Other Side of the Coin: When Three out of Four Public Handicappers Recommend…

Each week of the 2023 Saratoga meet I will be writing about one Pick 5 sequence which I feel 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 makes 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 4. The Late Pick 5 on Sunday, August 6.

When Three out of Four Public Handicappers Recommend…

When we are trying to position ourselves for a big score, often we don’t even need to handicap a card to know where we want to get involved. Public handicappers can simply do this recon work for us. 

Public handicappers are useful in that they can serve as a survey of all horseplayers–their picks can be reliable signal for where the majority of Pick 5 tickets will converge. If I find a race where many are on the same horse, I know there is an opportunity there. I often use their consensus top picks to know where I will find separation.

The name of our game is divergent thinking. Once I find these races, then the creative handicapping and betting strategy begins.

In four legs of the Late Pick 5 on Sunday at Saratoga, three out of four public handicappers recommend betting the same horse. They have already done the work for me of finding the favorites I will fade.

In Race 6, they love #4 Gypsy Tales (5-2)

Race 8, it’s #3 Here U Come Again (5-2), #8 Streaming Now (12-1), and #9 Copper Em (9-2).

All four of these juveniles have raced once and won, taking advantage of the speed bias at Ellis Park to get the score and a dressed-up speed figure for a souvenir.

Race 9, #1 Dontmesswithtess (2-1) and #4 Pentagon (5-2) are loved by most everyone. #7 Strand of Gold (6-1) is included in the top three by many handicappers. 

Race 10, it’s #2 Stow On The Wold (7-2) and #3 Forward Move (5-2). #8 Myles (8-1) is a common third pick. Spoiler Alert: I can’t convince myself not to use Myles. The Mellon Turf Course has been good to forward horses who draw outside.

These are the land mines we must avoid. Use this as a map if nothing else. The more your ticket converges towards these runners, the lower it will payout. The more it diverges, and you can feel confident that your ticket is one of few.

As for possible paths through these land mines, I’ve made a list of contenders. With this in hand, I consider pace, track profile, likelihood of being a divergent opinion, and ticket efficiency to boil down the contenders down to a ticket(s).  I’ve bolded all the horses that I feel will offer separation past getting away from the underlays outlined above. I’ve italicized the runners I would consider singling. I put my final ticket at the end.

Race 6 Dirt 6 Furlongs 2YO Md Sp Wt 136k

Along with #4, I also want to fade the firster #9 Before You Go Go (3-1). Trained by Pletcher and sired by Mitole–there’s overriding value in fading both of these factors. 

#1 Empire Island (5-1)
#2 Holiday Road (8-1)
#5 Lady Moscato (5-1)
#6 Helcia (6-1)
#7 America’s Vow (12-1)

Race 7 Turf 1 1/16 Miles 3YO & up fillies and mares Md 40000

#1 Addressable Market (7-2)
#2 Positive Message (12-1)
#5 Get Respect (6-1)
#6 Spirit and Fire (10-1)
#7 Wicksiepixie (20-1)
#8 Tres Chic (20-1)
#10 Can’t Keep Me Down (10-1)
#12 Fancy Stax (6-1) 

Race 8 Dirt The $200,000 Grade 3 Adirondack Stakes 2YO fillies 6 1/2 furlongs

#2 Magic Cross (20-1)
#4 Brightwork (9-2)
#5 Princess Selina (8-1)
#6 Saratoga Secret (8-1)
#7 Princess Indy (30-1)
#10 Becky’s Joker (7-2)

Race 9 Turf 1 3/16 Miles 3YO & up fillies and mares Alw 50000s

#2 Can’t Fool Me (10-1)
#3 Ruda (7-2)
#5 Divine Wine (30-1)
#6 Up Her Sleeve (12-1)
#8 Miss Kristy (9-1)

Race 10 Turf 1 1/16 Miles 3YO & up statebreds Md 40000

#1 In My Shadow (30-1)
#7 Barry the Builder (5-1)
#8 Myles (8-1)
#11 Fast Study (15-1)
#12 Zapruder (6-1)

50-cent Pick 5

1,2,5,6,7 with 5 with 2,4,5,6,7,10 with 3 with 1,7,8,11,12 = $75

By lopping off the heaviest underlays to begin with, even if my shortest-price horses come home, the payout should still be approaching $10,000. If the longer pieces come in, we could be looking at ten times that much.

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