By Jude “Pontiff of the Pick Four” Feld
There was a large Pick 5 carryover at Gulfstream Park recently. Playing a $30 ticket, things went perfectly for me in the first two legs, but the third leg was taken by a first-time starter with slowish workouts, trained by Rusty Arnold. He paid $118.20.
I considered the winner, but the race was a maiden special going a mile on the turf and Arnold was 0-14 with debut runners going a mile or more. I left Exothermic off the ticket, had the final two winners and cashed five consolations at $100 each for a $470 profit on the day.
Lamenting my not cashing for $30,000 for about two minutes, I checked my twitter feed.
There was a tweet, from a gal I know, who is a frequent racegoer and horseplayer. She had a different lament. Exothermic was her top selection and she didn’t bet him because he was 58-1.
Evidently, the log odds scared her off. She thought she missed something. Maybe the colt was slow? Obviously, the “word” wasn’t out on him. Odds of that magnitude usually spell “cockroach.”
I don’t know what she saw in the horse’s past performances that made her think he was a good bet, but it doesn’t matter. He was her top selection at a huge price. She should have been planning a trip to Barbados for the Sandy Lane Gold Cup courtesy of Exothermic after the race instead of crying via twitter.
Once or twice a year, a horse I really like approaches those odds. I go dancing in the streets…and anybody who knows me knows I have the moves like Flintstone. Usually it is a live longshot that opens at 20-1 on the morning line and drifts up due to apathy by the public. The higher it gets, the more frequent my trips to the window.
Tweeting her back, I explained an old “money management” system that I read about when I was in college. This guy had one iron-clad rule:
Bet the amount of the odds.
$2 on a 2-1 shot. $10 on a 10-1 shot. $58 on a 58-1 shot.
Had my tweep done this, she would have cashed for $3,427.80
The theory is, if you like all of your selections the same, then you should bet more when the odds are higher.
Reading this system caused an epiphany for me as a fledgling horseplayer. It made perfect sense and basically has dictated how I wager today – hardly ever on chalk and plenty on overlays.
The best opportunities to win serious money are when you see something in a horse’s chart that others don’t or you know something about a horse that is not available to the general public.
Don’t be afraid of longshots. Embrace them. Capitalize on them. Have the courage of your convictions.
When these golden opportunities appear, remember the words of Basil King quoted by Sir Anthony Hopkins, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
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