LOS ANGELES, August 29, 2013—Like a stopped clock that’s right twice a day, my handicapping of Grade I races for three-year-olds tends to be right twice a year. Both times this year, D. Wayne Lukas provided a vehicle of value that helped overcome my inconsistent wagering strategies.

And that ship might have sailed when Oxbow went to the sidelines and Will Take Charge will take lots more money now that his profile has been raised several notches.

This was a weekend when even the highest of high-profile trainers served up longshots; Todd Pletcher in Saratoga’s King’s Bishop and Bob Baffert in the Pat O’Brien at Del Mar. I caught neither, having exacta-boxed the four survivors from the Amsterdam and only watched Goldenscents complete the Pat O'Brien exacta with hands that never reached into my pocket.

Perhaps what we need here at HRI is a wagering clinic where hapless handicappers like me can get some diagnostic assistance in turning red ink into black before our fingers turn blue from pinching dimes. Indeed, opening my wallet for week-end wagers looks more like a moth–release program given my recent inability to isolate singles at the top of my superfecta tickets.

Even when my analysis is reasonably accurate, financial reward is too frequently interrupted in vertical exotic pools when the right horses finish in the wrong order. Sunday’s Pacific Classic was a perfect example.

I figured that the draught might end because Game On Dude appeared a most logical winner since his previous conqueror made several disappointing efforts since their last meeting. But a Single-All-All-All superfecta would have involved 990 combinations which was unlikely to produce a profit, especially when the single is the favorite. Some trimming in the middle two slots seemed appropriate.

The battle for place appeared to be between dead-fit Hollywood Gold Cup Runner-up, Kettle Corn, and a resurgent two-time Pacific Classic winning Richard’s Kid. Even though I had my doubts, Dullahan, the 2012 winner, was impossible to ignore. It was reasonable to assume that one of my choices would finish second; probably third, as well.

Parenthetically, I always use All in the 4th slot, efforting to give myself at least as many chances to get third or second money. So I added Holding Glory, a 10-furlong graded stakes winner in Brazil, to the 3rd slot. He rated to improve off his fast-closing 2nd at one mile over the track. That play took 98 combinations, compared with 270 if I used All for third.

The bottom three superfecta finishes were decided by noses. If the 3rd and 4th placings had been reversed, I would have cashed. A 40-1 shot, You Know I Know, finished 3rd behind more highly regarded stablemate Kettle Corn. Both had outfinished Richard’s Kid, resulting in a Dime Super worth $226.04. The odds were 6-5, 6-1, 40-1 and 14-1, respectively.

Ironically, You Know I Know also happened to be an optional-claiming miler who narrowly defeated a freshened Holding Glory. The racing gods insured that my 33-1 longshot would finish a troubled fifth beneath Sutherland-Kruse, a head behind Richard’s Kid.

I know, I know: If I liked Holding Glory I should have liked You Know I Know, too. It would have taken only nine more combinations to get it right. All I can say is that I’m more inclined to spend a little more when my top selection isn’t the favorite.

(Maybe I would buy 10% more combinations if I were subsidized with the 10% rebate that goes to racing’s 1 percent, even though we bet into the same pools).

Jay Hovdey’s entertaining recap at http://www.drf.com/news/jay-hovdey-how-about-pacific-classic-blanket-finish was more forgiving of Chantal’s ride than either the DRF charts or replays indicate. See for yourself. I’ll be revisiting my own drawing board.