Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pick 4 Strategy

Here are two universal strategies I use for Pick 4s:
  • I absolutely have to have one single in the sequence to not only keep the ticket affordable, but to guard against big loses. I often see the All Star Pick 4 tickets on TVG (made from combining hosts picks) around $200 or more. Often they lose, and so will I if I think creating a ticket with a combination of 6x5x4x2 is a lock for some sort of pay out. My thought is a $240 and $36 are just as likely to win or lose based upon my handicapping skill that day at a particular track.
  • I have to find double-digit odds horses in at least two races of the sequence. You want the ticket to pay and the only way it pays is if you have a few prices included. If you're sure of horses at longer or even shorter odds, play that horse to win and never mind a Pick 4.
Now let's look at the strategies employed on this day at the Fair Grounds all stakes Pick 4. (I love "all stakes" plays because it almost always ensures big fields which makes mining for prices a bit easier).

Race 6 Fair Grounds Oaks:
  • Here's the single - Rachel Alexandra (4-5 morning line). Many times I like to make a stand against odds-on favorites or just skip a race I can't find a reason to bet against the chalk. In this case, Rachel Alexandra has the speed, talent and experience to wire this field or inhale it when her jock feels like. Besides with long odds available in the next three legs, it would be foolish to not take the single here.
Race 7 New Orleans Handicap
  • Here's a case where the scratches may matter. The early scratches include #2 Golden Yank, #5 Brothers Nicholas and #7 El Caballo. I actually dislike re-evaluating races in which scratches occur because I have a hard time re-calibrating myself. With the full field, I would strongly consider Wishful Tomcat to have an advantage because the speed outside of him may have be forced five and six wide, leaving him with a loose lead. My Pal Charlie (from post #11 vs. #14) has an outside chance of contending and forcing the issue up front setting the race up well for several stalkers and closers. I'm dropping Wishful Tomcat and going with Honest Man and Good and Lucky to take over from a three-way battle on the front end. I might even toss in Macho Again at a price to close.
Race 8 Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap
  • Here's a tasty full-field if I ever saw one. It has two millionaires and four more that would join the seven-figure club with a win. While I usually toss favorites in these situation, I stay with Soldier's Dancer who's in solid form with no indication of falling off. Transduction Gold will be a long-shot I'll toss in off his win in preparation for this race. Demaracation will also find his way on the ticket by virtue of his stakes win at 33-1 at Churchill and drawing a line through his last Fair Grounds start.
Race 9 Louisiana Derby
  • Many two and three-year-old races come down to who you believe will improve and who will plateau. In the former category, I look to Flying Pegasus to step it up going two-turns for a second time with a much better post. I actually considered singling him. Among the handful of competitors left I look to Patena (first off the purchase by IEAH trained by Dutrow, who is either a legendary horseman or a cheater, depending on your perspective, with horses he inherits or claims for the first time). Giant Oak's trip was beyond terrible in the Risen Star, if he runs back to that form (why no Prado?) and has a clear look, he could win going away. Friesan Fire reminds me of Pyro and that he's very good horse, but falls into the plateau department here at 3.
So if you're wondering my $1 Pick 4 play, this is what it looks like at noon on Saturday: 3/8-10-11/6-11-12/3-5-6 for $27. Good luck to all.

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