Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I Won't Bet This Dog

Win With Eb...
Not long ago, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, I handicapped a race and was watching the odds with ten minutes to post. The dog I picked to win was a favorite, but only by a little because there was a second dog in this Grade A race who was also popular with the crowd.
When the odds came up, my dog was at 3-2 and the other dog was at 2-1. I thought it was pretty likely that they'd be the quiniela, so I hoped the odds would go up on one or both of them before the race. However, instead of that happening, the odds kept flipping back and forth, favoring first one dog and then the other. It was as if the crowd just couldn't quite make up its mind about which of these two dogs was the best.

But it was also obvious that the crowd thought one of them would win and that's what bothered me. The Palm Beach punters are pretty good at picking winners and they couldn't decide between the two. So, I thought, do I really want to put my money on one of them, at such low odds, when they were so evenly matched?
I thought about it, but at a minute to post time when my dog was at 1-9 and the other dog was at 3-2, I decided to sit this race out. I watched as they battled all the way around the track with my dog in the lead, only to be passed at the last second by the other favorite, who won by a nose. They were the quiniela, which paid all of $4.20.
The winner paid peanuts. Not enough to risk two dollars on a win bet to my mind. I was very glad I sat it out and made a mental note to myself. When two dogs are at very low odds and the odds flip back and forth between them, it's a good race to watch, but not to bet on. Not unless I have a very strong reason for betting the dog I prefer.
Making money at the dog track is all about weighing the risks against the probable rewards of your wagers. Handicapping is easier if you know in advance which situations to avoid because of their negative risk to reward ratio. This two dog scenario went into my playbook along with other situations I've learned to avoid over the years. I'll be writing about some of them in future handicapping articles.
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