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Changing Leads
by Paul Volponi

Handicapping is cyclical in nature. The same set-ups and opportunities present themselves over and over again. If you can learn from your handicapping successes and failures, and use those experiences to evaluate what is in front of you at the racetrack today, you will have a much greater chance of profit. To that end, letís look at ten angles that pop up on a regular basis when youíre playing the races.

1. Breaking Through the Starting Gate
Horses that break through the starting gate before a race expend a lot of energy. So much so, they usually race very poorly. If a horse that breaks through the gate figures prominently in the wagering it is an ideal time to immediately step up and bet against that runner. You have to be alert because youíll probably have only thirty seconds or so to secure a wager. But this has proven to be an exceedingly strong angle.

2. Low Percentage Jockeys and Trainers
Only bet jockeys and trainers to win that visit the winnerís circle on a regular basis. It is more likely that a good jockey or trainer will turn around a poor horse, than a good horse will benefit from a negative jockey or trainer switch.

3. Dead On the Tote Board
Horses that are favored in the doubles or pick-three wagers, but open up at long odds on the tote board, are usually bad investments. The public will naturally knock down the price before the wagering is over, but donít be suckered in on these runners.

4. Betting Longshots to Win and Show
If you like a longshot to win, then you like that horse to show as well. So why not back up your win bet with a few bucks in the show pool. Itís heart breaking to have a 40-1 horse run second or third, and be out $5, when that horse returned $8.40 to show.

5. Public Handicappers
Remember, most public handicappers send in their selections 24 to 48 hours in advance. They donít have the advantage of seeing the weather or the track-bias. Players must learn to take that into consideration when looking at the choices of a favorite handicapper.

6. The All Button
Players should only use the All button when they are dead set against the favorite in a race. There should also be a few longshots in the race to support its use, and not a collection of 6-1 and 7-1 runners. Remember, using the all button can become very expensive when attacking the pick-four or pick-six. So be judicious with it.

7. Workouts
Clockers know the truth about workouts because they view them firsthand. The average player canít compete in this area. So value actual money on the tote board far above any workout, especially with first-time starters.

8. Streaking Jockeys
One of the oldest axioms around the racetrack says that once a rider wins two races on the day, you should bet him to win a third. For any number of reasons, riders can get on a good roll, especially apprentices. Bet the hot jockeys, day-by-day and week-by-week.

9. Reversing Exactas
Playing cold exactas can be very frustrating. If you can isolate two horses from an entire field of runners, you shouldnít have to depend on nailing them in the right order. Reverse your exacta plays, even if itís just a small insurance bet.

10. Tips
There is no reason that the average player should ever stumble upon legitimate inside information. Youíre better off handicapping to the best of your ability.

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