should recognize that some horses have a better chance of winning a race than others. Why not assign a greater portion of your bankroll to those horses in order to maximize your opinions. That is what the ABC wagering method can help you do. Let’s identify what makes a horse an A, B, or C. “A” horses are those that you believe have the best shot of winning the race, or a horse whose percentage chance of winning the race(in your opinion) is better than the odds shown on the tote board(given the morning line). Your “A” horses are your most likely winners or best value horses. “B” horses are those that have a shot of winning the race, but maybe do not have the attributes of “A” horses. They can also be horses whose odds are lower than your perceived belief of their actual chances of winning(underlay). “C” horses or “bombs” are those horses that need a lot of things to go right for them to cross the wire; first but the cost associated with having them on your ticket is less than the risk of leaving them off or them winning at a huge price.

    Once you go through all the legs in the sequence and assign horses as “A”, “B”, or “C” contenders you can structure your tickets in a manner that portions a greater percentage of your bankroll on “A” plays.  While you will have multiple tickets for one multi-race sequence, in the long run you are cutting down the cost of a “caveman” ticket and putting a larger portion of your bankroll on your strongest opinions.  See an example below.

    In this example I am playing a pick 4 with an $48 budget. I have selected the runners as follows:

            Pick 4 Selections
    1     2 3   4  
     1 1 1 1
    2  A  2 2 2  A 
    3 3 3  A  3
    4 4  A  4  A  4  A 
    5 5  A  5  C  5
    6 6  B  6  C  6
      7  C  7 7  B 
      8 8 8
      9   9


    If you were to play all your selections using  “caveman” manner, you would be playing a $1.00 Pick 4 with a total ticket cost of $48.00.

    Ex. 2/4,5,6,7/ 3,4,5,6/2,4,7 at $1 = $48.00

    In the ABC wagering method I would instead make seperate pick 4 wagers: 

    The first using all A selections:

    $2.50 Pick4 2/4,5/3,4/2,4 for $20

    The next two using B horses in 1 leg with all other legs A horses and lowering the base amount accordingly:

    $1.50 Pick4 2/6/3,4/2,4 for $6.00
    $1.50 Pick4 2/4,5/3,4/7 for $6.00

    The next using 2 legs of B selections with the remainder A horses and again lowering the base amount:

    $1.00 Pick4 2/6/3,4/7 for $2.00

    Lastly should we choose to we can also add in our C wagers with the A horses such as:

    $1.00 Pick4 2/7/3,4/2,4 for $4.00
    $1.00 Pick4 2/4,5/5,6/2,4 for $8.00

    That is a total of $46 with a  higher base cost  on my A and B selections therefore appropriating a larger portion of my bankroll on those selections that I feel have a better chance of winning their individual races.

    The details of how to choose the proper base amount based on your budget are a bit outside of the scope of this post as its meant as an entry point. I may cover it in a later post if there is interest. 

    Using the ABC method you could realistically hit the pick 4 for $4.00 and even if a “B” or “C” horse crossed the wire first, you still increased your winning as the minimum ticket put in using this method was $2.00.

    The ABC system is not going to find the winners for you; that’s your job as a handicapper. However, if you are successful in navigating the sequence, the ABC methodology will help generate a higher ROI and that, my friends, is the difference between investing and gambling. 


    Written by Published in Papo's Post
  • 21

    Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland - Race 9

    Saturday Keeneland Race 9 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes


    Keeneland’s race of the day Saturday is the Grade 2 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes going the marathon distance of a mile and half over the turf. The race is named after a central Kentucky stream that is 18.3 miles long and runs through several counties with its two primary forks taking the shape of antlers. The race was first run at 1 1/8th miles in 1986 and then lengthened to today’s distance in 1996. Notable winners include Manila (1987), Lure (1994), and Musketier (2010 & 2011). This year’s edition features a competitive, full field of eleven older horses although Mike Maker, who has a superfecta of runners, has already stated he may scratch Taghleeb (4-1) and Roman Approval (20-1).  The forecast for Lexington on Saturday shows several rounds of rain which means the turf might be rated “good” or “yielding.” I have handicapped the race under the assumption that the turf will be “good/yielding” and Maker scratches the previous mentioned horses.


