The following was culled from a thread recently posted by a member of the HRI Faithful, Dennis McDonald:

“I was actually getting tired of watching [Breeders' Cup]. So many races. I didn’t cash a ticket for two days until the finish of the Classic was posted official. I ended up catching both days’ doubles and making a hundred-plus when all was said and done.

“I had the exacta picked cold in race 11 (even written down), as well as the 10-cent super box but never placed either bet. My losses were piling up at that point and I opted for a few late doubles keying on Talismanic instead.

“I’m thinking the 10-cent super box in race 11 paid like $250 for a dime. Crazy game. I got my butt kicked for two days but found a door out at the very end of the card. Lucky and glad it is over. Exhausted.”

From one professional handicapper’s frame of reference, this generally is what the game is all about, especially when applied to the Breeders’ Cup betting concept en toto. Many times, in fact, this is exactly what happens.

In order to do well, of course, you must be right when it really counts. And the results of the Turf certainly qualifies as being right when it mattered most to McDonald.

The straight payout of $30.20 on Talismanic was generous for a live price shot, especially considering the team of legendary horseman Andre Fabre and Mickael Barzalona, ranked outside the U.S. as the world’s best rider.

Add freshness and the #1 post position and the risk was totally mitigated by the possible reward. In context—and TJ will back me on this as he read a hard copy of my Tote Busters Pick 4 analysis—the $259.20 Dime Super was a gift.

But don’t feel badly, Dennis. I didn’t have it either. I did not make a conscious decision not to play it as you did but you made the right decision given your bankroll limitations: Always protect your stake.

Personally, I increase my loss tolerance on these big days because money-making opportunities abound. I designate a fixed amount per race so that I won’t "get caught in the switches,” as they say.

The reason why I didn’t have the Super was loss of focus, a factor that beats me more than any other in this game. I’m well aware that it exists but, alas, we’re only human. Of course, as a veteran horseplayer, I never run out of excuses:

When the amateurishly handled Bolt d’Oro was defeated, I lost three solid price-shot contenders from my Pick 4 ticket in the Turf: Talismanic, Decorated Knight and Sadler’s Joy. The first two horses were upgraded and added to the mix after Ulysses was scratched.

On my only backup ticket behind the Bolt d’Oro single were Good Magic and Solomini, the eventual 1-2 finishers in the Juvenile. But my prime Pick 4 was left with only Beach Patrol and Highland Reel for Turf coverage.

I did have the presence of mind to “save” the live Pick 4 by using the three horses I lost when Bolt d’Oro was defeated in rolling doubles with Arrogate, Gun Runner and West Coast, extra tickets with Gun Runner. (The Turf-Classic double returned a worthy $104 per 2 ticket).

However, I never gave the Turf superfecta a thought. Routinely, my Dime play would have been to key firm-loving Sadler’s Joy--3-for-5 at 12 furlongs and a “win-and-in” starter who used the Joe Hirsch as strictly a bridge race.

One doesn’t realize many $259 returns on an investment of $9.60. Focus!

With respect to bankrolls, especially on Breeders' Cup days when interest and payouts skew higher, players should write out basic plays for every race, add up the total and see what’s left for real-time mixing and matching.

As Denny suggested in one of his threads, straight win betting is the best way to go. There’s no getting caught in the switches. Just set your personal odds line for each race—no underlays, please—and bet to win only.

But the modern game generally is not played this way. Today’s horseplayers are in many pools simultaneously and if your “knowledge” is superior and bankroll is adequate, you can take advantage of the crowd, even the most sophisticated opinions.

Of course, at some point you’ll hear some know-it-all wiseguy say “straight win betting is boring.” While it’s true that win betting is not as sexy as taking heavily promoted Pick 4-5-6 moonshots, there is a fail-safe tonic for win-bet tedium: Make bigger bets.

Early Election Day Results


The following is what one NTRA Poll ballot looked like when e-mailed Monday morning:

1. GUN RUNNER
2. COLLECTED
3. FOREVER UNBRIDLED
4. WEST COAST
5. ABEL TASMAN
6. WORLD APPROVAL
7. ARROGATE
8. ROY H
9. LADY ELI
10. GOOD MAGIC

The following is the final tally from 40 National Turf Writers and Broadcasters who voted in the final poll of 2017:

1 GUN RUNNER (unanimous)
2 COLLECTED
3 FOREVER UNBRIDLED
4 WORLD APPROVAL
5 WEST COAST
6 ARROGATE
7 BEACH PATROL
8 ABEL TASMAN
9 ROY H
10 LADY ELI
Other horses receiving votes: BATTLE OF MIDWAY (43), STELLAR WIND (22), BOLT D’ORO (15), GOOD MAGIC (14), ELATE (9), DREFONG (7), RUSHING FALL (7), LADY AURELIA (6), GUNNEVERA (6), TALISMANIC (5), DIVERSIFY (5), WUHEIDA (4). ALWAYS DREAMING (4), UNIQUE BELLA (4), MOR SPIRIT (4), MIND YOUR BISCUITS (3), SHARP AZTECA (2), WAR STORY (1), MENDELSSOHN (1), DISCO PARTNER (1)