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A Day at the Races with Ed

By Susan L. Sweeney
From the May 2000 issue:
Whenever we meet anyone in racing who uses Eds information, we discov
er that they want to learn as much as they can about the way Ed deciphers his pl
ays. There are so many questions and there never seems to be enough time for Ed
to answer them all. In lieu of this, I thought it would be fun as well as inte
resting to write an article entitled A day at the Races with Ed.
I have several self-motivated reasons for choosing March 25 as this
day. The first one is that it kicked off the Ladbroke $250,000 Classic handicappi
ng tournament. Even though we could not participate the first day because Turfw
ay was the listed track and there is some kind of contractual agreement that doe
s not allow Maryland residents to wager on Kentucky through their YouBet program
, I was planning to write an article from a participant standpoint and wanted to
keep a listing of each days events. The second reason starts out as sort of a s
ad story yet makes you feel good when you read through. A friend of ours named
Alicia was going to the track this day with sixteen family members to celebrate
her grandfathers 76th birthday. This close knit family has experienced some diff
icult times lately. Just about a month ago her grandmother passed away and sinc
e her grandparents were extremely close, her grandfather has been completely los
t without her. So much so that he wont even leave his house. Alicia, knowing of
his love for horse racing often talks of the wonderful times she had as a child
when her grandfather would take her to the now closed Hagerstown track. Though
it was part of a small fair circuit, they enjoyed going just to look at these w
onderful animals. Alicia says My grandfather just loves horses. The way they ru
n and just the way they give theyre all race after race. She adds, If he had a far
m, I know there would be a horse or two roaming around it.
Just two weeks after this family suffered the loss of their grandmot
her, Alicias cousin who was just 31 years old succumbed to colon cancer. It brok
e everyones heart and was a tough time for all.
Being the good-hearted person that Alicia is, and knowing of Eds and
my success at the track, she shared their plans with us for his birthday in hope
s of Ed sharing his picks. Whenever any of our non-racing friends go to the tra
ck, Ed makes sure they all know that he would be happy to give them his plays.
Alicia let her grandfather know of their plans weeks ahead so he would have this
day to look forward to. Every time we would see her before the day arrived, sh
e would say, he just cant wait. I let Alicia know that I would e-mail her Eds picks
the night before since I am never quite sure when he will have them ready.
To walk you through the full analysis I should start with the way Ed
lays out his form. Since he manually does this, like all the data he compiles,
Ed finds it easiest to first go through all the circuits and list the trainer m
ove. As an example, he will go to Kentucky, open to race 1 and for each trainer
that has a lay one, he will write L1, and each who has a lay 2, he will write L
2, and so on, up to lay four. He does the same for claims, and then he moves on
to the following race. When this track is complete, he then follows the same pr
ocedure for the next circuit and so on.
Once Eds form is set up, he then goes back to the first circuit and s
tarts recording the statistic that applies to todays race. Next to the actual per
centage, Ed also puts the number of tries along with the number of wins. This i
s beneficial to him because he only considers the trainers who have four wins or
more plus a 30% hit rate or higher (the 4 + 30 Play). I would like to comment
that Ed is unique because he truly plays what he sells.
When one of the horses meets his criteria, he puts a check mark to t
he side of the horse and he continues his recording. This is so he is aware of
the trainers move when he goes back to analyze the race to choose the ones he wan
ts to play. There are times when a race will have more than one statistic that
falls into the 4 + 30 Play. In those circumstances Ed has several decisions to
make. If the odds are too low, he will just pass the race. If one of the horse
s hit the last race, unless the trainer has shown Ed that he can repeat, which m
eans the trainer can win two races in a row with the same horse, he will throw o
ut this horse from any consideration. If both horses have high statistics and n
o reason to throw them out, Ed may box them in an exacta or play a trifecta part
wheel with these two with the field for third. If a pick three is available an
d he has consecutive stats in three races, Ed may choose to make this bet. On t
his Saturday, Ed had a small amount of potential plays. It is not uncommon for
a Saturday or a Sunday, since most stakes races are run on the weekends for him
to have 20 plays or more for each day to choose from. Many trainers use the lay
off to line their horses up for the win. The ones that are really tuned into th
eir horses and give them that necessary rest can win in stakes. Several that a
re excellent on this move that come to mind are Bill Mott, Neil Drysdale, and El
liott Walden.
The great thing about the eight potential plays is every one of them
except for the first race at the Fairgrounds went off late in the day. Alicia
had to work on Saturday so they couldnt go to the Penn National OTB until after 3
:00. Ed had a more than usual workload on Friday because he basically works on
three days of racing, every day. First he records the hits for the previous day
. Then he lines up the form for the following day. Then finally Ed gets to sit
down and look at the present days card to make his decisions for that days play.
So we talked a bit about each potential and really did not find any reason othe
r than odds to throw any of them out. Since Alicia's family was going for fun,
we decided to give them all seven that were late in the day and told them the be
st way to play them was across the board. Since most of Eds statistics are in th
e money, and they wouldnt care about the odds, just cashing, we thought this woul
d be fun.
The first potential play was in race one at the Fairgrounds. Rocky T
reasure was on his first race after a layoff for Steve Asmussen, 29-10 and he was
training this horse for a relative, Keith Asmussen. Ed passed the play just be
cause it was early in the day and he prefers to make his bets at the OTB rather
than phone them in. Since we really werent going to go make our bets until later
in the day, he just decided to be happy with the results if Rocky Treasure won.
Which he did for payouts of $10.80, $5 and $4.
The second and third potential play for Ed came at Turfway Park, rac
e 9. This was a big stakes day at Turfway and they started earlier than their n
ormal time. Globalize was a Jerry Hollendorfer shipper from Bay Meadows with a ra
ce record of 7-4-1-0 and was coming to this race on a lay four route with a 58%
win rate, 12-7. There was another horse in the same race with the 4 + 30 criter
ia. Runspastum was on a lay 3 route with a 30 percent hit rate for Alan Goldberg,
20-6. Yet Runspastum had hit on his first race and second race back from the lay
off and Ed didnt show any information that Alan Goldberg could three-peat. So Ed
eliminated Runspastum as a play. We gave Alicia Globalize to play across the board
and Ed played $200 to win on him. I chose to play $10 across the board and I d
ecided to exacta box him with Runspastum and Elite Mercedes. I couldnt help but to t
ell Alicia to do the same because I thought that this exacta had a real chance o
f hitting and it did. Globalize won and paid a wonderful $25.20, $9.80, and $5.40
. Elite Mercedes came in second for an exacta payout of $184. All I kept hoping
was that Alicia and her family made it to the OTB in time for this play. Globali
zes win was quite a race. He was there early and looked like he gave in and then
came back at the end and won up the rail going away.
The next potential play was Fairgrounds Race 6. Takeback was a Louie
Roussel lay two sprint with a 32% hit rate, 22-7. Ed decided to pass this play
because he won the last time out. He finished third and paid $2.40 to show.
The fifth potential play was at Santa Anita Race 2. Ted West had a
43% win rate on Gypsiesinthepalace on a lay four sprint, 19-8. Ed once again chose
to pass this play because he is familiar with Ted Wests regular riders and I.D.
Enriquez isnt one of them. He was correct in his analysis because Gypsiesinthepal
ace ran out of the money.
The sixth and the seventh potential play were also at Santa Anita, r
ace 7. In this race there were two trainer stats and each as powerful as the ot
her. Vinka was a Simon Bray lay one route, 43 percent hit rate, 14-6. I gave thi
s one to Alicia to play over the El Sueno Patrick Gallagher lay four route of 40 p
ercent, 15-6 because Victor Espinosa was the jockey on Vinka and this races was a
mile on the turf. Ed has tracked trainers who hit with certain jockeys at certa
in distances on certain surfaces and discovered that Espinosa was a killer at a
mile on the turf for Bobby Hess. So I recognized that Espinosa hit at a mile on
the dirt or the turf for everybody at all kinds of payouts. So this is a flat
bet for me. Ed did not want to choose between the two and he liked Swept Overboa
rd in the 8th, which would be the final potential play for the day. Yet he knew S
wept Overboard would go off as the favorite so he chose to do a pick three instea
d. Ed doesnt play small pick threes although he thinks he does. He wagered a $20
pick three part wheel starting with Vinka and El Sueno in the 7th, with Swept Overbo
ard in the 8th, with All in the 9th. I told Alicia to play Vinka across the board
and do the same for Swept Overboard because we didnt want to get too elaborate with
their betting style. Well Vinka won and paid $10.60, $6.60 and $5. Swept Overboa
rd swept the win for $3.40, $2,40 and $2.60.
We had TRN installed a few months back and enjoy going to the OTB to
make our bets on the weekends instead of phoning them in. Then we like to come
back home and watch our plays. I decided to make all the same plays that we ga
ve to Alicias family regardless of the odds just so that I could root along with
them. After Vinkas win all Ed and I could imagine is that Alicia, her grandfather
and the rest of her family were having the time of their life. We pictured them
screaming for joy and were both extremely happy at this thought for a family th
at had recently been through more than their share of sorrow. Well Alicia could
nt contain herself and wait till the next time she saw us so she called the follo
wing day. She was so excited that she was talking really fast and she said her
whole family, especially her grandfather, had the time of their life. She said
hes not a yeller like the rest of them but he sure giggled a lot. Her husband Jeff
kept going up to the television screens and rooting the horses home. After winn
ing their third race, everyone in the family said, Ed was the man! His stuff real
ly works! and Alicia told me the best news of all. She said her grandfather want
s to now leave the house and the next thing he wants to do is go to live racing
with her family to the Charlestown Race Track.
All I have to add is, it doesnt feel better than this.

