Stakes selections 7/30 ( Arapahoe, Saratoga, Del Mar)

4 races to look at today across several tracks:

The Enlightened Oaks Trail continues today with the Arapahoe Debutante Stakes for 2YO fillies, 5.5 furlongs, 55k purse.  My top 3 are favored Galactic Princess, Emma’s Dilemma, and McKenzie’s Honey.  Logical top 3, really.
Galactic Princess won her maiden debut here 7/4 with a 78 Brisnet, much the best pace figure for track distance and lifetime compared to today’s field. I also like she’s one of 2 horses who improved on the pace leader by the 2nd call last time out.
Emma’s Dilemma 1st or 2nd in 3 lifetime..2nd last time in the CTBA Lassie here on 7/9, forged new lifetime best of 68 in her maiden win prior to that. Only other filly with comparable pace numbers, noting this sprinters 95 Brisnet at first call, and is the lone sprinter. Also had a 3 wide trip last time out.

McKenzie Honey ships from Turf Paradise, winner of two there, then laid off since May. Best AWD numbers of the field (Parading/So Beautiful, by Arch). Adds Bute for this race following layoff. Only filly with prior win that follows a class and distance increase.
My odds: McKenzie Honey 29-1; Galactic Princess 7-1, Emma’s Dilemma 3-1, Ms Wild Rush 9-1, Lite Em Up Linda 7-1, Miss Pretzel and Lucky Dolly are 4-1 (both are overlays).  Miss Pretzel also showed gain on leader by 2nd call last out  Lucky Dolly has best work tab of these.
Not a good betting race here tho the overlays should be used for win and under faves. McKenzie Honey as 2nd morning line pick should take on less money. More $ likely will go on Lucky Dolly and might not be an overlay by post time.
To Saratoga we go and the Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap,  a 6 furlong race at the Grade 1 level for top 3YO+.  My top 3 are Holy Boss,
Holy Boss had a nice win streak going this time last year, and then had finishes between 3rd and 4th since. Won last year’s Amsterdam Stakes here, was 3rd in the King’s Bishop with a 102, which is best pace for this track of the field. Last time out in the True North, he was half a step slow out of the gate, but still managed a 100. Adds blinkers for this race. Nice works coming in too.
Anchor Down also ships from Belmont, following the Met Mile. Playing bounceback angle, 2 races from achieving lifetime best numbers (108) and bouncing from there. Pace patterns suggest a return to triple digits. Track bias is kind to sprinters (44% winners at the distance) and post (19% wins from rail).  Best turn time of the field.
Chubilicious comes out of her win in the Mr Prospector at Monmouth, 6/26, with a 108 score.  Best pace numbers measured by run style. Only true closer in the field.
My odds: Holy Boss 2-1; Delta Bluesman 12-1, Catalina Red 12-1, Anchor Down 7-2, AP Indian and All Star Red 29-1, Requite 22-1.  No overlays here.
Can’t really go against the chalk here, tho the chances are good Anchor Down and Holy Boss will take less money than others.
Next is the Clement L Hirsch at Del Mar, a Grade 1 race for fillies/mares going 8.5 furlongs for a 300k purse.  My top 3 are Stellar Wind, Beholder and Divina Comedia.
Stellar Wind 2nd choice by morning line. 5 wins in 9 lifetime including the G1 Santa Anita Oaks. In fact she’s constantly been in Graded company ever trainer switch to John Sadler.  She is the absolute speed of the small field. After bouncing from triple digits to 93 in the Vanity at Santa Anita, I expect a return to faster pace here. Good competitive turn time too. Waiting since June to stretch out, has multiple shipping wins following layoffs. Best works of these too.
Beholder has a dazzing 27-17-3-0 record. Winner of 8 straight going back to 6/7/14. Best speed figures for distance and track (112, Pacific Classic, 8/22/15). Only other horse with great turn time, also stretching out with the 7 week layoff.
Divina Comedia is the only value and overlay hope.  Top AWD numbers via European stock, this 5YO mare increased speed figure from 86 to 95, a small new top at that. I like that she closed onto leader by 2nd call in most recent race, her win in the Southern Truckin at Santa Anita 7/3/16
My odds: Beholder 5-2, Stellar Wind 2-1, Divina Comedia 8-1 and an overlay.
Back at Saratoga again for the Jim Dandy Stakes, 9 furlongs for top 3YOs, 600k purse in this Grade 2 event. Top 3: Destin, Laoban, Governor Malibu

