We spend serious money playing the races, so obviously we should take our analysis of races seriously. But not all the time.

Surely there are times when you take a flyer on a longshot that carries a family name or a dog’s name. Those are fun bets that occasionally hit and you enjoy relating that success to others.

But I have to say, I’ve never done that. A couple of recent bets will tell you what I do “for fun” from time to time.

Last week, I had just downloaded a Churchill Downs program and wanted some immediate action so what I did was looked at the second race. It was an eight-horse maiden field with a couple of first-time starters. The program selection was 5-6-8-4 so what I did was bought this 20-cent superfecta wheel: 5-all-6-4,8 for a huge $2. And what was the race result? 5-1-6-8. So my $2 bet had it. Crazy. Even crazier was the longest shot in the field finished second at 42-1. That set up a $444 payoff for a mere 20-cents.

The week before, in a similar mindset of taking a shot, I had wheeled a horse for second in exactors with “all” on top. That was because the horse had a preponderance of second-place finishes in the chaotic race condition of non-winners of two races lifetime (nw2L). It wasn’t even close. The seconditis horse did so with lots of distance between him and the winner and the third-place finisher. A bombs-away horse won the race and I collected $260 for my $1 exactor.

That’s what I consider fun, but I really don’t do these kinds of bets that often. What I do more regularly, though, because I’m a superfecta specialist, is wheel the favourite for second and the second-favourite for fourth with “all” horses in the other two positions in 20-cent wheels. And this is a wager I often make: wheeling a horse first and second with a horse third and fourth with “all” in the other positions in 20-cent supers. Usually the cost is $16.

Did you play Woodbine races Saturday? Even if you didn’t, here are a couple of things to keep in mind for future cards, not only at Woodbine but other tracks as well.

The card was a tutorial for two betting angles:

  • Horses cutting back to a sprint after showing speed in a route race. #4 More Savvy was such a horse in race 2. After showing early pace in a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Fort Erie the mare came to Woodbine to participate in a 6 ½ furlong event. She nailed the favourite in the late going at juicy odds of 9-1. Similarly in race 4, ##4 Orphan Hallie with a 20-1 morning line finished second in race 4 in the cutback to a sprint..
  • Tracking Equibase speed numbers in 7-furlong races — which is a specialty distance. In race 1, #4 Lady Maeve had the highest E speed at 7f (86) and finishing two-three-four were the next highest 7f E speed horses. The $1 superfecta paid a spectacular $600. In race 6, #9 Guildsman won the race with a 91 E speed at 7f. Only #1 Jack the Cat had a higher speed at 92. In race 10, a large number of horses had a 76 E speed which is what the winner had. The horses with higher E speeds finished second and fourth.

Something else to add to your handicapping arsenal if you aren’t already doing so: Examine the double probable payoffs from race to race. In other words, what are horses in race 1 paying in the double to horses in race two. The reason for doing so, of course, is that it points out horses in the following races that are “live.” You may see a horse that has an improbably low double payoff. Is “smart” money behind it?