4+30 Play

By Ed Bain
From the Sept 1999 issue:
To wager on five or more tracks, you must be organized to quickly spot up conten
ders. The reason for this is to reduce the amount of time handicapping. Identi
fying high percentage layoff and claiming trainers of four wins or more plus a 3
0% hit rate or higher allows a quick and easy method to find value.
If you are a speed handicapper, playing five or more tracks may be i
mpossible for you, time wise. The horse-by-horse, race by race style needed for
speed handicapping is time consuming. Many speed handicappers spend three or fo
ur hours reviewing one race card. Handicapping five race cards may not be an op
tion for speed players. The saying is If 24 hours in a day is not enough time t
o complete your work, then you just have to work overtime. You make all that ef
fort and at race time everyone in every grandstand across the country has found
the same speed horse and the horse ends up an underlay and you have to pass the
bet.
Wagering on layoffs and claims also produces some of the same problems with valu
e. The difference is you can identify the race quickly and pass based on the mo
rning line odds. For the month of August, using the 4 Plus 30 Play, there were
307 contenders with 26 race days with an average of 12 plays per day. This is w
hat the monthly statistics look like:
Race Days 26
Plays 307
Plays Per Day 12
Win 67 22%
Place 131 43%
Show 175 57%
Out 132
Win Mutuel $8.21
Place Mutuel $4.67
Show Mutuel $3.43
Win Gross $550.30
Place Gross $611.70
Show Gross $600.2
If you are going to invest in the 4 Plus 30 Play, you have to have a way of elim
inating the automatic losers. I went inside the numbers for August and tracked
five factors:
Off tracks
Horses race record for the distance
Four wins
Repeaters
Odds
OFF TRACKS: When the track comes up muddy or sloppy, the trainer has to make a d
ecision. You could ask him Are you going to run your horse today?, he may say W
ell, should I leave his race on the track or should I leave his race in the barn
? He almost always leaves his race on the track. For August, twenty-nine horse
s raced on an off track. Three won (10%), eleven placed (38%), and fourteen sho
wed (48%). Win, place, show, and across the board bets produced a flat bet loss
.
CONCLUSION: Consult L. Tomlinsons Mudders and Turfers. I use Lees pedigree statis
tics the same way I use my Layoff and Claim statistics. I place bets only on th
e very best. For August, I passed all 29 muddy or sloppy opportunities.
RACE RECORD: Common sense can go a long way in racing. A trainer qualifies as a
contender based on four wins or more plus a 30% hit rate or higher. If the hor
se is one win for twelve at this distance, what do you do, bet the race or pass?
The answer is, pass the win bet. If he is six for twelve for second, make a p
lace bet only. I counted two statistics on the horses race record. If his race
record for this distance was zero for five and above, and one for ten and above,
I eliminate all of those horses that had poor race records. Of the 307 contend
ers, fourteen qualified as throw outs. They produced one win, two places, and t
hree shows from the fourteen starters. CONCLUSION: If the trainer has a big lay
off or claim statistic and the horse doesnt like to win, dont place the bet. For
August, I passed all fourteen.
FOUR WINS: Small start trainers are one of the more interesting categories. The
reason I start at four wins is what I call the squeeze play for Lay 2 and Lay 3
and Claim 2 and Claim 3.
I like to see more starts on either side and then squeeze a win out of the
middle statistic. However, I keep the bet to four wins and ten starts or under
. If they have four wins but with eleven, twelve, or thirteen starts, I pass.
In this sample there are four wins and up to thirteen starts. From the 307 cont
enders, 45 qualify for a bet. Six won (13%), eleven placed (24%), and twenty-tw
o showed (49%). All bets showed a flat bet loss. CONCLUSION: Be selective and
be disciplined. Wait for the squeeze on Lay 2 and Lay 3 and Claim 2 and Claim 3
.
REPEATERS: The question is, How often do horses repeat? and Is there value in pl
aying repeaters? Of the 307 contenders, 52 were eligible for the repeat. These
are the statistics:
Win 12 23%
Place 23 44%
Show 29 56%
Out 23
Win Mutuel $8.04
Place Mutuel $4.02
Show Mutuel $3.17
CONCLUSION: Win, place, show and across the board bets produced losses in every
category. However, if you passed all the even money horses and under, you woul
d have passed nine bets, and two would have won. Then repeaters would have been
profitable for August.
ODDS: Of the 307 contenders, 70 were the favorite or 22%. This was an above ave
rage percentage for August. These are the statistics for the 70 favorites:
Favorites 70
Win 24 34%
Place 43 61%
Show 50 71%
Out 20
Win Mutuel $4.45
Place Mutuel $2.96
Show Mutuel $2.46
As you can see, the problem with the favorites is the 34% win rate with a $4.45
payout. The 34% win rate is a 9/5 shot when converted to odds and has a payout
of $5.80. However the $4.45 payout is a 6/5 shot when converted to odds. The p
ercentage on 6/5 is a 45% win rate. This is why favorites are bad bets. They a
re classic underlays. A 34% win rate, a 45% payout rate.
For the 4 Plus 30 Play you have to go to the trainers win percent and compare th
at with his odds at post time. If he is the favorite, then only make the bet wh
en the percentage is on your side.
Conclusion of the 4 Plus 30 Play: Off tracks, the horses race record
, and all even money and under horses in the four win category should be passed.
This accounts for 52 passed races from the 307 contenders. This is what the a
djusted totals look like:
Contenders 255
Win 61 24%
Place 125 49%
Show 169 66%
Out 80
Win Mutuel $8.38
Place Mutuel $4.33
Show Mutuel $3.17
Win betting showed a slight profit. Bet $2.00 on all 255 contenders, you would
have invested $510 and you would have received back $511.30. This would have sho
wed a profit of $1.30. On the place bet, invest $2.00 on all 255 place bets. Yo
u invest $510 and that would have returned $542.40, a profit of $32.40, $2.12 on
each. For show, bet $2.00 on all 255 show bets, invest $510, and would have re
turned $536.30 and show a profit of $26.30 and $2.10 on the 255 show bets.
I once read this story: One winter night during one of the many Ge
rman air raids on Moscow in World War II, a distinguished soviet professor of st
atistics showed up in his local air-raid shelter. He had never appeared there b
efore. There are seven million people in Moscow he used to say. Why should I e
xpect them to hit me? His friends were astonished to see him and asked what had
happened to change his mind. Look he explained There are seven million people
in Moscow and one elephant. Last night they got the elephant. Horseplayers lik
e myself assemble reams of statistics precisely because they need that informati
on in order to reach judgments about the capabilities of the trainers. But real
life betting situations determine the probability of an outcome before an event
occurs. The quality of this information forms a basis of all my wagers. Just
as the professor determined the quality of his information denoted that he shoul
d go to the air raid shelter.