Destin won the SF Davis and Tampa Bay Derbies earlier this year.  Easily the speed of the field, he forged small new top last out in the Belmont with 103.  Good consistent pace numbers too.

Laoban still a maiden but maybe not for much longer. Poor record in 7 races, but I like that he’s the lone sprinter and was impressive in turn time gain between the last 2 races.
Governor Malibu won the Federico Tesio and the Gander. Best track speed here with an 84 (2nd in his maiden debut vs 73k maidens). Prior winner first off layoff,
My odds: Mohaymen 2-1, Governor Malibu 29-1, Destin 2-1, Laoban 2-1.

Enlightened Trails update (Arapahoe, Prairie Meadows)

Results from the Prairie Gold Lassie and Juvenile races are at the spreadsheet.  Note that the Juvenile at Arapahoe Park is tomorrow (Saturday).  I will have thoughts on that race, plus a few other big events overnight.

For the 2nd straight race, a horse who I pegged to overlook a bad trip won the race outright. I never seriously factored Raising Rumors, but he did have best pace numers for distance of the field coming in.

Enlightened Trails outlook: Prairie Meadows 7/28-29

Prairie Meadows Racetrack takes its turn in the spotlight this week for the latest Enlightened Derby and Oaks Trails. Here’s how I see them.

For the Prairie Gold Lassie for leading 2YO fillies, running 6 furlongs for a 65k purse, my top 3 here are Christina’s Comet, Grandma’s Princess, and Bella’s Back. Christina’s Comet, one of the big favorites, won her debut at Lone Star on 6/4, a 5 length victory for the sprinter at the 21k maiden level, going 5 furlongs. In her month off, she’s put up 5 workouts, 2 of them very fast.  Track bias is friendly to sprinters and posts 4 to 7. 45% winners are coming from sprinters in 6-furlong races.  Adds Bute for this race.
Grandma’s Princess was 6th in the Debutante at Churchill on 7/2, this after winning her debut on that same course 3 weeks prior. More love for sprinters on the rail too. I will forgive the trip she had last time as she found it difficult to get away from the rail.  I love the 8-1 morning line odds.

Bella’s Back also carries some value. Winner against 28k maidens in her debut on 7/3 at Canterbury, stretches from 5 furlongs. Only deep closer in the field, she carries the best turn time as well.
Grandma’s Princess as my 2nd choice is also the one overlay I see among these, some mild value behind the favorites overall.
On 7/29 there is the Prairie Gold Juvenile for leading 2YO colts, also 65k, also 6 furlongs
Envoyer looks to be the sharp favorite and I agree as top selection.  2nd in his maiden debut at 32k going 4.5 furlongs, then 3 week after winning with a stronger Brisnet of 84 at 5 furlongs.  Both times he went off as odds-on favorite.  During the big layoff he’s done 6 workouts, all at Churchill. I have some concern over his bouncing from the gain to 84 here. Only horse in the field to win off stretchout, he debuts with Bute here, and is waiting longest to stretch out.  Track bias is friendly here to sprinters and his #4 post.
Warrior’s Kid I like for 2nd at a price. Won his debut at 5 furlongs at Canterbury with 65 Brisnet. This sprinter took over halfway through the race and maintained short lead afterward.  Best AWD numbers of the field.
I like Ducat as a narrow 3rd choice as longshot surprise.  Won debut at 5 muddy furlongs on this track 6/30, 71 Brisnet.  Rail sprinter here too.
No overlays in this race. Envoyer looks much the best…value is 2nd best to play with here as well.

