So the 46-1 winner in race 5 at Woodbine yesterday had one fan in the grandstand screaming so loudly, his voice was picked up in the online broadcast of Woodbine races. Well, good for him (was it you?) but what about the rest of us? If you’re among the great multitude who DIDN’T have that horse, Jimmies Big Day, was there a way you could have played him so you were cashing a huge pick-5 (that paid $14,994 for 20-cents) or the superfecta that paid $802 for 20 cents?

Yes and yes. Some races are what I like to call x-factor races. X-factor races are races which are more likely than others to be won by a difficult-to-handicap horse. Race 5 was a maiden race and what do these races contain? Horses that are new to the game – either first-time starters or horses that have had only a start or two and are still figuring out what is expected of them.

The longshot winner of the race was one of those horses with only a couple of starts. In his first start he made a middle move and in his second start he hit the gate. It obviously was hard to tell whether his third start would be the charm. So what opportunities were available to capitalize on the longshot without knowing he would win?

I saw two things: the superfecta and a leg of the pick-5. Since superfecta tickets are just 20 cents, I occasionally will play the first and second choices in the race in a couple of positions with ALL in the other two positions. The two standout horses in the seven-horse field were #4 and #8. They were the two horses with the lowest added-up numbers of three and five (see last week’s column). If one of the wheels you played was this: ALL with 4, 8 with ALL with 4, 8, you would have cashed. I really like wheeling ALL on top of favourites, hoping for some unexpected result on top. It’s surprising how often wheels like this will win.

The other opportunity is in the pick-5 in which you play favourites in two legs and wheel ALL horses in the other three legs. The favourite won the third leg and the last leg. So those are your singled horses in a wheel that would look like this: 6 x 7 x 1 x 7 x 1. The cost of your 20-cent wheel would have been $58.80.

I find the x-factor in racing endlessly fascinating and, for that reason, give unknowns a shot of winning a leg or two in a horizontal wager or winning a position or two in a superfecta. I liken the x-factor in racing to the x-factor in football where fumbles, interceptions, injuries and a blown call by a ref can tilt a game in an illogical direction.

See yesterday’s Woodbine race program here.