Strategy for Improving Big Event Racing Wagering ROI

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Ed DeRosa

November 2nd, 2016

In retrospect, it was pretty silly that I titled my Thoroughbred Times blog “Big-Event blog” considering how poorly I’ve done wagering on racing’s four biggest events.

Since 2010 when I began daily recordkeeping of my wagering on horse races there have been 27 such events (7 Triple Crowns and 6 Breeders’ Cups), and my return on investment betting those days is -24.8%. My ROI on all other wagers in that time is -12.1%, so that’s a pretty stark difference considering the big events aren’t a small sample size. Those 27 events are just 2%-3% of the calendar, but represent 10% of my total handle over the past 6 ½ years.

I looked back at my wagering on these events trying to find the leak (or, to be fair, the bigger leak since it’s not like I’d be winning otherwise, but hey, at least I beat the takeout), and the one thing I noticed is that my wagering volume is flatter on big event days on a per race/per bet basis.

Is this a matter of not pressing stronger opinions or thinking that because these are all Grade 1 races and I know most of the horses that my opinions on each race are equal? A little of both, honestly.

The early Pick 4 in 2014 is an example of this. I thought the Juvenile Fillies was wide open and was very deep on almost every ticket I played. Dayatthespa and Judy the Beauty were both “A” picks for me, and the Turf Sprint was another I thought was wide open.

The late Pick 4 that day I was less sure about. I did love Shared Belief, but otherwise could have used 5 horses in each race and not been comfortable.

I ended up playing about $600 in Pick 4s with $350 on the late and $250 on the early. If I had played more on my stronger opinion, I could have given myself a big chance at the $32,000+ (for $0.50) Pick 4. Instead, I was only close in my handicapping.

Another way I’ll be applying these lessons to my 2016 Breeders’ Cup wagering is more vertical play. I hate to change things up from my normal plan of attack, but why gamble on catching a Pick 3 with a horse you like when you can really press that opinion within a race? Getting Curalina and/or Forever Unbridled in the Distaff number is an example of this that I will write about later this week.

My ROI on the last six Breeders’ Cups is -21.9%, which isn’t good. It’d be nice to “X” that out this week, for sure, but I’d be happy with slashing it considerably. Here’s to optimism and learning for your mistakes!