Joe and Brian Answer Your Facebook Questions - Vol. 8

By Joe Kristufek and Brian W. Spencer

What kind of strategies do Brian and Joe have to bet against bridgejumpers? There was someone who bet about $98,000 to show on the favorite in Saturday's 9th. The horse looked to give way at the top of the stretch, but somehow came back. - Andrew B.

Brian W. Spencer: Your question about "bridgejumpers" is an excellent one. For those reading along, a "bridgejumper" is a person who puts a huge amount of money (say, $50,000) to show on a horse who, on paper, "can't" finish out of the top three. We see it usually only with very, very heavy favorites. Those folks are willing to invest a huge amount of money to make $0.05 on every dollar in return.

I would never do that, even if I had the money, and here's why. First, too many things can go wrong in horse racing. A horse can break poorly, or have a bad day, or get into traffic trouble. There are no sure things in racing. People who are looking for this type of return have to be right almost every time in order to turn a profit. If they're correct 10 times in a row and make a nickel on every dollar they bet, and then they're wrong just once, they're in the hole. If they're betting the same amounts, they have to be right basically 20 times in a row to guarantee a profit if they lose once.

I love playing against these types of players. Quite often, they're right, and the horses run in the top three and pay $2.10 to show, but when they don't, you can see huge payoffs on the other runners as the people holding show tickets on those horses are splitting up that huge amount of money that was bet. If I am watching the pools and I see this scenario playing out in the show pool with one runner HEAVILY favored, I'll find another horse that I think can run in the top three and bet some money to show on that horse. If it runs in the top three along WITH the favorite, then my horse pays about $2.40 to show and I turn a slight profit. If the favorite runs out, then those show payoffs can look more like longshot win prices and you can get paid $20, $40, $70 for a simple show bet, depending on the totality of the wagering dynamics.

The bridgejumper has to be right almost every time to show a profit playing like that. You, on the other hand, only have to be right once to show a big profit playing against that type of player. That's a fair bet for me. Great question!

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1.) Pace/Speed - They say pace makes race. While I don't fully understand that, I think the basic concept is that if there are two speed types, they will duel for the lead, tire, and a closer will win. Straight speed will win if it is lone speed. Right? We need to remember that horses run against each other and not a clock right?

2.) When I was younger, my dad would repeatedly tell me class, class, class and more class. So sorry if I have that drilled into my head, but that's what I was brought up with. Class and preferred surfaces and distances. I still think there's something simple and "at home" about these concepts with me.

3.) The DRF and formulator has more info than EVER and the favorites are STILL only winning 33%. Why is that? The public obviously isn't getting any smarter. -Chris S.

Joe Kristufek: 1.) Pace DOES make the race, particularly on turf and Poly. The art of handicapping is to be able to visualize the race. Speed, pressers, stalkers and closers. How fast will the fractions be? Based on post positions, where to you think the horses will be placed? I only use speed figures as a foundation for the horse's quality. There are reasons horses run fast, tire, or fail to pick up late - pace set up and trip.

2.) Class is relative. In most cases I'd rather bet a horse on the rise than an old "class" horse plummeting. You have to avoid hard, fast rules. Every race is different. If you follow Chicago racing, become a talent scout. Watch the races. Watch replays. Have an opinion on strength of field. In some races the horse who ran sixth ran a winning race. In others, the horse that won did so by default.

3.) Favorites are only winning 33%, BUT it's a lot tougher to catch price shots than it was back in the day. Before the age of all these stats, players who followed a circuit closely had a MUCH bigger advantage. Ask any old school horseplayer, they'll tell you the same thing. I would have a much bigger advantage at the windows if all the info wasn't public, but BRIS and DRF are in a fight for business, and whomever offers more/better information is going to get the added business. Players don't have to work nearly as hard as they used to. It makes it tougher to catch a price on a horse you really like, BUT the playing field being leveled gives the masses a better shot to hold their own, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for the health of the game.