Thursday, May 6, 2010

I've finally figured it out...

Best I can remember, I was seven years old when I made my first bet. While other kids were playing with WWF Action Figures and plastic replicas of the Millenium Falcon, I was at the track. My parents were two dollar bettors that just loved the races and as their oldest son, so did I. My younger brother spent just as much time at the track as I did and yet he somehow manage to not become the degenerate that I was for most of my life. Too bad for him. He never did have any passion!

My interest in betting the ponies grew as I got older and by the time I was in University, I was churning and burning every dollar I could get my hands on. George Bigliardi saw more of me at the Champions teletheatre in his restaurant on Church Street than my professors did, just as the mutuel clerk there had an easier time collecting money from me than the finance departments at Chrysler Canada and Rogers Wireless!

After having been around this gambling game for nearly my entire life and after hundreds of thousands of dollars of career loss, you'd think that I would've figured out sooner what I've only recently come to realize: chuck the chalk! Imagine the money I could've saved!

If you gamble on horse races long enough, siding with favorites will only lead to one thing: you going broke! Gambling, whether it be horse racing, poker, blackjack - you name it, is a numbers game. It's all about mathematics. When it comes to our beloved game, studies have documented that (depending on which you read) favorites in horse races win between 33 and 37 per cent of the time. That means they lose 67 to 63 per cent of the time (see the math skills I've learned through gambling?). You don't have to be one of the scientists from Avatar to realize the staggering disparity between those ratios.

Every version of THE PETE SHEETS identifies the beatable favorites for a particular card and from the feedback that I've received, readers find it to be invaluable information. Here are a few examples from various versions of THE PETE SHEETS from this week:

Monday at Grand River, Race 8
If I'm being honest, I don't like this race because while I don't want ORILLIA BRUNO, I don't have enough confidence in the others to recommend playing against him. For me, that means passing the race. As an aside, ORILLIA BRUNO and I have quite a history together because he's a horse who I've always recommended playing against in my Hints From Horace column at Western Fair. From his past performances, you can see that he's won three of four times but it also provides a perfect example of why I preach against playing favorites: while I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, I'm certain that those that got to tee-hee at me on the three occasions that he did win (at very short prices) have yet to show as much profit as those that sided with me on April 13 when he finished up the track at 1-5! Bottom line is you don't want favorites. Gambling on horses isn't about picking winners, it's about making money! Result: finished 4th at 9-5.

Monday at Woodbine, Race 1
The second race intrigues me because I don't think PEBBLE CREEK is as much of a cinch as her post time odds will lead one to believe. Don't get me wrong: she's the best horse in the race, but the best horse doesn't always win. Having already won last week, I'm near certain Saftic won't be as aggressive with her tonight as he's been in the past and will no doubt be in the upcoming Final. Other analysts can't or won't tell you that. THE PETE SHEETS do. Let's try to beat her! Result: finished 4th at 7-5.

Tuesday at Georgian, Race 3
You don't need THE PETE SHEETS to tell you that IDBEGOODATTHAT is the horse to beat but I can help by telling you that he's not the cinch that his post time odds and the optics of his Arsenault lines would lead one to believe he is. He should never have lost his most recent start at Flamboro and the horse that beat him, Encore Seelster, isn't much of a horse at all. Long story short, he's not the kind of horse that I want to bet on at tonight's short price but I can't find an alternative that I have much confidence in either, so I'm passing the race altogether. IDBEGOODATTHAT will probably win, but probably isn't good enough on a horse whose odds will definitely be miniscule. Result: finished 2nd at 1-2.

Tuesday at Grand River, Race 3
Another race that I'm avoiding because while WHISPERINYOUREAR has won her last two, she was very steppy at times on both occasions and I'm never willing to invest any of my hard-earned on 1-5 shots, let alone a three year-old filly that has been far from perfect gaited She will most likely win this by open lengths but even if she does, she won't pay anything. Result: finished 2nd at 2-5.

