Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I admit it. I was lazy. And it cost me.

"I have sinned."
We have all seen that Jimmy Swaggart confession when he got caught with a New Orleans prostitute. I was never a big fan of his or any of the televangelists, but I thought it was interesting that he chose this way to try and worm his way out of trouble. Trouble only he caused for himself. Do I believe he was sincere in the way he repented? I'm not sure, and it doesn't matter either way for this blog. The fact that he copped to it, and could be sincere about it, is the reason I start there. It came to me that way when I was pondering this blog last night. 
Admitting you have an issue, or that there is a problem and moving away from denial is a key step in making progress, in anything. 
I have preached before that in any race you play, if you truly are a serious player, you must fully vet out and analyze any horse on current form and variables. That might only take 1 minute, it might take 10 minutes. But what you can't do is have a built in bias and discard them based solely on what you think you know about them from some past performance that isn't terribly relevant now.
Bias is a very tough thing to overcome in betting. The reason for that is that it is very easy to fall back on that type of playing. We do it in real life too. We think it simplifies life and how to deal with the barrage of daily facts and situations we encounter. I will give you some brief examples.
-He is on welfare, he is just lazy. Or does drugs, or lacks motivation like the rest of us do.

-She is pretty, and has a great job. She should have no problem finding a man.

-All Muslims are terrorists, even the ones not doing anything currently. They will if given the chance.
I could go all day, but I wont. This blog is about betting on horses. Safe to say those statements are way too general, uninformed, and mostly will be false in the vast majority of cases.

One of the reasons I do a very thorough blog when I do it is not to pick winners. That is important too, and its the goal, but the true benefit of what I do when I do those is to step back every couple of weeks and see what I got wrong, in many cases horribly wrong, and take a long look at that. I will do that here. I already know where the problem is, I just want to be specific about each example to make my overall point.
Clearly, my bias is hurting my ROI and will continue to do so until I correct that. For all I know, it has for as long as I have been betting. The easiest way for me to see the mistake is to list all the horses that won that I picked last or second last,  look at what I said about them and think about what I thought about them overall.
"The quick glance" 

This was my first blog back after a short break. I did that because I am moving towards playing mostly T breds, and I have a lot to learn to play those at the level I like to play. I simply didn't have time to do a blog up for WEG harness, do the research of the T breds, and live my life otherwise as I wish to. But, I also developed a few new playing strategies, and I wanted to test them out with real money and handicapping on a product where I already know plenty enough to do well if I do the work. So, I took a lot of time and did this blog up. I did my homework, and I got the first 3 winners out of 4 races right, two of which paid very well (Pop Goes The Weasel in the 1st ($11.00) and Casimir Overdrive in the 4th ($6.90 ). Finish Line in the 2nd was a pretty easy play for me, but he paid only around even money. I expected higher, but the smarter bettors were on to him and bet him down.)
Anyway, 4 races, 3 right, and they were very accurate comments if you watch the races, the replays are available on You Tube under WEG replays. I gave the other winner, Resistance Futile a good shot, he was viable and was a use in the pick 5 if I had played that. Then we arrive at Race 5, and here is where I made a mistake.

I liked the favorite, Brilliant Strike N, and so did everyone else. I did watch his previous race replay, and I was confident that he was ready to go, and only needed to show up. However, I did list reasons he might be suspect, based on things I know about his sire and the nature of overseas horses coming to this side of the world and dealing with weather and class they never have before. That played out, and he bombed out. That I am okay with. I weighed all that and made my call. Some of those will bomb. But, what I'm not okay with is how I viewed J Eagle Feather.
My comment on that horse was based on two things. I had remembered that two races back, he was a heavy favorite but didn't look good in the race, hanging badly and bearing in terrible most of the way. That race was a class below this. In his next start, a race I never watched, he dropped a level from that and was only 4th. At first glance, a quick glance, he looked outclassed and my bias memory was now that he wasn't good enough and had physical issues. But that was one race, and one race does not a horse make, good or bad. In fact, when you look at his last race, and the last race that Brilliant Strike N went, on the same night, J Eagle Feather paced a faster back half than Brilliant Strike N. In terms of effort, he raced harder and performed as well or better. I am still of the opinion Brilliant Strike is the far superior horse and will prove that out, and in fact his next start he finished 2nd and raced up to the potential I thought he would actualize this night. But, on this night, J Eagle Feather was not an automatic toss, as I listed him. It was a lazy, quick glance mistake. Lesson learned. 

J Eagle Feather finished 2nd, and almost won. The payoffs on him were very large, as listed below. Brilliant Strike was a well beaten 7th, never involved in the race and hanging badly in the stretch. I was on the wrong horse, because I didn't handicap the race properly.

Quick glance handicapping is what losing bettors do because they don't have the time, or don't care to use it even if they do have it.