2016 PGA Championship outlook

Thinking on the very place name Baltusrol, my mind flashes back to 1994 or so, when I used to have an assortment of Game Boy cartridges, the originals with that green/grayscale look.  One such game was Jack Nicklaus Golf, a good game with a sand course, a tree course, a water course, and a best-18 featuring The Golden Bear’s favorite holes and shots.  You could play a PC player or Jack himself.  Baltusrol’s 16th, if memory serves correctly, was one of the more challenging holes. You have to play entirely over water, onto a narrow strip as judged by distance. Too little and your ball is wet. Too much, and you have a fair amount of sand to play. I usually opted long and hoped for par.     How do the real live players play 16? Remember Lee Janzen..

I’ve picked out my foursome, none of which are surnamed Janzen. Here’s their current stats and history with the course:


Qualified mainly for having a competitvely low score in last year’s PGA Championship.  World rank: 17th,
Among the best without a major, he has 12 pro wins since his debut in 2000. First Baltusrol appearance.
370 lifetime events, 84 top 10s, 263 cuts, 7 PGA wins.   Top 5 stats on the Tour currently in these categories: Par 4 scoring average.
CBS also thinks highly of Kuchar
Biorythms: Great cycles. Physical and emotional cycles are on the positive side and upward trending for the tournament. Mental cycle bottoming out.
Qualified mainly via being in the top 70 for money earned on the tour this year.
5 pro wins, 8th major championship appearance, tho has made the cut in those just 3 times.  First Baltusrol appearance. World rank: 26th.  On the PGA Tour, he’s been in 108 events, one win, 11 Top 10s, 75 cuts. Top 5’s: Distance from edge of fairway,
Biorhythms: Good cycles. Mental cycle is best, starting tourney at peak. Physical goes critical to positive on day 2. Emotional cycle approaching nadir.

RICKIE FOWLER is among the top money leaders on the tour.

Turned pro in 2009, with 6 pro wins.  Still aiming to get back to his outstanding 2014 campaign, with 4 Top 10s in the majors.  World rank: 7th.
170 events on the PGA Tour, with 3 wins, 47 top 10s, 131 cuts made.  Top 5s: Approaches 75-100 yards, scrambling from fringe (perfect in 19 opportunities), putting from 9’, longest putts, par 4 scoring average.
Biorhythms are rather mixed. Physical cycles just peaked, heading down. Emo cycles starts day 1 going critical to negative. Mental goes from critical to positive on day 2.  I can’t expect him to survive the cut.

WILLIAM MCGIRT also has strong showing on the money list.  A pro since 2004, 2 pro wins.  0-3 in majors.  World rank: 46th.

169 events, 1 win, 16 top 10s, 61 cuts.   Top 5s: Scrambling over 30 yards, putts per round in round 2 play.
Biorhythms are good. At peak physically, emotional cycle starts from critical point to positive too. Mental cycle very low this week.
One of my favorite bloggers, The Itinerant Golfer, reveals how to play the Lower Course  

Emerald Downs race analysis for 7/24/16

Using the available Brisnet PPs from (all except races 1 and 3), I have my analysis here for your perusal. I list my top 3 and suggested odds for each.  As for the missing 2 races, I will access the program at the track and handicap the simple way, using the Betting Rank angle to see which jockeys, trainers and owners are hooked up together. Along with that I’ll use a few trainer angles that are pointed toward the capsule PPs in the program to see who might be best.
Per Emerald Downs’s Twitter feed, I’d give more focus to jockeys Isaias Enriquez, Javier Matias and Leonal Camacho-Flores.

