“Who’s going to win this race?” is the usual thought crossing the mind of horseplayers. But that’s not always the right question. This one is better: “What is the best betting opportunity?”

Asking that question might have put you in a position to cash a 20-cent superfecta worth $7,900 this past Tuesday in race 7, a maiden claimer, at Hastings Racecourse. All you had to do was wheel for second a horse that finished second in four of his last five starts — #5 Keepingthedream. #8 Eh Tee Em beat him at odds of 55-1. (The result was 8-5-4-1. See program page here.) With 16 lifetime starts, the second-place finisher is on his way to becoming a career maiden. Aren’t you taking a chance betting this horse to win? Second place seems to suit him just fine.

There seems to be a general acceptance in the handicapping world that if a horse hasn’t broken his maiden in 10 tries, he’s an iffy win wager in races after that. That kind of horse may have a mental disposition that keeps him or her from going past the final horse to win the race. Some horses even seem to be pulling themselves up when they get too close to winning. Strange but true. So why not take advantage of that disposition?

With an eight-horse field in that race at Hastings, the cost of a 20-cent superfecta wheel to take one horse second (ALL-key-ALL-ALL) costs $36 for a payoff of $7,900. A $1 triactor wheel with #5 second ($42) paid $7,906 and a $1 exactor wheel with #5 second ($7) paid $426. This kind of thing happens again and again. Based on his last five starts, the chance he would finish second again was 80 per cent. If that’s not worth at least a $1 exactor wheel for second, I don’t know what is.

Similarly, looking for horses that like to finish third and fourth is a good angle for the often-chaotic non-winners of two races condition. In that condition, logic could be useless to pinpoint the winner but horses who like to plod along late, just making it up for third, for example, suggests you may find the value in wheeling ALL-ALL-key-ALL in a ticket, once again giving yourself a chance for a big score.

$3.60 Takes Down $114K as Jackpot Pick-6 is Hit Twice at Woodbine

Woodbine’s 20-cent Power Pick-6 jackpot was hit twice in three days last week, a first. On Thursday, a $3.60 ticket purchased by someone with an offshore account, Elite Turf Club, took down $113,981. Then on Saturday, $14,806 was won in a jackpot that had scant time to build up.

Thursday’s jackpot was hit with a ticket that looked like this: 2,6,7/6/1/2,3,5/1,5/11. The winning horses paid (starting in race 3): $40.10, $3.60, $7.20, $16.30, $17.50 and $9.50. So the player keyed legs two, three and six where the horses paid $3.60, $7.20 and $9.50. Makes sense and that’s the way to do it when one is spending mere pocket change.

Elite Turf Club is based in Curacao in the West Indies and is a high-volume operation where large computer-generated wagers are welcomed and benefit from sizable rebates. One might expect, then, a costly wheel might have taken down the jackpot — and maybe the person might have made multiple wagers — but the sole $3.60 winning ticket appears to be the result of sharp handicapping.

The winning horses in Saturday’s lone pick-6 ticket (starting in race 5) paid $9.80, $18.90, $8, $13, $8.30 and $11.40. (Details on that winning ticket were unavailable for today’s deadline. Watch for them in next Monday’s Bettor’s Edge.)