Filters

By Ed Bain
From the June 2001 issue:
When I first tracked and then wagered on statistics, I found myself betting on s
tats the same way I wagered on speed. Handicap the speed, form an opinion, bet
the race. With statistics I went through the same process. Look up the stat, f
orm an opinion, bet the largest percentage. I quickly learned, this is a losing
approach. I needed a filter to eliminate races. I decided that the best filte
r was a two-element approach.
First, a set number of wins and second a fixed percentage. I settled on 4 wins
or more, plus a 30 percent win rate or higher. I labeled this the 4 + 30 for ea
sy identification. I then ignored all other statistics in the race. By only be
tting the 4 + 30, it allowed me to record a hit rate and an average win mutuel o
n this stat.
With Layoffs and Claims I have always tried to find an automatic play. I have been
able to do this with trainer stats that are individual and specific but not as a
fixed play or a whole category that could be activated and bet on without thoug
ht or deliberation and then show a profit, or an ROI.
As I wagered on these statistics, I became aware of the need to apply more filte
rs. With the 4 + 30 on five main tracks, the play produced a 24 percent-hit rat
e and an $8.50 average win mutuel on 11 plays per day. I knew if I could make f
our bets, get one win that I could make a living. It would be an appurtenance,
or something added to, an already important thing, the statistic. My only goal
was to bet on racing and produce an income.
Cutting seven plays out of the eleven was initially very tough because I may hav
e had good reason to pass but that does not mean they wont win, and they do. I a
lso had more to choose on Saturday and Sunday than on Wednesday and Thursday. A
nd I did not have a ready-made list of reasons to eliminate potential bets. I r
ecognized the factors that are paramount to the statistic and to my approach and
also to handle the personal stress. Making money incorporates self control, app
lying rules and setting an orderly approach to the eliminations and then accept
the results.
I knew I had to learn and find the filters as I continued wagering. I am a win
bettor and win betting is not a big score type of play. Betting like this, I wi
ll never have a $25,000 day. This approach is a grind em out, day to day way of
producing a living. Not a one hit, get rich style of betting.
This method of filtering down to four win bets a day may seem easy to some and h
ard to others. Betting this way requires hard core discipline. But there is mo
ney to be made over any length of time looking for four good bets from eleven.
I try to hit two, I average about one and a quarter a day. There is churn with
this style of betting. You win a little, you lose a little, but there are gener
ally no long run outs of losing bets. The goal is to average over one hit a day
and collect on the average payouts of the stats which is $8.50.
Using filters to eliminate statistics can help you reach these types of goals bu
t personal discipline makes money. Its the discipline that is the key to the fil
ters.
This is a list of what I use to filter plays;
Fast Tracks Only

Tomlinson Turf numbers, 320 & Up

Post Position (ex: post position 10 & out at tracks like Gulfstream.)

Horses overall poor race record.

Horses poor track record.

Horses poor distance record.

Morning line to win percentage to win payout. (ex: High win payout, low morning
line.)

Repeaters

Underlaid win percentage to morning line.

0 fors in the subsets.

Poor subset records.

Negative ROI. (ex: low morning line, low win payout, negative ROI.)

Bet Layoffs and Claims only in Claiming, Allowance, or Stakes. Do not bet in MSW o
r Maiden Claim.

Bet Debut stats only in MSW and Maiden Claims.

Pedigree, use Mike Helms Class Ratings.

Jockey, poor overall race record.
These eliminations are the center of my style of play. Fortunately handicapping
has nothing to do with physical talent. Its a mental sport. Its about betting a
nd making a living. And its about reaching the potential of the statistic by usi
ng filters but potential is always about head and heart and these are the same p
laces discipline resides.
Fundamentals

By Ed Bain
From the November 2000 issue:

I recently read an article by Dick Mitchell titled Some Thoughts on the Fundament
als of Handicapping. You can read this at his web site http://www.cynpub.com.
Mitchell states that the fundamentals of speed, pace, class, and form are the fu
ndamentals of handicapping. It goes something like this. In racing the first t
hing a handicapper must do is assess the ability of each contender. If a horse
cant run to the pars and the profiles demanded of winners at todays class level, t
hen its a throw out. Second, determine the current form and condition of each of
your contenders, adjusted final time is always a function of pace. Class is sp
eed. The non-classy horse will always succumb to his superior. All par times
have higher classes running faster final times than lower classes. These are th
e so-called fundamentals of handicapping. I too have some thoughts on the fundam
entals of handicapping. It goes something like this. When you look at speed, i
ts subjective. The fastest horse does not always win. Even with a set of pars t
hat tell you the winning times through each quarter mile, each half mile and eac
h stretch fraction, the speed of the horse is no more than a guess. One reason i
s the races may be carded at about a mile and 1/16 or at about 7 furlongs. The
distances in racing are not specific and the horse is not timed from a stand sti
ll like they time all human athletes. There is a run up to the timer, and the d
istance for the run up varies from track to track and can be as much as 150 feet
. This run up is half the length of a football field before the timer is trippe
d and you wonder why race after race is determined by a photo finish and your sp
eed horse is losing at the wire its because they are running further than the sta
ted distance. In horse racing the times are counted in hundreds, not thousands.
Through each timed quarter the time is off by about a tenth of a second. At a m
ile this can be two lengths. The experts are telling people to learn the tenant
s of handicapping and the fundamentals of speed. But they offer no evidence tha
t this technique either works or is profitable. I have never seen a set of stat
istics that prove speed in any form is a profitable approach to betting on the r
aces. I have never seen any type of computer program select winners based on pa
rs win and be profitable over the long term. And by the way, all computer speed
programs use the same set of pars irrelevant to the cost of the program.
The handicapping technique that may be as vague as handicapping the speed is cla
ss. The argument that class is speed needs to be proven by statistics. When ha
ndicapping any race, many horses are dropping one or two levels as well as some
rising one or two levels. Class moves perform best when the trainer is fulfillin
g a specialty move. A class rise or drop by itself has little value. They drop
or rise in class because of the way the conditions are written for this race an
d may mean that some horses that are moving down two levels may in fact be movin
g up two class levels. The only legitimate identifiable class drop in racing is
Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claim. Some claiming horses like John Henry who
was a $7,500 claimer move into the stakes grades and win. And some stakes horse
s drop into the claiming level and win. There is a lot of movement and much ove
rlapping in the class ladder however when evaluating class from track to track,
I dont believe a $10,000 claimer at Mountaineer Park is in the same class as a $1
0,000 claimer at Saratoga.
The rate of speed is called pace. This is another foundation or basis that is e
ssential to the so-called fundamentals of horse racing. Who will get the lead o
ut of the gate? Who or how many will be on the lead at the quarter? Who is the
speed of the speed? When will the early speed peel off? Who will have the lea
d at the half mile? Where will the closing speed come from and from how far bac
k? Pace seems to travel in the same company as speed. More descriptions that s
eem plausible but where are the statistics that say pace wins races? What is th
e return on investment for pace horses, where are the percentages on these races
and how do you identify pace advantages and be profitable? Most races are won
by the horse on the lead but pace has a very difficult time identifying who will
be on the lead from one quarter to another and is impossible to reach a statist
ic and an ROI on this fundamental. Pace makes the race. This saying is great f
or discussions. But is it an effective way to make money? Race after race is w
on by the lone speed. The handicapper who can predict which horse was the pace
and the speed may be wrong and then another pace and speed horse goes on and win
s.
If you think speed, pace and class is confusing, and practically invisible the f
orm factor may be the most ambiguous. Of these fundamentals the form factor mea
ns a printed document with blanks to be filled in. With any cycle a period of ti
me within which a round of regularly reoccurring events is completed is labeled
a form cycle.
To this day there is no starting point or how many races are in a form cycle. Th
ere is no checklist to run through to identify any form cycle. There is no way
to recognize the first race in this form cycle so you can view the series. The
question is what is the accepted routine for a form cycle? Experts talk about t
he form cycle as though we all have the same understanding. I never did. I hav
e a friend who is a smoker. Every time he offers me a Marlboro, I turn him down
and say I dont smoke. With a laugh he says you have been in the same form cycl
e for twelve years, as long as weve known each other. According to Dick Mitchell
handicapping is supposed to be an orderly process based on the fundamentals of
speed, pace, class and form. What a laugh. It seems you cant pin any of these fu
ndamentals down by getting a hit rate or ROI on any of them. Of all the sports
, racing has no room for statistics. In every sport the fundamentals has a coun
t and percentage. There is also a count on every conceivable move on every situ