Race 2: Troyes, California Hero, Kings Court
Troyes is the projected clear favorite and I agree. Best AWD numbers, this 4YO gelding from Lemon Drop Kid scored a 76 at the prescribed mile distance last time out on 7/3, a small new top. Definitely has the best pace numbers. He ran that race somewhat wide, so I think he missed out on a win; I will forgive that wide trip here today, especially considering it was his first start under a new trainer and his debut on dirt. His turn time is best of the field alongsides. The others in my top 3 have enough value for me to consider as win bets.
Not ranked in my top 3 but who seems to be an overlay is Heycutiepatootie. Never mind that their connections haven’t won yet at this meet. She’s waiting since 7/1 to stretch, which happens to be the longest duration among this field. I also like that she’s returning to routes after 2 sprints and her own debut on dirt last time out, as well as 2nd start with new trainer Derwin Farmer.

Race 4: Afleet Hope, Keller’s Gold, Mitch and John E.
Afleet Hope is considered the 3-1 favorite here among these 2YO maidens.  2 races at 19k maiden level already, seems to be a closer. Best track speed at 69 achieved last out on 6/25. Midway through that race she jumped her shadow, costing her ground and a win.  Only horse with multiple races, she does pose a bounce risk after gaining 20 points in speed figure. Waiting longest to stretch out of these.

Race 5: Seeking The Light, Nightwalker, Live Like Mine. Seeking The Light is considered the 2-1 early favorite. Best AWD numbers of the field (Heatseeker/Brightest out of Beau Genius). Best track speed at 81, set and matched in last 2 races. Best pace numbers of the field and solid pattern.Best turn time of these. Only sprinter in the field.  Last out was slow leaving the gate but was 2nd much of the mile distance before trailing off to 3rd.
Nightwalker I like for 2nd as longshot and overlay.  Completed recovery angle 2 races back on 6/12, forging lifetime best of 74. Scored a 68 last out. Owns prior win with stretchout and is waiting longest to do so here.

Race 6: Where’s My Voucher, Gross Misconduct, Wine at Nine.
Where’s My Voucher is one of at least 2 horses that should go off at worse than 5-1 odds, a worthy win bet for sure. First race for new trainer, he surged from 65 to 83 speed figure. This sprinter has the best pace number measured per run style. Turn time numbers are best of the field.
Where’s My Voucher is one of two overlays I like here. The other is Our Boy Ken, who has raced at some low level tracks for  much of his 53-race career. My only reason for including him is judging by his last race, where he gain a bit on the leader from first to 2nd call.

Race 7: Italian Warrior, Can’t Catch Me, Glitter Of Silver.
Italian Warrior is the strong morning-line favorite. Best overall pace numbers, plus had exploded and forged new small top on 5/28 here, equaled on 6/11 and matched nicely on 6/26. Winner of 3 straight and 5 of last 7. Only deep closer of the field, dominates here with strong turn time. Also has best works.
Race 8 is the 9-furlong Washington Oaks, for 3YO fillies.  My Heart Goes On, Brookys Star, Find Joy.
My Heart Goes On hasn’t won since last year’s Angie B Stakes here but has remained in the top 4 in all later races. In fact she’s 9-2-2-3 lifetime.
Scored best track speed of the field 2 races back with an 85 in the Irish Day Stakes, a race that saw her complete a recovery angle. After bouncing to 78 last out in the Kent Stakes, I feel she should run back to the 80s today. Track bias is friendly to routers with the rail post: In 80 races at the distance, routers have won 36%, and the rail at 25%. Switching back to Juan Guiterrez, who piloted her last win.
Not in my top 3 but an overlay to watch is Say It Slow. 4 races thus far and still a maiden, this is a big leap for her. Last out she gained 10 points in Brisnet speed after layoff and stretching a half-furlong.  Gained in 2nd call and stretch call point as compared to prior race before her 7 week layoff.
Race 9: Hoody, Tribal Money, Kiss Sin Goodbye.
Hoody is the morning-line favorite. Last 5 races were similar 10k claiming races, all with 3rd place finishes. Best track and distance speed of the field, achieved 2 races back with an 92. Bounced slightly to 86 last time out, undoubtedly the pace horse here. Without having gone 3 wide last time, he should have won. Turn time is best of these.

