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Horse Betting Online - The Bread and Butter

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 9/11/2012 6:10:19 PM

I’ve never been a super aggressive Grade 1 kind of a guy. Sure, I like the big races and get pumped up during the Triple Crown run and one would have to be comatose not to get excited about the Breeders’ Cup races but the main menu at every track in the sport and for online sports betting sites is the bread and butter of the game, the claimers.

But I knew from the very beginning to become proficient at this game, a player would need to be able to correctly analyze claiming races on an everyday basis and online sports betting enthusiasts have to learn to deal with not only the cream of the crop of the game, but also the drones, the runner that put on their work boots every day and slog through hail, rain, sleet and snow.

I was interested in horse betting at a very young age. My family was a gaming family. It was not unusual on any given weekend day for a poker game to be going in one room, a pinochle tourney in another, a ping pong match outside and a horse race to be on simultaneously.

I made my first bet through a friend of my dad’s when I was about 7 years old. It won, I got over $16 and I was hooked.

My brother got me interested in the business aspect of the sport while I was a freshman in high school. He had a degree in economics from a college in Connecticut and the racing game fascinated him. As he gathered information through the hundreds and hundreds of Racing Forms cluttering his room, I also fell in love with the process.

My schoolwork didn’t suffer; in fact it went hand and hand with the analytical tools needed to handicap races.

The first horse I really remember as a champion was Kelso. I was 8 and he was winning the first of 5 consecutive honors as Horse of the Year. I recall being intrigued by the come-from-behind specialist, Carry Back, who won an Eclipse Award in 1961 as top 3-year-old colt.

By the time Canonero, Riva Ridge and Secretariat came along I was a full-fledged fanatic.

But even then I realized, champions were few and far between and to win money at the track, a player needed to understand the lower echelon horses.

When I first started handicapping, I would practice by making my selections on paper for tracks like Charles Town, Liberty Bell, and Penn National and then monitor the results. Claimers dominated the programs there then and still do.

Claimers account for about 75% of the racing cards throughout the country. Since they are not as sound as the better horses, they hold their form for a shorter period of time and are less formful as a whole.

Early speed, as with top-notch horses, is tantamount to being successful. In the olden days, handicapping books would advise to bet only claimers with recent activity, say horses that have run within a couple of weeks or so. But in this day and age, things have changes.

Horses, cheap ones at that, can win off the layoff and they do it all the time. In fact, cheap horses often fire their best shot first time out after a layoff. They are not tired from the racing grind, they are mentally sharp and whatever was ailing them and forced them to the sidelines may have abated and they are generally in better physical condition when they return.

Online betting enthusiasts love horses that drop. It makes all the sense in the world but horses that drop seldom offer good value at the windows. Players assume since at one time they were capable of performing at a certain level, that when taking a big drop down the claiming ladder they will even be more effective. It works sometimes, but not always and the payoffs are usually on the small side.

I have found that one of the best and most lucrative situations occurs when a sharp trainer jumps his claimer up the ladder. It tells the bettor that the trainer thinks the horses is doing so well that he can stand the raise.

There are many ways to approach claimers and the game as a whole but online players have to know it’s an on going learning process and to stay ahead of the curve, handicappers have to think outside of the box more often than not.

Remember, there is no replacement for hard work and blood, sweat and tears—tears of defeat and of course, tears of joy. 

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