Stalking Behavior

Before a bettor could go to any off-track betting parlor, racetrack simulcast center or his or her smart phone to play just about any harness racing track on the planet, he or she would be concentrated on the local communities of horses and horsemen.

Back then, a conscientious handicapper had far less work to do monitoring horses and their performances. Even on pari-mutuel track-heavy circuits like Michigan (Saginaw, Hazel, Sports Creek, Northville and Jackson in the modern times), following a horse when shipping was simpler than in the new millennium.

Now, because all racing is anything but local, we have to rely upon multiple sources and a damned good memory to be sure we find where and when a horse is racing when it ships. Thanks to digital technology we can dip into certain databases and get email notices pinpointing a horse’s whereabouts.

However, if you are truly “on the watch,” so to speak, your number of horses to watch becomes sizeable. One good reason for this is that unlike a few decades ago, horses to not race on a week-by-week schedule. For many reasons unknown to the player, horses can take time off as well as ship to another track, leaving the player disoriented.

Though it takes time and effort to follow a herd of horses, it can mean a bonanza to your bankroll. Remember, it is not how many tickets you cash but the value of whatever tickets you cash. Following horses that you have qualified are on the brink of a win could signal a big score.

My most recent success in such a venture prompts this topic. I made a note about Hugh Hefner N when he raced and lost one night some weeks back at Yonkers. I followed him through another loss (I give all of my horses to watch two starts to be successful) and kept him on my list. Hugh Hefner N shipped to another track and was scratched, putting the distance between him and my betting dollar farther away.

I pursued him with no regard for the scratch, amount of time off or any other change that may have contributed to his next race, which was on Sunday, May 1, at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He became an “active” bet in Race 5 on that day’s program. Disregarding any factor—post, class, driver, trainer, weather, track size, competition, speed ratings, sulky brand, et al.—I documented in my public blog this was a horse deserving a win bet.

Hugh Hefner N won the race, returning $74.60, $21.80 and $12.40 across the board. A ticket to win or win, place or win, place and show would have boosted any bankroll. This example, though extreme related to the price of the winner, proves the extra work it takes to follow a horse that impressed you may be worth it. Your stalking behavior carries with it an edge, since few to no one is putting in the time and patience the process requires.

by Frank Cotolo

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