Art of Betting
June 3, 2014
By Jerry Sessa
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Editor’s Note: Jerry Sessa, a VegasInsider.com handicapper, offers up his candid advice on handicapping and betting within the horse racing industry. Be sure to check back on a regular basis as Jerry prepares for this year’s “Triple Crown” races. Click to Win!
Belmont Stakes Update (6/3/14)
We've had the opportunity to see the contenders run twice in the big dances. If you’re not convinced that California Chrome is for real you’re not familiar at all with horse racing. Not that he's a sure thing. Nothing ever is.
I guarantee if someone gave you a $1,000 to bet on a winner you wouldn't think twice about who it would go on. So it won't be any surprise where the money will be riding. Also after I saw the horse workout on May 31st I said to myself, “Wow, we haven't seen a horse look that good in a long time. They better have a ringer to beat this one.”
So if you go back and look at his last two races you'll see that in the Kentucky Derby he was eased up twenty yards from the wire. Which brought him to the Preakness Stakes, where even though the second place finisher was within a length and a half when he got that close Chrome just kept on going. The second place finisher wouldn't have beat him if they ran around again.
I keep on hearing that he never ran this distance.
Bottom line is that he has speed and he'll be close on Saturday and when they turn for home he'll have the advantage. That's what it's all about in the Belmont Stakes!
Also his rider has the experience and patients to make his move when the right time comes. Where we are going to capitalize on are the exotic wagers. When you only have to use one horse on top it makes it way easier to handicap the second and third finishers.
If we concentrate on those positions and not focus on trying to get California Chrome beat we increase our chances of putting together a big day even with a monster chalk.
I've seen Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed all win the “Triple crown.”
This horse may not be as good as those three but he looks as good.
When we go to the windows on June 7th we'll go with confidence and at the end of the day we'll savor our victory with a feel of our pockets being full.
Watch for my picks and look forward to seeing a Triple Crown winner and cashing for decent money on the same day. It doesn't get any better than that.
Preakness Stakes Recap (5/20/14)
Well I can't really brag that I hit the Preakness Stakes again. The winner stood out and only need two horses underneath and boom score. I actually only bet the 3-4, 3-10 exactas and then went 3-4,10-4,8,10 in my triple wagers. Plus, I also had the superfecta with 3-4, 10-3-3, 10-all. It actually came out to be some pretty decent payouts.
The one thing that bothered me with the race was the television coverage. While I was watching NBC, I noticed that all the handicappers only talked about the Beyer figures that mean absolutely nothing. Because the figure he'll give for the Preakness will like move to one hundred points higher.
Getting back to what I wanted to say. If you go back and watch the Kentucky Derby, Espinoza was wrapped up after the 16th pole. He actually stood up with 20 yards from the wire. 20 yds.
That alone made me a believer. I'll be honest, I only handicapped the Preaknes for second and third. California Chrome was that much an over lay after the Derby.
Now getting back to the Preakness when the 10 made that big move into second that's all it was. Chrome just kept him at bay and if they ran around the track again he wouldn't have passed him. This horse is for real.
I would also like to add that I've been involved with horse racing for 35 yrs. I've seen Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed win the “Triple Crown.”
Maybe because I'm older but let me tell you as far as sports go this is the most exciting thing to happen in sports for a long time. No contract disputes, no racism involved. Just good old competition. Wow that's why I love this sport. The little guy can have his day and the rich and famous still mingle with him like there is nothing between them.
Everyone should squeeze for this horse to win the “Triple Crown” because every sport existing today should learn by what they are showing here.
NOTHING BUT CLASS.
Derby Recap (5/7/14)
Although my third choice won, the Kentucky Derby was a tough race for me.
My top choice had the lead top of the stretch but didn't get the trip I expected him to, rather the winner California Chrome did.
He looked the best on paper but how can you trust a chalk on Derby day, right?
Now we'll move on to the Preakness and with all honesty this is the track where we can still make a decent score.
