Nothing works all the time, of course, but you could have hit (or maybe did hit) two stakes races in a row Saturday at Woodbine simply by calculating in-the-money finishes.

  • Race 7, the Belle Mahone Stakes: #7 Millie Girl at 2-1 had the best in-the-money record at 10 for 11 but very close with nine for 11 was #6 Fashionably Fab at 7-1 and that was the winner, paying $16.20.
  • Race 8, the Royal North Stakes: #5 Play the Music at 2-1 had the best record at nine for 12 in the money and won. No other horse was close to that number. Note the $2 daily double paid a juicy $81.60.

Calculating in-the-money finishes is the most reliable rule in stakes races but also is the “default” betting angle for races that might otherwise look confusing. It at least gives you a “feel” for the race.

And, of course, examining in-the-money positions points toward horses that might not like to win but have an inordinate number of second or third place finishes. It’s amazing how often those horses will again find a way to finish in their preferred position.

What are the “rule” picks tonight at ASD and tomorrow at Fort Erie?

Tonight’s Rule Pick at Assiniboia Downs: Race 1 is the specialist 7-furlong distance and the horse with the best 7-furlong performance (although last year) is #6 Even Pandura with an 83 Equibase speed figure. Morning line is 4-1.

And how did the rule pick in last Monday’s column fare? The horse couldn’t clear the field — which is a rule in that chaotic nw2L condition — and finished fourth. The race was won by a 9-1 horse who previously preferred to finish third (22-1-4-9). A chaotic result, indeed.

The Downs’ meet is off to a spirited start. The track guarantees a $50,000 pick-4 pool but could bump that to $100K because, in the first four cards of the meet, the pools have exceeded that amount. Wednesday night racing begins this week in addition to Monday-Tuesday cards.

Tomorrow Afternoon’s Rule Pick at Fort Erie: Race 7 is the specialist 7-furlong distance where the best 7-furlong speed figures come into play. #9 Don’s Vision (3-1) has a 90, #1 (10-1) has 84, # 8 (7-2) has 82, #4 (8-1) has 79 and #6 (15-1) has 78. How about wheeling #9 on top of the other horses in various exotics bets?

And how did last Tuesday’s rule pick fare? It was a maiden race where the rule is to pick the horse with the lowest added-up numbers. That horse finished second. (In maiden races, you add a horse’s position in his last race with his position at the first call in his previous race.) But there was a bonus of sorts. This column suggested playing the “supplemented” horse in the race “underneath” in superfectas and that horse finished third, A $1 superfecta with the rule horse finishing second and the supplemented horse finishing third paid $350.

Always look for supplemented horses in stakes races. Owners have paid a “late fee” to enter a horse into a stakes race with the expectation the horse will finish well enough at least to cover that fee. Look for an (S) for “supplement” next to a horse’s name in “overnight entries” which you can Google. A supplemented horse could pop at big odds, so it’s certainly worth the extra effort.