ation for every sport except horse racing. Pro sports players apply statistics
to produce a living. To people like Dick Mitchell, statistics are short cuts.
Statistics are a secondary factor. Even when you can prove to a speed, class, p
ace and form guy who does not win, that statistics played on an ROI basis means
you can win long term placing bets on the horses for a living. They cop out and
say Ill take the speed over your trainer stat, your horse has no speed. I attem
pted to play these amazing fundamentals of speed, pace, class and form for about
ten years. I could win on any day using these four handicapping factors and lo
se money even as I was winning. You would think after ten years of playing that
stuff I should be able to come up with one players name who ended up a winner.
The sad truth is, I cant. Including me, but I always thought I could because so
me expert like Dick Mitchell wrote about speed and its impact on racing and how w
e needed to know and learn the fundamentals because they were selling books or s
ystems or computer programs. Or some expert going on and on about the speed, the
lone speed, the speed of the speed, the pace and speed, the finishing speed, ad
ding in he is in perfect form and running at his proper class level. I always u
nderstood but when I applied this orderly process I could not make a living usin
g this expert double speak. And my opinion is they couldnt either.
The proper measurement for success in racing is ROI (Return On Investment). Pro
players look at the amount of money pushed through the mutuel windows for an ent
ire year, then calculate the amount churned to profit. If they come out 10 perc
ent above their churn, they will tell you I had a very big year. I pushed a mi
llion and made a 100K but you dont need a million on hand to churn a million. But
for those types of players, they rarely make 10 percent on their churn. They dr
eam about producing anything near 10 percent. And speed, pace, class and form
has never been able to show a positive ROI or that it is profitable on any perce
ntage basis. When a fundamental handicapper is in a discussion with trainer pla
yers, its almost a religious comparison. These fundamentalists will say I need a
twenty thousand race study to make any reasonable conclusion. Yet they will re
quire no study at all on the so-called fundamentals of handicapping. As a train
er capper I can guarantee a profit. How much of a percentage or how much of an
edge is up to me. If you want a 20 percent ROI, you can reach that with trainer
statistics. But one thing not to do is blindly put trainers into artificially
created groups and expect results. Like betting only when the trainer has odds o
f 10-1 or above. Trainer statistics are not general in their approach. They are
individual and specific.
Betting on them for a living means you have to know before you place the bet if
this trainer is profitable over the long term on this trainer move. Neil Drysda
le from southern California on 1st after a layoff in a sprint has 94 starts, 29
wins, a 31 percent win rate and a $1 ROI of $1.71. I bet $200 to win on all 94
starts. I pushed $18,800 through the windows. I hit for $32,148 and made $13,3
48 on the 94 win bets. The rub is of these 94 layoff sprints I did not know whi
ch of the 29 wins would come in so I had to bet all 94. These statistics are fr
om my betting records and I did not consult any of the fundamentals espoused by
Dick Mitchell. I could have cared less what all 94 speed, pace, class or form t
hese horses were in. This record is from 94 when I committed to trainer stats a
nd as I was playing them I began to understand what ROI really means. It means m
aking a living based on the proof of a statistic. There is no proof on speed, pa
ce, class or form. 94 bets are not many bets in six years. However, thats only
one trainer move from one trainer. Of the original five circuits I had stats o
n, there are about 1,500 trainers. For Layoffs and Claims on my style of tracking t
hem, there are 16 trainer moves or about 24,000 combinations. From those I have
ended up placing bets on about 100 trainers who show a positive ROI. Not one b
et was made consulting with the fundamentals. If I had handicapped with the fun
damentals, I would not have a positive ROI because the trainer statistic does no
t show if the horse could not run to the pars or could not make the pace or was
not in a form cycle or did not have enough class. More than likely I would have
passed many of the double digit winners and ending up betting many of the low-pr
iced favorites.
This is what Dick Mitchells closing paragraph states: I have had the good fortune
to personally know many winning players. I dont know a single winner that doesnt
apply the fundamentals of speed, pace, class and the form factor before the trai
ner enters his or her consideration. The trainer factor is a secondary factor.
Please dont listen to so called Trainer Experts who claim to win using on trainer
statistics and nothing else. I promise you that they could improve their result
s dramatically by adding good solid fundamental handicapping to their present me
thodology. See you on the short line.
After reading this wrong-headed article from Dick Mitchell and after I stopped s
haking my head at the ridiculousness of his statements, I thought to myself. Wi
th these fundamentals of handicapping you would think that the race tracks, OTBs
and race books would be overflowing with pros and minor leaguers learning the ro
pes of the fundamentals of handicapping - and using these great tools to make a
living betting on the horses. After all, once you learn the fundamentals you sh
ould be able to reproduce the same results over any period of time and make a li
ving betting on the horses with speed, pace, class and form. The tracks, OTBs, an
d the Race Books are not overflowing with winners but they are with players who
bought into these four factors that cannot show a profit.
But there is one question that makes me wonder what the answer would
be. And the question is Is that short line the unemployment line?

