With just days until Horseplayer Christmas (the Breeders’ Cup, of course) bettors who want an edge over other players are watching Mike Welsch’s Breeders’ Cup Clocker Reports. If you haven’t heard of Welsch, one of the best workout analysts in the business, that’s just fine with other players who want to know more than you. Because, after all, boiled down to its basics, horseplaying is a dog-eat-dog business. It’s you against other players. You want to pick their pockets just like they want to pick yours.



Everyone has access to the same past performance information so what gives you an edge? Here are six ways to get an edge:

1. Read each race condition carefully. My experience has been that most players don’t. They usually immediately jump to past performances in each race to see what horses did last time. But that’s superficial. You should be looking for the horse that best fits the race condition. What horses, for instance, have the most wins at the race distance? And if the race condition is one of these three, you can expect more chaos than in other conditions: non-winners of 2 races lifetime, claiming races for three-year-olds and 5-furlong sprint races. Play cautiously and expect longshots.

2. Get both the DRF and Equibase race programs because there’s valuable information in each. The DRF has Beyer speed figures but those figures don’t tell you which horses have lots of early pace and could wire the field. The Equibase program shows both the pace and speed of all horses so the early speed is obvious. You’ll catch some nice longshots just betting horses that have giant pace figures compared to the rest of the field.

3. Calculate closing fractions in turf route races. The good thing is, even though I mention this as your dutiful columnist, I know most of you won’t make the effort because it seems complicated. Great. That gives me bigger payoffs. In fact, that’s my favourite betting edge. The recent introduction of $4 all-turf pick-3s at some tracks has been a godsend. The $4 all-turf pick-3 at Santa Anita on Saturday paid $250 even though the winning horses had the best closing fractions. It was single-single-single in the three legs. Really. (The idea is to calculate how quickly horses can race from the 6-furlong point in the race to the end of the race at a mile, 1 1/16-mile and 1 1/8-mile.) I use closing fractions in non-turf 1 1/8-mile races to find contenders in 1 1/4-mile races, too, and that’s how previous Bettor’s Edge columns nailed the $200 triactor in last year’s Queen’s Plate and the $2,000 superfecta in the Prince of Wales Stakes this year.

4. Play the races with more intensity on big race days. Pools are fatter than usual, of course, but what’s more important is that you’re playing against casual bettors who are less sophisticated in picking winners than you are. You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck.

5. Pay attention to two things when youngsters are starting their racing careers. How good is their sire in producing debut winners? Look for debut percentages in “A CLOSER LOOK” in the DRF under each horse. My best memory on this was winning a $20K-plus superfecta pool because the winning $28 first-time starter had a high-percentage debut sire. Then, if the race is on the turf, be sure to check the Tomlinson figure in the DRF in the top right corner where it says “DstT.” The higher the number (high 300s and into the 400s) the better the turf breeding.

6. Read trouble lines for each horse in the past performances. Discount the performances of horses who have had a slow start or a group of slow starts. Check out troubled trips by watching replays, most of which are available on YouTube.

Other players, of course, don’t want you to do any of this. They hope your wagers lose so they collect bigger payoffs when they win. But there you have it, especially if you’re intent on making this Breeders’ Cup week memorable. Speaking of which, watch this space on Friday for winning rules for playing the Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday. I’m especially excited about applying a never-before-used betting angle that I believe has the potential to produce a mega score.