Race 10: Anjimama, Chugabug, Oh Glorious Day.   This is a race I feel the favorites have no chance. Anjimima is 11-0-1-0. Set best track speed of these with 71 3 races back, in a race she had won until the final strides. I’m playing the track bias angle here. In 135 races at 6 furlongs, sprinters have won 42%, and posts 4 through 7 are 15% winners.

Oh Glorious Day is one of 2 overlays here. Lone early closer of the field, she has fastest and most consistent pace scores.
The other overlay is That’s Not Fair, who had runs in the mid-50s before bouncing to 34 last time out. Going to hope for a bounceback here.

Handicapping, my way

This series of posts comes out of a number of days and hours deciding on just how to present a segment of my knowledge in the science of horse handicapping. I only began placing wagers in 2007, but I am a fan of the sport since 1979.  I have built some semblance of a system, tweaking at it as I go.  More important than a system, I want for you to come away with seeing how I approach a day at the races, and a night of handicapping.  I do have a system that you can use for managing your money during the race day, even if you have no prior experience wagering.   I also present the most important variables that you should use, plus focus on those you’re not using, and away from the most obvious.
Given my druthers, I’d wager each Saturday a certain amount of money, and keeping 100% of profits, 100% at a time. If I approach the track with $50, I expect to get a $50 profit ($100 won) and keep that, not to be touched again.  Every $50 after also gets frozen and into the bank or the wallet.
I don’t take many chances with wagering. I’ll spend $2 at a time on win bets, and a number of $1 exactas, or $1 part-wheels, where I’m taking 1-3 horses over similar, or otherwise the field.
If I have the $50 saved up, I’ll take a Saturday and go from first race to last, intending to turn a profit. If that last of the $50 wagered is gone, it’s gone. No running to an ATM for more.
Somewhere I’ve read that one should spend no more than 10% of one’s monthly income on entertainment-based matters. I’ve no issue with that. I don’t mind having a limit on my spending, if I know I can part with it. Of course, you don’t want to spend $ that should go toward the rent or other important expenses. Common sense, folks!
I figure I should have $2500-$3000 saved a year for wagering, which would require me to generate income of $25000 a year just to afford it.  That’s not much, but still a goal to attain, and a worthy one.

Settling in for a night of ‘capping….