Questions

By Ed Bain
From the February 2001 issue:
When I first started tracking trainers, I did not know what information I wo
uld find from 134 different trainer moves, but I knew I wanted percentages. As
I recorded these trainer moves, Layoffs and Claims began to stand out while most oth
er moves were low percentages or no percentages. I found myself anticipating th
e Layoffs. It was apparent that some trainers had really high percentages and som
e did not. So I decided to drop a 132 of those trainer moves and concentrate on
two, Layoffs and Claims. When I did, I found I could ask myself questions and th
at I could then record and get answers to these questions. The first question w
as How does a trainer perform returning the horse from a layoff when the horse wa
s not sick or injured? By recording the layoffs I now had that questioned half a
nswered. I then asked, Did he have a higher percentage on his sprinters or route
rs? After doing the manual recording on that, I then asked, Where is he likely to
get his highest percentage from his first four races back from a layoff on eith
er his routes or his sprints? To answer those questions it took a massive amoun
t of work to first organize, then set up the manual recording to find this infor
mation, along with the daily entries to keep it updated. My first way of bettin
g with Layoffs was to bet on the highest percentage in each race. I quickly learn
ed this is not a good approach. Its like betting the fastest horse in every race
. So I asked another question, What is a good percentage? and I decided on 30 pe
rcent. But I knew I had to include a specific number of wins with that 30 perce
nt. I decided four wins was the best number. The reason is acquiring data was
not big in the beginning. So four wins or more plus a 30 percent win rate or hi
gher would be the platform to base my wagers. I felt four wins would reduce the
luck factor and hopefully make the trainer plan out his races to produce a win.
In ten races he could get two wins by design and get lucky on one for a 30% hi
t rate. But over twenty races he may only get two more and end up with a statis
tical trap. But four wins plus a 30 percent-hit rate is a 13 race sequence. At
four for fourteen and 29 percent, I could then pass and avoid a lot of statisti
cal traps with a small amount of wins and this is the reasoning I use for the 4
+ 30 Play. I could also build into the trainers who needed time because of smal
l stables but would end up to be good betting opportunities because the small st
at would end up large over time. When I decided on the 4 + 30, it established a
structure to my betting and I became more organized in my approach to percentag
es. I knew the reason was these were individual and specific trainer moves and
percentages are not subject to the law of averages which says that the differenc
e between the observed value of a sample and its true value will diminish as the
numbers on the count increases. I felt this would be true if youre playing every
horse returning from the layoff. I also knew the individual contributes to the
overall statistic and eliminates the argument about the law of averages. But i
t would not mean that a trainers hit rate would remain fixed. It could move belo
w 30 percent or rise much higher than 30 percent with winning and losing streaks
. The 4 + 30 reduced the losing streak to a manageable level. But any losing s
treak can be painful. But by using the 4 + 30 as a guide to make or pass bets, I
could view a statistic of 4 + 29 and pass the bet. Not betting has value. Bet
ting with the 4 + 30 has a degree of certainty and has value. And in this race,
with this statistic somebody is going to win. The 4 + 30 can be measured with
the bell curve. The main purpose of the bell curve is to indicate not accuracy
but error. The bell curve shows the largest numbers clustered in the center, th
en slopes symmetrically downward with an equal number on either side of the bell
. Another term would be the mean. Statisticians will tell you that 68 percent
of all observations will fall within one standard deviation of the mean or the a
verage. And 95 percent will fall within two standard deviations of the mean or
the average.
All layoff trainers with a 4 + 30 stat are not alike. And neither are the horse
s. But all the layoffs may be similar. The average hit rate for all layoffs is
12 percent. An individual trainer who produces a 30 percent average on his lay
offs means he is not average. 12 percent is average and most trainers would fal
l into the average trainers category of 12 percent and many would be below averag
e but would not be labeled object failures because of the bell curve, which evol
ves around an average. But even with a 30 percent-hit rate, there will be a 70
percent loss rate. In racing the payouts from the win mutuels make the loss rat
e acceptable. But 30 percent also puts this trainer in the 5 percent category w
hen compared to the bell curves second standard deviation of the mean or average
.
In August of last year I turned my stats over to HDW and they customized the Layo
ff and Claim statistics by arranging subsets under the primary or applicable statis
tic. The subsets are 26 items the trainer is performing from the applicable sta
tistic. These are to produce an even more specific stat. I also identified all
subsets that had 4 + 30's. They can be used as support to place bets on the Lay
off or Claim percentage. There are some 4 + 30's in the subsets that can be excell
ent reasons to place a bet. Even though the Layoff or Claim may not qualify as a 4
+ 30. As an example, first time lasix, or stakes to allowance, or MSW to Maiden
Claim. But for the most part I use the subsets as a reason to bet with a 4 + 3
0 Layoff or Claim as well as not using the subsets to place the bet. When I fin
d the subset with a low or no-hit rate, the subset percentages are important for
placing and passing bets. But I always use the primary stat as my focus.
The question that needs to be answered about wagering with percentages is Can you
win and produce a living betting on numbers that are not related to the speed o
f the horse? Speed players have a tendency to overweigh recent evidence and pay
no attention to a percentage. So they lose sight of or place no importance on t
hat percentage. After all, we know a lot more about what is happening right now
than we can ever know about what will happen at some uncertain date in the futu
re. But the evidence of percentages proves that question can be answered, yes.
Recreational or Pro

