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The Fast Track to Winning!

The Fast Track to Winning!

Handicapperís Edge for the Week of Sunday, June 4 †

By Tony Somone

Enjoying a night at the races is great entertainment. While we all come out here and realize there is a chance we will lose money, no one likes it. Yes, we can lose a little money and still enjoy are ourselves but nothing beats coming to the track and going home with more then we came with. Winning should always be your goal. If you are bothering to read this article, then I know you are probably at least a one time a week handicapper and you are serious about your skills.

There are three essential components to a winning night at the track. You need to know how to read the program and handicap the race, then you need to know how to bet it and finally how much to bet.

Handicapping a race involves studying your program, watching the replays and then by considering all the variables involved, choosing a horse or horses to bet on. There are many, many different variables in handicapping a race but the most important are current form, driver and trainer. If that is all you look at and nothing more, you will do O.K.

However, sharp "cappers" take it to another level. Consider the class of the horse. If he has won three straight four claimers and now heís in for six, those horses are much tougher. It doesnít mean he canít win it just means beware. Moving from a $25,000 claimer to a $30,000 claimer is not a big deal right now in Chicago. However moving from that $30,000 to the $40,000 is. Those $40,000 claimers are a notch below the Free-For-Allers, thereís a difference. How about the trip your horse is expected to receive? Is he a horse that comes late and he drew outside tonight. Will be there be a wall of hanging horses in front of him. Is he a speedball that needs the front-end with other same types in the race.

What about trainer switches? Some trainers have a track record of picking up horses off the claim. You would be crazy not to pay attention to this. Driver switches? Same answer. Do you watch replays? If your serious you should. So many horses donít get the trip they need and just by watching the replay you can find this. The charted line can only tell you so much. These are just a few of the variables that go into handicapping the race properly but donít get locked into just one angle. Use them all.

Now, you have decided who you think will win the race, itís phase two. How do I bet it? Thereís the traditional bet of win, place and show. There are daily doubles, pick 3's, pick 4's, exactaís, trifectaís and supers. This is where you separate the good ones from the great ones. There is no easy answer here.

If your conservative and like the idea of cashing a good percentage of tickets, then betting to win and occasionally place is the way to go. If not, stringing along a couple of choices together and making a double, pick 3 or pick 4 is the way to go.

What about keying your horse on top in the trifectaís. That is always a good bet when youíre confident of the winner. If your horse is 6 or 8-1 how about keying him first and second on your trifecta tickets.

One of my favorite bets is the three horse exacta box when you donít like the favorite. There is very good value in these kind of bets. That brings on the question of finding value in the race. Sometimes not liking the favorite is a tremendous angle. If your right, you should be able to cash a nice ticket.

Finding value is part of the "how to bet it" part of a successful night. If you have the race narrowed down to two horses and one is 2-1 and the other is 5-1, be smart go with the better value. You may lose that one race but over the long haul you will have better success because of your return on investment.

Maybe there is a horse that you really love but he figures to be short priced. Maybe not worth a straight bet. Is he part of a pick 3 or pick 4. If so maybe you could go deep in the next two races of the pick 3. Your ticket could look something like this. 1 with 1-2-3-4-5 with 1-2-3-4-5. For a dollar that ticket is only $25.00. If your horse wins you have five horses alive in the next two races. You should be able to win that. There are hundreds of different styles to the "how to" portion. Many are good, many work. Try them all and see what fits your style the best.

The final phase is money management. Again, there are hundreds of different formulas and angles but I like to keep it simple. I come to the track to relax not for a math contest. I have said it before, and Iíll say it again, "If you are a $20 a race better, then that is what you should bet." "No matter if you are up $300 or down $300. Nothing infuriates me more then someone having a great night and then betting it all on the last race. That is greed and we all know pigs get rich and hogs get slaughtered. Donít tell me you were playing with their money. That money is on your voucher or in your pocket. It is your money now. You earned it. Donít give it away. Live to play another day.

Remember, you can read all of these articles on Hawthorneís website and please if you see me walking around say hello or drop me an e-mail at


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