When Your Hand Is Forced

It is no secret I am not a fan of smaller minimum amounts for wagers on horse races. I’m of the opinion the 50-cent minimum hurts the pick 4 payouts, the 20-cent jackpot pick 6 killed the “real pick 6” and the 10 cent superfecta is not doing the serious bettors any favors either.

I have heard all the arguments about these minimums increasing pool size and thus leading to bigger payouts. I don’t buy it. I think they create more winning combinations, and they dilute the value of price horses in the sequences because more people spread and fish as opposed to handicapping. It is what it is.

When we have these small minimums and then add the small fields we are seeing of late, it makes the multi race sequences so many of us love to attack less appealing. Add the syndicates going into these pools more and more and you really have to ask yourself if these are the wagers you should be putting the bulk of your bankroll in. All the analysts, most of which I think don’t bet, or bet very little push these multi race wagers all day long.

If you like and are intent on playing these horizontal bets, the small fields added to the small minimums will really force your hand or at least it should. There is no wide spreading if you want to make any money.

The Whitney came up a short but quality field. The Personal Ensign only has six with Midnight Bisou odds on. Last week The Vanderbilt only went with four after a late scratch, and also had an odds-on favorite.

Most people complain when these scenarios occur but go ahead and play into them anyway. I play them, but I don’t complain. They play right into my style of play. That is not to say I don’t prefer large fields and different scenarios, but we play the cards we are dealt.

What you have to do in these sequences is form an opinion and then don’t be afraid to back it. You want one or even two singles, and you want to go narrow and not fish in the other legs.

Using the late pick 4 on Whitney day as an example, the sequence begins with the 5-horse main event. I believe if you are going after this wager you almost have to single in the Whitney. Sure, it is a tough race with quality horses, but you have a one in five chance of being right and giving yourself a bit of leeway going forward. You will also live or die with a quality well meant racehorse.

I’d play it short going forward also. Maybe a race with two and then two with three the most. That’s part one of how I would attack it.

Part two is I would play it as much above the 50-cent minimum as I could afford. You want to maximize your win if you are right. Hitting the sequence for 50-cents won’t really do that and if you structure your ticket similar to mine, it won’t be all that expensive of a bet.

The Bowling Green which is part of the sequence came up light on pace. Cross Border who is four for four at Saratoga and in sharp form off a win looks to be in a position to control things. He’s a must use for me and possibly the other single in the sequence.

Pace scenarios are trickier than ever, and involve more intangibles than they should, but if Cross Border isn’t on the front end early something is really wrong around here.

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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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