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Peter Bent on Picking Winners and the Exotics Field

Exotics Analysis

The following is based on Peter Bent's out-of-print books Form Analysis and Exotics Betting and The Thoroughbred and Exotics Betting and describe the authors approach to using the Tote Pro part of Bet Selector for exotics.

Picking Winners

All winning horses enjoy three essential elements. If one or more of these ingredients are lacking, the horse is unlikely to win. Each winning horse will have enjoyed a relatively trouble free run, will be one of the better quality horses in this race and will be at its peak physical fitness. You must endeavour to select the horse which displays all three characteristics.

Start by immediately dismissing all horses in the top five not in peak form from further consideration. If there are more than three horses remaining in contention after this step, you must consider the peak form period itself. This peak phase is not a plateau. Rather, after its initial zenith, form gradually tapers off over the ensuing days or weeks. Inspection of the form cycle will determine how close the horse is to its initial peak and allow us to place the horse in a class of peak fitness, dependent upon its proximity to that point. A summation of the seven Classes of Fitness follows.

Once you have labeled the top five in form horses, simply pick the three highest classed horses as your winning selections. For example, if four of the top five are in peak form and fall into classes A, B, C and D, you would select the three horses in classes A, B and C as your first place picks. The Bet Selector ranking of these animals is irrelevant. It is sufficient that they are anywhere within the top five ranked horses.

Where three horses fall into clearly defined higher classes, selection is simple and self-evident. Very often, though, two or more of the lower class horses will inhabit the same class. To discriminate between horses occupying identical classes, you must look to the OUT number. As the OUT number represents the number of days after the last start when a horse will lose form, deducting DAYS from the OUT number will tell us how many days of peak form remain after today's race. The horse with the most number of days remaining will be the better animal and should be selected.

Picking The Exotics Field

The objective of the trifecta field selection strategy is to create a trifecta field roughly half the size of the race field. There is a sound reason for this selection strategy as limiting the size of the trifecta field reduces your outlay.

As stated earlier, a significant number of horses filling the first two places are found in the Bet Selector top five ranked horses. Some of these horses will be stood out for first, second and third, while the remainder will be stood out for second and third only. In addition to these top five horses, a number of others may be stood out for third place only.

To set a trifecta field, Bet Selector considers all horses with predicted margins within 3.3 lengths of the top ranked horse and if needed up to two lengths greater than the fifth ranked Bet Selector horse. The maximum number of selected horses should be five for races with no more than nine starters, eight if no more than twelve and nine if there are thirteen starters or more. These caps are introduced in an effort to keep outlays manageable.

If Bet Selector picks too many horses, you must try to reduce the number of selections. First, if the top rated horse is in peak form (WF Y), you can reset the predicted margins by adding 1.5kg. to this Net Rating. If there are still too many selections, you can pare back to our cap by removing those third place only standouts with the widest margins or you can reduce the number of first place picks from three to two (this should be done when two first standouts are two or more classes above other candidates).

While Bet Selector stands out the top five ranked horses for second and third with additional horses for third place only, all first place picks must be done principally by the punter. Earlier I outlined how first place horses are selected from the top five. Your first place picks can now be entered by ticking the Standout checkboxes on the top left of the Tote Pro dialogue.

When there are six or more horses with a margin under 2 lengths, be wary. If the top rated horse is in winning form, add 1.5kg. to its Net Rating in order to expand the predicted margins. However, if the top rated horse is not in form, abandon the race. These races are wide open, with only a ten percent strike rate.

Finally, if the top rated horse is in winning form and is rated 1/1 or shorter in the TAB pre-post market, select that horse alone for first. The strike rate for these horses is very high and you can take advantage of this by drastically reducing our trifectas bet. This allows us to either have a smaller outlay, or more money on each trifecta to combat the often lower dividends.

Once you have entered your exotic selections in the Standout box, you are ready to set your odds market. You are free to use your own market or TAB dividends but we use the Bet Selector market as it is simple to use and updates immediately with scratchings. Once you have decided on the win market you will use as your Base Odds, you are ready to set your Correlated Market. This Market has been designed specifically for trifecta betting to eliminate unlikely trifectas. It will be explained in full in the next chapter. After you have set the Correlated Market, quit the Standout/Comparative Price screen and click on Betting Values.

When standouts and Correlated Markets have been entered, you can set your betting values. This encompasses the desired takeout, minimum and maximum dividend range and betting unit value. Setting these exotics betting values is the next step after standouts in our outlay reduction strategy.

With your exotics betting values entered, you are ready to use the Correlated Market to eradicate unlikely trifectas from your bevy of combinations.

The Correlated Market

After standouts, the Correlated Market is the single most productive tool for limiting exotic outlays. Put simply, the Correlated Market eliminates those trifectas that are unlikely to occur, given the most probable finishing position of each horse in that trifecta.

