By Ray Wallin
In the world of weight loss, there are two types of people: People who only worry about the number on the scale and people who are more concerned with changing their body composition, losing and gaining inches in the right places, regardless of what the scale says.
I was as skeptical as anyone years ago when my trainer told me that if I wanted to fit into my old pants again that I would be working with weights and likely way more than I did when the pants didn’t fit. I was shocked several months later when my pants didn’t just fit but were loose and I dropped a size. It dawned on me finally that I hadn’t just attacked what I felt was the immediate problem of needing to lose some weight but had transformed my body.
The same can be said for handicapping. Ask any handicapper you meet at the track what they would like to change about their handicapping, and you will get a consistent response of “winning more money.”
Looking to win more money is like losing weight. You can starve yourself and lose weight. You can go on a cuckoo diet and quickly lose weight. Similarly, you can bet only longshots breaking from the inside half of the field. Just like starving yourself, you may see an immediate gain, but that approach isn’t sustainable in the long run.
Rather than applying a quick fix that will not stand the test of time you need to transform your handicapping. Using a couple of tips necessary for you to get the results you want.
1 Have a system
Have you ever seen that guy at the track who walks in with no clue what he is going to bet on? I bet you have. He grabs a program as he enters, thumbs through to the next race which is going off in five minutes and suddenly has his first “lock” of the day.
How often do you see him win?
I am guessing not too often. Hopefully, this doesn’t describe you.
If you are trying to transform your body you have a system for eating and exercising. I bet you have a system for how you cut the lawn so you can navigate that trouble spot where the roots stick up a little higher and a way you trim what you can’t get with the mower.
You need to have a system for your handicapping. It may be following a checklist to make sure you don’t miss an angle or how you set up analyzing pace scenarios. Whatever the reason is, by having a system in place that you can rely on will ensure you don’t miss obvious profitable betting opportunities.
2 Get guidance
Do you remember when you starting handicapping and made your first trip to the track? Did you find the experience overwhelming?
Like any novice to the game, I guarantee that you had more questions than answers. I know I did. I was fortunate though. I had my late Uncle Dutch. The summer he spent under the direction of being a positive male role model for me was I was 14 years old on the apron of the Monmouth Park grandstand was an amazing learning experience.
I had a lot of questions. He and the track regulars he hung around with would answer every question I had. Whether it was related to the horsemen, how pace set up, how to evaluate shippers, or what to look for in the paddock, I had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips that summer.
While times have changed, there is still a wealth of information out there willing to be shared by many handicappers. If you aren’t going to the track, you can find online forums and Facebook groups or reach out to any online horse racing personalities to pick their brains. I bet you will find that most are more than happy to help.
Think of the last time you tried to improve your handicapping. You set some goals. You set some time frames for achieving what you set out to do.
After the first couple of days, you started with the excuses. You didn’t have time to watch the replays and take the trip notes you told yourself you were going to do. You didn’t review the charts and log results for the angles you were tracking. Before you know it, you are back to your old ways of handicapping and have made no progress on overcoming the obstacles to your handicapping success that you had identified.
Staying accountable is easier said than done. Doing it by yourself is even harder. You need to find someone to keep you accountable. Find a fellow handicapper, either in person or online, to bounce ideas off and to be your accountability partner. Challenge each other to layout your handicapping goals and force each other to stay on track. I bet you’ll also learn something in the process.
4 Get some skin in the game
Everyone starts off trying to improve their handicapping with the best intentions. Sure, you want to win more races and money, but are you willing to do the work? You want to improve how you assess horses shipping from track to track, but I bet if you set out to work on developing track to track comparisons you won’t finish.
Put a little skin in the game. Buy those par times. Buy that trainer data. Buy that sire data. You’ll knock out a big chunk of what you are looking to improve in your handicapping and be more likely to use it since you paid for it. If you are willing to buy your Starbucks coffee every day, you should be willing to invest in what you have decided is a priority.
5 Daily tracking
Most daily tracking of results seems like a chore. If you can build a way to track what you are looking to improve into your daily handicapping routine, it won’t feel like extra work. A daily review of your progress helps to keep your head in the game and increases your awareness of building these new improved habits into your handicapping routine.
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.
Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.
Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.
Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at www.jerseycapper.blogspot.com Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.