Horseplayers have core handicapping beliefs that tend to make them favor safe maidens — like recently raced runners with high Beyer numbers, while steering clear of perceived riskier types — like longshot first time starters and horses coming off long layoffs.
Thoroughbred racing is a good gambling game, because if horseplayers look closely enough, and mine enough coal, they’ll discover a few types of bets where they’ll have a long-term advantage. Of course, if bettors show a healthy profit on certain types of wagers, then other types must be huge losers.
It’s just the nature of the game.
And I’ve discovered one of the absolute worst bets in Southern California. It’s a first-time starter whose post time odds are below 7-to-2. So many times I see debut horses breaking slowly or not running their best until their second start. So, why take a short price?
According to my records, of the 203 first timers I have who were less than 7-to-2, just 44 of them won or 21 percent. And if you bet them all, you’d be losing 33 cents on the dollar. So, why bet any of them?
Most of these horses have high percentage jockeys and trainers, a hefty purchase price, and lots of good workouts including several bullets. Believe me, when you see one of these animals do your bank account a favor and stay away.
In Saturday’s fifth race, #10 Raymorrison was just such a beast. This first timer was hammered down to 2-to-1 by Santa Anita horseplayers, who must have been baited in by the perceived safety of Raymorrison’s six bullet workouts, decent connections and $110,000 purchase price.
Raymorrison ended up running fairly well, as he stalked the pace and hung on for second. The one positive aspect of these low-performing, heavily bet first timers is that they create opportunities for overlays on other horses in the race.
In Saturday’s race, first timers #6 Company Tiger and #11 Hidden Blessing had long-term profitable angles going for them. And #3 Canonize was another profit fit until his price drifted out of my 7/2 to 19/1 betting zone as the horses were loading into the gate. Maybe it was the 50,000 fans onhand for the SA Derby that pushed up the price.
Anyway, Canonize ended up winning the race by open lengths for trainer Ron Ellis and he paid $49.20.
My plan was to bet $250 on #3 Canonize if his post time odds landed between 7/2 and 19/1. I would have won about $5,000 if he stayed at 19/1 but since Canonize was 23/1 my alternative plan kicked in so I did not have a nickel of website money on him.
In the end, I ended up betting $150 on #6 Company Tiger at 9/1; and $200 on both #8 Vanquest at 5/2 and #11 Hidden Blessing at 5/1.