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False Favorites -

 

If you had one "boon" - one wish granted to your race betting life - what would it be? No - it can't be "to know every winner ahead of time" - let's keep it as near to the real world as possible!

What I'm really asking is this: The knowledge of what one thing would enhance your ability to make profits more than any other?

A good answer would be, "To know when the favorite is false."

Simply that.

Think about all the talk and handicapping energy expended in finding "value" in a race - who is overlaid? - by how much? - what are the fair odds? - is it smart money or foolish money? - will the odds change drastically after I bet and destroy my overlay? - et. etc.

Yet - if the average favorite goes off at say 8/5 and you can eliminate him from win consideration - you've gained a tremendous advantage - the kind of advantage that can assure you good profits from now till the cows come in!

 

How would it affect your play?

First, it would be the absolute perfect race filter. The decision on what races to bet and what races to pass would be automatic.

You could pass races with legitimate favorites and save all the mental acrobatics of trying to figure the "close call" overlays in the race. You could play races when the favorite is likely false and get overlay odds on nearly all the other contenders!

Second - your average exotics payoffs would go way up. The false favorite (or close second favorite) would never again be used in the top spot - or usually even in the second spot. You could throw all those "saver" bets with the favorite included out the window and use that money to load up heavier on the better paying combinations.

Also - your win % - your race "strike" rate would go up.

What follows are some off-the-top-of-my-head type numbers. (Please, those of you with "precise formula" type math minds - don't take issue with me, consult the writings Barry Meadows or Dick Mitchell if you want exact figures and formulas).

If all favorites win - let's say 33% of the time , but you have a good way of spotting false favorites so that in the races you bet the favorite wins only at a 24% clip across all odds - the following would apply:

You are a better predictor of favoritism than the public by 27% (.24/.33= .72) so - in the races with legitimate favorites that you pass - the favorite will win 42% of the time! ((.33x.27)+.33= .42)

By passing those races and playing against the favorite when it will win only 24% - do you think your hit rate on the mid-range odds horses will increase? - you better believe it - regardless what type of wager you are talking about.

With that increase in edge - you are now on a level playing field - the track take has been essentially neutralized.

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Of course, those false favorites will still have some chance to win, but think about what you will gain. Favorites are always over bet in the exotics - period. The combinations not including the favorite are much more likely to be under bet.

If you've decided the favorite is somewhere between "can't win" and "24% chance to win," yet he is going off near post-time at 9/5 - if that percentage of the pool money is redistributed among your other contenders, many of those other exacta combos will now be at good overlay payoffs.

If you need a conservative actual number - just subtract the % of actual odds from your projected 24% winning favorites.  Example The "false favorite" is at 8/5 - so around 38% of the money is being bet on him. If you've established a several hundred race figure of only 24% winning favorites (across all odds) in the races you bet - then that leaves 14% to be redistributed among say, two or three others that you have made as contenders.

This kind of adjustment is for those players who make a "serious" betting line. For others, the easy way to think about it (though it won't always be true) is that any of the combinations that don't include the favorite will be offering fair prices.

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There are plenty of computer programs out there that automatically download the pp's - choose a paceline - crunch all the numbers and spit out a short list of contenders. All this without any input from the handicapper. If you spend your time only identifying races that contain false favorites and then play only the races with those - you can far more quickly and easily i.d. overlays from the next three or four contenders.

Confine your wagering to those and see what it does for your bottom-line.

In an upcoming article - we'll delve into just how to identify and isolate those races that contain false and weak favorites.