Prep season has been over for a few weeks, and I think most serious horseplayers already had a good idea of who they might zero in on at Breeders’ Cup even before pre-entries came out let alone full-card PPs.

Sure there are fine-line decisions to make, but

1. It’s very difficult to pick many winners in one sitting. Even if you were the world’s most amazing handicapper and picked 95% winners, you’re still more likely not to hit all 15 races than you are to sweep the card. 40% winners is a more realistic (and still optimistic) threshold yet the chances of sweeping the Cup with that kind of strike rate is infinitesimally small–a little better than one in a million. (so you’re telling me there’s a chance).

2. It’s extremely rare that any handicapper will determine that a horse has a 95% chance of winning a race (especially in competitive events such as Breeders’ Cup). More often than not, there are several plausible winners, including enticing options at big odds.

So when do you play small ball and go with your pick versus trying to go deep and connect on a ticket that pays the big bucks? Well there is some art involved.

Serious horseplayers should never forget that our game in the States is pari-mutuel in nature. When you win it’s because others lost, and you win more the more people lose. So when I structure my multi-race bets, I’m thinking long and hard about the structure my competition might use.

Getting that single home is a nice feeling, but when it’s a universal single you haven’t done anything yet.