Cliff Notes for Simulcast Betting
By Mike Valiante
I am old enough to remember the days at the track that not only were pre-internet, but pre-simulcast. Betting was limited to the 9 or 10 live races. The additional betting opportunities available today online or at a simulcast parlor are like most things, that is to say, there are pluses and minuses that come with these new opportunities. Many of these issues are related to the challenge of having enough time, bankroll and energy to effectively handicap multiple tracks even if you are just looking for selected plays. It took a number of years to settle on the proper strategy for me. That strategy revolves around concentrating on two, or three tracks at most, simultaneously and making sure these are tracks that I regularly follow and have success at. This allows for two or three tracks both in the afternoon or night so that there is plenty of action. Maybe there are some of you who have the time, capital and endurance to do more. To those trust-fund babies out there I say God Bless! To all the rest of the patrons let me suggest some tips that may help you. All of these tips deal with either setting a positive environment in which to wager or exposing hidden nuggets at tracks you may not currently play.
If you are going to a simulcast parlor, go to one that puts a delimiter on the volume of the TV’s, especially the TV’s that are on the desks of your fellow patrons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to concentrate while some jerks, uh… I mean gamblers, near you are blaring their TV’s. Extra jerk points, and I do mean jerk, are awarded to any of you who not only blare the volume but do so while watching non-racing channels.
If they allow you to reserve seats and you are by yourself at a simulcast parlor, sit on the end of a row, thereby increasing your chances of not sitting next to an annoying person. When I am by myself and if the simulcast facility allows it I also reserve/purchase the additional seat next to me so I have a buffer on that side.
This may seem obvious but if you are playing more than one track it is even more imperative that you handicap ahead of time.
If you are playing Fairmount or Mountaineer stop at a GA meeting on the way home. Ditto to my harness buddies who play any of the myriad of the minor sulky tracks where a $100 bet effects a pool or the small western Canadian tracks that have video quality comparable to a 1980’s high school video club. I am not opposed to playing cheap claimers but the product and betting opportunities at these tracks should be avoided.
The rail on the dirt track at Sam Houston is the yellow brick road of golden rails. It is the most consistently speed favoring bias out there.
Incorporate two or three of the major harness tracks into your wagering repertoire. Standardbreds run much more consistently and are much easier to handicap than thoroughbreds. This serves to lessen the chance you will have a long losing streak thereby protecting your capital and sanity. It also gives you some opportunities in the evenings when many thoroughbred tracks are dark. My favorites are Meadowlands, Mohawk and Hoosier. One caveat at Mohawk and Hoosier, the horizontal bets typically offer little value but the vertical bets generally pay well. I will not get into a dissertation as to why this is, but trust me, it is true and you can thank me, if we ever meet, for saving you the time it would have taken for you to learn this on your own.
Similarly do not be afraid to bet on Arabian racing, especially at Delaware Park. Before some wise guy comments that I need to go to GA, as I kiddingly commented in point #4, let me just say that even more so than harness horses, Arabians run very consistently. They don’t run fast and only the very best ones can come way off the pace but they are often good for real ice-cold exactas (sorry Dave Weaver).
The wagering pad with the Twin Spires, non-mobile user interface, shall we say could be better. Whoever designed it never made a horse racing bet and/or does not care for their customers. It is such a poor interface that I guarantee you it will cause you to make mistakes and miss getting your bets in if you are the type of handicapper who likes to place simulcast bets at the last minute. Use their mobile or another ADW service.
On the turf course at Gulfstream Park West, having the lead at the top of the stretch is an advantage and horses are often able to carry that lead to the wire.
At Pocono Downs, having the lead at the top of the stretch is often the kiss of death. I do not know if it is the red clay track or the mountain air but horses struggle to keep leads there late in the race.
Avoid any track where the race caller screams into the microphone or there is an annoying buzz on the internet feed. It will drive you nuts.
If you are a Beyer speed figure user and you are looking for a time-saving betting tool on the turf, your first pass should be to concentrate only on the horses that have at any time in their career produced a turf Beyer competitive to the rest of the field’s lifetime best, regardless of today’s odds, as long as these horses appear sound.
Quarter Horses (remember I did alert you that these were going to be hidden nuggets) shipping in for the first time at Los Alamitos often improve their speed rating from the ones they achieved at other tracks.
Well there you have it. Hope this helps to speed up the learning curve. Please share this with all your horse racing friends. Good luck and do not forget to handicap this evening for any simulcast betting you are doing tomorrow.
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