By Ed Bain
From the December 2000 issue:
I had this question asked: Is it any different for the recreational player than i
t is for the professional player? or Is it simply: when the odds are right, and th
e statistic is right and the subsets are right . . ., its a play? My answer is, i
t is the same. A recreational player can use the same advantages in statistics
that a pro player like me uses. A recreational player can be a spot player and
this is the way I wager, as a spot player.
I think of my style of playing on statistics as a spot player. I prefer to cher
ry pick the best statistics based on my experience wagering on a trainers percent
ages. I know that each circuit has a handful of successful trainer moves. Beca
use of this I have centered up and bet the same group of trainers over and over
again.
The recreational player can use the same approach I use. On an average day I pl
ace four win bets. Two of those bets are automatic wagers because of their high
hit rates and large ROIs (Return On Investment). When these automatics present
themselves I bet them regardless of their odds because of their hit rate and ROI
. I keep this trainer list small but very profitable. It keeps me focused on h
ow to make money betting on the horses for a living. A recreational player has
the same advantage if he is willing to play this way.
The trainers I bet over and over are from the original five circuits I tracked b
y hand. If you are a recreational player with a phone or and offshore account,
the same opportunity is there for the recreational player as well as any pro pla
yer. By making a small but an effective list of the high percentage and high RO
I trainer moves, and you keep this list around twenty or under, you can show an
immediate profit by betting on these trainer moves when they present themselves.
By keeping it small, you may not have a bet every day. Some weeks you may onl
y call in and place one or two bets because of the tracks now running on your ci
rcuit. As an example, in New York Aqueduct is open. Many of the big trainers m
ove to Gulfstream in Florida for the winter. So Aqueduct will produce fewer bet
s for New York handicappers.
In New York I have one trainer I wait for, then bet when his big stat arrives.
A second after a claim, route. This trainer, Richard Dutrow, Jr. is an automati
c when his claim 2 route is there to bet. Dutrow does not do a lot of claiming
but when he does, he has a large percentage for that move and is very profitable
and an automatic bet.
In Maryland, Howard Wolfendale is on my short list. He qualifies on first after
a claim in a route. I bet his stat even if his odds are 3/5 because he is profi
table long term on an ROI basis. I dont get many plays from Wolfendale. Even th
ough he has a high hit rate, it does not mean he will win today on his claim one
route. Wolfendale has lost his last five, 1st after a claim - route. Even wit
h his loses I will bet every one of his claim one routes in the future.
If you keep the list small, a recreational player will have the same opportunity
to be profitable. By keeping the list small with high percentage trainers, you
will reduce the probability of a long run out of losers.
In Kentucky, Frank Brothers 1st after a layoff in a sprint, is an automatic. Mo
st handicappers believe Brothers is a route trainer but his lay one sprint statis
tic is the only time to put money on his runners. Trainers like Brothers give t
heir horses time off when there is nothing wrong with the horse. Consequently t
hey have the horse in racing shape first after the layoff in a sprint. And this
is the time a recreational player or a pro-player should make the bet.
Peter Walder races in Florida and New Jersey. Walder is a 1st after a layoff in
a sprint. He is a small start trainer but a very effective sprint layoff train
er. Earlier in the summer Walder had three sprint layoff horses win on the same
day. He will show up at Gulfstream with a handful of sprint layoff horses and
all will be automatic bets for me. And they also should be for the recreational
player.
Neil Drysdale is a high profile trainer. Drysdale is a 1st after a layoff sprin
t automatic. Although he is great off the route layoff, his sprint statistics an
d ROI are better than his routes. This southern California trainer has been ver
y profitable off the sprint layoff for many years. The day after Christmas, San
ta Anita opens for their winter meet. Drysdale is most effective on the 6 furlo
ng down the hill turf sprints. This is also the most exciting race in all of ra
cing. Drysdale points many of his sprinters for the winter meet in the downhill
sprint turf race. If youre a pro-player or a recreational player, you should be
pointing for Drysdales 1st after a layoff turf sprints at Santa Anita this winte
r.
If you place bets on these statistics, you can be profitable immediately. There
is one trainer who in my opinion is better than the rest. His style is to be c
autious, but to always give his horses a freshening. He also is one of the larg
est stables in the country and wins everywhere. He has a division racing in Ken
tucky and you can bet his assistant there as also. This trainer is Bill Mott.
He wins with just about all of his first, second, third, and fourth after a layo
ff routes at every track. I consider him my designated hitter because of volume
. When his layoff horses show up at any track, I ask only that his horses has t
o be on the turf and for Motts assistant in Kentucky, he has to have Pat Day in t
he irons. I pass his layoff runners if one of those two items is missing.
A recreational player, once he understands information like Layoffs and Claims has t
he same opportunity to bet and win as any pro-player. These five trainers, Dutr
ow, Wolfendale, Walder, Drysdale, and Mott are part of my automatic list. I nev
er pass these five when their specialty moves line up. I place the bet. A recr
eational player can use the same approach. It will require a small but an effec
tive list then the discipline to bet on that trainer move only. Along with pati
ence to wait until one of those trainer moves lines up.
Featured Newsletter Article
The 4+30 for 2002