Truly, you want to make time for handicapping. Not something you want to do the day of the race unless you truly want to have 2nd and 3rd guesses on your 2nd and 3rd choices, and do more research than necessary when the inevitable scratches and changes come. Best you start out when the entries are rolled out. Generally for Saturdays, the entries are first posted overnight on Wednesdays. The only difference that one needs to catch up on between Wednesday and race day are the track handicapper’s official assessment of each horse’s chances, better known to you and me as the morning-line. It’s best presented as a guide, and nothing more. Ultimately you must pit those odds against your own line (more on that later) and how the public perceives the horses.    I take 20-30 minutes per race with all the variables I work with, sometimes less if it’s a short field or if it’s a maiden race, more if a larger field.
First, note the projected weather. I like Intellicast or NOAA for details and radar. If there’s any threatened amount of precip, say 20% (which is actually coverage of precip, not the probability), factor in the Off rating.  For sake of this blog, I use Brisnet’s Ultimate PPs with Comments.  There is a long-standing resource of free PPs at Cindy Pierson Dulay’s page for by trainer, owner and featured races by track.
Write out the number of the race, and the variables  you work with, and put each variable (or groups of variables, as I do) in some sort of rank.  Your most important variables will get the highest representative rank total, which should be divided up evenly when there are ties.    Write the numbers out carefully, as you’ll need some space to write over them when changes occur.
My system has taken a number of forms, and it exists now as a spectrum, with lower points given to lifetime stats and pedigree, and more points relevant to what changes have taken place since the last race, plus the human factor.  Ultimately I focus on what those changes are as having the most impact. I base my wagering skills on this theory.   I won’t present the full system here but I’ll show you how I group the variables.
First, and lowest, are lifetime stats and pedigree (including AWD—average winning distance) numbers.
Next higher in importance are stats that point to changing pace form (bounce/rebound, forging) and overall pace numbers.  Here I’ve used stats that come inspired from Dave Litfin’s great book “Expert Handicapping”. It’s a book that points out the importance of both pace stats and trainer impact, among other variables.
Next I put variables that are relevant to what happened in the most recent series of races, along with a poor jockey/trainer’s connection. Here I’m introducing some negative variables into the mix, such as trips (forgiving a poor trip with a fast pace) and a sprinter’s lack of gaining the lead in recent races)
Next of importance is more of the human impact. Here I evaluate a trainer, plus introduce turn time. Turn time I thoroughly studied after reading James Quinn’s book “On Track/Off Track: Playing The Horses in Troubled Times”.  I also include track bias/trend stats, the ones you’ll find at the bottom of Brisnet races.
Finally and most important are particular angles based on call-point position, plus works, sprint/route changes, and speed in relation to par. For sake of this blog, I’ll point these out specifically.  This isn’t a shortcut in order to ignore the other groups of variables, but it’s a good start.
1st call gain: This is one from James Quinn. Look for horses who are making their 2nd start following a layoff, and who are gaining in Brisnet speed since that last race, using the 1st call for sprints, or the 2nd call if a route. If there is no first call pair of numbers (this happens often with sprint races), go ahead to the 2nd call instead. This gain suggests there is more in the tank for this race.
2nd call gain: Note any horse that gains the lead or gains on the leader at the 2nd call.
Works: Here’s my mini-system evaluating work tabs:
1 point for a horse with 3 workouts since last race, 2 points if 4.
1 point if the horse’s last 2 works are at the track he’s racing in, 2 points if 3 such works. Half-point if 1 such work
Half-point for each work since last race where the horse’s rank on the day falls in the top 3rd of all running that day.
Sprint-route: Another tip from Mr. Quinn: Horses with a big gain in class moving from sprint to route should be avoided unless his last pace number is 5 points above the par score. Par is located in the upper right of the PPs for each race. I also like horses who return to routes after a few sprints. A third approach: Consider horses who return to route  who already have a route win, returning with the same jockey, and has good works.
Par: Take note of horses whose last race exceeds par; one to play against.

This set of variables will give you a starting point for determining who to play and who to play against.