I won't change my ways of handicapping but I will look closer at the favorite now but might still try to get him beat in the second leg of the “Triple Crown.”
Don't forget the turns are very sharp here and the stretch is shorter. Post will also be important. I'll have a couple of thoughts leading up to the Preakness and will give you the updated handicapping I see.
If we do go to the ‘chalk’ in two weeks he will be the key. Meaning we will only use him on top and key with a couple of legit runners that can juice up the exacta and trifecta.
Also if he does win the Preakness I see him being the next “Triple Crown” winner. Haven't seen any of the horses on the side lines that should be a threat to him at Belmont.
Let me look further into the race and when I come up with the horse that we'll key on I'll put together a bunch of wagers that will surly fill those pockets up and get back what we invested in the Derby.
There were a couple of trips that took a couple of the contenders out early and that should be noted because they were within striking distance when the race is over with.
Derby Week (4/30/14)
Well it's Derby Week!
After months of handicapping, I’ve come up with five top picks for the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Within the five, I’m going to key on two runners and put the rest underneath to make the big score.
Personally, the Derby was rather easy to handicap after sticking with my angles. All the horses that I've come up with have shown very nice progress and that will enable them to peak on Saturday.
It's important to get there, but also be ready to put your best race. All this mumbo jumbo of Brothers, Beyers and all that other junk your fed means nothing.
Don't be distracted!
Focus on only three methods of handicapping.
Speed, Closers and Stalkers.
If you follow these three ways of figuring out lines in horse you should be able to put a big day together. Don't forget you have to eliminate most of the horses immediately as you can't be distracted by horses that don't figure.
Yes don't figure.
A lot of these owners and trainers just want to be part of the allure in the race. There is no race more important than the Kentucky Derby.
As Charlie Whittingham once said "If you win the Derby you'll dine with Kings.”
This is the stepping stone to greatness.
When you use my picks this week don't be afraid to mix them up. I say this almost every day I post. As I believe my picks are the strongest and will give you the best shot at making that monster score. When you are handicapping, take my picks and use them as your guide to see if you come up with the same choices. If you don't look at the lines and try to see why I went in that direction.
It's not an easy race to handicap but it is very hittable. I'll be posting my picks within the next couple of days. Be sure to pick them up and you'll be a part of a big day this year.
After the Kentucky Derby is over, I'll show you with the past performances how and why I saw what I saw on my way to picking the winner. That's how confident I am. I hope I've enlightened you on the ways I handicap. I will be writing every week and giving all the big days in racing my expert analysis.
Derby Technique (4/24/14)
With less than two weeks before the first leg of the “Triple Crown” starts, this segment will focus on the Kentucky Derby.
I believe my method of handicapping is very possible the best way to approach it and this year’s race has a diverse field. I don’t see any real outstanding participants and this year’s derby will likely have many horses that can win the race.
I've been following a couple of the runners and watching the progression of each of them. The race sets up this year for a stalker or a big closer. I don't see any stick outs although the experts will say different.
In my opinion, no horse in this race deserves a pari-mutuel of less than 7-1 odd. The road for this bunch has been hard and that might have taken its toll on some of the major contenders.
The same trainers have multiple runners and the main focus will be directed towards them and that should work out for us since we're not looking for a ‘chalk’ play but a runner that will generate a substantial profit for our wagers. Of course with limited investment.
When I post my picks this year look for my top three runners to be the main contenders no matter what their odds are. Over the past years we haven't had a group of runners with a lot of promise. Not sure what's happening in the Breeders’ Cup world but they are not producing top quality runners, rather just mass producing many runners.
Unless a horse evolves in the last few weeks of the preps I don't see how anyone can build up a horse as a clear-cut favorite. I have three top picks for the 2014 Kentucky Derby and I'll go about letting you know Derby day on how I actually came up with them.