"I have a read on this horse, No need to look at current form"
I did well on the next card and then for the most part, I did very well on this card, getting many right and turning a profit because I was very thorough, except for one mistake. Again, I focus on the mistake. I am already doing the other stuff well, I can just keep doing that. The mistakes are where I have to improve. This is a mistake I have made for years, and it costs me weekly. 

I had a clear bias here. I used the word "appears" which indicates I didn't even look Andovers Choice over. That is correct. I did not. I made a comment about him not being good enough and likely to be shipped to a lesser track and circuit by spring. That has been my view of that horses ability since he broke his maiden. He made me pay on this night for that comment. 

First off, he is a young trotter. They can turn on a dime. You have to look at them currently to make any call. That is a huge mistake to make. Either you pass on playing any race they are in, or you do the work that will pay off if you do it. Its very similar to the Maiden Special Weight, Maiden Claiming variables in T breds. It's not like playing older, established claimers. In his case, he was making breaks in stride, and when he didn't, which he didn't in his previous line, he performed up to what was needed in this race. In fact, he did exactly that on the bottom line on his page, when he got exactly the trip he got on this night, and won, as he did then too.  Secondly, he has the top trainer at this track for many years, and the best percentage post by far at the track, one he didn't have on any of the lines on the page. Thirdly, he has the top driver currently at this track, and it was his first time driving him. Those are ALL reasons to consider this horse. To top it off, it was a very weak field, he had shown the speed needed before, even on the page, and his qualifier wasn't bad. He had improved a bit. He was still very chancy, but in no way should I have viewed him as an easy toss. I did. He won easy, and beat me. 

You should get beat when you make as many mistakes as I made here. It's hopefully the way you learn that the game isn't as tough as you think if you do what you know how to do well. If you don't, you will lose, and should lose. Others are doing the work. Hard work should be rewarded. Its the foundation of how we view our society.

"If a horse beats you, its likely your fault, not his or hers. Don't hold that against them."

The next card was the next night. I decided part of the issue was the amount of time I had, and to do 10 races the way I like to do it was not reasonable or necessary. So, I narrowed it down to 4 or 5 where I was positive I could beat the favorite (which is how I play if you know anything about how I play) and get value that way. I found 4 races where I thought there were bad overbet favorites and I had viable options to beat them with. I listed all of those races with how I was going to play them. I had the outright winner in 2 of those 4, which is very good handicapping, and both paid well.
Donna Party paid $12.80 and Wrangler Magic paid $19.30. In another race, I was confident I was beating the two I thought would take most of the money, I Wish You Well and On The Minute Mark, and both of those missed the ticket. I had the top 3 finishers as my top 3, but the favorite turned out to be Evangelin Seelster, so, the bettors got this one right when she won. My top 2 were both 11-1 longshots who finished 2nd and 3rd. I didn't actually bet the race, as I realized I had read the odds on the race wrong, and the favorite won, so its not a race I probably should have played. My friend Garnet Barnsdale did. He read the race as I did, had the top 3 in a triactor and cashed a big ticket. I'm not really a triactor player, so that isn't something I would play. In any event, I was thorough in this race, and I got the race right. The 4th race I listed this night is probably the most important lesson of all the ones in this blog, as its the one mistake most of us make the most. I don't know any handicapper who doesn't make this mistake. It gets back to the real world examples I listed at the start of the blog.
"When Barockey wins, I lose"
I have a friend who say that all the time. In fact, the same guy who cashed the triactor. I don't say it, but I could, because I bet the races that way when she is in them. Why is that?

Well, for a time, Barockey was a very nice mare. She was even a tough Preferred level mare about 3 or 4 years ago. Shortly after she lost that form, she plummeted down the class ranks, but in spite of that, she would continually lose at odds on or lower, many times with very easy trips. She just appeared to be no good any more. And for a while, she was no good. But then, she got a longer layoff, and somehow, she returned to be a decent class moving mare who won her share. Sure, at times, she would still blow big leads, or fail off pocket trips she should win off of. But, she did win her share. For me, and others, we already have a mindset on this mare. She will lose when you think she should win, so, never play her.
In the race earlier in the blog where I hit Pop Goes The Weasel, Barockey was the 2nd favorite. She was coming off a win and moving up in class. I didn't like the favorite either in that race, for the reasons I stated, and it played out exactly as I said it would. Barockey stopped badly, as she is prone to do. 

