I've had a fascination all of my life with the track, horses, and finding the elusive overlays. I've been going over to Ladbrokes to check their tote board on the US presidential election. I've been monitoring their line for the past few weeks, and have noticed Hillary going from a 3/7 favorite to an 11/4 underdog. Obama has had a meteoric rise in the past couple of weeks, with his odds actually moving in his favor the night before the Iowa Caucus. It seems that the betting line has been moving before the news, much like our beloved markets sometimes move before the news.

This morning, their opening line for the winner of the US presidential race is:
LadbrokesDo readers see any overlays here? Huckabee looks nice at 8/1, but he reminds me of the claimer that got bumped up in class.

Craig Bowles writes:

If you look at the win/show ratio in horse racing, it acts like a P/E. The horse with the lowest W/S normally runs well and you see some suprising winners. It’s a great way to go to the track with a strategy even if you don’t know much about racing. Somebody is putting money on the horse and it’s not the general public or it would show up in the place and show betting. It’s harder in practice since so much money comes in close to the race, however. Another thing I notice is that the races are really unpredictable around full moons. Maybe some horses don’t sleep as well or whatever, but it looks like favorites win maybe twice as often around the new moon as around the full moon. You often see horses just die in the stretch around the full moon, like Discreet Cat at the Breeders Cup. It looked like the horse hadn’t slept.





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. Dave on January 10, 2008 1:21 am

    Enjoyed the article.

    One question-Are you taking the win/show ratio from total lifetime races or the current racing year?

  2. chris gillis on January 10, 2008 3:53 am

    If you could short both Obama and Clinton, that would be my play. Democratic Presisential candidates do well in early poll because of the liberal press bias. However so much attention is focused on the candidates during presidential campaigns that the reality of who they are shines through all the pimp reportage and their extreme liberal positions doom them to defeat. This year should certainly go democrat, except Hillary comes off cold and shrill and Obama, through very likeable and photogenic sorely lacks experience and takes liberal positions which will prove unpopular.

  3. Glendon Jones on January 13, 2008 11:13 am

    Craig, I think you mean the highest W:S ratio not the lowest. A horse with $100,000 to win, $20,000 to show has a ratio of 5:1; a horse with $100,000 to win, $10,000 to show has a ratio of 10:1. The 10:1 horse is the type you are referring to and it has a higher ratio of W:S, not lower. This higher W:S ratio reveals the expectation of a win, rather than the expectation of finishing in the money. An interesting feature of a day at the races is that the early races will show a W:S pool ratio of a conservative 3:1 (roughly) while the last race will typically have a ratio of about 10:1 or higher. This is evidence that most punters lose steadily throughout the racing day, and in an effort to get even, throw caution to the wind go for the win.

    As for the betting line on the US election, Romney at 14:1 is an overlay in my book and Obama at even money an underlay.

  4. Craig Bowles on January 14, 2008 10:47 am

    Yeah, it’s lowest Show % of the winning bet total on that race. Normally, a horse has around 30% of the win total on place and 20% on show. The crappy races where nobody has a clue have above 50% of the win total on the combination of place/show for all the horses. These are often the low claiming races and 2-year olds. Then some of the big races have maybe 10% of the win total to show on several horses, so there’s no one horse really standing out. A strong favorite would show around 10% on the show bet and 20% on the place bet. A horse showing greater than 20% bet to show and the place/show total is greater than 50% of the money bet to win should be avoided almost always. The one time there is something like free money is when there is as much or more bet to show as to win. Those horses are paying the same whether you bet to win-place-show or $2.10. The track doesn’t pay less than $2.10 and probably loses money on those horses as everyone loads up on the show bet. You’ll sometimes see twice the money on the show as to win with these as the big betters really put down big chunks. At the smaller tracks, the money changes quickly into race time. The big tracks on big race days like the Derby show clear results way before post time. If the results keep changing every time you check the ratios, the money isn’t showing a true standout. The funny thing is that when the odds don’t favor a horse but the horse keeps coming up with low ratios on the place and show betting relative to the win, you certainly don’t want to bet against such a horse. It’s not uncommon to see this with a horse from a different country that the bettors don’t know. The first time Discreet Cat ran in the U.S., he was coming off an amazing victory in Dubai but nobody seemed to know the horse at Saratoga. There was some money going on the win bet but nothing on the others bets.


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