Over the years I've had the pleasure to see many “Triple Crown” winners. Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed. None which will be running on May 3rd.
That's not an insult just a revelation regarding where the breeding has gone since those days. When horse breeding was an art the breeding was pin-point accurate. Good horses were bred to good horses and a lot of the time a pretty decent horse was a result of careful breeding.
Today its mass breeding with a very slim chance of producing an animal that has the potential those runners did.
So where do you think I'm going?
The so-called dosage method of handicapping is eliminated now. Just one of the worthless things added to the racing form. Also the money paid for a horse at auction is absolutely ludicrous. Have you ever seen a horse bought at auction for say $125,000 and in a six month period run for a $25,000.00 price tag?
My biggest pet peeve is the new speed figures the racing form seems to handicap religiously. The worst I ever seen.
If those last three “Triple Crown” runners were given speed figures they use now a days what would Secretariats figure be for his “Triple Crown” races: Derby 200, Preakness 300 and then the Belmont 1000?
Please don't be fooled by those unwarranted numbers and make a note that you can now eliminate another figure from the form.
What I'm trying to say is that you should pay more attention to the basics when it comes to handicapping. The meaningless figures lead you to one direction and that’s the favorites.
How many years did the favorite win the Derby?
Believe it or not I couldn't even get the answer. That's how few there have been.
What you have to concentrate on are three things.
1. Past performances
2. Class of runners the horse has been facing.
3. Recent change in form.
If you concentrate on ONLY these three methods you'll have a better chance of spotting the runners that really have a shot.
Next week I will guide you right up to the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
We'll handicap the race together and when you see my picks next week you'll have a much better understanding of my style.
Handicapping Style (4/14/14)
I left you last time with an understanding of my technique. Weather is a big factor and so is fading the so-called experts.
The next step of my process gets a little more technical and I’m happy to explain it to you.
For every race, I evaluate the speed of each race and how many runners are in the field.
Next, I figure out who are the stalkers, which are the runners that will likely sit just off the pace waiting to pounce just behind the speedsters.
Then the closers, who put simply are the runners that will close on horses turning for home and pick them off in the stretch.
These are the only three types of runners you will encounter in a race.
Horses are one-dimensional. Let me repeat that, horses are one-dimensional.
In their careers, they establish a certain style and continue to run that way as long as they race.
One common rule that bettors make when handicapping is trying to force a bet on a horse based on a position or style that the horse is not used to racing.
I can guarantee you that you’ll be disappointed by the results and you’ll likely tell yourself that you shouldn’t have bothered with the wager.
After I determine how the race should run I start putting my picks together in the position I think they will run.
This is very important. Only because you'll see me say in my postings "Mix it Up.”
Just because I like something in a certain order that's not necessarily the way they will run.
For example, if I like I like horses 1-2-3 in that order and they run 3-1-2, is that a loser?
I personally don’t believe so, especially when I involve all my horses in different types of wagers.
Ask yourself this -- Why shouldn’t you have an exacta or one of the picks 3's or 4's just because my third choice beat my first choice and paid $18 dollars? Those are the horses you want when you’re investing in these types of bets. What's the point of keying on a 6/5 shot that by the way is a very low percentage winner?
Aren’t we all looking for a bigger return?
Say I pick in the first three races:
1st - 1,2,3
2nd - 4,5,6
3rd - 7,8,9
For a $27.00 investment and that's only on a dollar bet you increase your chances of winning with more combinations and exotic wagers.
Early in my betting career, I drilled a big winner with an exotic play and cashed for a profit close to $76,000. The investment cost me $48 but it allowed me to key two horses in one race and three in another. It was called a double-exacta and this type of wager isn’t made available too often these days. Put simply, you have to hit the exacta in two different races. Sort of like a parlay bet but much more difficult!
I spotted two runners in the 9th race from Aqueduct and they were both 18/1 choices. In the other race, which took place at Roosevelt Raceway, I focused on three runners. I boxed all options and it’s still my biggest score to day.
