RSS Feed for this Blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last of a Dying Breed?

Saw this guy in the paddock at Belmont on Sunday, and I did a double take. On his clipboard, he had constructed a makeshift matrix and was charting the exacta prices. A "chartist" as we used to refer to those who would follow the exacta prices to determine the horses which, in their view, were taking the real smart money. Man, I hadn't seen one of these guys in years, if not decades. There was a whole crew of them, who I can still picture now with their trusty clipboards (some even eschewing the programs altogether) that I recall mostly from Roosevelt and Yonkers. But I'd see them at the flats too.

In fact, I have a fairly clear memory of the last time I spotted a couple of them, at the old 'Aquetoga' in the early days of simulcasting, hanging out in the Big A backyard which was built in the 70's in one of NYRA's most ridiculed moves. Thinking they could attract music fans on the subway, they actually moved racing back to the Aqueduct for a month in July prior to the Saratoga meet. Don't remember if they did it for one or two years before abandoning the experiment. But the backyard was actually a nice residual from the fiasco, and a place to lounge in the grass and bet races from Saratoga in August.

But I digress. I recall seeing the chartists there because I remember thinking at the time that it had been a long time since I'd last seen them even then! And that was quite some time ago.

Always presumed that the methodology didn't live on because it didn't really work. I did it for awhile, though more informally, scribbling the numbers on my program, and remember having the odd success. But over the years, I came to depend more on the good old win pool to ID my hot horses. And, in fact, the ones that I really like...the ones who get slammed squarely on the nose in relation to its percentage of wagers in the show pool....tend to not get bet in the exacta pools. So I think you can find some tremendous value with combinations involving extremely live horses that the chartists might actually consider to be dead on the board. Makes more sense from a value standpoint anyway, especially. But apparently there's still at least one guy who still sees it differently.

- Well Kept ($13) won the second on Sunday for trainer Leah Gyarmarti. Two-year old filly is a granddaughter of the great racemare (and just decent broodmare) Safely Kept. First-time starter Chippewa Charlie, the 7-2 second choice in the morning line, was bet off the board for trainer John Terranova. NYRA paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale was unimpressed with that daughter of Indian Charlie, remarking that she was surprised that she didn't look more fit. Didn't stop the bettors from slamming that one back down to even money at the end, after she had drifted up in price just slightly. Filly was fractious before the start, got off a bit slow and faded to last after a wide middle move. The winner is by Henny Hughes, still yet to really distinguish himself as a sire; just a couple of G3 winners to his credit, one of those in Japan.


Anonymous said...

Maybe a dying breed at the track but I would bet they are growing on the computer(adw's). With just a click of a mouse you can go from exacta payoff matrix's to double payoff matrix's and back again at any time. I've never seen an at the track or simulcast will pays that I consider acceptacle anymore.


Jackie said...

Funny that you should write about this today. Sunday on Twitter Andy Serling mentioned a certain Exacta combination in the 4th race was getting crushed. The actual will pay for the 5-13 exacta was less than a simple win bet on the 5. The 5-6 exacta also took a tremendous amount of action.

The race ended up coming back 5-6-13 with the 5 paying $34 to win and the exacta paying $70.50. It looked to me that certain people knew the 5 was live coming off a 11month layoff and instead of crushing the win pool, they went after the exacta pool.

Figless said...

@Jackie, you are indeed correct the EX paid $70 vs. $136 for the old "rule of thumb" calulation. TRI was reasonable, so they hit the EX pool hard.

Seems like an odd spot to do so in an "off the turf" race for which the winner was originally entered to run on the grass.

Johnnie said...

I haven't seen any selections in a while. Is there nothing enticing lately? I need a winner!

alan said...

Jackie/Figless - Have to admit that this exacta situation totally passed me by, as I was in simulcasting land during that race, it being the off the turf maiden claimer that it was. Kinda undermines the premise of the whole post!

steve in nc said...

What I've always wondered is how charters knew what was smart money versus dumb overinvestment.

When I followed certain trainers/owners, I looked for and often saw large punches, followed by drifting up as crowd money mixed in, in the win pools. I don't believe many trainers/insiders would rely on their handicapping for the place spot and use the exacta pools.

And don't whales use computers to look for underbet exacta combos? I don't think one would last long bearing down on certain combinations even when the odds go down dramatically.

I'm not sure that $70 exacta was such a smart when the win payoff was so high. Looks like an unsophisticated high roller who could have won only slightly less while reducing risk by a lot if he bet less and put more in the win pool.

I saw numerous examples of horses being crushed by one large early bet in the win pool last winter at AQ. These were horses that looked to be old unreliables in the past performances. I saw at least four and in each case, the money was dumb money.

Jim Davis said...

There never were all that many competent chartists and I should know , since I was one of the better ones back as far as the mid 70 's in NY.

"Doc" was always considered among the elite, but he also had other sources of information.

To make a long story short, if you could see what I use now on the Inet , you'd fall off your chair. And I don't miss wearing out my hands and eyes scribbling the flashes.

PS Yeah, I spotted the crazy betting Sunday. First I thought it was a bug in my program it was so out of the ordinary. And as you can see, not all that much money came in after the big bet, so maybe all the charters ARE dead.

Figless said...

As a follow up I looked to see if perhaps the "smart money" was already alive in multi-race wagers, perhaps explaining the lack of money in the win pools, but once I noticed a longshot won the prior race that theory was dead.

P3, DD, TRI pools all were standard payouts, the only place it was bet was the EX, unusual

oldtimer said...

Used to be a clipboard guy. The ability to cancel bets is why you don't see chart guys anymore.

Anonymous said...

Quite a theory you have there.

Any on bigfoot?