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What should you bring to the races?

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Adolfo Morales is winning 36 per cent of his races.

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Adolfo Morales is winning 36 per cent of his races. Photo Store

What’s the most important thing for you to bring to the race track?

No, not money; common sense. In fact, the more common sense you have, the less money you’ll need. Let me explain.

Some players, especially those who are new to the game, might bet their lucky numbers, or because they like a horse’s weird or cute name, or because the horse took a dump on the track or whatever. Sure, that occasionally pays off but, overall, other bettors love people who bet like that. It fattens the pool so they can win more.

So what do I mean by common sense?  If a race is a short distance, a sprint, what horse do you think has a better chance of winning? The horse who springs out of the gate first or the horse who emerges with the pack? If you say "first" then you’re already on your way to cashing.

Looking at a simple line of numbers in your race program (called "pace" numbers) will point out that kind of horse. Go a step further: If the horse’s "pace" numbers are way ahead of the others, you’re on to a very good thing!

Common sense angle #2: in hockey and football, the coach gives teams a winning edge. Ditto for horse racing, where the coach is called a trainer. Look for trainer stats listed with each horse: Example: Ardell Sayler (95-25-13-13). The first number tells you how many horses he has started, then how many firsts, seconds and thirds.

He’s obviously a top trainer and has been for 11 years. Glancing at other trainer stats will point out three who are winning at a phenomenal rate — more than 40 per cent! They are Rob Atras, Jim Meyaard and Jared Brown. Common sense players are all over them. The same goes for jockeys: Adolfo Morales is winning an incredible 36 per cent of his races. Paul Nolan and Chris Husbands follow.

Looking for a long-shot play? Once again, common sense comes into play. Look for long-shot horses (such as 10-1) with a top jockey aboard. Top jocks get to be top jocks by bringing in horses that, on paper, might not seem that they have much of a chance.

Here’s one more quickie: if the first two or three races are won just by horses that go to the lead, or just by horses that are flying late, then common sense tells you to look for a similar pattern in the later races.

You’re welcome! These are the kinds of things I explain to newbies (and even some regulars) who come to my "learn the secrets" stage just inside the main entrance 30 minutes before the races. And my biggest thrill is having some of them tell me later that common sense is making them money.

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