Horse Racing Systems: 5 That Work
May 22, 2016
The horse with the best combination of the two is the play.
In the first place, the parimutuel takeout in horse racing is large (over 15%) and the mutuel pools are relatively efficient, so that even systems with a strong basis in reality can’t overcome the size of the takeout.
Horse Racing System #1 – In maiden races, bet the horse with the best last race speed figure that has had at least two career starts. Let me let you in on a little secret about these “magic formulas”. In most case the public seems to take a horse’s last running line at face value. The inside post combined with early speed is a particularly potent combination, since the horse will not have to exert himself as much to gain his preferred position at the front of the pack.
Nunamaker reported that the inside post in dirt route races won at a 20% greater than expected rate, and lost only 10 cents on the dollar, much better than the track take. This is another mistake that bettors make: in a race with a clear standout, many people give up on the win pool and bet their choice to place, thinking that they’ll get paid even if the favorite wins.
Look for comment lines like “bled”, “lost rider”, “clipped heels”, “stumbled”, “steadied”, “between horses”, “rank”, and “jumped shadows” that suggest that a horse’s last race was not indicative of its true ability. My own studies have shown a similar advantage for the inside post in routes.
First time starters return only about 60 cents on the dollar, and second time starters are only a little better, returning less than 70 cents on the dollar. This is somewhat counter-intuitive since you’d expect that horses with good pedigrees that end up in the maiden claiming ranks probably can’t run at all. This system takes advantage of one of the few glaring inefficiencies in the parimutuel pools, namely that first and second time starters are badly over-bet.
This causes the favorite to be under bet in the place pool, leading to a profit opportunity for us to take advantage of by betting the favorite to place. If the tote board suggests that the public is overlooking these mitigating circumstances, make your play.
How do we identify the best pedigree, then? If you’re using the DRF past performances, use the stud fee as a proxy for quality, and the Tomlinson figure to judge suitability for the distance and surface. Just don’t expect to quit your day job.
However, just because systems won’t make you rich doesn’t mean there’s no place for them at all in a horseplayer’s arsenal. Few bother to even look at the comment line for the race, let alone take the trouble to seek out and watch the replay of the race. Because speed figures have gained in popularity over the years, anyone following that system now would have trouble coming up with gas money for the ride home from the track.
The horse with the best last race speed figure (whether Beyer, BRIS, or Equibase) may not be the best horse in the race, but he’s probably not far off, so we can use that as a proxy for selection purposes.. It must follow, therefore, that if we bet the best horse that has started at least twice, we stand an excellent chance of beating the takeout, particularly in races that have several first and second time starters.
Horse Racing System #2 – Bet horses that have an excuse for a poor performance in their last race. My study suggests that’s not the case.
Horse Racing System #4 – Bet low-priced favorites to place. They will, however increase the chances of a profitable day at the races by ensuring that your wager dollars go where they have the best chance of success. I was able to replicate this result in my own study of nearly 100,000 races conducted a decade later.
Instead of blindly betting all horses breaking from the inside, you might use this to supplement your handicapping, paying particular attention to the inside horse, and betting it when you like the horse on other handicapping grounds. I’ve identified some of the most useful handicapping factors that have a proven history of doing much better than the track takeout and put them together with some simple rules that should make your trips to the racetrack more fun and profitable. To the extent that most handicappers use pedigree at all, it’s usually to identify horses that may improve when switched to the turf, or those who may be expected to win as first time starters. This offers opportunity to more diligent players.
In that spirit.
Horse Racing System #3 – In maiden claiming races, bet the horse with the best pedigree. It should go without saying that you should actually like the favorite’s chances after evaluating the race with your own handicapping.
Second, the very nature of the parimutuel system itself means that any profits to be made from following a particular set of rules will quickly be arbitraged away as the followers of that system drive down the odds of horses chosen by the system.
None of these systems will make you rich, or even guarantee that you will make a profit. Most people who love horse racing would be thrilled just to win a little more and lose a little less on their trips to the track.
Looking for a dead simple horse racing system that will allow you to quit your job and make a living betting the horses in just 10 minutes a day? Good luck with that!
For as long as humans have bet on horse racing there have been system sellers trying to con the gullible into parting with their hard earned money with the lure of easy profits to be made on the sport of kings. The inside post in turf routes actually showed a small profit, but this was based on a small sample size and cannot be relied upon. None of them work.
In fact, pedigree does not generally offer wager value with one curious exception: well bred horses do surprisingly well in maiden claiming races. Thanks for reading, and see you in the winner’s circle.
For instance, many speed figure handicappers reported making horse racing profits in the 60′s and 70′s simply by betting horses with the best last race speed figure. One of the few anomalies turned up by Michael Nunamaker in his pioneering computer study “Modern Impact Values”, published in 1994, was that horses breaking from the inside post position in route races won more than their fair share of races, and were under-bet by the public. My computer studies of pedigree, based on nearly 100,000 races, suggest that using pedigree in that manner offers no advantage to the player.
Horse Racing System #5 – Bet Horses breaking from the inside post in route races. With the BRIS pp’s you can use the Sire Production Factor in concert with the pedigree rating