by Frank Cotolo
“If you want to be a good archeologist you’ve got to get out of the library,” said Indiana Jones (from a screenplay by G. Lucas, J. Nathanon and D. Koepp).
With a tweak or two, it is also fine advice for wagering behavior on any pari-mutuel programs. Horse players spend too much time in the library of handicapping and not enough time out in the field where positive betting action is an acquired talent.
Bettors Banquet (BB) returns after the pandemic hiatus with its stronger messages based upon smart wagering practices and the bottom-line rule to strengthen profiting from pari-mutuels: make decisions, not selections.
This Saturday at The Meadowlands the program is adorned with once-a-year stakes events, but the betting menu blankets the card as it does for every program. It becomes quiet in the handicapping library but it’s a din out in the field. That means instead of choosing and measuring their wagers, most harness players will be betting with both fists, as the saying goes, and all learned in the library surrenders what powers it may have to the unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way or the other. Yes, luck is in control.
This Saturday, I will leave the library with definite plans for my wagering action and let luck behave as it may. With no exceptions I will play or pass any bet that does not live up to my expectations. A full example is my personal odds line for the Meadowlands Pace (MP):
Post – Horse – Odds
1 – Perfect Sting – 9-2
2 – Hellabalou – 11-1
3 – Chase H Hanover – 32-1
4 – Southwind Gendry – 7-2
5 – Lawless Shadow – 16-1
6 – Rockyroad Hanover – 32-1
7 – One Eight Hundred – 6-1
8 – Abuckabett Hanover – 32-1
9 – Charlie May – 6-1
10 – American Courage – 10-1
My odds are based upon my opinions were this race to happen 100 times. I will not bet any horse which I assign odds of more than 6-1 (to account for the margin of error) so here I have four contenders.
The points beyond the process are this: find contenders in a race and assign them odds. If your odds are better than the public’s odds you have a win bet and when you have a win bet (only when one or two of your contenders odds are better than the public’s odds) you can plan exotic wagers around it.
The wagering public decides which races to bet. Before I go into the field I am in the library choosing races that I feel I can estimate better than the public.
If the work I do in the library is accurate, my field results have a good chance for success. No wagers are wasted, as in playing multi-race exotics where you add horses “in case” your contenders fail. The July 17 lineup of stakes on the Meadowlands Pace program is a terrific romp outside of the library — if you can get out in time, because more than the volume of high-class races available are the tests of wagering prowess they offer. These are not easy races in which to make a personal odds line and due to that they demand intense interpretation; maybe too much for the work involved. We won’t choose our poison; we will pass for the races that support stronger decisions. (We offer our contenders assigned odds of 6-1 or under — the only we would wager upon.)
Both Stanley Dancer Memorial divisions receive our opinions expressed in odds. In the first division, we make Take All Comers (4-1) the alternate for backing Dancinginthedark M, who we guess will be an unacceptable priced favorite.
In the second division, we make Venerate a prohibitive favorite and make the other Love Me-bred colt, Rattle My Cage, 5-1.
Due to the deadline of this BB edition, we need to be back in the library to determine how we evaluate personal odds lines on the other races. Certainly, we are already aware there are races we are not interested in playing but for those we are attracted to for betting purposes, we must write an odds line.
Which races we choose, of course, will affect our dismissal or acceptance of taking on multi-race exotics. In future BBs we will explain how best to play Pick 3s through Pick 6s, so be ready to battle about those rules, since we address them with rules that are not popular.