By Ed Bain
From the January 2003 issue:
In 2002 there were 10,539 4+30 stats, an average of 28.9 4+30s per day
. There were 2,134 wins and an average of 5.8 wins per day. The 4+30 carried a 2
0 percent win rate for an average win mutuel of $8.77 with a $2 ROI (Return on I
nvestment) of $1.78. 3,545 Win/Placed for a 34 percent Place rate. The average P
lace mutuel was $4.76. For Show 4,827 hit the board for an In The Money (ITM) hi
t rate of 46 percent and an average Show payout of $3.53.
There were approximately 878 4+30 stats per month with 178 wins. The month with
the most stats to chose from was June. There were 1,160
4 + 30 stats for this month that also produced the most wins, 243. There was an
average of 8.1 hits per day for a 21 percent win rate. December produced 567 4+3
0s and was the month that offered the least amount of stats to bet although Dece
mber produced 121 wins. Yet December was not the month with the lowest win total
. February produced 106 wins and was also the lowest month by hit rate percentag
e, 17.
For 2002 the three trainers with the most Wins were, Jerry Hollendorfer with 59
and an average win mutuel of $6.56 followed by Richard Dutrow with 49 wins and a
$7.10 average win mutuel and finished by Bill Mott with 46 wins and an average
win mutuel of $6.44. These three trainers accounted for 7.2 percent of the total
2,134 4+30 wins.
Trainer Temple Rushton from Arapahoe Park produced the largest win mutuel from t
he 4+30s. On July 5 he won with Six Angry Men on a 3rd After a Layoff Route with
a 45 percent win rate. Six Angry Men had a M/L of 12/1 and paid $190.
At Calder Racetrack Manuel Wayar hit on a 3rd Start Sprint with a 33 percent win
rate in a Maiden Claiming Race. Paysito paid $124 for his win.
There were 55 races that won that had a Morning Line at even money or under and
411 4 + 30s won that were bet down to even money or under.
From the 2,134 wins there were 518 that had a payout of $10 or higher for an ave
rage of 43 wins per month. These 43 represented 24 percent of all the wins. 28 h
its were above $40, 58 were above $30 and 129 wins were over $20. 250 4+3
0s had a mutuel payout of $6. 148 paid $7 and 154 4+30s hit for $8.
The Trainer with the most 4+30 wins at different racetracks was Michael Dickinso
n with 21 wins on 12 different tracks.
The top female with wins from the 4+30 was Amy Albright with 21 while she carrie
d an average win mutuel of $6.64.
Jerry Hollendorfer produced the most wins at one track. 30 of his
59 4+30 wins were at Golden Gate.
Tom Amoss scored 24 times at Fair Grounds. Richard Dutrow hit 26 times at Aquedu
ct. Anthony and Richard Dutrow had the most wins for a family with 78.
Wallace Dollase, I call him Wally 2 turns, produced 12 of his 14 wins in routes.
His son Craig Dollase, I call him Craig 1 turn, also had 12 wins yet all of his
were in sprints. Combine Father and son and you get 26 4+30 wins.
Paco Gonzales a Southern California based trainer had the most 4+30 wins with on
e horse. Came Home scored six times over the year with the largest payout being
$23 when he ran at Del Mar.
John Shirreffs, also from Southern California, had the most double-digit wins, 8
out of his 13. His average win mutuel was 21.82.
Richard Dutrow was 10 for 49.
From the Debut 4+30s, 2nd Start Sprint produced the most wins 57 and 3rd Start S
print had 48.
1st After a Claim Sprint produced 128 wins.
2nd After a Claim Sprint had the most Wins for Claimed statistics, 133.
2nd After a Claim Route had only 4 wins.
1st After a Layoff Sprint produced 211 wins.
3rd After a Layoff Sprint had the most wins in Layoffs, 235.
By percentages 30 percent had the most wins with 349. There were 150 wins that h
ad a percentage of 50 or above.
Woodbine produced the most wins, 96 and Aqueduct had the second most with 77.
By class, the claiming ranks had the most wins, producing 939, which represented
44 percent of all wins. Alw- 418, MCLM-267, MSW-247, Stk-133 and Optional Clai
ming races had 125 4+30 wins.
Maiden Claiming Races had the largest win mutuel, $9.60.
Claiming Races paid $9.22, Maiden Special Weights $8.80, Optional Claiming Races
had a pay out $8.24, Alw Races had an average win mutuel of $7.85, the lowest p
ayouts were Stake Races, $7.65.
The conclusions drawn from these stats for 2002 on the 4+30 is trainer
s intent, it is the same as previous years. Past data from past races constitute
a sequence of events. The figures are never perfect, however they can be predic
tive on a percentage basis. The results of the 4+30 are not random because it i
s not only the percentage it is also the win mutuel or the bottom line. These tr
ainers who have a 4+30 have had the same approach for years. Producing wins day
in and day out in the same way. Though the percentages may fluctuate year to yea
r their intent is there year to year.