Hot Odds

Hot Odds

Allow me make some assumptions (one or all these assumptions will apply to around 95% of those reading this) . . .
1. You are a decent handicapper and you’ve been in the game somewhere between 4 months and 4 decades.
2. You have up days or cycles where you make good money – then you have losing streaks where you give it all back, and –
3. You can’t quite put your finger on why this is, but –
4. You’d really like to solve this and make some money in the game – to the point that you’d be willing to give up your left hand
(or right hand if you’re a lefty), or maybe even sacrifice the wife (or hubby) ?!?  

. . . Okay, okay – just joking about the wife part  🙂

Interested in a way you might solve the race-player’s dilemma – forever?

I consider myself a very good handicapper – but not a great handicapper.  

I have known a few great handicappers personally, and several other sharp ones through their writings, but most of what I use now was refined from my many years of handicapping and issuing the HRG Index.  

During the last 13 yrs. of publishing, Horse Racing Gold has issued right at 15,000 races (and actually many many more races than that have been handicapped for research purposes).

My experience though – is that you don’t need to be a great handicapper in order to be a profitable bettor.

What you need is enough information about your own handicapping and betting history so that you can make better-informed decisions than the next guy who doesn’t have that information about himself.

For serious players, most races handicapped come down to a final decision from among multiple horses considered as potential winners of today’s race. The key then is; which of them do you select, how often is your choice correct, and ultimately – how much profit are your correct decisions making you?

Your betting decisions need to be based on odds (value). Period.

I’m not talking here about just high odds, or low odds, or so-called overlays to whatever odds-line you are using . . . You need to consider the odds parameters that your own betting history has shown to be profitable for you over time.

As many of you know – from subscribing to the HRG Index, or from my ramblings in various previous posts – I keep records of all winners by odds, and by handicapped rank position.  The graph table below is from the cumulative data of the last 1,722 races issued in the HRG Index (all of 2015 and to date in 2016).  I’ve turned that into a kind of “heat map” visual of the results of those races.

The data illustrated below is for my handicapping.  But remember – I don’t believe that I am a great handicapper, and so your results should you decide to keep such records for a decent length of time – would likely be similar.

Odds are across the top (the last column clumps all horses at odds 15-1 to 18-1), and the rank I gave my handicapped horses are down the left side.

There are ROI numbers in those cells, but forget that – just ‘gaze’ at the table.  The brighter the color – the higher the profits for that rank at those odds. All with bright color are profitable, the green and gray are potentially profitable when two horse wagering and coupling with the bright color odds – and the black are unprofitable.


hot odds post



The first thing you’ll notice is that profitability is primarily limited to the top three ranks – especially the top ranked horse.

The second thing is that the parameters for profitability pretty much falls between 9/2 and 13/1

A quick word about the table. This a ‘weighted average’ odds chart. As a way of dealing with late odds changes and also thereby ‘smoothing’ the data, I use a formula that double weights the actual odds results for the rank while also adding in the results of the odds on either side and then averages that total figure. For example the actual return for 5/2 in the top rank is 1.16 – but because 3/1 is low (black) and 2/1 is borderline (green), and a late odds change after placing wager might come into play – the “projected” long term return for 5/2 is brought, in this case down, to its figure of .92.

There is a lot more that can be gleaned from information like this – especially for players that are very ‘visual’ in their learning processes.

For those with the patience of Job – simply playing single horse wagers only into your sweet-spot grouping (in the above chart, the top rank at 5/1 to 13/1) will assure long term profits.  

I prefer spreading out to include the 2nd and 3rd ranks when odds are appropriate – while making two-horse dutched win wagers (and with two top keys in my exacta combos) – thus getting much more volume.

Try keeping your own odds/rank records in a similar manner – add in a smidgen of patience, and you’ll get the heat turned up on your own bottom-line.

As always – comments welcomed.                                  – Gary


  1. Raymond Strommen

    Decided out of the blue to use the bal chatri technique on Parx today, when out of the blue in the 6th race the number 2 horse Hold Everything blew up the toteboard. Since the recent post is about discussing odds, thought this was of interest
    Parx 6
    #2 0.7 50/1
    #3 1.1 1/1
    #5 1.6 13/1
    The obvious odds bets are the 2&5, which I did. I know 50/1 shots rarely win but was #1 pick so made a small bet
    #2 111.40 19.00 10.60
    #1 3.60 2.40
    #9 4.40
    The Even money favorite ran out!
    Moral bet the odds not the horse!

    • Ray – Thanks for the report. Good deal! I only caught one horse at over $100 win pay all year in 2015. I noticed the $1.00 exacta paid
      exactly the same as the $2.00 win pay in that race ?! – Gary

  2. Hey Guys,

    Not that Gary needs a backer, but I personally can vouch for him in regards to keeping records. I’ve been doing it “faithfully” for 3 years now. I can see where my sweet spots are, and it even helps me in knowing which races just to pass.

    Have a great race day!


    • Swanson – Always good to hear from you. I can also vouch for your commitment to record keeping – having gone over a few of those that you have sent me through the years. I trust your bankroll is appreciative of your seriousness as well! – Gary

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