So how does the Correlated Market work? To answer that, you must first consider the history of Comparative price win betting, made popular by Don Scott in the early 'eighties. Don compiled all factors affecting a horse's winning chances in a race and produced what he called his rated or true odds. He then inspected the prices on offer from the bookmaker. Comparing these two markets, he eliminated a horse if the bookmakers', or Comparative price, was less than his true odds. He introduced the terms "overlay" and "underlay" to describe these conditions.

The process of comparing the price on offer with your true odds and dismissing "underlays" does not work with trifectas as you cannot accurately predict what most trifecta dividends will be. While you do know the rated (or true) odds of a trifecta, you have no price on offer to compare it with. Hence, it is very difficult to dispatch trifectas on the basis of so called poor value. Any attempt to do so will result in the elimination of some trifectas paying much more than expected. You must, therefore, engineer our own comparative trifecta market which will allow Bet Selector to eliminate those trifectas with a price less than the true odds.

While you do not know the eventual dividend, there are some things about a trifecta you do know. You know, for example, the likely finishing position of each horse you have selected as a placegetter. You have already nominated some horses for first, second and third, others for second and third and still others for third place only. You can now refine this process by removing those trifectas where the specific combination of standouts is unlikely to occur. For example, a short priced first pick will most likely finish first or second, but if a long priced first pick wins, then it is more likely to finish second than third. Thus, you can begin to remove those trifectas where one or more of the horses are in an unlikely finishing position.

To remove those trifectas least likely to happen, you must first enable Bet Selector to formulate a list of trifectas from the most likely to occur to the least likely. To facilitate this process, Bet Selector requires two odds markets. The first is the BASE, or true, odds of each horse as calculated by Bet Selector , re-framed to one hundred percent. This is compared to a second market, called the Corresponding Odds.

The Corresponding Odds market is manufactured from the Base odds. As first place picks are the most likely to finish first or second, Corresponding prices are greater than the Base price. Horses stood out for second or third are more likely to finish third than second, so their Corresponding odds are reduced. As third place only horses cannot improve on that position, their price is retained without change in the new market. Once the Corresponding Odds have been so engineered, Bet Selector will list all trifectas in order of priority. This list is constructed from the standout positions, the Base and Corresponding odds, all of which formulate the Correlated Market.

To demonstrate how a list is compiled, consider the three horses you have selected as likely winners. Bet Selector boosts the Base price of all these horses by ten cents to form the Corresponding market. When you raise their price by ten cents, you are increasing the price by 5% at $2.00,but only 0.5% at $20.00. This tells Bet Selector that the horse at $2.00 is more likely to win than the $20.00 chance. Bet Selector now uses the win market to re-calculate the Base and Corresponding price for the second and third position. Our $2.00win chance may be a $5.00 chance in the second place market and a long priced $20 for third. Corresponding prices will be ten cents more. Again, the differential between the Base and Corresponding price will signal the likelihood of each placing. Using these win and place odds, Bet Selector now calculates the Base and Corresponding odds of each trifecta. The trifecta with the biggest differential between these two markets is the most likely to occur, while the smallest differential is the least likely. If the Corresponding Odds are less than the Base price, the trifecta combination is ignored. In this way, a list of trifectas, from the most likely to occur to the least likely, is constructed.

By incrementally reducing the Corresponding odds of the two top five 2nd place standouts, you lower the Corresponding odds of all trifectas sporting these horses in the second or third position. As Corresponding odds are further reduced, more and more trifectas will fall below the Base odds and be eliminated. To do this, open the Corresponding Odds dialogue box on the Standout/Comparative Price screen (see Figure 3 below). Bear in mind that the Bet Selector list is not based on the true odds of a trifecta. A trifecta at 500/1 could be at the top of the list as very likely to occur, while a trifecta at 50/1 may be at the bottom as being unlikely. A trifecta at minimal odds which features a short priced first pick in the third position is less likely to occur, for example, than a short priced horse winning with long shots running second and third and paying a significantly higher dividend.

To dismiss sufficient unlikely trifectas so that you either do not exceed your desired outlay, or those remaining trifectas allow us to increase each trifecta bet without overstepping the overall bet size, the Base prices of the top five horses that are not win picks are reduced by a named percentage, manufacturing the new Corresponding prices. Percentage reductions can be entered on the Tote Pro screen with defaults set at 0 and 25 percent respectively. For example, in a race where there are thirteen or more starters and you have 84 possible trifectas, you would use Corresponding price reduction to eliminate roughly 24 unlikely trifectas so that our outlay would be about sixty dollars, assuming one dollar is bet on each trifecta. If, after price reduction, there are fewer remaining trifectas than the desired outlay, the Takeout can be increased to raise the bet on the favoured combinations, until the targeted amount is reached.

For more of Peter Bent's ideas see our form analysis page.

Footnote: Tote Pro used to sell separately for $1,995 but is now free as part of our demo program which you can request right now by simply following the instructions below:

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