This is the third article in a series in which top US expert Joe Takach talks about the upside and downside of racing and betting. In last month's article, Joe answered 10 of the questions he posed in the April issue regarding form analysis and betting. He now continues his answers.

FACTOR: Betting at least five races a day.

(11) DOWNSIDE: It matters little what the size of one's bet might be. If you are wagering on half or more of the events of any day's card, it is only a matter of time before your bankroll disappears. Why is that?

Simply because there is rarely, if ever, five solid or upside wagers on any race card no matter what track you are playing. I'm quite happy if I can find one or two solid and upside wagers a day and when I do, I bet them with both hands.

After keeping strict records for over 35 years, one thing rings true with me personally. The more wagers I made in any given year, the less my bottom line was come New Year's Eve, period!

FACTOR: Backing a horse who was unlucky last start but won anyway and returns in 21 days with good trackwork and a one-step jump in class.

(12) DOWNSIDE: Many things change from race to race. In the past I have repeatedly and unrelentingly blasted those non-winning professional handicapping authors whenever they use the line, "if this race were run 100 times, yadda, yadda, yadda whatever".

No two races are run the same way, let alone 100. I can think of at least 30 things that would be different, even if you had the same horses ridden by their same jockeys.

Just because a horse caught serious trouble last start out and was unquestionably the best, there is no guarantee that even if handed a perfect trip this afternoon, that he'll get the job done. While he might be a real nice horse with plenty of moxie and heart, you have to handicap today's race as if that trouble had never happened last time out.

His number could have been produced by his being the beneficiary of that dream trip. After all, he was drafting behind the top pair and letting those two run themselves into the ground. I've always found it better to actually throw that winning race out as if it never happened. Why? Because it is next to impossible to get back-to back dream trips. This is not to say that it never happens, but I can't remember five times in my horseplaying career where it did!

FACTOR: In the middle of a losing streak you continue to bet as normal.

(13) DOWNSIDE: A natural tendency for all of us is to "press" during losing days or losing streaks and to guard profits during winning days or winning streaks.

We should be doing the exact opposite! If you too are guilty of this, you have plenty of company, including yours truly.

While I never press during losing streaks and haven't for many years, to this very day, I'm still guilty of guarding profits on winning days or during winning streaks.

For example, if I have three bets on paper before walking into the track on any given afternoon and win the first two, I begin to question just how long I will stay in my zone and just how long my luck will hold. Mat's more. the less that the margins of victory are with both of my prior two winners, the less likely I am to bet my third horse.

I positively know that this is wrong!

My third bet (assuming that I can't throw him out for looking bad physically or not warming up properly) has nothing to do with my first two selections winning or losing - absolutely nothing!

Yet, I still hesitate at times and really wish that I could stop it.

I recently called a friend of mine who happens to be a psychologist and asked him why I did this at times and continue to do it to this very day even though I know that what I'm doing is wrong.

He gave me a very long-winded explanation that basically came down to "the need to recover losses" is much greater than the "need to keep on winning" once you're "fat" for the day or for any given period of time.

I think that says it all and I'll continue to try to perfect the second half of the equation even if the norm is to play it safe.

FACTOR: Taking notice of newspaper tipsters before you leave for the track.

(14) DOWNSIDE: Whenever you glance at a public handicapper's selections in your local newspaper, you could be subconsciously influenced causing you not to bet your own pick or you might even foolishly substitute the public handicapper's selection for your own.

If you are guilty of this you have plenty of company.

It is one thing to rely on the past performances and any other proprietary information that you may purchase to help you to make your handicapping decisions. It is quite another thing believing that a public handicapper knows more than you.

They don't, unless of course, you don't do any personal handicapping at all!

FACTOR: Doubling the size of your bets during a hot winning streak.

(15) UPSIDE: just about every money management guru in existence will tell you that this is financial suicide. For many recreational players, it is.

For most semi-professionals and full-time professionals, doubling wager size in the middle of a hot streak is quite normal. Even tripling or quadrupling wagers is common.

Personally, I have no problem doubling, tripling, or quadrupling my wager in the middle of a hot streak, not that I do it all the time. It's just that some hot streaks are hotter than others with a higher win percentage.

I just have periodic trouble sticking to a day's wagering plan after hitting my first two bets of the day no matter how hot my hot streak might be!

When you're hot, you're hot and you should be increasing wager size even if wagering only once .a day. Everybody has their own comfort zone, so there is nothing carved in stone as to how much you should increase your wagers. But you positively should be increasing them during hot streaks, even if unable to double, triple or quadruple them.

FACTOR: Betting on small field races.

(16) UPSIDE: I've always found it more profitable to wager on smaller fields. Yes, you often get the worst of it value wise but it is far easier to win.

Why? There are many reasons, including ease in finding the lone speed runner, class standouts,
physicality standouts, running bias standouts, trainer-jockey standouts, etc.

