Uncle Mo is Scratched

Uncle Mo has been scratched from the Kentucky Derby. The announcement from his team this morning was not a huge surprise—they had stated earlier in the week that he was still suffering from a gastrointestinal complication that had originated just prior to his performance at the Wood Memorial. As a result, the second favorite horse in the field of 19 others, will not race tomorrow.

All attention has been shifted back to the favorite, Dialed In. Without Uncle Mo’s intense speed, the early pace of the Kentucky Derby might be set by any of a number of different horses. Dialed In has proven that he has a great last push over distance races, but whether this will be enough to stop the upfront speed horses remains to be seen. Due to the wide open nature of this year’s race, betting a long shot has even more value than normal. It is not uncommon for decent horses to be up around 10-1 or even better paying odds. More of the non-racing community gets involved with Kentucky Derby wagering, and most of these people bet on favorites. But with so much talent this year, there is not much discrepancy between Dialed In and the others. There is only one horse in the field who has run a Beyer speed figure of over 100 (Soldat) now that Uncle Mo is out. The majority of the rest of the horses, including Dialed In, all hover at around 97-98.

Uncle Mo was to run from the 18th post position. The two horses in the 19th and 20th slots will move down to fill in the gap created by Uncle Mo’s absence.

Aqueduct Closed

For the fourth time this year, the Aqueduct racetrack is closed today due to the severe winter weather. The fact that makes this newsworthy is that there is a huge carryover of over $95,000 for the late Pick 6. With the card being pushed back to Thursday, this means that eager bettors will need to wait yet another day to try their luck at hitting this jackpot.

Kentucky Derby Futures

The Kentucky Derby will be held on May 7th this year, and although it seems light years away, now is the time when you should start formulating your wagers. The time to find the best odds on a horse that you are interested in is long before the field is announced. Take, for example, the most popular horse that will be eligible to run in this year’s Triple Crown: Uncle Mo. According to one racebook, Uncle Mo opened the pre-Derby futures betting at 20-1 odds. If he stays the favorite, you can be entirely sure of the fact that by the time the race begins, he will be bet down to at least 4-1. Simply by betting a few months early you can make five times as much of a profit.

As you can see, for the handicapper who likes to think ahead and do their homework early, now is the time to bet your favorites. This is also a time to start thinking about placing small bets on long shots. You can find many good 200-1 horses out there now. Even a moderate favorite like JP’s Gusto is currently at 100-1. A small $5 bet on a horse like this can make you a lot of cash should they win the race.

Don’t get me wrong, betting futures is a very difficult task. There are so many good three year olds this year, it is impossible to know what is going to happen between now and the final seconds of the Kentucky Derby. But if you want to secure a good price on a good horse, don’t hesitate to bet early.

Goldikova looking for History

The lesser known headline of the Breeders’ Cup is Goldikova. The other female wonder horse is looking to make Breeders’ Cup history a couple hours ahead of Zenyatta by winning her third BC race. She is entered in the BC Mile, a turf race that she has won the previous two years. A victory on Saturday would mark the first time that a horse has won three BC races.

Goldikova is a five year old mare who has spent most of her racing career in Europe. Stationed in France, Goldikova has a remarkable resume of wins backing her, but because of the headlines that Zenyatta has made, she has taken a backseat in BC news articles and reports. Many racing enthusiasts argue that Goldikova is the best female thoroughbred of all time, based upon the quality of competition that she has faced. This is a moot point though; there is no point in arguing who would win a race between Goldikova and Zenyatta since this BC probably marks the end of illustrious careers for both horses.

Belmont Track Closed

Yesterday marked the final day of racing at Belmont Park for the next few months. Aqueduct, another New York Racing Association owned venue, will be opening up for racing on Friday, November 5th.

While Belmont prepares for the next meeting, this year’s two year olds are also getting ready. The Triple Crown races will be capped with the Belmont Stakes in June of next year. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile races will be a good preview of what you can expect for 2011’s Triple Crown. With two year olds accounting for four of the fourteen races this upcoming weekend, the Breeders’ Cup is a great place to scout out the talent that will be pointed toward Belmont Park next year.

Breeders’ Cup Quality

Belmont Park has played host to some of the major players in this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Quality Road, who won the Metropolitan Handicap here, will be placed in the BC Classic. Haynesfield, another Belmont Stakes winner with a victory in the Jockeys Club Gold Cup, will also be headed to Churchill Downs for the Classic.

Quality Road and Haynesfield look to be two of the favorites in this year’s BC Classic. Their main opponents will likely be Blame, Lookin At Lucky, and Zenyatta. There were 16 pre-entries reported for the Classic, only 14 of which will be entering the starting gate on November 6th. Quality Road was entered in last year’s Classic, but had to be scratched at the starting gate. Pletcher is looking to redeem his horse’s reputation this time with a win. QR’s gate problems, according to Pletcher, have been solved thanks to the practice and experience of the last year.