    The horse I will key on is Maker’s Bigger Picture who is the tepid morning line favorite at 7-2. While I would prefer a better price, he is in my opinion the most likely winner and the horse I will key and wheel in my vertical wagers. The Badge of Silver gelding was off-the-board in his last start in the G2 Mac Diarmida but was only beaten by half a length. Bigger Picture won four of eight races last year, but more importantly can handle rain soaked turf as he finished a strong second in the Sycamore Stakes on a course rated “good.”  He has a versatile running style and can press or stalk the pace. Note the sharp workout on April 15th and his regular rider, Jose Ortiz, is in the irons.


    Makers’ other runner, Charming Kitten (6-1), is worth a look and can be used on your tickets. The son of Kitten’s Joy has failed to pick up a check in his two starts this year but has only been beaten 1 ¾ and 1 ½ lengths in those starts. Prior to two starts in Ireland in the summer of 2016, he won the two-mile H. Allen Jerkins Stakes on a Gulfstream turf course rated “good.” Maker has had success in this race winning it with Dark Cove in 2013 and Da Big Hoss last year.


    Itsinthepost (4-1) is a player in this race. The five-year-old French-bred, by American Post, is shipped in from California for trainer Jeff Mullins. Itsinthepost’s form has been razor sharp as he has finished in the exacta in eight of his last nine races. He became a grade 2 winner in his last start when he won the San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita. The soft ground should not hamper his cause as he is proven on turf rated “good” or “soft.” Tyler Baze gives up his mounts at Santa Anita to make the trip which adds to the appeal. Mullins rarely ships his horses East so you have to wonder if he can bring his California form to the Bluegrass State. If he does, Itsinthepost will be right there at the wire.


    A live longshot in the race is Interpol (12-1) for trainer Jimmy Toner. Interpol, by English Channel, came into Jimmy’s barn in late December after being sidelined for over a year. His 2015 form was solid and I was able to cash some nice tickets on him when he won the Grade 2 Sky Classic and Grade 1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine. He too is proven on giving ground and the marathon distance is well within his scope. Toss his 2017 debut as it was simply a prep race at a distance that was less than ideal. If Toner has the screws tightened and Interpol can run back to his 2015 form, then he is a contender in this race at what should be a great price. Throw Bullard Alley (20-1) in underneath on your vertical wagers as his best races have come on “good/yielding” turf.


    Wishing safe trips to all and hopefully despite the rains we won’t see any floaties.

    Written by Published in Papo's Post
  • 13

    Race 9 at Keeneland - The G1 Maker’s 46 Mile

    Friday Keeneland Race 9 Maker’s 46 Mile

    keenelandThe highlight race on Friday’s Keeneland card is the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile. Unlike the bourbon Maker’s 46, which has a smooth taste with hints of both vanilla and caramel, the race came up quite salty with a highly competitive field of 12. The race could be billed as an East vs. West Coast contest as we have four shippers from California, including What a View (5-1), Bolo (5-1), Conquest Enforcer (12-1), and Calculator (10-1), taking on the East Coast challengers, including the morning line favorite Heart to Heart (3-1). The six-year-old son of English Channel has had a stellar career, winning 12 of his 27 lifetime starts with earnings exceeding $1 million. There is no secret to his success as he likes to set the pace and run his competition into the ground. He is 6 of 13 at the one mile distance and is ideally drawn in post nine, outside of the other speed in the race.