What's more, there is far less traffic in the smaller fields and a far less likelihood that you'll rip up a win ticket because of a bad trip. This is not to say that every horse in a five horse field gets a perfect trip, but surely more do than those finding themselves in 10, 11, 12 or larger fields!

FACTOR: Betting your 3rd special of the day after the first have lost.

(17) DOWNSIDE: If you've lost your first two bets of an intended three-bet day through no fault of your own, by all means continue to make that 3rd wager for the afternoon.

In other words, if you lost those wagers because of your horses breaking poorly, getting bad trips or maybe even getting stiffed due to low odds, and so on, well, that's not your bad handicapping causing you to lose, that's merely bad racing luck and it happens to everybody every day.

However, if you can find no legitimate excuse for losing your first two bets of the day with the operative word being legitimate, stop betting for the day, you are far from your zone.

You are not reading something correctly that day and most likely will only compound the felony by pressing another bet. just remember, there's another full card tomorrow or next weekend. There is no need to rush.

You'll be betting for many years to come and have plenty of time to recoup losses without pressing!

FACTOR: Your main fancy is odds-on, so you decide to back your second pick at 8 / 1.

(18) Betting your second choice at 8/1 because your first choice is underlaid is one of the fastest ways to insolvency.

I don't know about you, but when I handicap a race, I don't look for the second best horse in the field. I look for the winner.

Asking me who will run second would be the same as asking me who will run last. I don't know and I don't care.

As I've stated innumerable times in past writings, there are many money management gurus who would strongly disagree with my opinion.

Their position would be that if this race were run 100 times, the 8/1 horse would win enough times to more than compensate.

Of course, their thinking is very seriously flawed and totally wrong.

Each race is its own unique little universe and it happens only once. No single race can be run the same way twice, let alone 100 times!

Did I hear someone say what about exactas?

I don't play exactas, trifectas pick 3s, pick 6s, etc, because I know that I can't beat a 20 to 30 per cent takeout that comes along with each purchased exotic tote ticket.

It is one thine to beat a 15 per cent takeout on win bets, but it is quite another when you start approaching the 20 per cent takeout range. While it only appears to be a measly 5 per cent, estimate how much you pushed through the windows last year and multiply it by 5 per cent.

If you bet $100,000 for the year, that 5 per cent translates to $5,000!

Don't ever bet your 2nd choice because the price isn't right on your 1st choice, simply pass the race!

FACTOR: Trying to get out on the last race of the day.

(19) DOWNSIDE: You would most likely be masochistic to bet the last race on the card after losing all day. You're most likely not going to get out and will only end up compounding the felony.

If you were having a nightmarish day like that, you simply weren't in your zone that afternoon for any number of different reasons that could range from lack of sleep to rushing your handicapping procedure. It might even happen through no fault of your own.

Accept it! It happens to all handicappers, including yours truly, not just to you. Some days you could bet five horses in a six horse field and still not cash a ticket! Other days, when you are in your zone, you can't seem to make a bad bet.

Or put another way, some days you are in your zone and other days you just ain't!

However, if you were having a winning day and were in your zone and knew it, by all means bet that last race if you have a strong opinion. Zones don't last forever and should be fully utilised when apparent.

FACTOR: Betting again on a horse you won on who led by four lengths and just held on to score. He now shows up five weeks later with a one-step jump in class.

(20) DOWNSIDE: Winning horses that lose ground from the 200m to the wire have most likely emptied their tanks.

Unless a horse is under wraps and being throttled down by his jockey when there is no doubt about his victory, losing ground in that final 200m is a very telling sign. It should be telling a handicapper that this horse has peaked.

In our example, our horse lost four lengths and just held on. To expect him to come back with only five weeks rest and beat better horses when taking a one step, jump up in class is a tough pill to swallow.

I know that once in a while winning horses who lose ground in the final 200m come back and win. But most ground-losers who win are in for the bounce next out even if run back at the same class level, let alone stepped up!

FACTOR: Betting last start maiden winners who gained ground at every call and returned a rating good enough for the class level they are now attempting.

(21) UPSIDE: I don't know who started the misconception that betting last start maiden winners in their very next start against other prior winners or open company was a big time no-no, but I'd sure like to shake his hand and thank him.

Betting last start maiden winners against better company in their next start is one of the very best bets in the game. But two things must be evident and both can be had in the past performances.

Did the winning maiden horse gain ground at every running call in his victory? It matters not whether he set the pace from gate to wire, or came from midpack, or whatever. The point is that he literally gained ground at every running call. This is very hard to do at any class level and even harder at the maiden level. If he did, he's got class somewhere and he's a contender if fulfilling the second half of the equation. Was his winning number good enough to at least run to par for today's class level and hopefully better?

Assuming that you make your own numbers as most serious handicappers do, when you put up a number for his winning maiden race, was it good enough to run to par for whatever level he's running at today?

If it is and he gained ground at every running call, you have a very solid contender and most likely a four-digit tote payoff if he wins. Most handicappers still shy away from last start maiden winners and so do I, unless I see a strong maiden performance that screams "look at me!"

Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

By Joe Takach