2011 was, probably, a bad year for me betting. I say probably because I’m uncertain exactly how much I won or lost since I didn’t keep proper records of my on-track betting. So, looking back, I’ll group my action into four different categories and rate it on a scale of very bad to very good.
On-Track or Simulcast, Pre-Breeder’s Cup – Good. Highlights include:
- Big win on Arkansas Derby with ArchArchArch at 25-1
- Hitting early Pick-4s on Belmont Friday and Saturday
Online thru ADWs (primarily TwinSpires) including Kentucky Derby – Bad. I learned:
- That I need to pick my spots – ADWs support action bets like no other and I made dozens of poorly handicapped bets, just to play a race I was watching.
- Trust your judgment. Hedge a little, not a lot. – this was big on Derby Day, as a syndicate I was involved in was well covered to win in the Derby. I played a lot of horses that I didn’t like, just in case they hit. Of course, one of my 3 favs – Animal Kingdom (along with ArchArchArch and Soldat) won at a nice price. Trusting myself and/or my syndicate’s handicapping would have really improved my Derby day ROI, but I hedged on the big race too much.
- My ROI on TS this year was -40% or so – this is unsustainable to say the least.
Betting with syndicates – Good. I learned:
- Syndicates are great on carryovers and hi-overlay days. Syndicates I was involved in did best on the Rainbow 6 carryover day and the Derby. Preakness was not good – few overlays, and Belmont was a push. I’ll make these plays a higher % of my action this year, where I can find them.
- I prefer syndicates that can hedge larger P6 bets with smaller P4 bets and exactas when they’re still alive to a bigger score. The Players Pool at TwinSpires is often all or nothing, and may be better for chasing carryovers when that’s a positive expectation.
- Derby Day is huge for overlays in multiple pools. Hedging often means playing underlays.
Breeders Cup 2011 – Very Bad. I learned:
- I’m not a very good handicapper when there are few standout horses, as the 2011 BC was certainly lacking them. I had no great As to key Pick X tickets and tried too often to beat the few short prices out there (see: Royal Delta)
- Too many exotic plays, not enough WPS bets – I had in my mind that I had to hit a huge score in order to make the weekend break-even with hotel and all and I chased too much instead of identifying good overlay opportunities race by race. Caleb’s Posse is an opportunity missed because of poor payroll management.
So, I figure I was break-even for the year before Breeder’s Cup and that knocked me back on my heels. But I learned a lot and it’s really encouraged me to take on 2012 at the races with a plan.