If you plan to make handicapping and betting horse races a long-term hobby, you’ll gradually realize that it’s an endeavor that challenges you to constantly learn and adapt. Such is the nature of gambling against your peers in the Pari-Mutuel wagering system.
The founders of the Daily Racing Blog have been betting Thoroughbred Horse Racing since high school. Annual trips to Saratoga were as much a part of summer as mowing the lawn, and some times the lawn would have to wait ! (as it often did in August) Back then, many stupid wagering mistakes were made. But we at DRB are happy to pass along a few tips we learned along the way, so that you won’t make some of the same costly blunders.
It seems simple, but you need to put in the work in advance handicapping the card so you know going into the day which races you have the strongest opinion about. You don’t want to get to the last or second-to-last race on the card and uncover the horse that you liked most for the entire day after already blowing through 90 percent of the money you budgeted.
2. Demand a Price
This one is no secret to DRB readers. Your top plays should offer Value – in other words, a horse you think has a much better chance to win than his morning-line odds when planning, or live odds when betting, indicate. If you think a horse has a 25 percent chance to win and the odds are 5-1, that’s Value. If you think a horse has a 10 percent chance to win and you get 15-1 to 20-1, that’s great Value.
3. Bet to Win
The Win bet should be the key bet, especially for newcomers. Takeout (the amount of money that goes to the track that is not returned to bettors) for Win, Place, and Show bets is less than most exotic bets. Most importantly, don’t bet two or more horses to win in the same race. You start out with at least one bet that’s a guaranteed loser, and it’s a recipe for disaster in the long term.
4. Aim High
Part of the reason DRB likes to play Exotic bets, specifically Trifectas, Pick 3s and, more recently, Pick 4s, is that you have a chance to win big. The allure of horse racing when comparing it with sports betting is the chance to win a bundle without risking that same bundle. Try to find creative ways to use your top plays to make the most money, and if you can’t string together a Trifecta or Multi-Race wager you feel really good about, you always have the straight Win bet to fall back on. But, if you connect a few decent prices around or underneath an 8-1 top play, you could be looking at a huge score.
The beauty of this game is you never stop acquiring knowledge. Once a handicapper perceives to know everything there is to know about how to Win at the track, then all is lost. We at DRB will continue to educate and elucidate because Winning is fun, and “Money won is twice as nice as money earned.”