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2012 Wagering Review: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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It's time to pull out the records and look back at all the good and bad bets I made during the 2012 racing season.

Just straight rippin up tickets.
Just straight rippin up tickets.
Stuart Franklin

I was going through my TwinSpires account this morning and tallying up the successes (and failures) of the 2012 wagering season. I put the data into a handy-dandy chart (minus the information as to how much I actually wagered this year since that's between me and the IRS) and summarized my Win% and ROI % for each track.

Track Win % ROI
Monmouth Park 100.00% 970.00%
Japan 100.00% 505.00%
Hawthorne 100.00% 70.00%
Gulfstream 50.00% 62.78%
Santa Anita 39.29% 61.11%
Fairgrounds 28.57% 56.25%
Oaklawn 50.00% 44.05%
Arlington 27.27% 1.55%
Del Mar 23.08% -1.60%
Belmont 29.27% -11.07%
Churchill 35.48% -19.90%
Saratoga 26.67% -20.96%
Epsom Downs 33.33% -28.75%
Prairie Meadows 11.11% -45.00%
Keeneland 18.18% -45.98%
Lone Star 11.11% -53.45%
Woodbine 16.67% -61.94%
Aqueduct 0.00% -71.67%
Longchamp 0.00% -100.00%
Grand Total 29.20% -0.24%

Overall, this was a pretty decent year as I broke even on my on-line wagers (down just a minuscule amount for the year, so I'll call that even!). I've turned into more of a grinder than a player going after the big score (I used to play Doubles, P3s and P4s all the freakin time but now rely on WPS betting, for the most part), which is reflected in my improved hit rates over the past two years. That being said, it's amazing how looking back through your wagers can really clue you in on where you failed or succeeded as a handicapper. For example:

  • For most of the meet, I was doing quite well at Saratoga but then absolutely fell apart in the last couple of weeks (helped out by the fact I got away from my core betting and played some Pick 4s that went down in a ball of fire hotter than a piece of the sun).
  • I almost turned a profit at Del Mar and, like Saratoga, can thank a brutal last week of the meet for my ending up in the red.
  • Gulfstream was simply money for me; the 50% hit rate is a bit misleading because I typically play Win-Place-Show bets which tends to inflate the numbers (and I stayed away from exotics at GP last winter), but the 62.75% ROI was oh-so-nice.
  • Keeneland thumped me this year, which is not something I enjoy. Spring was okay (but not as good as it usually is for me), but the fall meet was a big pile of nothing.
  • I don't play the Fair Grounds that often but I've noticed that I've been a lot better at that track over the last couple of years than I ever was prior to that. I'm not sure what changed but I'm not going to complain.
  • Woodbine, which I love to play, simply took money from me this year. I had just a 16.7% hit rate which is just flat out coyote ugly.
  • Monmouth Park! 100% hit rate with a 970% ROI!!! I'm rich! Oh, that's right, I only made one bet on Monmouth the whole year and it was the Paynter-Nonois exacta in the Haskell. Likewise Japan and Hawthorne where I made just a single action bet.

These numbers don't include my on-track wagers at places like Emerald Downs and Pimlico (as I haven't tallied those up yet), but I think I can make a good prediction that I was probably a little down at Emerald this year (thanks to tanking badly on Longacres Mile day after starting the meet pretty hot), and I was way down over Preakness weekend when I was picking seconds and thirds like they were going out of style and then pressed a big win bet on Bodemeister (damn you, I'll Have Another). I made my money back in beer from the Pimlico vendors ... or something like that.

Lessons to be learned for the coming year?

  1. Stay away from Pick 4s and Pick 5s, as those are simply money pits for me.
  2. Get back my Keeneland mojo (I don't like getting my butt kicked by my favorite track). A better Keeneland meet and I would have made a nice profit this year.
  3. Play more Oaklawn, even though there is no turf racing.
  4. Avoid Aqueduct at all costs (although I typically make just a few token wagers on the Big A every year).