When I post my selections at VI, you’ll see that I don’t have any analysis with the horses I choose in each race. I’m not trying to sell you opinion, rather MY PICKS.
I believe that what I say is meaningless, especially if I don’t have the winner in my top three choices. And I should stress THREE.
Many handicappers have four and I’ve seen seem some so-called pundits with as many as five runners. Seriously? I will always give you the top three runners based on my handicapping style, nothing more and nothing less.
Some bettors might not like my style and that’s fine. However, the strength of my handicapping is that you have the option of determining how much you want to invest and more importantly, how much you win. It’s all based on what you want to bet!
I don’t have a system. And let’s be real, nobody does!
My handicapping is based on knowledge and discipline. I try to limit the amount of money you have to invest in order to make a decent score, which is one of the reasons I only pick three runners per race.
If you start adding up how much it will cost per horse per race and start multiplying the bets, it can get very costly.
What's great about this approach is that you only have to invest a small amount to put together a big day. I proved that with the aforementioned $48 investment above.
Understand that you’re not going to win every day. I've put together many winning days with limited losses compared to those winning ones. Don't get me wrong I've lost plenty of times but like I said when I win it always makes up for what I lost plus a profit.
I'm really looking forward to getting everyone involved with this year’s “Triple Crown” and then again in the fall with the Breeders’ Cup.
I’ve had success in both events and I’m already prepared for the 2014 Kentucky Derby with my process of elimination.
Until next time.
Fading the Experts (3/31/14)
In my introduction, I talked about the handicapping methods that I use to select winners.
The first thing you have to do is be able to look deep into the racing form. Anyone can pick it up and look at the figure horses, the horses that have the best racing lines or the horses running in the fastest races.
Those factors are not always the end all and be all when it comes to picking winners.
What you have to be able to do is pick apart the smallest information and process that information into useable picks.
The first step in my handicapping is to get the most accurate weather conditions. Without them you can't look at the form with confidence on the races your handicapping. This has to do with every track in the form and it works for every track in the form.
Once I establish the tracks that I’m going to handicap, I’ll look at the conditions first and then the form. Therefore, I know I can’t make an excuse for not being right.
Don't get me wrong you will have losing days.
We all do.
Any handicapper that tells you that they win every day is not a very good handicapper. There are too many reasons you will endure for getting beat.
My method is a simple one.
I try to limit my losses so when I do hit, I can recoup my losses and show a profit that outweighs the losses and that's what it is all about.
Even if you can break even at the end of the day isn't that somewhat of a win? I'll tell you the truth, there have been numerous times that I wish I had broken even rather than losing.
So how do we do it?
When I open the racing form it is very important that you have a very good idea of the handicappers you follow, that’s if you use selections or free picks from a handicapper or a service.
My personal feeling is that some of these guys are as bad as it gets and the process is just ignorant.
I have a question for these individuals. If you have to handicap races two or three days ahead of time, how can you give an honest evaluation without proper conditions?
At VegasInsider.com we post our selections the night before. If anything you are getting top picks with actual notice of the conditions, which makes a big difference.
Another move that handicappers have made that disturbs me has to do with jockeys. Any handicapper who intentionally puts a single rider on top in three races or more is not giving you honest picks. You can count on your hand how many riders a year ride capture three or more winners in one day. Just saying!
Back to my handicapping...
First things first, I mark off what the handicappers have decided are the best horses in the race. I have a problem with that as you almost always see that most of their picks are usually the favorites or what most many call the ‘chalk.’
Did you know that favorites only win at a 30 percent clip?
That means that 70 percent of the winners are without the asterisk (favorite).
And that's where I concentrate all my focus on, the other 70 percent.
Without hesitation I start eliminating all the horses that really don't have a chance. If they win you can't find a reason they did so there is no time to waste trying to figure it out.
In a 10-horse field, I can eliminate four right off the bat and cut the field to six runners, which includes my omission of the ‘chalk’ as well.
