5 tips for playing Vertical Exotics: Part 2

April 19th, 2020

Vertical wagers are some of the most exciting, and potentially lucrative, bets throughout a racing card.  Part 1 of this series was focused on explaining what they were and how to implement them into your wagering strategy. I will take the next step in this piece.

Below are five of the most important things that I process before playing the vertical exotics:

Finding a Key Horse

For me to play the vertical exotics, I have to find a horse that I will key with in a race. And it doesn’t have to be in the top slot. If I am on a selection that I feel will run well and hit the board but could come up short on the win end, it is fine to key that runner underneath.

One of my favorite plays is to key with a contender in the first and second legs of a trifecta. Here, I give myself some room for error in case my top selection falls short to a competitor who was simply better on the day.

Identifying Weak Favorites

Many of the biggest windfalls of the vertical exotics come when favorites fail to make the frame. And, even more so, when the top two or three most fancied betting options run out of the money.

In the vast majority of races, the public choice in the win pool will be the most commonly used horse on top of the vertical plays. Any time you can keep the ‘chalk’ off your winning ticket, you have a good chance to be rewarded for it. 

Separating Win and Exotics Contenders

With a wide variety of wagers at your fingertips on a race-to-race basis, deciding which vertical play has the best value can be a tricky task. But there is a logical play for nearly every scenario.

Establishing which horses are most likely to win, compared to the contenders that often settle for minor awards, can be valuable from both a wagering and cost standpoint.

Playing the Horses, Not the Board

It is very important to understand that the exotic pools are completely separate from the Win/Place/Show pools. And it is a daunting task to try and predict what vertical exotics might return, especially when playing a trifecta or superfecta. We are lucky enough that we can see probable payouts for the exacta, but beyond that it is guesswork in trying to determine how much your winning ticket will be worth.

I never shy away from making a wager that I like based on potential return in the verticals because of the unknown value that I might receive. Even a modest payout is better than rearranging your play and ripping up a ticket. As my uncle Sour often told me, ‘a short winner is better than a long loser’.

Using the All Button

Horses that defy handicapping logic often crash the top four in races, and for a variety of reasons. Benefitting from the shape of a particular race, capitalizing from a subpar performance by a more ballyhooed contender, or being generally undervalued, are just a few of factors that can lead to price horses landing on tickets. This is not a new trend in racing.

I am not arrogant enough to think that each horse in a race will run and finish where I expect him or her to do so. And using the ‘all’ button has bailed me out on countless occasions. I encourage you to do the same, especially in the lower rungs of the gimmicks.