Monday, June 18, 2018

HANA Horseplayer Advisory

Thursday June 21, 2018 marks the first day of Summer.

Normally that might mean I'd be writing about some of the great summer racing that's just around the corner. For instance opening day at Del Mar or maybe how much I'm looking forward to this year's meet at Saratoga.

But summertime also means that thoroughbred racing in northern California shifts from Golden Gate to the Cal Fair circuit. They'll be running at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton from June 15th through July 8th. The California State Fair in Sacramento from July 13th through July 29th. And the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale from August 16th through August 26th.

Lest you think this is a commercial for those meets --

It's not.

HANA is issuing a Horseplayer Advisory.

C.A.R.F. is an acronym that stands for the California Association of Racing Fairs.

Be advised that C.A.R.F has higher takeout for their thoroughbred races than other California tracks such as Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Golden Gate.

Takeout for the Cal Fair meets mentioned above as well as night time racing at Los Al is as follows:

--------------   ------
EXACTA            24.02
DBL               24.02
TRI, SUPER        25.02
P3, P4, P6        25.02
PICK5             25.02

Whereas takeout at Del Mar, Santa Anita, Golden Gate is as follows:

--------------  -------
EXACTA            22.68
DBL               22.68
TRI, SUPER        23.68
P3, P4, P6        23.68
EARLY PICK5       14.00

We thought you should know.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Thursday, April 12, 2018

From Horseplayer Monthly: Is the Money Getting Smarter at Gulfstream?

This article appeared in the April 2018 edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, please click here. 

Is the Money Getting Smarter at Gulfstream? 

Let’s look at some bet down numbers to see what we can uncover

It’s nothing new for us as bettors to see a horse with a 2-1 or 5-2 morning line go off at 7-5 or even below that. This is commonly called a “Bet Down.”  Often times we’re left wondering if it was a bad line, sharp money, computer players, or barn money that “knew” something. 

Although we can’t answer those particular questions, we thought we’d have a closer look at these horses at Gulfstream Park’s “Championship Meet” over the past few seasons.  Let’s see if we can learn something.

First, let’s examine at the winners bet below their morning lines by year for the last three years. This number has been fairly uniform, and there’s not much to see here.

2016 -  68.74%
2017 -  65.02%
2018 -  69.00%

Where it gets interesting is when we examine horses bet at different levels below their morning lines.

Bet Down below Morning Line:

Bet Down 25% or more from Morning Line:

 Bet Down 50% or more from Morning Line: 

While all horses bet down below their morning lines have improved marginally for those betting them – 20.4% and $0.81 ROI three seasons ago to 22.3% and $0.83 ROI this season – the numbers that really stick out are for horses bet 25% or more below their morning lines.

Here we see both win percentage and ROI increasing at high rates; from 24.82% to 27.50% and $0.84 to $0.90 respectively. 

Although the sample size is too small to be totally conclusive, and we’d have to dig deeper into the data by adding other variables, we can probably say with some certainty that the smart money has grown smarter over the last few years at Gulfstream. If you anecdotally thought that was happening, you were probably not imagining it.

As a follow up to this article, we received a question from reader Robert Alquist asking, "I have noticed that a ML of 4:1 that ends to 5:2 consistently scores at almost all tracks, not just Gulfstream. This falls in your statistics at the over 25% level but I believe the win rate and ROI fall above the rest of the category. Would you have the data, at least at Gulfstream, to confirm my beliefs?" 

We had HANA President Jeff Platt run this through JCapper for the last year, and the data is as follows:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keeneland to Reduce Takeout Ahead of Spring Meet

From The | By Frank Angst | 02-07-2018--
Keeneland to Reduce Takeout Ahead of Spring Meet:
Noting that 57% of wagering on its races is either win, place, show or exacta wagering, Keeneland will reduce takeout in those pools. Takeout in the win, place, and show pools will be reduced from 17.5% to 16% and exacta takeout will be reduced from 22% to 19.5%. The 16% rate on win, place, and show matches the previous rate before the fall 2017 increase and the 19.5% exacta rate nearly matches the previous 19% rate.
Takeout is the amount of money removed from each pari-mutuel pool largely used to pay tracks and purses. Essentially it's the price of wagering on horse racing.
Keeneland vice president of racing and sales Bob Elliston said the track expected some pushback on its fall 2017 takeout increase—"nobody likes a price increase"—but the quality of the points made by many customers made an impact. That pushback included a Horseplayers Association of North America boycott of the Keeneland fall meet.