    The pace dynamics of the race will make things interesting for Heart to Heart. What a View, for trainer Kenny Black, has the same style of running and is capable of being head to head with Heart to Heart through the early parts of the race. How that battle plays out on the front end will determine the outcome of the race. To add more fuel to the early heat, you have Conquest Enforcer, who likes to press the pace and gets jockey Paco Lopez in the saddle. Lopez is an aggressive gate rider and I would expect him to have Conquest Enforcer involved in the race early. With all the early pace in this race I will be looking for a horse coming off of it for the most likely winner.

    Bolo for trainer Carla Gaines is a contender in the race. He wants firm turf so if the skies decide to weep Friday you can discount his chances. That being said, the forecast calls for a clear, sunny day and that’s how I’m handicapping the race. Bolo made his 2017 debut winning the Grade 2 Arcadia after sidelined for eight months. He may have regressed a bit off that effort when he finished third in his next start in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile, however. While there is some cause of concern that he has failed to produce a top effort when shipping, I love his works coming in and this will be the first time he has strung three races together without time off since 2015. You get Mr. Grade 1 himself, Mike Smith, in the saddle and I expect him to place Bolo right behind the early speed. While I doubt the morning line price will hold up you might get 3-1 on Bolo and he should be right there at the wire.

    Calculator and Inspector Lynley (8-1) are interesting in this race. While I can’t see either taking the winner’s share, they are logical for exactas and trifectas. Calculator is son of In Summation who has spent most of his career racing on the dirt. He had a successful 2016 with five in-the-money finishes in six starts. His best races were when he finished second in both the Grade 1 Carter and Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes. He too should sit a stalking position and I find it interesting Peter Miller runs him in this grade 1 affair off only two turf starts. The Frenchman, Florent Geroux, takes the reins which adds to the appeal. Calculator will have to transfer his best dirt form over to the grass to have a chance in this race but I can see him getting a share. Inspector Lynley is an interesting horse to use underneath on your tickets. He is a two-time grade 3 winner and won the Tampa Bay Stakes in his last start. While has only one start in 2017, Shug McGaughey enters him here after three bullet works at Payson Park. The mile distance may be a bit too sharp for him as he is by Lemon Drop Kid and would likely appreciate a little more ground to work with. He should be running late and could pick up a minor share.

    As for my key horse I am going to take a shot with Bondurant (10-1) for trainer Ian Wilkes. The lightly raced son of War Front just missed last time out finishing second to Heart to Heart in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park. He is 2 for 2 at Keeneland, 3 of 4 at the one mile distance, and this will be his third start off the layoff. Should the pace setters go too fast early, look for Bondurant to be flying at the end. While he has never tasted grade 1 company, if he can improve just a bit off his last race, he can pull off the upset. He is a half-brother and stable-mate to the Derby contender, McCraken, who finished third in his final prep last week. While Ian did not get his picture taken last week in the winner’s circle, he may have just been waiting for the Maker’s 46 to flow on Friday.

    Safe trips to all.

