Betting Strategy: 'I'm going to let you know my angle'
Talking Exactas, Trifectas, Daily Doubles and Keeneland’s April 23 card with Paul Senegal Jr.
After my first season as a public handicapper, I looked at my betting account and realized one thing: I need help. Picking 349 races, I had 97 winners (28%) with an ROI of $2.08. But after subtracting my action bets--tell ya what I was a kid in a candy store the first month--I had lost 15% on my personal bets. Clearly, I need to spend more time structuring my wagers. I will use this column to learn from people I respect about how to better express my opinions. We’ll take a card and a pool, and discuss betting strategies.
Paul Senegal Jr. has been backing the horses since the 1980s when his grandfather would park his truck in the parking lot of the old Evangeline Downs, aka “The Cradle of Jockeys,” for him and his sister to watch as he went inside. Paul is a handicapper, but also a horse owner and breeder. Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Evangeline Downs is his home track, but Kentucky and NYRA are his focus as a horseplayer. Follow him on Twitter @psenegal
Kevin Kilroy: All right Paul, what’s your go-to bet?
Paul Senegal Jr.: With me, I like breeding horses, I’m into pedigree and bloodlines so in maiden races a lot of times the breeding will tell you what to expect from the horse. Combine that with this angle I learned from my old boss. So, my old boss was a handicapper and we’d trade notes now and again about races. When he retired he told me ‘I’m going to let you know my angle.’ After that, my favorite races to play have been maiden races. So I’ll give you the angle.
K: My interest is piqued.
PS: His angle is this: Highest speed figure off a layoff without winning. In maiden races especially. When you look at the running lines and see there was a layoff with a horse, and then they’ve come back one race or two races in and have run their highest figure of their career but they haven't won yet, the idea is they’re ready to explode. It’s an angle I play mostly in maiden races and it does pretty well.
K: Nice. Any races today that fit that angle?
PS: Race 6 at Keeneland, the 3 and the 4 horses fit the angle.
K: OK, I’m looking. The 4 just tied his highest figure.
PS: That qualifies.
K: So how then how do you bet them? You’ve got the angle, it gives you the horses, and then what do you do to build your tickets--what pools do you like to jump into and how do you structure it?
PS: I only bet the Pick 5s and Pick 6s when they are bursting at the seams, when there’s a huge carryover, because those are difficult to put together and they cost money--the more combinations the more they cost. What I like to do is key horses in exactas and trifectas.
So, I will do an exacta, 3,4 with all. A trifecta, 3,4 with 3,4 with all.
KK: Love it.
PS: The other thing I like to do is wheel the daily doubles, specifically with maiden races because maidens are where you tend to find those huge prices. Like in the sixth race, the 4 horse may wind up being 10-1 or 12-1. And the seventh race looks very competitive; anybody could win it. So I’ll bet a 4 with all, knowing I am getting value from my opinion in the first leg.
Paul Senegal Jr.’s plays:
- $1 exacta 3,4 with All
- 50-cent trifecta 3,4 with 3,4 with All
- $2 Daily Double 4 with All