With that in mind I start making choices that are true figure horses and without a doubt a possible overlay. This is where you get value. Especially in the exotics. I will rarely put a chalk on top.
If you ever purchased my picks on VegasIndier.com, you’re well aware that I always put the longshots on top because I believe the aforementioned group has more value and is quite frankly, more relevant to bettors.
Don't ever forget that.
I have to keep on bringing to your attention that fact that you have to handicap the same all the time. This will surly lead you in the right direction!
In my introduction, I talked about disregarding the new information that the racing form offers.
For example, speed figures. Since when can a speed figure be established without a track variance?
Also a new part of the racing form that gives you the trainers winning percentage. I rarely see them updated so are they really accurate?
What I'm just trying to get at is the fact that the only thing you need to be a good handicapper regarding the racing form is the past performances, track variances, and a little knowledge of the racing form.
When I post the comparison of my picks compared to the top handicappers you read in the form and other outlets, you'll clearly see that I produce more winnings.
Until next time...
My name is Jerry “Shots” Sessa. I started in the horse racing business nearly 40 years ago, as a handicapper. Even before I started wagering, I was with my father and all the guys, watching them handicap races from all the top New York tracks on a daily basis.
I was fascinated by the time and concentration they all put into their selections. Unfortunately, there were many times they would go unrewarded even though they had been so close and most of the time, they just missed picking a winner with their top two contenders.
Focusing on that aspect of the game, I quickly put together a series of ways that made me one of the top handicappers in my area of NY and maybe in the country. Since the age of 20 and after two years of making my $2.00 dollar bets, I made sure I was ready to take the next step into making real money. I was ready to invest my biggest wager yet $20.00. I had seen the guys make these bets before and was just in awe at what the possibilities were of cashing that kind of winning ticket.
My first $20.00 wager turned into a $5000.00 score and ever since then I have never looked back. I always stuck to my method and supplemented my income every year since 1980, which ranged from as little to $15,000 and to as high as $150,000.
Over the next few months leading up to all the “Triple Crown” races, I will give you all the tools you need and if you follow them, I really believe you’ll have the ability to put together bigger winning days and less losing days.
I often say to myself, "I wish I had made a different choice."
Hopefully I can teach you what that quote means to me and each week I will go deeper into what has been productive for me over the years and hopefully you can learn as well.
Where I will begin is where it will all starts in my opinion – The Daily Racing Form.
If you can read the racing form half the problem is met.
Over the years I've learned to work out the positives and negatives of the form and I believe the old racing form was actually better than what they publish today.
The new consists of your basic information that isn’t updated and non-existent speed figures. If you follow the form like I do every day then you'll see that what I'm saying is absolutely true. So what you have to start doing is eliminating all these so called extra features that don't even make sense of having. And most of them you can't understand anyway!
Seriously, what does the average price per race mean in your daily handicapping?
What does a speed figure mean without a track variance to compare the actual time?
If you handicap by times, I believe my approach is actually deeper and easier.
I’ll bring you along with me for the next few weeks and after I show you all my methods you will see that what I'm saying is actually right on the money. I will take apart all the pieces of the racing form that you will benefit by and the ones that will lead you on to the point of scratching your head wondering what you THINK you may be doing wrong.
Actually, you’ll realize that you’ve been misled by senseless information that make no sense.
I'll take apart races that I've handicapped and will handicap for you to see that what I'm trying to show you is just a better way of putting together more winning and depending on how much you want to win by the wager you make.
I also will show you in the coming weeks the reason the so-called major handicappers are questionable. As a guy who was almost the track handicapper at one time for Hollywood Park, I believe I know what I'm talking about.
So let me guide you right up to the “Triple Crown” races and in between we'll put together many winning days.
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.
Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track!
Mike’s Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card.
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HORSE RACING EXPERT
Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
Jerry's is looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.
Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis.
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