Thoroughbred Handicapping:
Learning, earning and loving the track.

NetCapper Store
New Stuff

The Grandstand
Capper Demo
Spot Play Demo
New Features
Track Tracts
TTs Archive
Contact Info
More Books
Capper Email























Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk - Part 13 (Answers Concluded)
by Joe Takach

46---UPSIDE---As if you didn't have enough work to do every day, here's some more. But before you complain, understand that your time invested couldn't possibly be spent any better.

Why is that you ask?

Because if you keep exacting records of each and every one of your wagers, personal strengths and weaknesses will manifest themselves in no time flat! You'll quickly see if you are better on the dirt or over the turf, as well as in sprints or in routes. And even within the sprint and route categories, perhaps 7 furlongs and mile events are your forte.

The whole point of this essential daily assignment is to allow you to maximize profit while minimizing loss.

As an example within the dirt/sprint category, suppose you win 42% of your 7 furlong wagers, but only 14% of your 5 furlong bets. You'd have to be literally brain-dead to continue wagering on 5 furlong dirt sprints. The only way that would work would be if the average mutual return on every one of your 5 furlong dirt winners was in the neighborhood of $16.00----which is highly unlikely.

Walk up to any handicapper and ask them which type of race and over which surface do they cash the most tickets. If they're like 98% of all handicappers, a puzzled look will quickly overrun their face. If they offer an answer at all, it will come very slowly and sound something like this: 'Well let's see. I love 6 furlong sprints and play more of those than any other race, so I guess I'd have to say 6 furlong sprints'.

And when you get a stammering answer similar to that, be rest assured that the questioned party hasn't a remote clue of his best distance or surface.

What's mine?

Mile races on the turf, especially in races where the horses entered are coming from varied turf events in which 'rails out' positions are varied. Helping me to be proficient at this mile turf distance are the many losing handicappers who treat rails-out positions as if zero feet out was the same as 20 or 30 feet out.

I don't know of any racetracks that adequately compensate for 'rails out' by moving the starting gate forward in an exact relationship to how far they have moved the rails out.

For example, Santa Anita has 5 different 'rails-out' positions of 0, 8, 15, 24 and 30 feet.

Yet the starting gate is in the same exact location for 0 and 8 feet out as well as for 24 and 30 feet out, with 15 feet out splitting the 2 extremes.

Santa Anita should have 5 different starting positions. One for zero, one for 8 feet, one for 15 feet, one for 24 feet and one for 30 feet out, but in reality, they only have 3 different positions, namely one for 0 and 8 feet, one for 15 feet out, and finally one for
24 and 30 feet out.

And no, they don't compensate the run-up time (the time elapsed with the horses running before they start the timing clock). I know this to be true as I've hand timed these mile events countless times and at every meet to be sure.

At Santa Anita, if you have 2 different horses in 2 different mile turf events both breaking from the 1 hole and wiring their respective fields from the 1 path with the rails at zero for Horse A and the other at 8 feet out for Horse B and they each run a 1:35 flat, which horse ran the superior race?

Horse B is 4 lengths superior, as each running path is about 4 feet across and with the rails out 8 feet, he lost 2 paths and 2 lengths on each turn. (It has been mathematically proven that horses lose about 1 length for every path they are removed from the rail when running around a turn).

While our 2 horses look equally fast to 'Joe Six-Pack', those aware of the real significance of 'rails out' at Santa Anita, possess an enormous edge at any turf distance.

Didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that, but I felt it necessary to offer you a living empirical example of just how important and profitable self-inspection can be.

If you don't precisely know every one of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to 'type' of race, race distance and race surface, you had better start keeping precise records today!

47---UPSIDE---If you are correct in your prejudicial evaluation of a specific jockey, trainer or combination of both, it will save you innumerable 'bad bets'. And as I've stated countless times in the past, 'saving a bad bet' is the same as cashing on an even money winner.

Suppose a specific horse looks like the 'lock of the century' in today's 8th race, but the horse is to be piloted by a 5% jockey and is going off @ 3-1! Do you really think that you are smart enough to pick the one winning horse out of any series of this very marginal jockey's 20 mounts?

If you said yes to that question, then you are either the greatest handicapper that ever walked the face of this earth or your ego knows no bounds!

When it comes to betting hard cash, listen very carefully to your prejudices and follow them. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that you'll be much better off in the long run and much more financially and mentally solvent.

48---UPSIDE---To me personally, this is a 'no-brainer' if there ever was one. Better races nearly always contain better horses. Better runners are far more consistent than their cheaper counterparts. More consistent horses win more consistently.

Bottom-feeding claiming races, regardless of your home track's bottom claiming tag, have nothing but runners with multiple problems competing against others with like ailments.

Most often, these cheapest races are nothing but guessing game!

I don't know about you, but whenever I 'guess', I usually guess wrong. I wouldn't have any argument were I labeled the absolute worst 'guesser' in all of horse racing. I most likely hold that title co-jointly with others.

And should you belong to that same group of bad guessers, simply stop wagering in races where you don't have a strong opinion that warrants a strong bet.

Guessing is for fools---------period!

49---DOWNSIDE---This question is closely akin to the one above. I know of no professional player in Southern California that makes the bulk of his booty by playing the bottom claiming rungs (10K at Del Mar and Santa Anita---8K at Hollywood).

While they will occasionally go 'slumming' and lightly dabble in these usually unplayable affairs, they know that the odds are stacked against them to a much greater degree when playing a mindless 10K event vs. a classified allowance affair.

If somehow you've foolishly convinced yourself that you can show a year in and year out profit by getting involved in these 'guessing games', I strongly urge you to keep strict betting records for only a year.

You'll be an zealous convert to betting more consistent horses in a heartbeat.

50---There are actually 2 correct answers to this last question and read below to see into which category you fall.

DOWNSIDE---If you failed to learn one thing from this test, it was all downside risk on your part. Furthermore, I'd like to know where I can attend your school of 'UPSIDE vs. DOWNSIDE RISK', as you have to be 'light years' ahead of me. When it comes to new racing knowledge, I'm like a Nebraskan corn field----I'm all ears!

UPSIDE---If you have successfully incorporated as little as 1 new idea into your overall methodology, your time was very well spent.

This concludes our series on UPSIDE vs. DOWNSIDE RISK and I hope you had both fun and profited from the quiz.

Copyright '2004 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

Track Tracts Archive

Back to Top