Betting Without Money

Published by Lucky Dog under Horse Racing.

If you want to get good at something you need to practice. Placing simulated bets on a horse race is like drinking water and pretending its wine. You get the experience of taking a drink without the sensation that the alcohol provides. I often watch horse racing for entertainment. That’s a sign that you are a true fan of the sport. Sometimes to make it more interesting, I will do all of my normal pre-race handicapping and write down simulated bets. Typically, the bets I practice with are multi-race wagers and trifectas. I like to handicap all of the races at a single track. If I have less time, I will only do either the first or second pick 4 on the card. Then I will either watch the races live or check the results later. Even though there is no money at stake, I still build my practice bets within the limits of my budget. My max limit on a pick 4 wager is $24. That gives you a total of 4/3/2/2 or 4/4/3/1 picks in the 4 races. An $18 wager gives you 3/3/2/2 or 4/3/3/1 picks. That’s why finding a single in a multi-race wager is worth the effort.

The other day I was making plans to go to Canterbury Park. It was nearing the end of the season and I had not been there to see a live race in about a year. In past years I’ve been able to find free passes or half price admission codes. In the morning it took me several hours to handicap the 8-race session that was due to start at around 5 PM. When it came time to order my tickets online, I could not find any discounts for awards card members. This was very disappointing because I’ve never had to pay full price for admission. Ordering tickets online saves a few dollars, where the prices are listed as $8 for adults and $3 for children between ages 6 and 17. I suppose they figure compared to other forms of entertainment their price is a bargain at $22 for a family of four. I rarely stay for all of the races and didn’t want to spend $16 for two of us. Instead, we decided to stay home and watch the races live on TV. It’s weird watching at home when the track is only 2 miles from your home. But if they don’t want me there, fine.

There is some value in seeing the horses before a race. With a little experience you can spot the ones who are in good form and the ones that don’t want to be there. I had the early pick 4 and a couple trifectas. But race 5 and 6 had longshot winners. Both of these races were wide open with vulnerable favorites. The winner of race 5 had two prior 7th place finishes with a 29 Beyer speed figure in its last race. A deeper look would have revealed that this horse had an average speed figure in the mid 80’s with several top 3 finishes in 2022. Overlooked by the bettors, the horse won at odds of 25/1. Similar story in the 6th race were an overlooked runner won at odds of 38/1. If you go back later and try to figure out why a horse won, it can sometimes make it easier to find those kinds of longshots next time.

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