How to Handle a Lock

How do you handle a lock? With a key, of course.

Well, first things first, there are no locks in horse racing. That is why they always have to run the race.

After hitting the Florida Derby with Known Agenda, and the Santa Anita Derby with Rock Your World, I was hoping to roll in strong to the next Derby prep, the Arkansas Derby.

I looked at the past performances, and I just could not get past Concert Tour, the even-money morning line favorite. I do not buy into Caddo River turning the tables with a different type of ride or trip, and I thought even money was higher than he will be at post time. 3-5 looks more likely to me.

The question becomes what a player should do when they think the 3-5 shot is the lock.

Sure, you can pass the race and or sequence. That might be the best option, but it is a Derby prep, and you want to play. Many people will say the price is too short, so you have to try and beat the horse with another. I understand that thought process, I just don’t personally subscribe to it. I don’t like to bet against my opinion. I like to bet on it.

If I have a situation like Saturday where I think an odds-on horse is going to win, I try and create some value around them. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes, it can be difficult and tricky.

The first thing you have to accept is that you must single the horse in any multi-race wagers. No hedging and no insurance or backup. The horse is odds-on, you think the horse will win, you are playing the sequence, you’re limited to a single. No ands, ifs, or buts there.

I don’t call any horse or race a free square, but Concert Tour is a single for me in the pick 5.

I need another single, and I need a key price horse somewhere to get some separation, even if it is minimal. That is just how I structure this type of bet.

In the Arkansas Derby itself, I will take one ice-cold exacta. Caddo River and Hozier will both be short exactas behind Concert Tour. That doesn’t interest me, although they both can easily run second. I tend to look for someone who might improve and surprise a bit.

Get Her Number didn’t run well in the Rebel at all, yet Peter Miller comes back here against these same horses. He had other options for sure and gets a hot local rider onboard. The horse won his first dirt start with some speed but didn’t seem to have any speed in the Rebel. I am going to take a shot he can rebound and run back to something closer to his dirt win. He may have needed that last race, and he is eligible to go forward and will probably be overlooked to some degree helping the exacta price, which won’t be big but bigger than the ones with Caddo River and Hozier.

The Lexington was a little easier for me to decipher. I love speed at Keeneland, but it looks like on paper, there is a ton of it in the Lexington. Unbridled Honor comes off a closing effort at Tampa and is improving for Todd Pletcher who fires big shots in Derby preps. Julien Leparoux fits this horse, and I think if the pace goes as, I suspect it may, this horse can run them down late.

The price on Unbridled Honor should be more than fair, and I think he will give us something to root for that last sixteenth of a mile.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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