May 27, 2024


The Gods Made Home

A Quick Handicapping Method to Spot Live Horses on the Tote Board

The one place where the truth is revealed at the horse races is on the tote board and in the money. A lot of things may not be clear at the track when you are handicapping the races, but one thing is right in front of your face and can be scanned quickly to pick winners. How the money is distributed in the pools is a clear indication of which horses are “well meant” to win, if you know what to look for.

Many people are under the impression that stables only place win bets on their horses, and many times that is true. But if you have a horse that is going to go off at a good price, the last thing you want to do is to drop a lot of money in the win pool that will alert the public that your horse is live in the race. The answer, of course, is the exotics and other pools, such as the place pool.

The stables who bet their own horses may have a horse going off at fairly long odds that will pay well in all positions. They also may realize that though their horse is a good one, it could still get beaten by another runner in the race. Why lose out on a nice place payoff if their runner gets nipped at the wire? The same is true of the exotics and you may find a horse at fairly long odds getting more than its fair share of the action in the exactas and other pools.

This is particularly true of the smaller tracks where early money and large win bets signal the crowd that something is up with a horse. Instead of just watching the win pools when the betting opens, also check the place pool as well. On more than one occasion I’ve found hundreds of dollars bet to place on a horse as soon as the pools opened. Obviously, someone on the “inside,” knew that their horse was likely to at least place and probably would win.

I then checked the exacta payoffs and doubles payoffs if the race was part of a double set. On many of those occasions I found the horse was being bet in exotic wagers in both positions. The money wagered on the horse, particularly the early money, was more than my handicapping of the race figured. Something was up with the horse. But a quick look at the odds or win pool didn’t indicate that the horse was live.

The art of handicapping horse races demands that you not just accept things at face value and you must dig a little deeper for answers than the crowd. Don’t overlook the place pools and exotics when looking for the inside money. They have information that isn’t found in a racing form and can lead you to some very nice payoffs.