Betting the top figure

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

January 28th, 2013

One of my favorite parts Ragozin's book The Odds Must Be Crazy is when Len Friedman tells a story about a 30-to-1 horse who wins for fun that no one in the office had liked. The next morning the office receives a call from an extremely happy customer who made a killing on the $60+ winner.

Friedman recalled asking the customer what he liked about a horse Ragozin Data had dismissed, and the caller said, "At 3-to-1 I'd have hated the horse, but at 30-to-1 I loved him."

While not really revealing what the user saw as positive on the particular horse's sheet, the answer is illuminating in that it should be the approach every handicapper takes to every race.

There was a time when top-figure horses on any number of services would provide a flat-bet profit. Those days are over, but the last-out top figure remains one of the best predictors of who will win this race. That doesn't mean it's worth a bet, of course, but narrowing the number of contenders is always helpful.

Itsmyluckyday was the fastest horse going into the Holy Bull