Value Play Picks

The Origin
I just got my bets in for the day, over 100 total legal wagers on the races across 11 tracks. Almost every bet is a win bet. It only took me about 20 minutes - that's it.

I am not necessarily saying that this is the most effective strategy, or even the most practical way to use our analysis, but it is possible and our research has indicated that it is profitable as well.

It's an incredibly exciting time at the site. We feel we have found a way to implement Pace and Form into ways that translate directly to actionable picks in a simple, clear manner. How was I able to analyze that many races that quickly?'s newly launched Value Plays analysis does all the work (part of the normal subscription, these are found on every Pace Figures page at the top and bottom of every race and as a separate Value Plays view).

Layering together the great work of Cary Fotias to understand and quantify pace and form with our automated processes to evaluate every track and race as well as the team's analytical expertise, we can now rank every horse by its likelihood of winning the race and value (initially relative to morning line odds). That analysis gives way to classifications on every horse in every race (like you may be used to seeing in Dan Zucker's thorough analysis of featured races on the blog).

The foundation of the Value Plays concept remains the Pace Figures (final and 4F), both in their calculated form and interaction with each other in a horse's history. From there, in order to assess each runner's chances of winning the race, we incorporate additional factors to better understand what to expect from the specific upcoming race being evaluated. These factors include:

  • Performance at this track
  • Performance on this surface
  • Performance racing this distance
  • Performance competing in this class
  • Days since last race
  • Pace Figure Form Cycle Patterns for this race
  • Post position
  • Lasix/Blinders
  • Trainer/Jockey changes
  • Extreme changes in distance from previous races

This in-depth analysis allows us to rank every horse by its projected finishing order as well as to classify each horse (the most likely winner is always the Top Contender in the race). To finalize the Value Plays concept, we incorporate morning line odds to uncover under or overvalued runners.

At the top and bottom of every race, the top four picks based on value are ordered for the race. We have also added the Value Plays View option (you can set this as your default view on the Account page - that is what I have done) that allows for sorting of horses on various metrics, including value and class.

Horses are classified in the following manner:

Horse Classifications (Value Play View)
  • Top Contender - The horse most likely to win the race.
  • Fringe Contender(s) - Any horse projected to finish within a length of the top contender in the most likely outcome of the race.
  • Too Slow - A horse that should not be considered likely to contend (in testing, these horses only win about 6% of the time despite being most common classification).
  • Breakout - Any horse that is not a Top or Fringe Contender, yet is expected to improve significantly from previous races based on pace and form. These are generally undervalued horses.
  • Regressor - The opposite of a Breakout runner, Regressors are often overvalued as they are expected to take noticeable steps back from previous races based on form and pace.
  • Average - The catch-all classification for any remaining horse, Average runners are not expected to win, break out or regress, but could be in the mix for contention.

In testing of this approach, which has spanned 5,000+ races, Top Contenders won more than 25% of the time and finished in the top three more than 60% of the time. Fringe contenders, won 19% of the time and finished in the top three 51% of the time. Average and Too Slow are the most common designations (averaging 2-3 per race), while Fringe Contenders and Breakouts show up (on average) every other race or so.

Historically, favorites in a race win just under 25% and hit the board between 50% and 60% of the time, so our projected favorite falls in line with that expectation. HOWEVER, the Top Contender in the Value Plays is not always the betting favorite. In fact, the Top Contender has been the actual betting favorite less than half the time. To still win at that rate has illustrated that simply playing Top Contenders to win has generated a healthy ROI (return on investment).

Value Plays give answers, in an automated, objective fashion for every single race (and every single horse in those races). It is the closest thing to a simple, clear, end-all, be-all approach that the market has seen. Obviously, additional strategies can be incorporated based on each individual's approach and preference. For example, in testing this, my father (a 40 year horse player) mentioned that he only plays fast tracks and generally avoids the first and last races at each track (though testing did not indicate this as a necessary stipulation). The riskier bettor may prefer to play long-shots that we value more than the market or exotics (exactas, trifectas) in which a few horses are clearly grouped together at the top of the race based on this analysis in hopes of the biggest pay days.

Many strategies are viable, now that the tools are in place to clearly interpret Pace, Form and Value.

- Paul Bessire
General Manager


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2017 Derby Prep Race Preview

Join Predicteform co-founder Dan Zucker for an in-depth preview of the this weekend's Triple Crown Preps:
  • Blue Grass Stakes (Keeneland)
  • Wood Memorial (Aqueduct)
  • Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita)

Dan will discuss each of the runner's from a Form Cycle and Pace Figures perspective. This interactive webinar will also allow participants to send in questions live during the seminar. As time permits Dan might also look at a couple of the undercard stakes on the biggest Saturday of the year thus far.

Predicteform Triple Crown Prep Preview
Fri, Apr 7, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM EDT

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