Shapiro: How one big score can make a meet or season

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TwinSpires Staff

August 30th, 2016


Being an everyday horizontal horseplayer takes patience and knowledge that you will lose your daily budget much more frequently than you will add to it.  However, it just takes one or two big days a year to turn an annual profit. I was lucky enough to have one of those days this past Sunday at Del Mar.

I play the Players' Pick Five each and every day to some extent at Del Mar and Santa Anita. In addition to the low takeout wager (14 percent) when I am at Del Mar, I also gamble on the much less popular Place Pick All. This wager requires the horseplayer to pick the winner or second-place finisher for each race of the card.

While some days I play this wager knowing full well that my maximum payout is only several hundred dollars, other times when I am against a heavy favorite or two I believe I can be one of the few holding a winning ticket at the end of the day. Sunday afternoon was one of those days.

If you read my "How to Bet the Torrey Pines" article, you knew that I was against the heavy favorite in Race 7, Jeweled. The Bob Baffert trainee took a ton of money in her first start, but she broke poorly, did not do much running and finished fourth as the 4-5-favorite.

I was against her on Sunday, not only because of her sub-par performance on debut, but also because I was simply not impressed with her physical makeup upon first sight. Bob Baffert runners normally look the part, but this daughter of Sidney's Candy failed to excite me visually minutes before she was defeated by stablemate American Cleopatra last month.

After the final scratches came in on Sunday it was clear to me that Jeweled was going to be the odds-on favorite once again, so I played my Place All ticket for my normal amount of $32 and left her off it with the hopes that I could get through the first six races and then have my shot to bust open the sequence.

Fortunately, I was able to get through a somewhat formful first half of the card with four singles and one race where I used two runners. Then, things got a bit trickier in the sixth race, an open claimer over the lawn. I had two horses, All Call and Indygo Bo. I was far from confident with these mid price selections, but both Flavian Prat and Stewart Elliott found good stalking positions off a slow pace and ran second and third to the wire-to-wire winner for the Richard Baltas barn.

Onward to the seventh where Jeweled opened up the massive favorite. The Baffert filly went off at 1-2, was a bit slow into stride and missed getting second by a half-length to a James Cassidy runner that was 50-1. Not only was one of my two choices first-time starter Vai, the winner, but I was lucky enough to get the second longest shot on the board up for second.

Now things were getting interesting. If I could get through three more races with logical runners in each, I was sitting on a nice payday.

I was very fortunate to get my single in the eighth race home, Bellamentary. Eventual winner Belvoir Bay turned the Phil D'Amato filly away at the top of the stretch in the Torrey Pines (G3). She was all out to hold off She's a Warrior, but did so in the end. Far from impressive, but I survived.

My runners then ran first and second in the ninth race and the 3-2-favorite Complimentary rallied late under Prat to win going away in the finale.

My ticket was a winner. I had two winning combinations with my two runners completing the exacta in Race 9, and as it turned out I was holding the only two winning combinations. The entire pool was mine. After a few near hits and some decent payouts throughout the summer, my biggest day of 2016 came on August 28. 

Multi-race wagering on horizontals can often be frustrating. If you are playing them correctly, favorites that you were against some days will defeat you. Other days you will beat those chalks only to miss another leg where you spread, yet still miss the winner. Just remember to stick with the program and your day will come soon. Hopefully as soon as this weekend.