Some of Pletcher’s other entries to the Breeders’ Cup include Stay Thirsty, in the Juvenile; Pluck, in the Juvenile Turf; and Life At Ten, in the Ladies Classic.

Haynesfield is trained by Steve Asmussen.

Strategies for the Single Race Exotic Bets

Exotic bets are a great way to supplement your straight Win, Place, and Show (WPS) bets. However, if you are limiting your bets to only the exotics, you face a tougher challenge than you do with WPS wagers. You will not win as often with exotics, therefore increasing your risk of ruin. If you are a casual bettor with a limited bankroll, the exotic bets should not be your only wagers as you will more than likely go broke. The casual bettor should deal mostly with WPS bets, using the exotics sparingly when they find an advantage that they might capitalize on.

For simplicity, many people use boxes when making exacta, trifecta, or superfecta wagers. By boxing your bet, you are essentially giving each horse that you select equal weight at each finishing position. If you suspect that each horse you pick is equal in talent, and they are relatively equal on the tote board, this is a sound strategy. An example of this would be a three horse exacta box, with each horse going off at 4-1 odds. A three horse exacta box would be the correct play here, but since this is so rarely the case, especially with the more difficult exotics, a different approach is necessary. You do not want to weight each horse the same if they are not strikingly similar in ability and pari-mutuel odds. This will only make you root for the most unlikely combination’s and end up costing you more along the way.

The easiest way to correct your exotic wagering is to select one horse that you think is far superior to the field. By placing this horse in a position as the lone number one horse, you are reducing a trifecta ticket’s cost dramatically. For example, assume there are four horses you want to put in a trifecta. Instead of a $1 trifecta box that will cost $24, you have a $9 ticket that looks like this: 1/2, 3, 4/2, 3, 4.

Suppose you can’t narrow down the field to one winner. If you want to use the same four horses, you can reduce the cost of your ticket by weighting the bets differently. If the two horses you like to win have different payoff odds, weight them so that the favorite costs more than the long shot. This might mean a $2 trifecta for the favorite to win and a $1 trifecta for the long shot on top. You would have two tickets that look something like this

• $2 Trifecta: 1/2, 3, 4/2, 3, 4 = $18
• $1 Trifecta: 1, 2/1, 3, 4/3, 4 = $12

You are paying $30 for the trifecta, but you have given yourself two tickets that payout more if won. Additionally, if your favorite (the #1 horse) wins, you have a good possibility of having two winning tickets. For a $6 increase, you can greatly increase your payout and your odds of winning.

How to Not Go Broke at the Track?

The quickest way to ruin at the racetrack is to focus solely on the big payout bets. This includes the Pick Six and the superfecta. Your odds of winning these bets are extremely minimal, and thus should not account for a large part of your bankroll. The most efficient way to win at the track is to focus on the smaller, easier to win payouts, while using the large payout bets to supplement your winnings.

If you must bet the big wagers, it is done most effectively by selecting one or two horses that you think are far superior to the field. You can revolve your entire betting strategy around such a horse. However, you must have a large enough bankroll to justify such a strategy. Singling out a few key horses can help you to reduce the cost of a ticket. For example, if there are three races in a Pick Six that have two great horses in each, while the remaining three races each have four that could possibly win, your ticket would look like this: 1, 2/1, 2/1, 2/1, 2, 3, 4/1, 2, 3, 4/1, 2, 3, 4. Such a ticket would cost $512 (2 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 4 x 4), a very large price tag for the casual bettor. Suppose you can narrow down two of the first three races from two horses to one horse. Now your cost is only $128 (1 x 1 x 2 x 4 x 4 x 4), still a rather large investment. The casual bettor should stay away from the Pick Six unless they account for them as whimsical expenditures. In other words, you should not count on these large payout bets to win.

One strategy for winning these bets on a limited bankroll is to join a wagering pool for the Pick Six. This is best done with a group of friends at the track. The idea here is that everyone contributes a little bit to a single ticket, thus making the ticket more efficient without an individual having to make a large purchase. If a group of ten friends each contributes $10, suddenly, rather than ten combination’s, you have 100 combination’s. While this is still a difficult bet to win, your chances of winning have increased tenfold. You can spend the extra money you would have used on a large ticket to focus on more practical bets such as a straight win bet or an exacta.

The superfecta also requires a large bankroll in order to be treated correctly. A betting pool will work here as well, but if you must make this bet by yourself, there are some guidelines to follow. A four horse box costs $48 (4 x 3 x 2 x 1 x $2) for a $2 ticket, but even if you can select the top four horses in a field, the odds of those horses all finishing in the top four are extremely slim. This means that a key horse needs to be selected in order to make this bet more affordable. By choosing the best two horses in the field and placing them at the top you are now spending only $8 on the same four horse field. By reducing the cost of a ticket with key horses, you can increase your ticket’s efficiency by adding another horse to the ticket if you see that it has an outside chance of finishing fourth.