Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bargain Basement Hunting

When I play exotic wagers like Pick 3s and 4s, trifectas and the occasional Pick 6, I keep my bets reasonable...for me. Reasonable meaning usually under $40 and most times closer to $24. My belief is that I can just as easily squander $200 as I can $20 with a bad beat. All of us handicappers have experienced the dismissed 30-1 shot breaking up winning tickets - which neither an expensive of frugal ticket didn't included. 

For the sake of experiment, I'm going to toss out three possible late Pick 4 tickets at Santa Anita today. Let's see what difference tickets ranging from $27 to $160 have. Of course, the cheaper the ticket the sharper one's handicapping skills must be. More expensive tickets should only be played for two reasons 1) wide open fields with the promise of big payoffs or 2) a lack of decisiveness, but with a hope of including many, providing a return of much money.  On the flip side, the bigger the cost the bigger the potential loss. 

Without further ado:

Clearance Rack $27 ticket - 4-5-7/3/2-6-9/1-4-6. Anytime you're looking to limit a ticket's price with Pick 3s, 4s and 6s, you've got to find singles. I find this group of races particular difficult to single, but have chosen to go with race 7 and expensive, Bob Baffert-trained Mother Ruth. I've combined jockey, trainer, breeding, fast works, decent post and big ticket purchase price to arrive here. 

The biggest threat to take down this ticket is the single in Leg 2. It's a maiden special weight with a few fillies with decent experience (low to mid 70 Beyers, fast enough to win this condition) and six first-time starters, my choice among them. In Leg 1 a non-winners of one on the turf, second and third choices have been scratched out in what looks to be a paceless race, meaning the nine remaining entrants will probably finish within three lengths of each other. Leg 3 has lots of class to sort through for a winner in the feature. In the Final Leg it's either wide open or down to my three choices. A crap shoot at best and a lousy way to try and finish a ticket.

The I Can Still Make My Mortgage Payment Special $54 ticket. Leg 1  and Leg 3 remain unchanged, but Leg 2 gets two additions and Leg 4 drops a contender. The ticket is 4-5-7/3-4-8/2-6-9/1-6. 

Here I've added two to the first maiden race in the sequence to protect against a dude debut for favorite trained by Baffert. As a result of adding coverage and still trying to keep the price within reason, I had to remove the horse I think least likely to break his maiden in the nightcap, #4. Low level maiden claimers make me nervous in sequences like this, but this horse ran evenly finishing seven lengths from the winner both times. His inclusion in the previous ticket was an only if he woke up play. 

The Cadillac $160 ticket (or should I say Lexus -they're in as much trouble as GM or are they?). Here's all the bells and whistles of the last ticket with greater coverage in Legs 1, 2 and 3 while the final leg stays the same.  Here we go 3-4-5-7/3-4-6-8-10/1-2-6-9/1-6.

I would only play this ticket if I'd already had a decent bankroll from previous winnings. Turf races, as we know, can have dramatic finishes with many in the fray until the very last jumps. I would have to bank on such finishes with the possibility of the payout being large enough to take the risk. Let's just say I've got the dough to make the play. 

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