    Written by Published in Papo's Post
  • 24

    G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park

    turfway park logoFirst run in 1972, the Spiral Stakes has been the spring fixture for Turfway Park, located in Florence Kentucky. First run at the one mile distance, the race was elongated to a mile and an eighth in 1988 and has been run at that distance since. Notable winners of the Spiral include Broad Brush (1986), Summer Squall (1990), Hansel (1991), Lil E. Tee (1992), Hardspun - a personal favorite (2007), and Animal Kingdom (2011) who was the last Spiral Winner to go on to capture the Run for the Roses. While Animal Kingdom was able to translate his polytrack form over to the dirt, Spiral winners tend to be horses more geared to the turf and less so to classic dirt tracks. The race, however, does offer 85 qualifying points for the Derby, with 50 points going to the winner in case those getting their picture made in the winner’s circle catch Derby fever. 
    This year the Spiral has a full field of 12 three-year-olds looking to pick up the winner’s share of the $500k purse. Morning line favoritism lands on Kitten’s Point (4-1) for trainer Joe Sharp. The son of Kitten’s Joy has been a stellar turf performer winning three of his seven turf starts. In his last race, he ran a good second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He should be sitting a pressing or stalking trip behind the early speed of Fast and Accurate (15-1) and En Hanse (15-1). He is a deserving favorite and a must use for your multi-race bets. However, I believe his odds will float down from the morning line and there are others in this race that entice more.
    There are four other entries in this race that offer a bit more value and have an opportunity to cross the wire first. Soglio (6-1) ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Graham Motion. The Scat Daddy colt has hit the board in five of his six career starts. He broke his maiden at Del Mar in December overcoming the far outside post while beating a field of 12.  In his last two races, he finished third and second respectively and was closing in at the wire to only run out of real estate. He gets more ground to work with today stretching out to a mile and an eighth, a distance that suits his pedigree being out of the Seattle Slew mare, Sea of Showers. Motion flies in Trevor McCarthy to take the reins.
    Giant Payday (8-1), a son of Giant’s Causeway is interesting in this race. The Ian Wilkes trainee may get a bit lost on the tote board in this highly competitive race. Giant Payday finished off-the-board in the Palm Beach Stakes but was swung four wide coming off the final turn and was closing down the stretch. If you watch the gallop out after that race he stretched out nicely, indicating he may have needed more ground to work with. His best races have come on turf yet he did not disgrace himself in his two dirt tries finishing second in both. This will be his third start off the layoff and I expect him to improve in this race.
    Parlor (5-1) is a lightly raced Lonhro colt with only three career starts.  He came off a five-month layoff in February to win going away, while under wraps, in an allowance race at Tampa. He broke his maiden at Ellis Park beating the morning line favorite in this race. He could easily be undefeated as he just came up a neck short in his second career race at Kentucky Downs. The sky is the limit for Parlor and he looks extremely live in this race. 
    The last horse of mention and the one I may end up keying in my vertical wagers is King and His Court (5-1) for trainer Mark Casse. By Court Vision, the three-year-old gelding sold for a bargain price of $2,500 (yes read that again) yet has earned nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Toss his last race at Tampa where he obviously hated the dirt track and you have a horse that loves synthetic surfaces, winning three of seven on this surface and finishing in the money in six of those starts. He is the only horse in the race to already win at today’s race distance which adds to the appeal. The price will be right and in a race where you have to guess which horses are going to like the synthetic surface, I’ll go with the one who is already proven on it.
    A great betting race and plenty of value to be had in the pinnacle race of the Turfway Park meet.
    Written by Published in Papo's Post
  • 17

    Papo analyzes the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn

    Oaklawn Park Race 10 Rebel Stakes

    All eyes this weekend will be on Oaklawn Park for the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, the second leg of Oaklawn’s three-year-old Kentucky Derby prep races. First run in 1961 and won by Bass Clef, the Rebel Stakes has been a popular prep for horses with Derby dreams. This year's edition has drawn a strong field of 11. On paper, this race has a ton of early speed. Those horses that like to lay the heat on the front end include Silver Bullion (30-1), Uncontested (10-1), Malagacy (4-1), and Royal Mo (9-2). If they all blast away from the gate, the early fractions could be blazing which should set the race up for a horse from off the pace. That is not to say Uncontested and/or Malagacy could not wire the field but I think the pace may be too hot early for one of them to hold one for win honors.

    Morning-line favoritism in this race falls on American Anthem(2-1) for Mr. Rebel himself, Bob Baffert. Baffert has an incredible record in the Rebel Stakes winning it six of the last seven years. His winning Rebel resume looks like this:

    2010 – Lookin at Lucky
    2011 – The Factor
    2012 – Secret Circle
    2014 – Hoppertunity
    2015 – American Pharoah
    2016 – Cupid

    While not all these horses went on to be classic winners, it is obvious that Baffert knows what type of horse will excel at Oaklawn Park going 1 1/16th miles. This year he ships in the lightly raced American Anthem. The three-year-old colt by Bodemeister broke his maiden at six furlongs in his first start at Delmar in December. It was an impressive maiden win as he was marooned out in post 11 and showed maturity, being able to establish a stalking position before going on to win by a neck.

