Other Side of the Coin: The Get Out Leg

Each week of the 2023 Saratoga meet I will be writing about one Pick 5 sequence which could pay big. Less about handing out picks, I’ll be discussing why I think the sequence is ripe for a windfall and how I am structuring an efficient ticket around a contrarian approach. These spots are what make horse racing the best wagering game out there.

There’s no better feeling than being on the other side of the coin, so let’s dive in with Week 8. The Late Pick 5 on Friday, September 1.

The Setup

Race 10 on Friday is the setup we dream about. In a ten-horse field of $16k claimers going one mile on the dirt, two are entered by Rice, one by Brown and one by Cox. Most tickets will cover those four and be done with it. I will cover the rest. 

It’s a clear position to take, compounded by the fact that Rice and Brown are battling for the trainer’s title, likely being more aggressive with their entries than usual and everyone knows this, building this narrative into their handicapping and downplaying other factors. Knowing the overreliance on these barns, I can clearly see the equity in positioning against them will create more value than usual. 

When you actually handicap the race, none of their entries have a handicapping case that will justify their price other than the barns they will walk over from. Especially in the Pick 5. Form is questionable on the Cox entry, soundness on the Brown, and ability is in doubt with the two from Linda, though we’ve seen this barn find talent from thin air before.

Meanwhile Sounds Spooky is taking baby steps toward some decent form. Proven Hope just ran to his previous top on ThoroGraph and though each time he’s gone off in his next effort, as a 3-year-old he has every right to break through to a new top. Excess Demand has early speed and was just claimed by Potts who has strong numbers with his new acquisitions. 

I can make a better case for five than I can for the sixth I will use, Scotto, but consider the value. By adding him to the mix and playing multiple tickets in a way that ensures our efficiency, the value of going from five to six in this leg is exponentially more than the price. The relative obscurity and low win percentages of the other barns combined with the Rice vs Brown trainers title race make taking this position that much more attractive. 

The Get Out

The get out leg is different than other legs. Assuming we are facing a rational group of tickets, they are looking to be skinny in every leg, but the last leg is where we will find tickets going the deepest defensively because who wants to survive four legs and not hit the fifth. People consider the story of it, the experience of it, the scars earned from missing out on big scores in the last leg, and I argue no matter how rational we might assume the market is, a large amount of get out legs are built emotionally. But we know the truth: the last leg is simply one of the five and going out on the third leg is the same as going out on the last.

The first leg, many will be bold and single, knowing they can start back up in the Pick 4. There’s no other way to capitalize on your opinions if you go out on the last leg.

However, 30% trainers offer comfort. They are security blankets handicappers grasp onto and hold tight. I see any horse winning past those four as ensuring five figures, and if we can structure our ticket correctly, we can efficiently cover logicals while building equity into previous legs.


The cornerstone of this approach is building equity into our ticket, whether through a divergent single or covering a divergent group. In covering all the horses other than the four underlay logicals from Brown, Rice, and Cox, I am using a group of horses to build equity into my play. 

The unique element of this approach is that we want to spread into the logicals we like, as opposed to the accepted way of thinking that one would spread hoping to catch a longshot. We still make those logicals Cs, true to the ABCs, and so they are only peppered throughout our stack of tickets and not overused on the same one.

Who Will They Single?

It’s not the easiest sequence to find a single. In Race 6, Focus Pocus (3-1) could be the one, or maybe the Cox firster Miss Maximus (5-1). Race 8, American Law (5-2) is very vulnerable and I see Forced Ranking (7-2) and Morning Cup (9-2) taking as much or more action in the Pick 5. Race 9 it’s the lukewarm favorite Disarmed (7-2) but he’s an easy one to poke holes in, as well.

Race 7 has the public’s most likely single in Expand the Map (2-1). One of two Chad Brown entries, if you toss the last one and expect improvement, then he makes a ton of sense. 

We know our ticket will gain equity in the last leg, but get out legs as mentioned can be irrational spots where tickets go deeper than usual, so we can’t over-rely on this leg to get the payout we are after. I argue you either join the crowd and single Expand the Map, but be more aggressive in pushing away from the top three choices in at least two other legs. Or try to beat Expand the Map. Combined with positioning a ticket on the other side of the coin in the last leg, if you fade Expand the Map then you can safely open up the other three legs to the logicals.

Contenders According to My Handicapping

Keeping the same method in mind as I laid out last week with the LSDs of big score ticket structure, here is my breakdown of the Logicals, Shakers, and Divergers.

Race 6
Logicals: #3 Focus Pocus (3-1), #5 Miss Maximus (4-1)  Bs
Shakers:  #1 Ekwanok (5-1), #2 My Kinda Mischief (9-2) As
Divergers: #9 Call Her Bluff (10-1) A

Race 7
Logicals: #8 Expand the Map (Ire) (2-1) (Tamarama likely scratch) C
Divergers: #5 Swoop to Finish (12-1), #6 Dear Lady (10-1), #7 I’m So Sorry (8-1) A

Race 8
Logicals: #1 Morning Cup (9-2), #5 Gun Maestro (6-1) Bs #8 Forced Ranking (7-2) C
Shakers: #4 Fight Fiercely (6-1) B
Divergers: #9 Improper (10-1) A

Race 9
Logicals: # 1 Icy Flavor (5-1), #3 King Moonracer (9-2) Cs
Divergers: #5 Feathers Road (10-1), #4 Bar Fourteen (15-1) As

Race 10
Logicals: tossing
Divergers: #2 Scotto (30-1), #3 Mayfield Strong (8-1), #4 Inspector (10-1), #6 Sounds Spooky (15-1), #7 Excess Demand (12-1), #8 Proven Hope (8-1) As

I used some discretion to move my contenders between those A, B, C, slots, and using Ticketmaker I am happy with these tickets. I am fading American Law and Disarmed, and bumping up Focus Pocus and Miss Maximus into Bs, Ekwanok and My Kinda Mischief into As, Morning Cup and Gun Maestro to Bs. At most, my tickets would have one morning line favorite winning. 

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