But you know what else she is prone to do? Come right back and race better the next time. That is her history if you look up her past performance. She is just one of those that can be very bad for a race, or month, but turn it right back around for no reason that any of us can figure.
The handicapping angle we miss on her is that she is consistently inconsistent. That will bring big odds, and she delivers on those odds. As she did on this night. I tossed her, because she had bad current form. That was a mistake. I tossed her because I have played her in the past and lost bets on her. I played her, however, when she appeared to have good form, and then went bad. She performs on the bad form--race good angle. Some do that. It's not for me to figure out why, if that can even be figured out. Its for me to figure out she is that type of horse, and play her if the odds are right. My comment on this night reflects I had already decided she had bad form and was not going to win, no matter what. 

Here is the reality of Barockey. She has made 370k lifetime, has a record of 1:50.2 and 35 wins. She is a very talented and fast horse who knows how to win races. She just doesn't care to do it when we think she will. That is our problem, not hers. Unless we make it our problem, which I have.

Losing a bad bet on a horse once, or even twice, isn't the horses fault. It's your fault, and if you hold a bias against that horse because of it, you will lose more bets because you didn't figure out the reason you lost the first time.

On this card, I got almost everything right and made a very nice profit. However, I should have made more. Being happy you did okay when you could have done better is what losers justify as luck or the way it goes. I don't. I want to be the best I can, and make adjustments when I see they are there to be made. The fastest car in the world will not be as fast as it was made to be if the timing is off and needs to be adjusted.
"As Britney would say, Oops, I did it again."
No need to go into much detail here, except that I view Paparazzi Hanover in the same way I view Barockey, and also with a dose of Andovers Choice. So, I tossed him, and he beat me. Its probably the point where this blog started to develop in my head. A repetitive mistake I could see 3 nights in a row.

I could also note that J Eagle Feather and Paparazzi Hanover have the same trainer/driver and maybe I need to get a better read on that guy, which I thought I had, but I clearly do not. 

"The worst kind of mistake to stomach, You are right, but you still get it wrong."
 I got this race right. I had a bad favorite tabbed and she was very beatable. I had a live contender, at 35-1 in Total Knockout, who I even noted is the Barockey type, but not nearly as talented. I had her on top. She raced pretty good, was right there, but was short at the end when it mattered. 
You know who wasn't short? Phoenician Gal, who is a similar type, and also another of Travis Cullen's who beat me on this night. When somebody beats you enough times, you stop saying hit me baby one more time, and start thinking about how not to get hit. Cullen has convinced me. Tossing him on an inconsistent horse is a stupid thing to do. Whatever the issue is, he finds a way to fix it eventually. I don't have to know when that night is going to be, I just have to make sure I have him on that night. The two track hosts that night even touted how she was wildly underbet, had a legit shot, and finally went off and won at 16-1. I had the race figured right, which was a longshot was coming, but didn't cover all the ones that could be that longshot. It's the worst beat to take when you play the way I do. 

If you are certain the favorite is beatable, you don't short out any longshot that has a legit shot in your mind to beat that favorite. I had tabbed Three Pink Bows as a no chance type. I didn't like Donna Party back at shorter odds this week. Other than that, and the favorite, Case Dismissed, I needed to use the other 4. I didn't. I lost. Lesson learned. 


When people you have respect for, like my friend Garnet and track handicapper Chad Rozema pick a horse on top, and you are tossing it, you should take a second look at why you tossed and they tabbed. I didn't. I stuck to my stubborn guns, and I got shot by the bullet I should have seen coming. It didn't feel good around midnight, when the card was over, and I realized my bias handicapping was really a serious issue.

Odds On Amethyst is a combo of just about every mistake I described above. Like J Eagle Feather, he has a very good last race, but I ignored it. I figured he was outclassed and he raced poorly the times before I had actually watched him. He is inconsistent, and a trotter, so, he was likely to blow up either way, and I could toss him based on that. He has done it so many times as it was. The Andover's Choice angle that bit me. Like Barockey, he goes very hot and cold, and generally is bad as a favorite but turns it around when the odds float up. His inconsistency is a plus, not a negative, from a betting perspective. His trainer. Pat Hudon, is someone I know, and I know he is a hard worker and very skilled horseman. He will keep working at it to figure out this horse and make him perform, to the talent the horse clearly has. I know all that, but I still tossed the horse. I figured this race for a price horse, but I didn't look over carefully every possible price horse. 
At the end of the day, the common theme of this blog is that I was lazy, and used a bias that isn't valid to justify not doing the work I know I should and have to.

Strictly a bias issue.
Should and would I have gotten all of these horses if I had done more work? No. But, I wouldn't have gotten beat by all of them in less than two weeks. One mistake, or beat I can take. A second one I can understand. Racing and race horses are not an exact science. But when a clear pattern emerges, and you can see why you are not performing, you cannot ignore that.
You can have tons of years of experience like I do. You can have a specialized skill set that I have gathered over those years. You can have valid knowledge and really understand the game. But, you can never beat a bad bias mindset and think you don't have to work for it. You cannot. You will lose if you insist on doing that. It cost me, as it should have.

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