Tim Haley won nearly $AI.5 million on the thoroughbreds last year. Which was better than 2001, in which he earned $1.23 million, and certainly better than 2000 when he pocketed a measly $965,000.

I know this because I've seen his account statements from the places where he bets. His profits include generous rebates, without which he might return to the old days when he gambled in his home state of Kentucky and was lucky to earn $226,000 in a good year.

If these numbers seem large, it's because they are. Tim Haley bets big. Very, very, very big.

As I sat with him in the Las Vegas hotel room where he lives, and from where he makes his bets, he called in the following wagers at Oaklawn Park:

$US1000 exacta box 6-10, $600 exacta box 9-10, $200 exacta box 10 with 1 and 3, $100 exacta box 10 with 4 and 12, $100 trifecta box 1-610, $50 trifecta box 2-6-10, $100 trifecta box 3-6-10, $20 trifecta box 4-6-10, $150 trifecta box 6-9-10, $30 trifecta box 6-10-12.

A nice, round $7100. Soon to disappear when the No. 10, whom Haley thought would be on the lead, got out-sprinted early and failed to hit the board. Oh well, on to the next race.

Haley did not kick the TV or throw his computer out the window. It was just one more race, and another would be along in just a few minutes. He says that out of a nine-race card, he'll typically bet seven or eight races.

"I do everything the books say not to do, but it's working," he says.

According to an account statement from one place he deals with, Haley bet $US24,232,765 in 2002. This year he's going to exceed it. In his hotel room, he clicked a few computer buttons and his account statement from one rebate shop appeared on his screen, which covered the first three months of 2003.

AMOUNT BET. $US8.1 million
PER CENT LOST. (-4.07%)

This was very, very good because Haley averages a 12 per cent rebate on his very large action. So for $US8.1 million bet, he got back $972,000. Subtract the losses of $329,000 and Haley had a net profit of $643,000. For three months. Not bad.

Haley is one of America's best examples of the case for rebates. "I bet seven times as much with the rebates as I used to before I got them," he says.

That's because rebates grant him a safety margin for his activities. When he bet less, a paltry $3 million to $4 million a year, he'd usually earn in the neighbourhood of 5 per cent of his action. Now, encouraged by rebates to bet much more since he's getting a good percentage back, he's betting so much that at many places he's cutting his own prices, even though he says he tries not to bet more than 2 per cent of any pool.

Now he doesn't mind losing a few per cent, unthinkable in the days before he earned rebates.

Of course, few players wind up with an ROI (return on investment) of even 0.95 when they bet as many races as Haley does.

As he says: "If I've got an ROI of 0.95 versus a track take of 20 per cent, there's got to be somebody betting just as much as I am who's getting back only 0.65."

Having played full-time for much of his adult life, with and without rebates, 36-year-old Haley laughs at those who claim you can make huge ROls just by being a little bit more clever. "If a guy could really make 20 or 30 cents on every dollar he bet, he could rule the world," Haley says.

Okay, so how does he do it? Nothing very tricky. No inside information. No workout reports.

No watching video replays. No computer printouts.

Just Tim Haley, a Daily Racing Form, the four TVs provided by the hotel-casino where he lives, an Internet tote  board on his laptop computer, and a cell phone to call in his bets.

Also, an assistant who compiles some of the figures that Haley uses to calculate biases.

Haley is single, no big surprise since gambling takes up virtually his entire time. He says that even when he takes a rare day off to play golf, he gets bored and can't wait to return to the daily racing action.

Half the year he concentrates on one track, currently Churchill Downs, and the other half he plays two tracks. Occasionally, on a big carryover day elsewhere, he'll dabble in a Pick 6.

Usually, though, he avoids New York and California and sticks with the tracks in the middle of the country, along with Gulfstream Park. Although when he plays tracks like Hoosier Park, he has to tone down his bets to maybe $2000 a race.

Haley began betting as a teenager, and had some success. He needed a steady income, though, so he became an exercise rider. After a couple of years of this, he decided to try to become a full-time gambler. He failed.

"I was always doing a little better than most people, but maybe there was too much pressure when I tried playing full-time," he says. "I'd win, blow it back, win, blow it back again.

Maybe I just wasn't good enough. The fluctuations were killing me, so I decided to go back to exercising horses."

He sat astride racehorses until 1996, when he decided to give professional punting another go. This time, everything clicked. He began to win immediately, and never stopped.

Some people think that his being an insider helped his gambling but he says: "What I learned was that people on the inside didn't know very much about handicapping. Their horses were like their babies, they always loved them, and couldn't be objective about them."

He says he rarely uses his backstretch knowledge in his handicapping, except when checking out the body language of some 2yo or first-time starter in the few seconds before the horse is shown on one of his monitors.

When rebates became available in Nevada, Haley moved there. Eventually, Nevada outlawed them, but by this time he had made connections with several rebate shops. His handle kept getting bigger, his success bigger still.

Just like the fabled computer groups that move millions of dollars through the windows annually, Haley believes that the key to his success is being able to bet a lot of combinations in a single race.

"The biggest hits I've ever had have come in races where I didn't like the even-money favourite and I could structure a bet against him," he says. "When you've got the type of favourite who returns only 60 or 70 cents on the dollar, it's a tremendous edge to leave him out because he's got a huge percentage of the exotic pools."

When Haley finds such a horse, it's bombs away, with exactas and trifectas his choice of weapon.

He also isn't afraid to box three or four horses in an exacta.

"Let's say you've got a 12-horse field and four of them are simply too fast for the rest of them," he explains. "I don't mind using all four, sometimes betting more on some combinations and less on others. I don't feel I have to simply pick one horse and hope I'm right."

Haley is always looking for profitable opportunities, and he made the most of one incredible one in 2001. In a promotion, the Hawthorne racetrack decided to offer a daily $100,000 guaranteed Pick 6 pool, even though it handled less than half of that.

And the bet would be available in $1 denominations, which made it twice as easy to hit.

Additionally, Hawthorne took no special effort to ensure that the Pick 6 was filled with  evenly matched fields.

The promotion lasted only nine days before the track's continuing losses forced its cancellation. And those losses could be traced to a single punter, Tim Haley.

Some days, more than a third of the pool was his. Three times there was a single winner of the guarantee, which the track was forced to subsidise because the pools never came close to matching the guarantee, and all three times it was Haley.

He showed me the details:

  1. $76,906 won on May 5
  2. $76,924 won on May 11
  3. $83,884 won on May 13

There was another $25,612 he earned on May 4 as well.

Strangely enough, he says he's been a net loser on the Pick 6 the past couple of years, though he doesn't play it often enough to make much of a difference to his bottom line (although he did put in an unsuccessful $20,000 ticket when Churchill's carryover exceeded $300,000 one day in June).

When the racing charts (results) are published each day, Haley's assistant compiles certain figures so that Haley can quickly deduce if there was any inside-outside or pace biases. He looks at where certain posts finished, and compares those results with the odds of the horses.

If a preponderance of inside horses outran their odds while the majority of outside horses ran worse than their odds, Haley considers it a bias possibility.

NEXT MONTH: More betting secrets from leviathan US punter Tim Haley.

Barry Meadow is regarded as one of America's leading writers on horse-racing and gambling. This article is extracted from his popular Meadow's Racing Monthly, a newsletter devoted to all aspects of betting on horseracing.

Information on Barry's newsletter and his best-selling books can be obtained from his website at: www.trpublishing.com, or from TR Publishing, 4227 High Grove Rd, Templeton, CA 93465, USA.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Barry Meadow