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A-B-C’s of Making a Profit at the Track

By: Dennis Stagliano

Truly amazing. Unbelievable. When you stop to think about it, the amount of money wagered annually during the horse racing season would boggle your mind. Millions of dollars laid down by tens of thousands of bettors, excited to distraction by the irresistible attraction of that ever-elusive quarry, the horse race winner. “Maybe I’ll pad the bankroll and up the ante a little next race, or maybe…” There is only one ‘maybe’ that never seems to be considered: “Maybe I’ll lose.” Post-race symptoms, however, cannot be denied. The lump in the throat, the nausea, the nervousness, anxiety and depression, wondering where you’re going to get the money for daily living expenses. It’s never easy to face reality of a dream, which has been shattered, of the money, which has been lost. Sound familiar? All of us have endured that kind of disappointment at one time or another. How many have learned from the bitter experience? How many have used it to help build a better “horse racing betting foundation?” Losses should at least win experience for us. We need to question ourselves when we lose. Ask ourselves not how did I lose, but why did I lose. Rather than worry about the what the jockey did or didn’t do, at the inopportune moment, we need to concern ourselves with what led us to choose that particular horse in the first place.

The answer for the average horse racing gambler can usually be attributed to a deficiency in one or more of three critical areas: Knowledge, Preparation Time, or Expertise.

The A-B-C’s of Winning

What constitutes adequate knowledge? How many hours is sufficient preparation time? Who can measure expertise? These are tough questions. And you can’t get the answers in any school…except the College of Hard Knocks. Fortunately, that happens to be my alma mater. I’ve done more than a few rocky semesters at that tough little university. Perhaps the insight I have gained can help you to avoid some of the pitfalls of handicapping. Over the course of a racing season it is almost impossible for the unacknowledged to win. That unbelievable set of numbers they call the morning line line is tough to figure – and tougher to beat – even for the knowledgeable hard working, dedicated professional. To help you acquire the necessary knowledge, I have devised a set of handicapping guidelines. Read them, and digest them. Cling to them like a diabetic to his insulin. Consider them preventative medicine, a vaccination against the kind of handicapping diseases mentioned above. Close adherence to these guidelines can be the kind of prescription, which causes those sicknesses to remit completely, never to return. And remember, I don’t speak from a pulpit or a pedestal. I know whereof I speak for one reason, and one reason only – because I’ve been there. And I won’t con you. Understand from the start that the guidelines will not guarantee a winning season. What they’ll do is establish discipline, understanding, and a proven methodology.

Handicapping Guidelines

Knowledge – Study and understand the horse racing industry, don’t just watch it. This will provide a necessary basis for insights into determining trends and developments in a horse’s performance level.

Preparation – Long-term success can be attributed to hard work and working smart. There is no way you can neglect the preparation and season long update. The lure of “easy money” should be recognized as a mirage. If you think it’s easy, you really don’t know enough about it. Read all the pertinent information about horse race betting; know each trainers, jockeys and horses strengths and weaknesses. This involves reading racing forms and online information on a regular basis. You can find a plethora of racing information offered by The Racing Digest website.

Be Objective – When you’re watching a race, look at what’s happening-not what you want to see. Being objective will add to your overall knowledge.

Money Management – A very critical part of horse race betting is money management. Any successful money management method requires that you bet more when you’re hot and less when you’re not. Do not double up when you are losing. In essence, do not send good money after bad money. Be patient because no one wins every race or week. Accept the fact that good or bad days are part of the game, and that winning and losing streaks happen in cycles. If you are utilizing good handicapping methods and are on the right horses, you will undoubtedly come out ahead at the end of the season.

Be Confident – Have confidence in your selections. If you have an uneasy feeling or negative thoughts after making your selections, than I suggest you back off. You should be confident and relaxed.

Utilize Discipline – This is probably one of the hardest guidelines for the average gambler to accomplish. It took me many years to come to grips with the discipline, to not bet every race as a gambler. You must be selective man. It’s impossible to win if you bet every race on the card. What I developed for myself, is a system where I wager in two ways. I create my serious gambler selections separate from my small wager fun bets. Two personalities at the track serves me well. On one hand, I’m the professional gambler, for my selective races, and on the other hand, I’m that guy at the track that annoys my professional personality. You know the guy, the one that bets $2 on crazy exotic wagers.

Don’t Bet in the Dark – Check for weather conditions and the effect the weather will have on the horses. When I was a teenager at the track, I remember a local handicapper telling me this old silly quote, “His mother was a mudder, and his father is a mudder too”. It’s a silly quote, but it also has truth within. You must look at the pedigree when the weather is poor.

Evaluate Track Performance – Remember that a horse may have an entirely different personality from one race track to another. You must be able to recognize the difference in race track performances. Over a given period of time a horse will form a pattern. Trends in horse race betting keep right on rolling along, even though the jockeys change, so keep an eye on these throughout the year. You’ve heard it often, “horse for the course”.

Where To Wager – In addition to your local race track visits, do some investigative analysis, get yourself ready and secure with a few race books. I tell my customers that the online explosion of race books is the best thing that could have happened for the smart bettor. If you have horses that you’ve been waiting to race again, you will not miss the opportunities. I personally use books and save time and money, from being able to wager from anywhere.

Professional Help – If you’re intelligent enough to realize that you do not possess the knowledge, preparation and expertise to be a smart bettor, then a good, reliable, affordable handicapper can be a boost to your bankroll. Make certain you know the methodology used by the handicappers. Are you comfortable with computer pick services, or do you prefer a self handicapping expert. I also recommend that you look for a handicapper that has been around for a while, and has proven credentials. This long term scenario ensures honesty and integrity and leaves no doubt that they’re professionals. Never ever, never ever, one more time so you don’t forget, never ever, allow a handicapping service or handicapper to squeeze you! It’s your hard earned money that’s on the line, so take control.

About The Author – Dennis Stagliano has been a professional sports and race handicapper since 1981. He has written articles and published selections in many magazines and newspapers over the years. He has a stable of professional handicappers in his barn, that assist in his handicapping business. Dennis is one of the nations most respected handicappers and is the owner of Gridiron Gold Sports. Gridiron Gold specializes in football picks, college football picks and nfl picks

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