    Baffert thought well enough of him after that start to run him in the Grade 2 Sham Stakes a month later. In the Sham, he was sent from the rail over a muddy track and came up a head short to Gormly at the wire. While he did not win the race, the tenacity he showed battling down to the wire against a horse that had a lot more experience should pay dividends in this race. It was a educational loss and it must not have taken a lot out of him, as he returned to the work tab just 10 days later working four furlongs in 48.3. He has maintained a strong workout pattern since and looks to be coming into this race in top form. I expect Mike Smith to set up shop right behind the early speed and make his move turning for home. While the morning line is short on value (and I don’t even know if we’ll get 2-1), American Anthem looks primed to keep the Baffert winning streak alive in the Rebel.

    So how do make money playing with a short-priced favorite? Let’s try to key and wheel American Anthem with two horses who should also be sitting off the early speed. Petrov (9 -2) and Untrapped (8-1) both have running styles that fit the pace dynamics of this race. Petrov, trained by Ron Moquett, has been the bridesmaid his last three races running second to One Liner, Uncontested, and Even Thunder. In those races, he did a bit of the dirty work keeping the pace horses honest throughout the race. With other speed signed on in this race, Petrov should be able to run his own race. His speed figures have improved with every start and being by Flatter, should only to get better with each and every race. Moquett put a sharp work into him on March 4th when he went five furlongs in 59.3, signaling all systems go.

    Untrapped ships into this race from Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Asmussen after running second in two consecutive Derby prep races, the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. He too, has increased his speed figures in every start and always seems to be running on strong at the end of his races. You get a jockey change to Irad Ortiz Jr. and I like the confidence Asmussen shows shipping him over off only three weeks rest. While I’m not sold Untrapped will be a classic distance horse, being by Trappe Shot, the 1 1/16th miles of this race is well within his scope.

    If playing trifectas and supers you may want to include Silver Dust and Lookin At Lee both at (15-1) on the bottom of your tickets. Another outstanding Derby prep race and the best of luck to all.


    Written by Published in Papo's Post
  • 03

    Gulfstream Picks for Saturday, March 4

    Below is my selection grid for Saturday's card at Gulfstream Park.  It's a great day of racing and best of luck to all. 

    Race A's B's C's Comment       
    R4-Herecomesthebride #1 Dream Dancing #4 Coasted   Top 2 Look Tough      
    R5 Fred W. Hooper #3 Realm,  #4 Birdsong #3 War Story   Playing against Pletcher may come back to bite me   
    R6 Sands Spring #5 Catch a Glipmse #8 Celestine     Shocked if one of these ladies does not win it   
    R7 The Very One Stakes #1 Olorda #3 Suffused #5 Try Your Luck, #4 Earring Olorda has pace advantage; intrigued with Earring   
    R9 Palm Beach Stakes #4 Kitten's Cat #5 Snap Decision  #9Ticonderoga   #6 Channel Maker   Spread Race       
    R10 Davona Dale  #9 Eloquent Riddle #12 Pretty City Dancer #7 Miss Sky Warrior   Post 12 not ideal for top choice but pace dynamics may set up for  
    R11 Canadian Turf #3 Heart to Heart #5 Conquest Panthera #2 Projected #4Bondurant   Heart to Heart could wire the field, Conquest Panthera has explosive turn of foot 
    R12 Mac Diarmida #5 Charming Kitten #9 Taghleeb #12 Patterson Cross   #4 Wake Forest #7 Bigger Picture Great betting Race      
    R13 Foutnain of Youth #2 Gunnevera  #8 Irish War Cry   #9 Made You Look  Good race to watch, not necessarily one to bet    



    Written by Published in Papo's Post

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