Betting Strategy: Vertical structure for speed bias with longshot runners

March 15th, 2023

On Thursday, March 9 at Fair Grounds, a speed bias was evident. And in Race 7, with longshot horses peppering the lineup of nine runners, it was a great opportunity to take a swing. I did, but missed, and was left wishing I had the right betting strategy in my back pocket for the situation. So, I cooked it up to be ready to score for the next one.

How’d I know the track was playing favorably to speed? Frontrunners won the first four, but none of them were illogical. In the sixth, a 16-1 almost held on from the rail, but the 6-1 pressing him nosed him out at the end.

My Handicapping Opinions

In Race 7, a maiden special weight, it was time to attack. With nine entires, there were three clear front-runners signed on: #2 Beautifulguatamala (8-1 ML; 21-1 at post time); #5 Blessed Assurance (12-1 ML; 37-1 at post time). Looking at Brisnet past performances, #7 Luminous Flight had run the quickest early pace figure of the field in the last race, his first race. But he was in fifth through the first call and shipping in from Delta Downs from a lesser known trainer. I made the judgment call that he would not be able to get the jump and the lead. Luminous Flight was getting bet. 7-1 ML, he went off at 4-1. Live on the board but an underlay in my estimation.

#4 Muchmorethanready was my best bet of the day before accounting for the speed bias because he seemed to be sitting on a step forward after running three 16s in a row on Thoro-Graph. Cutting back to the sprint distance for his fifth race, I didn’t think he could get the lead, so I downgraded him to use underneath in the vertical exotics. There were two first-time-starters, one of them #6 Grace Hazel was definitely live. Sent out from trainer Ron Faucheux who had won five races in a row coming into this, I didn’t know the tactics but I had to use the horse. I had liked the #1 Visionista but downgraded his chances to run in the money with the track bias and current form.

#9 Louisiana Cowgirl was 7-2 on the ML and bet down to 2-1, with Rey Gutierrez signed on, maybe he would be able to get his runner who had one of the top figures in the field to the front, but I was against this horse who took a big step forward between her second and third races, and I didn’t think she could run back to that number so soon.

I was on-air and I talked over my top picks and then brought the attention to the #2 Beautifulguatamala and the #5 Blessed Assurance, the obvious longshots who bettors should figure out a way to use in their wagers. But the million dollar question: how to structure the bet to capitalize on what could happen here. I locked in on those two and mistakenly did not use the third speed horse at an underlay price.

How I Bet It

Vertically I went for the kill, playing an exacta boxing the #2 Beautifulguatamala and the #5 Blessed Assurance. I built trifectas and superfectas with those two on top, and #4 Muchmorethanready and #6 Grace Hazel underneath.

The Race

#5 Blessed Assurance got the jump on the field and from the five hole was able to get to the rail. But speed to his outside was coming and beat him to the first call. Rohan Singh sent his first time starter, #8 Everylittlesingh. He had won on the lead earlier, had a taste of the track, but he couldn't get the lead and pressed in second, in the end fading to last. A worthy attempt. But it was the runner to his inside, #7 Luminous Flight who was urged to the lead by CJ McMahon. The apprentice rider Berrera didn’t sent from the inside and #2 Beautifulguatamla never had a shot. #4 Muchmorethanready was not sent, either Colby Hernandez didn't have the horse or wasn’t recognizing that he needed to use him early. Instead of stepping forward, he stepped backwards in figures but managed to make one run for fourth grinding away at the end. #7 Luminous Flight cleared the field in the stretch and the track carried him home, while #5 Blessed Assurance kept coming on the rail to secure second. After taking an early bump #6 Grace Hazel stalked in 4th 3-wide and ended up finishing third.

Take out the seven from the running order and I have a meet-defining vertical score.

What I Did Wrong

I always have to remind myself that when there is a track bias or a pace advantage, my opinion is not that I think one horse is the most likely to win, but that any horse who fits that profile is who I think can win. I need to use all of them when the value is there, and I am fading a favorite, like #9 Louisiana Cowgirl. In this case, I faded one runner and paid the price, as that was the speed horse who won.

How I’ll Play This Situation Next Time

When the track is favoring speed, front-running horses are being overlooked by bettors, and a horse I am against is the favorite, I will use all the front runners to finish first and second. I’ll use any horse I have a strong handicapping opinion about but who is running against the track bias underneath those speed runners.

So the exotics lines should have been:

First: #2 Beautifulguatamala, #5 Blessed Assurance, #7 Luminous Flight

Second: #2 Beautifulguatamala, #5 Blessed Assurance, #7 Luminous Flight

Third: #2 Beautifulguatamala, #4 Muchmorethanready, #5 Blessed Assurance, #6 Grace Hazel, #7 Luminous Flight

Fourth: 2 Beautifulguatamala, #4 Muchmorethanready, #5 Blessed Assurance, #6 Grace Hazel, #7 Luminous Flight.

Speed, speed, speed / speed, speed, speed / speed, speed, speed, live 1ster, best bet (no speed) / speed, speed, speed, live 1ster, best bet (no speed). 

Exacta = $6 (Race 7 paid out $166.20 on $1).

Trifecta = $9 (Race 7 paid out $619.80 on 50 cents). 

Superfecta = $3.60 (Race 7 paid out $834.95 on 10-cents).

I should’ve cashed. I won’t make the same mistake again.