This would not have happened without support from a lot of horseplayers. 

I want to say THANK YOU to every single horseplayer who stood on principle and bet less at Keeneland last fall than they otherwise would have.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Monday, January 29, 2018

From Horseplayer Monthly: Q & A with Mike Maloney

This Q&A appeared in the January 2018 edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, please click here

HANA board member Mike Maloney has a book available for purchase on the DRF store.  Titled as Betting with an Edge:  A Professional Horseplayer’s Life in Thoroughbred Racing, it details Mike’s life as a professional horseplayer.

Q:  What was the impetus for you to write a book about your life in racing and betting philosophies?

A:  I believed I had some ideas that would be helpful to other horseplayers out there.  I also wanted to honor my dad and tell the story of our life at the racetrack.

Q:  Beyond the entertaining stories, you focus on handicapping. You dedicated an entire section on proper ticket construction and strategy. Why do you find this such an important part of being a successful player?

A:  Proper betting theory and ticket construction are important because they are the bridge between a good handicapping opinion and making a score at the windows.
Q:  I found your chapter on track bias invaluable. It seems some casual players have such a difficult time recognizing it. How much time do you spend analyzing if there was, or what bias occurred on a day? Can your record keeping tips and notes work for the casual player?

A:  Bias recognition, especially in real time, can lead to some of the best gambling opportunities in racing. It’s worth the hour or so per day that I spend on it. More casual players can benefit from even a few minutes per day devoted to improving their bias skills, trip note work, and record keeping.

Q:  Players can struggle with the mental game - losing streaks, etc - and you spent a good deal of time on discussing it in the book. Despite your success, and longevity as a player, is it something you have to work on each betting day?

A:  Yes, maintaining a healthy and alert mental state isn’t easy when you’re betting 300 days each year.  Learning not to ride the emotional roller coaster and to understand my strengths and weaknesses as a player have helped greatly.

 Q:  You've been a staunch supporter of the weekend warrior and growing the game.. Takeout rates are something you've voiced concern about. As a practical matter, does, for example, the 22% takeout rates on two horse exotics at places like Keeneland and Churchill change your play at all? Just how hard is it to beat those high rates in two horse bets?

A:  Certainly any change in takeout rates impacts my betting immediately. The lower the net cost of a wager, the more I will bet. As racing has raised my cost of making a wager over the last ten years, my wagering has decreased by over 50%. The result of their pricing strategy is that I make less, the horsemen make less, and the tracks themselves make less.

Q:  With so many short fields at so many racetracks over the last ten or so years, have you had a hard time finding bettable races? Have you found a way to attack shorter fields and do so profitably?

A:  It may sound counter-intuitive but smaller fields often force me into the trifecta and supers. I might pass on a 3-1 payoff in the exacta in favor of a shot at 10-1 on a cold number in the tri.

Q:  If there's one thing you love so much that you'd never change about Thoroughbred horse racing, what would it be? If there's one thing you'd want to change, what is it?

A:  I want to end on a good note so I’ll answer the latter first. While I realize that this is highly unlikely, with nationwide cooperation on improving racing’s integrity level, and a new pricing model closer to the lower takeout of other gambling games, I think we could double our handle. Racing would also have a better product to market to a new generation of potential customers.

What I love most about racing is a triple dead heat. First is the game itself; the most-interesting gambling pursuit on the planet. Next are the people you meet in racing. From the bluebloods to the semi-degenerates, the animal-lovers to the quants, the sharpies to the schills. One thing is for sure, there’s no lack of personality at the track.

My other favorite is the horses themselves. Two horses of any class level going head to head from the quarter pole to the wire. A young foal leaving mom to find his running legs on a Kentucky farm. No truer words were ever spoken than, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”