I do my studies the day or two before the race, and check on the morning of the race, at least 2 hours before post time, when scratches/changes occur. You’ll want to have backups, or otherwise move up your own selections in response.  Odds can be somewhat unpredictable when this happens.  If you’re at the track, be sure to be there in the same 2 hour time frame, ready to anticipate the changes, or otherwise follow on your phone or tablet. I like Equibase for tracking changes.  While you’re at the track, keep watch of the odds to see who is being favored by the public and who is 2nd and 3rd in those rankings.  In small tracks (small handles) or non stakes races, or even in small fields, the odds can shift pretty quickly. Otherwise, some numbers are just dead on the board. If there’s not much movement, you might want to bet earlier, instead of waiting for the last minute like the masses do.
If you have no access to some or any past performances and you’re at the track, you can buy one of the simple programs and still have some ammo to work with.  In this case, here’s how I approach handicapping, especially if you have an Equibase program:
Make note of the leading jockeys (top 3), and owners and trainers (top 5). Find the Betting Rank column. This ranks the personnel by ROI, suggesting which ones will have the most value in comparison to their win and $%. It doesn’t always figure who wins the most. But when you spot owners, trainers and jockeys together, or 2 of the 3, and there’s value (worse than 4-1), it’s a possible key play.   Also you can rank horses in this regard with a few variables I borrow from my list of trainer angles:
Which jockeys have been substituted in to ride that horse whom he/she has won on before?
Which horse is waiting the longest to stretch out?
Which horses have won on this track at approximately the same time of year, give or take a month?
Answer these questions, use the Betting Rank column, and you can easily construct your top 3 for each race.
Watch those odds! Dave Litfin suggests looking at the odds as they first appear. If the morning-line favorite opens higher (read: worse) than initial odds, then that horse has the ‘kiss of death’, and should be avoided.
Especially watch those odds 15 and 10 minutes, then 5 minutes up until 1 minute to post. If the odds aren’t changing that all that much, get to the betting window with about 10 minutes to go. Definitely get there by the 5 minute mark.  Yes, odds will change a bit even at that point but you must commit to your wager once you have figured which side of the ledger the odds will go. If horses are on the proverbial fence for me at 4-1 and 6-1, on the borders of value and win betting, and gettting worse or are otherwise dead on the board, I’ll take the benefit of the doubt and play those value/win bets. I can safely assume I’ll get something for my patience, unless there really is a lot that does come in on those horses, or there is a late scratch or two.
I like having a top 3 for each race, and it helps me evaluate which races might be money races. This is very helpful for those of you playing multi-race wagers, your doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, etc.   If you can eliminate the favorites (top 3 by public and/or morning-line) from at least the win column, even the top 2, you can make a big score. This is the most critical matter with wagering for profit. You must be able to answer yes or no to this question: Can the favorites be elminated from the top 2 positions? Sometimes you can’t, in which case you can overbet the fave (instead of $2, do $5), or you can pair a favorite with an overlay.
And how do you spot an overlay? Here’s how I do this
When I group my variables, I assign 2 sets of points. The first one is for all positive variables, broken into groups as I outlined above.  I give 1 point to the horse whose number appears most in the lowest category, or split it evenly if there are more than one. I do likewise with groups 2 through 5, assign 2, 3,4, and 5 points.  I add the point totals together. This should equal 15 points, unless a group has no entry at all. I divide each horse’s total into 15, then take the number and divide it by one, then subtract by one. The result is the approximate odds the horse is truly worth based on my handicapping.  3 points into this scale would equal 4-1, 5 points 3-1.  7.5 is even money.   To spot an overlay, we are looking for horses whose public odds are offering at least 4 more dollars payout for win per dollar wagered. In other words, if I think a horse is 6-1, the public odds should be 10-1 or worse.  For 4-1, I need to see 8-1 or worse.   For any horse whose public odds is 20-1 or worse, I want my odds to be better than 10-1. After all, there must be some reason why the horse is a longshot!
My approach with overlays is to play straight win bets, and play under the top 3 favorites (up to 7-2) in exactas.

My standard way of playing are with wins and exactas, just simple $2 win bets on any of my top 3 horses that are worse than 5-1, and then using up to 4 of the possible top 6 combinations between my top 3 in exactas, adhering to the Quinn exacta limitations.   I also play overlays to win and under the top 2 public choices.

