• Playing the Pick Three

    POSTED Jan 19, 2013
    I have long stated that horizontal wagers are a tricky business. Not only is it difficult to pick three winners in a row, but one is also at the mercy of the crowd, dependent on Lady Luck for a decent price or two to make the wager worthwhile.

    Back in March, I wrote about how one could lessen this risk and locate potential value legs in a horizontal sequence. Using my Win Factor line (although any type of grading technique would do), “I found that if my top two contenders had a combined morning line odds ranking of 10 or greater or if my top three contenders had a total morning line odds ranking of 15 or greater, the race generally presented great pick-3 or even daily double possibilities.”

    Of course, we all know that there can be a big difference between practice and theory, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is this weekend and test my pick-3 theories on real, live races… with real (though fortunately not live) money.

    On Saturday, I looked at races from two of my favorite winter tracks, Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs.

    At Aqueduct, I thought the pick-3 starting in the fourth race looked promising. Here’s what my Win Factor Report showed:

     (Click on image to enlarge)

    Now, there were two things I liked about this particular sequence: 1) The top three contenders in the opening leg had a combined morning-line odds ranking of 12, while the final leg had a ranking (after scratches) of 18; 2) Sandwiched in between those events was the fifth race, in which N. F.’s Destiny looked like a virtual lock following the withdrawal of Driven by Solar, Isn’tlovejustgrand and Warrioroftheroses.

    As it turned out, I decided to toss out 3-Why Not Her in the opening leg due to the fact that her speed and pace figures were horrible (frankly, Awesome Island’s weren’t a lot better… but she was 38-1, whereas Why Not Her was 6-1).

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    So what happened?

    Well, She’s Gospel led from flag fall to finish in the fourth race, N. F.’s Destiny cruised in the fifth event and Maggiesfreuddnslip scored a predictable 32-1 upset in the sixth. The $1 pick three paid $214.25 (my actual bet on TwinSpires.com is listed below).

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The other pick-3 sequence I liked on Saturday began in the ninth race at Tampa Bay Downs. Again, here is what my Win Factor Report looked like:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    I was fond of this particular sequence for different reasons than the Aqueduct sequence. Despite the fact that he was favored on my WFR line, I thought Dazzlin Dr. Cologne was very beatable — at short odds in the ninth race.

    Look at his past performances and see if you can tell why.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Notice that for all intents and purposes Dazzlin Dr Cologne, who was the odds-on favorite in this race, needs the lead to win. Yet, even with the scratch of the ultra-speedy Raven Train, the Tampa Bay ninth was loaded with early speed types and the only times the eight-year-old gelded son of Cutlass Fax had to exert himself in the early going (-11 ESR on Dec. 26 and -10 ESR on Jan. 10, 2012) he recorded subpar speed figures.

    I also liked the final leg of the sequence, where Sarge’s, Ashtyn Too and Beat Your Bluff had a cumulative odds ranking of 17.

    I admit when it came time to bet, I kind of wimped out and decided to use (the bad) "Doctor" just in case I had misjudged the early pressure he would face. I also threw in 6-Follow the Rhythm, who had good pace figures, in the ninth; and I tossed in 8-Sleepless Knight in the eighth for the same reason.

    It turns out I needn’t have bothered.

    2-Fifth Street won the ninth, 11-Alley Oop Oop triumphed by the scantest of margins in the 10th and Ashtyn Too found an opening on the rail to annex the 11th.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Try this approach to your own horizontal wagers and see if it helps. By looking for a leg or two that you have a strong opinion in — along with some value — you may boost your ROI at the track, along with your enjoyment of the races.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

     Best of Breeding

    If you’re like a lot of my degenerate handicapping friends and love to delve into horses’ pedigrees, you’ll want to check out American Produce Records from Brisnet.com. Not only will you get great stats, you’ll get ‘em for FREE until the end of the month.

    And the Winners Are…

    The hand-wringing, posturing and self-serving braggadocio is over… at least until next year. At Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, on Saturday, the 42nd Annual Eclipse Awards ceremony took place. Below is a list of the big winners:

    TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT – Shanghai Bobby
    TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY – Beholder
    STEEPLECHASE HORSE – Pierrot Lunaire
    MALE TURF HORSE – Wise Dan
    FEMALE SPRINTER – Groupie Doll
    MALE SPRINTER – Trinniberg
    THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT – I'll Have Another
    OLDER FEMALE – Royal Delta
    OLDER MALE – Wise Dan
    HORSE OF THE YEAR – Wise Dan

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