It’s not rocket science. But when I see even the most experienced handicappers miss it, you might think it is. I’m talking about picking out a dominant pace horse in a race and giving it a chance to wire the field.

The Equibase programs, with pace and speed numbers side-by-side next to all the starts of the horses in the program, make it easy for you. You see a horse with giant pace numbers way ahead of the others and you head to the betting window, computer, laptop or phone. Could it be that easy? Yes, it can.

Not all the time, of course. Nothing works all the time, but I’ll guarantee you’ll catch some biggies, as a betting friend did Thursday in races 1 and 3 at Woodbine.

In race 1, #6 Arquebus, the 20-1 morning-line horse with a pace number of 113 – 14 ahead of the next-best pace horse – didn’t look back and paid $8.90. In race 3, #1 Crumlin Time, a 12-1 morning-line horse, had a 105 pace number only slightly better than the next-best pace horse, but he also wired the field and paid a gigantic $49.10. (See race 1 here and race 3 here from Woodbine’s Thursday card.)

And look at these jump-off-the-page pace horses at Assiniboia Downs that paid generously. The best bet of the day last Monday, I thought, was in race 5 where #5 Contraband had an enormous 135 pace figure. And to boot, he was dropping in claiming value from $5,000 to $3,500. His odds should have been 4-5, so it’s hard to believe he paid $8.40. The Monday before that, July 4, a filly in race 5, Thrill of the Nite, with a 113 pace number – 17 ahead of the next-best pace horse – outdueled the #2 favourite to win and pay a whopping $9.50.

My first-ever $1,000 wager, in fact (in 1993), was on a horse at Northlands Park dropping from $8,000 to $5,500. Pace and speed numbers weren’t yet available but to me, dropping speed was just as good. He went off at a juicy 9-2 and took over from the pace-setting $5,500 claimer to win the race. Surely, dropping speed horses should bein your handicapping arsenal, too.

I’ll never forget either how a friend landed a trip to Las Vegas to participate in the Horse Player World Series by playing a 30-1 horse with a 93 pace number – 20 ahead of anything else in the race – to win a handicapping tourney at ASD some years ago. The shocker was that he was the only player among about 70 contestants to play the horse. Today’s lesson is so obvious: Pass up pace superiority at your peril!

Did A “Quick-Pick” Ticket Take Down $126,000 Jackpot?

It sure appears that a quick-pick ticket took down the $126,122 (U.S.) Jackpot Hi-5 wager in Woodbine’s last race yesterday. Woodbine reports that a single 20-cent ticket with the numbers 1-11-6-7-4 purchased by Elite Turf Club USA won the pool. Elite Turf Club is believed to be a betting syndicate that may have invested in a big wad of quick-pick tickets. It’s hard to believe anyone could have handicapped the straight numbers on the ticket for horses that went off at odds of 8-1, 13-1, 41-1, 4-1 and 5-1. But, then again, a betting friend who loves the Jackpot Hi-5 wager has a knack for coming oh-so-close to winning with single 20-cent tickets. At any rate, congrats to the big winner(s) and good luck to all of us as we look to do the same thing.