Ryan Campbell, a reader of THE PETE SHEETS, sent this nice email following Tuesday's races at Grand River:

"Last night we kind of used our own judgement while consulting
the sheet and made out ok. I think we made around $500 or so!
We had the first race super, the third race exactor 4 times
because of what you said about that mare being steppy at times.
I have never seen her race so it was a huge help after reading
that i thought i could beat her for sure. The picks were a huge
help! You'll be hearing from me again!"

Thanks, Ryan! Just make sure you lose my email address when THE PETE SHEETS lead to your losing $500!

Tuesday at Grand River, Race 10
JTLADY STRONG is going to be more heavily favored than she should be for a horse that is zero for 11 this year and that has been a lifetime "slice" horse (more 2nds than wins: 108-15-22-8 career record). Don't get me wrong, she's a nice "B" circuit trotter and is obviously among the best horses in this race, but from a gambling perspective, she's the kind of horse that you're supposed to try to beat in a situation like this where she'll be overbet. Result: finished 5th at 7-5.

Last night at Western Fair, Race 4
YOU RAISE ME UP is going to be more heavily favored than she should be among these and I have to try to beat her even though I recognize that she's won three of her last four against similar. With Sparling expected to be following the fast-leaving inside two away, I really can't see her having anything but a first-over trip and I have to be dubious of her winning from such a trip against a deep field such as this one. Result: finished 2nd at 8-5.

In this particular example, THE PETE SHEETS not only identified and beat the overbet horse, but had the 9-2 winner as well:

5-LYONS RUBY is a horse that I identified as a very beatable favorite last week and through no fault of her own, she finished 4th; in hindsight, she was probably the best horse in the race but had no chance to assert herself because of a troubled trip; McNair tried to move her to the lead in the first quarter but Richardson denied that bid and in the end, the 1-2 favorite got stuffed behind a stopping Innocent Shark; I've been a little dubious of her ever since she finished an absolutely inexcusable 3rd on April 6 (a race that she should never have lost), but can be a little more forgiving of her shortcomings today when her price will be much more accurate and the projected dynamics of the race seem to favor her.

Naturally, there are just as many (if not more) instances in which the favorite(s) that THE PETE SHEETS identify as being beatable prove not to be, but even then the numbers are still on the side of the gambler! As a general rule (and it's hard to have "general rules" when dealing with numbers, but...) I like to think that as long as I beat four out of every ten favorites that I play against, I'm still going to be in the black. That means I only have to be right 40% of the time! What does your strike rate have to be in order to show a profit when you bet on favorites, 65%, 70%? More easily recognizable disparity.

The purpose of providing these examples isn't to toot my own horn - that's not my style. Besides, if it were, between my wife and my mother I'd be brought back to earth pretty quickly! My modus operandi is much bigger than simple self- aggrandizing. My goal, the goal of THE PETE SHEETS and this blog is to improve the information that is given to the customer so as to increase both the handle and general popularity of this wonderful sport which, as proven by the improving numbers at Western Fair, still has the potential to flourish. Most would say that the odds of such happening aren't favorable. I'd say that gives harness racing a real chance!

Time to give something away...

Yesterday I attached sitemeter software to the blog (you'll see the logo at the very bottom of the screen) in order to give myself an idea of the exposure that the blog and THE PETE SHEETS were getting. Without giving too much away, I'll say that I was pleased with the number of visits. What do you think the number was? Here's the question:

How many views will receive by the end of today (11:59pm)?

Email your guess (and you're only allowed one guess) to The person whose guess is closest to the actual number wins dinner for two at The Keg on THE PETE SHEETS (unless I don't get the sponsorship I'm expecting, in which case you get sweet f...well, you catch my drift!). The winning respondent will be contacted by email on Friday. Good luck!

Below is a listing of the versions THE PETE SHEETS that I'm working on for the rest of the week. THE PETE SHEETS are generally available three hours in advance of post time for each particular card.

Today - Woodbine (available later this afternoon)
Friday - Flamboro/Western Fair/Woodbine
Saturday - Flamboro/Georgian Downs/Woodbine

Email a request for your own copy of THE PETE SHEETS to Be sure to specify which version(s) your interested in. I realize that it's a little extra work to type an email, but in the weeks ahead, the web site will be complete and THE PETE SHEETS and the blog will both be available at the click of a mouse! Bear with me.

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