For horse racing pros, fans and bettors, the Kentucky Derby is far more prestigious, but that’s just one race. As far as a whole day of racing – two actually – there is nothing in the horse racing world that can touch the Breeders’ Cup. Race after mega-race gives people a chance to cash in in a big way. Large fields and huge amounts of public money inflate the payouts and can lead to eye-opening totals for longshots that come through. The day is popular enough, and potentially attractive enough, that people who only bet on the ponies one or two other days of the year are often drawn to make some pari-mutuel bets.
There is no good reason why someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time betting on the horse races can’t have a good, fruitful day betting on the Breeders’ Cup. If you want to give it a try when handicapping the horse race here are five tips for casual bettors to keep in mind:
Go where the action is – The best place to watch and bet on the Breeders’ Cup is somewhere where lots of other people will be doing the same. When you are surrounded by the excitement of the event it’s easy to stay focused. You’ll also quickly hear about any changes or issues, and get a sense of any track biases or connections that are having big issues. There are always lots of people around who are willing to talk about the races and share opinions, too. If you don’t know a lot about betting on the ponies to win then a trip to the track, an OTB, or a sportsbook where they are legal is a very good idea. It will be fun, too – and if things start to go badly there is always no shortage of beer for sale.
Eliminate the no-hopers – Fields are capped at 14 horses in the Breeders’ Cup, and in many races the fields will be full. In any field that big there are several horses that have no real chance of winning the race. The fewer real horses you have to deal with and choose from the better, so the best effort you can spend early on is figuring out which horse are outclassed. Reading news reports and horse racing forums is a very good source of this information. You can also go on a horse by horse basis. If a horse has odds of 25/1 or higher on the morning line then a quick Google search of that horse’s name will quickly tell you if the horse is for real, or if he’s just there for the vanity of the owner.
Come up with a strategy and stick to it – When you start watching the races you can easily become overwhelmed. There are so many good horses, and the payouts will be big and seductive. A bettor without an established plan could easily jump from horse to horse and bet to bet without getting anywhere. Before the first race starts, then, you need to have a general plan of what you are looking for. Are you looking to score with longshots, or stick to lower priced horses? Are you going to bet every race, or look for special opportunities? Win bets, or exotics? intra-race exotics like the exacta or trifecta, or inter-race ones like the daily double or pick three? Once you have a strategy in place it becomes easier to resist the temptation to make questionable bets. Avoiding bad bets is often the biggest key to horse race betting success.
Set your bankroll in advance – On big days like the Breeders’ Cup betting can get expensive. With so many good races with big fields you can easily spend far more than you meant to. To avoid major problems it is essential to set a bankroll for the day before you start and then stick to it. If you don’t trust yourself then leave your bank and credit cards at home when you head out and just take the cash you want to spend.
Team up for better reach – This is especially important if you want to bet the big exotics like pick three, pick four, or the huge pick six. When you have to pick the winners of several races there are many combinations to consider, and each combination you add to your ticket costs more money. If your bankroll is limited then you won’t be able to cover that many combinations, and you’ll need more luck to succeed. The payout for these bets can be quite big, though, so it is often worthwhile to cover many potential combinations in search of the winning one. The best way to increase the combinations you bet without spending more money is to team up with another bettor. By pooling your money you can each cover more combinations, and you’ll have a better chance of winning. You’ll have to split the profits, of course, but you’re also splitting the risk. The tougher the bet is to win the more important it is to team up. If you want to bet the pick six, for example, it is almost impossible to bet on your own and give yourself a good chance of winning unless you have incredibly deep pockets. Bettors who win the pick six have often bought thousands of different combinations, and each combination costs two dollars. In the pursuit of that bet it’s often best to team up with several bettors.