• Betting the best can be best value

    POSTED Aug 2, 2011
    I'm not sure if Derek Simon's "Betting Against 'the Best'" post was in direct response to my "Get Pumped Day" paean to all things Frankel & Winter Memories, but regardless, this is in response to him and anyone else who dismisses favorites or top horses as automatic underlays.

    I did not bet Frankel; I did bet Winter Memories. My strategy with the latter was to single in the pick four, but honestly, 11-to-20 to win probably offered more value than any other pool considering there is not a doubt in my mind that Winter Memories wins that race way more than 64.5% of the time; 80% (1-to-4) is probably a better estimate.

    In the long run, betting 11-to-20 shots who should be 1-to-4 has about the same value expectation as betting 6-to-1 shots who should be 9-to-2 with the added benefit of less variance. I realize it's far less glamorous to cash $31 on a $20 bet than $140, and touting to your friends that you were all over that $3.10 winner hardly builds cache, but sometimes the price just makes sense.

    Back to Frankel, who was 4-to-5 (55.5% chance) here in the states and probably should have been no worse than 1-to-2 (a 66.67% chance and 20% overlay from his off odds). Sinking your teeth into that kind of overlay is like betting a fair-value 2-to-1 horse at 5-to-2. Again, it's not glamorous, but neither is betting 6-to-5 on a coin flip, and you'd do that all day long, right?

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