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How to Win on a Longshot

Apr 9, 2008
Here is a method by which "turf fishermen" have sought to catch the box-car winners.

System Number 1

A friend of the author's reported that he had checked roughly 6,000 races, which is equivalent to about a year's racing on all major tracks. He said that he found that Sweep's fourth horse, after scratches, won about 20 per cent of the time, or about one out of five.

Sample and spot checks since then have shown that the average is slightly below 20 per cent but still good enough for a stab at long shots. Playing one-fifth of a "due" column seems the best way to handle this method.

Capital can be conserved by passing up plays in which the first four entries are low prices.

On June 2, 1955 Sweep's fourth choice hit Canaris in the seventh at Belmont and paid $38.40. Other winners were: William Morton, seventh race at Balmoral (at Washington Park) and paying $30.80; Fiery Imp, third at Detroit, $21; Flying Teddy, fourth at Delaware Park, $11.80; Dateline, third at Thistledown, $28.80.

Winners on May 12, 1955 included: Themis, first at Churchill Downs, $23; Perfect Mister, fourth at Sportsman's Park, $18.60; Amafox, second at Suffolk Downs, $18.

System Number 2 (The "Fourth" System)

Every now and then, a system comes along that can scarcely be explained on the basis of any of the factors Such a method is the "Fourth" system, named for a reason that will be obvious.

1. Note in past performances every horse that finished FOURTH in his last race. Pay no attention to horses that finished in positions other than fourth.

2. If using the Morning Telegraph, look at the comment at the end of the line for the race in which the horse finished fourth-his most recent race. The horse becomes a selection if this comment is favorable.

Favorable comment includes such remarks as:

a. showed good effort
b. closed willingly
c. finished strong
d. much best of rest, etc.

Pass the horse if the comment is unfavorable. Unfavorable comment includes such remarks as:

a. dull effort
b. quit
c. showed little
d. not in form, etc.

3. If using the Racing Form which makes no such comment in the past performances, then whether horse was "favorably" or "unfavorably" thought of must be deduced from the running of that race. "Favorable" would include if horse:

a. gained from stretch to finish
b. lost ground only because of the competition and not because he quit.
c. was in for higher price than he will race for today, etc.

Note-If horse lost ground between stretch and finish it does not disqualify him unless he quit, or lost much ground to the same horses nearest to him throughout the race.

Example-If he was running fourth most of the time and the same three horses were leading him most of the way, then he would not qualify if THREE other horses were ahead of him at the finish. This gives credit to a horse which tires because of pressing the pace or being on it most of the way. He may run a good race and still finish fourth by even 10 lengths.

"Unfavorable" would include:

a. a quitter. A check of several races will show whether the horse has the quitting habit.

b. a horse which never got beyond fourth place anywhere in the race although other horses were changing positions at the top.

With no comment as a guide, selections will have to be a matter of judgment. If the player, however, has the Racing Form monthly chart book he can easily look back and get a full description of the race.
Or the player can watch the result charts, pick up the horses finishing fourth, and note the comments made.

4. Since this method usually picks long shots, two horses can be played in the same race.

But if it is desired to separate contenders they might be chosen under these elimination rules:

a. Choose horse with highest speed rating
b. Horse which raced most recently
c. Horse showing a distinct drop in class

Good luck with both these systems!
About the Author
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