For my sanity, I put horses in classes of odds. Any horse 2-1 or better is FF, a strong favorite. 5/2, 3-1 or 7/2 is a basic F, a basic favorite.  4-1, 9-2 or 5-1 is M, a middle price horse, not enough for win bet but enough to use with others.
6-1 through 9-1 is a W, a win bet.   Use liberally.
10-1 and worse are longshots, which should be used with care.   Examine the spectrum of races via the morning line to see where your favorites are, and bet accordingly.
Again, if you play Pick 3s, and can eliminate the favorites in your top 3s, you have the makings of a good score.  Avoid betting multi-race wager when you feel 2 favorites in one race have a good chance to win.  Take careful note of any race you’re watching where there is one horse better than 4-1.  You can bend my rules here and use 2nd/3rd favorites in such a case.   The challenging matter is that you won’t know how the public is going to bet in the latter stages of a multi-race wager once your $ is in.  Trust your instincts but don’t be afraid to play an extra win or place bet when there is one solid public choice. has a nice approach to playing such wagers. Bet 1 horse in one race, bet all in another ,and bet your contenders in a 3rd. Mix up that order twice more so the sequence is different (1, some, all, then all, 1, some). It’s a good cost-effective way to play this wager, if you have the $ to make it happen.  You can take the same approach with Pick 4s or 5s.
Frankly my favorite wager are the exacta wheels, so long as you know which are the favorites and which are the contenders and overlays.
 Another tip from James Quinn’s book: Never bet the 1st/2nd  or 1st/3rd public selections together, and never bet longshots together. Also, no baseball: Don’t play all 6 combos in a 3-horse box or 12 in a 4-horse box.  Save the value horses for win bets instead of on top of faves.
An even simpler, and more fun way to wager is the parlay system. It’s the ‘let it ride’ approach.  My spin on it takes into account favorites.
Get friends together and decide upon a top 3.  Set up 2 parlays, one for 2 races at a time, the other for 3.
Divide the wager amount equally between the top 3, and wager them to show.
If you score, take all the money (or bankroll, say, half) and wager the rest on the next race.
If you score in the 2nd race with the 2-race parlay, bankroll that, and start fresh with a new amount. If you lose, start over anyway.  If you’re doing the 3-race parlay, and you hit again, then the excitement level should be pretty strong as you go for a 3rd straight score. Bankroll your winnings after that 3rd and start over once you lose.  Rinse and repeat through the entire card.

What I would do is this:  Get $72 together, and put $36 in a 2-race show, and $36 in the 3-race version.  So you should wager $12 to show for your top 3 in that race in both parlays.   My adjustment for favorites in your wagers (top 3 public choices):
1 favorite: Wager $45 ($15 per horse)
2 favorites: wager $54 ($18 per horse)
3 favorites: $21 per horse, for $63.
Or if your pockets aren’t as deep, try $12 per parlay ($4 per horse per show bet, no longshots). For 1 favorite, wager $24 ($8 per), 2 favorites would be $36 (12 per), 3 favorites $48 (16 per)

Finally, here’s an examination (not the pass/fail kind) about what variables get overbet and those I use that most don’t see or figure on.
The overbet ones are the ones that stand out in most programs. Those are weight, pace figures, jockey influence (win %, etc), horses under reclaim, and workouts.  Those horses will get more $ by the public.  Doesn’t mean that will make it easier for that horse.
The underbet variables are these:
Layoffs…..who has won first off layoff, or those who won their debut race who are coming off layoff
Recovery angle (Litfin): Look at horses off layoff, watch for the first bounce and recovery since the layoff and play that horse within 8 weeks of recovery if under 4YO, or 12 if at least 4YO.
False sprinters (Quinn) Downmark any Brisnet-rated sprinter (E types) who do not get the lead at any call point in the last 3 races.
Turn time (Quinn) A complicated process but easy once you’ve done it a number of times. Look at the most recent race. Pay attention to the horse’s lengths behind the leader, looking at the 1st 2 call points, and subtract .2 seconds from the leader’s time to get your horse’s true fractional time.  Compare the 2 call points, calculate the time between. Do this for the next most recent race.  Note 3 items: who has the fastest turn time last out, the best gain in turn time between last 2 races, and who had a slower figure in pace rating among those who gained in turn time.
Trainers: Lots can be gleaned by watching trainers meet by meet to see what kind of moves they make. I check about 13 of such angles per race.  The angles that seem to be ignored are these: Any horse who is subtracting or adding 4 or more lbs and has won with that angle before; horses who have won at the meet at the same point in the calendar, give or take a month; those who are waiting the longest to stretch out.  There are many ways to go with this. Litfin’s book puts a great emphasis on trainers.
First call after layoff (see above)
2nd call gain (see above)

Next up: Quick Enlightened Trails update, and a writeup of 8 races out of 10 I’m handicapping at Emerald Downs for Sunday