Joe Takach

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Every good book on money management will most likely make reference to the program morning line at some time during the writing.  Additionally, they’ll teach you exactly how to make your own personal morning line.

It is more than worth the effort each and every day to make a “line” on any race in which you think you might have a bet. 

As you well know, the morning line is an attempt to establish likely post-time odds.  While once in a while the morning line and “reality” come close to matching, far more often they are miles apart in final composition.  These differences occur not only with the race favorite and the likely 2nd and 3rd place finishers, but with all the final post-time real odds on all horses!

The winter/spring 2001 meet at Santa Anita amazed me as far as morning lines went.  I don’t know if there was a change in the track’s linemaker, as I generate my program from the internet and don’t get the pages of the official track program.  I guess had I really been all that interested in names, I would have looked at one to see who is who and who does what-----clear down to the hot dog ladies.  Names on a program matter little.  What matters are mistakes.

These discrepancies between my morning line on races in which I had an interest and the official morning linemaker’s, were often light years apart in both directions and partially the reason for my very successful meet.

If my morning line had a specific runner listed at 5-2 and the suspected race favorite, he would sometimes have the same horse at 7-5 on the official track program and usually render the race unplayable.

Santa Anita is just like most racetracks in the world.  If the track program lists a horse @ 7-5, they inevitably go off at even money or lower------win or lose!   Granted, there are “special” times when even money and 4-5 is literally “Manna from Heaven”, but it isn’t every race and it surely isn’t every day!

As we all know, nobody is getting rich betting even money horses! 

Your win percentage would have to be over 50% day-in and day-out to make money in the long run.  While we’ve all experienced exceptional periods of brilliance where we actually do pick over 50% winners for a short time (be it a week, a month or a meet), inevitably it turns and heads south once again until we hit our own personal “norms” or expected levels of successful play.   

Which brings us back to our subject matter.

Opinion drives our game.

Opinion creates the odds that are reflected in the wagering pools.

Opinion is the main reason you have a profit or loss at the end of the day or the end of the year.

Opinion can be your best friend or your worst enemy----it all depends!

The time to take advantage of a specific situation is when your personal morning line and the official track linemaker are far apart in opinion.

It goes without saying that you should NEVER handicap any race with odds included in your past performances.  Never, never, never (ad nauseum) look at someone‘s odds before you have completed your own handicapping.  If you look at the odds first, it can consciously or subconsciously influence your thinking and usually does!

On the other hand, if you’ve done your homework, you can sometimes exploit obvious mistakes in the official morning line where horses are listed at far higher odds than their “fair market value” in this afternoon.  And if you’ve made your own personal morning line completely independent of others, you know exactly what you are willing to take on a specific runner if he shows up in the paddock looking flawless and warms up properly in the pre-race.

You’ll sometimes be flabbergasted at how much a track program, a public newspaper selector, a radio show, selection services etc., can influence final odds.  

Should they be wrong when creating a false favorite, you can hop aboard the “gravy train”.

Let me give you a perfect example. 

Our weekly publication (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH) has a section called our “Master No-No List”.  On this invaluable list are horses who last ran with negative equipment such as “blowouts”, “stops”, martingales or barshoes.  (Barshoes are not listed in any publications for Del Mar, Hollywood Park or Santa Anita as the tracks refuse to supply this information to Equibase and the Racing Form----as a result of this we, are the only service that publishes a weekly and cumulative list). 

Since we are standing in the paddock for each and every race looking at feet and making copious notes to transfer to our Master No-No List, we know whose feet are bad or who is hitting himself and has NO chance of winning.

There were countless times during this elongated 83 day meet when the official track program would list this or that horse as the race favorite and all who receive the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH positively knew that the horse in question had absolutely NO chance of winning because he last out ran in a barshoe, or was hitting himself, or needed a martingale due to a serious confirmation defect.

This is “real” inside knowledge and very exploitable ammunition!

Whenever you can catch the official morning linemaker asleep on his feet by either creating a false favorite or by simply missing the boat on a specific “now” horse or whatever, this is the time to take the rubber band off the wallet or to pull out that credit voucher and totally UNLOAD.

While there is always risk with any form of gambling, at least you’ll be wagering with upside risk, rather than wagering on very negative animals with nothing but downside risk and a quick ride to bankruptcy!


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