Joe and Brian Answer Your Facebook Questions - Vol. 3

by Joe Kristufek and Brian W. Spencer

Every Monday on the Arlington Park Facebook page at, Daily Herald and Arlington Park handicapper Joe Kristufek and's Brian W. Spencer field questions in the morning, and provide answers in the evening. No matter how simple or how advanced, every question is a good question. Joe and Brian are available every Monday to answer anything you've ever wanted to know about horse racing.

Every other week, we'll reprint some of the best questions here in the Daily Racing Guide. Log on to, ask your question, and come back to the track to see if it wound up in the program!

How would you approach...a Pick-4? How much should I be willing to commit? - Tyler T.
Joe Kristufek:
The first question that must be asked is, what is your budget? The more you're willing to invest, the more coverage you're going to have. Defeating the favorite in the first leg of the Pick Four puts you in the driver's seat. Players are often inclined to use the "chalk" in the initial race of the series in order to stay alive. A 10-1 winner is often worth a lot more. If you are serious about playing Pick Fours, do not rush when constructing your ticket. Begin by listing all horses who have a chance, and eliminate race by race. The amount of your money you are willing to spend will always be the final determining factor. The price of the ticket is determined by how many horses you use in the sequence. Here's a reasonably priced ticket: 1-4-5 with 2-3 with 7-9 with 3-6 (3x2x2x2) = $24. Using a horse as a "single" in one of the races greatly lowers the cost of your ticket. If you have supreme confidence in a horse, singling is often a good idea. It allows you to use more horses in the races you feel are more wide open. Often times, cheap claiming races offer the best opportunity to "spread" (using multiple horses). Lower level claimers are often the most inconsistent and your best chance to catch a $60 lobster can be found in such races. Determining which horses are going to run well in a particular race is just half the battle. Constructing tickets that maximize your chance at a profit is the determining factor as to whether you win or lose. 

My picks for exactas are finishing 1-3-4 and 2-3-4. I must be missing something...what is it?? - Chris S.
Brian W. Spencer:
Could be nothing more than bad luck! If you're paying attention and following the track, the ups and downs will always come back, and the best you can do is just lay off a bit when you're cold and take advantage when you're hot. Some Exacta part-wheels may help, those bets may help construct tickets that give you some additional coverage and that may be all it takes to add another horse in the 2nd spot and hit those bets!

In race 4 on Friday the 1st and 2nd place horse both paid more for show then place. How is that possible? - Mandy Y
In Friday's 4th race, Big Rushlet was a heavy favorite. Sometimes, when a *big* bettor thinks that a horse is a certainty to finish in the top 3, he or she will make a very substantial wager on that horse to show. They're willing to take a $2.10 return on every $2 they bet, because if they bet enough on that they can eke out a small profit - 5% return on your money in 70 seconds? Sounds good, but in practice it's dangerous and not the kind of bet I'd recommend. What happens sometimes, like on Friday, is that the heavy favorite doesn't hit the board. Remember too, that because horse racing is based on pari-mutuel wagering, that means that we're all betting against one another, so when that runner doesn't hit the board, all of the rest of us get to split up that person's HUGE bet to show because it lost and that's what leads to show payoffs being larger than place payoffs. You can even monitor the show pool in races with heavy favorites to try to find these opportunities to play against those kinds of bettors before the races too.

What happened with the Frank Calabrese/Wayne Catalano duo? Falling out? I am kind of glad in a way that they haven't been pairing up, because now you can actually get some value out of pick 4's, pick 3's. Any time one of their horses won, it really shrunk the payouts.- Brittany H.
Joe Kristufek:
In regards to Catalano and Calabrese, they've had nearly as many divorces as Liz Taylor. Following their break up in the winter of '09, Catalano was forced to rebuild his stable, and he's done so with much success, winning the Arlington training title again last year and eventually scoring a Breeders' Cup win with the 2yo filly She Be Wild. Calabrese has not missed a beat either. His main trainer Nick Canani is going head to head with Catalano in the trainer standings.