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Horse Racing System 2 - A million a year betting the races!?

 

Making over 1 million dollars a year betting the races!

This is an article from Barry Meadow's now-discontinued newsletter, "Meadows Racing Monthly."  Barry has kindly given me permission to reprint it here (my apologies for the erratic formatting):

 

 

How Tim Haley Makes The Big Money

By Barry Meadow

Tim Haley won nearly $ 1.1 million on the thoroughbreds last year. Which was better than 2001, in which he earned $822,000. And certainly better than 2001, when he pocketed a measly $674,000.

I know this because I've seen his account statements from the
        places where he bets. His profits includes generous rebates,
        without which he might return to the old days when he gambled in
        his home state of Kentucky and was lucky to earn $150,000 in a
        good year.

If these numbers seem large, it's because they are. Tim Haley bets big. Very, very, very big.

As I sat with him in the Las Vegas hotel room where he lives, and from where he makes his bets, he called in the following wager at Oaklawn Park:

$1000 exacta box 6-10
$600 exacta box 9-10
$200 exacta box 10 with 1-3
$100 exacta box 10 with 4-12
$100 trifecta box 1-6-10
$50 trifecta box 2-6-10
$100 trifecta box 3-6-10
$20 trifecta box 4-6-10
$150 trifecta box 6-9-10
$30 trifecta box 6-10-12  

A nice, round $7,100. Soon to disappear when the 10, whom Haley thought would be on the lead, got out-sprinted early and failed to hit the board. Oh well, on to the next event. Haley did not kick the television or throw his computer out the window. It was just one more race, and another would be along in just a few minutes. He says that out of a nine-race card, he'll typically bet seven or eight races.        

"I do everything the books say not to do, but it's working," he
           says.

 

According to an account statement from one place he deals with, he bet $24,232,765 in 2002. This year he's going to exceed it. In his hotel room, he clicked a few computer buttons and his account statement from one rebate shop appeared on his screen, which covered the first three months of 2003:  

 

Amount Bet: $8.1 million

Percent Lost: (407%)

This was very, very good, because Haley averages a 12% rebate on his very large action. So for $8.1 million bet, he got back $972,000. Subtract the losses of $329,000 and Haley had a net profit of $643,000.

 

For three months.   Not bad.

Haley is one of the country's best examples of the case for rebates. "I bet seven times as much with the rebates as I used to before I got them," he says.

 

That's because the rebates grant him a safety margin for his activities. When he bet less (a paltry $34 million a year), he'd usually earn in the neighborhood of 5% of his action. Now, encouraged by rebates to bet much more since he's getting a good percentage back, he's betting so much that at many places he's cutting his own prices, even though he says he tries not to bet more than 2% of any pool. No w, he does not mind losing a few percent, unthinkable in the days before he earned rebates.

                  Of course, few players wind up with an ROI of even 0.95 when they bet as many races as Haley does.  As he says, "If I've got an Roi of 0.95 vs. a track take of 20%, there's got to be somebody betting just as much as I am who's getting back only 0.65."

                                                                                         

Having played full-time for much of his adult life, with and with­out rebates, the 36-year old Haley laughs at those who claim you can make huge ROls j ust by being a little bit more clever. "If a guy could really make 20 or 30 cents on every dollar he bet, he could rule the world," Haley says.

 OK, so how does he do it? Nothing very tricky. No inside information. No workout reports. No watching video replays. No computer printouts.

 Just Haley, a Daily Racing Form, the four televisions provided by the hotel-casino where he lives, an Internet toteboard on his laptop computer, and a cell phone to call in his bets. Also an assistant who 
compiles some of the figures that Haley uses to calculate biases.

 Haley is single, no big surprise since gambling takes up virtually his entire time. He says that when he takes a rare day off to play golf, he gets bored and can't wait to return to the daily racing action.

Half the year he concentrates on one track (currently Churchill Downs), and the other half he plays two tracks.  Occasionally on a big carryover day elsewhere he'll dabble in a pick 6. Usually, though, he avoids New York and California and sticks with the tracks in the middle of the country, along with Gulfstream.  Although when he plays tracks like Hoosier Park, he has to tone down his bets to maybe $2,000 a race.

         Haley began betting as a teenager, and had some success. He needed a steady income, though, so he became an exercise rider. After a couple of years of this, he decided to try to become a full-time gambler. 


     He failed.  "I was always doing a little better than most people," he says, "but maybe there was too much pressure when I tried playing full-time. I'd win, blow it back, win, blow it back again. Maybe I just wasn't good enough. The fluctuations were killing me, so I decided to go back to exercising horses."  


     He sat astride thoroughbreds until 1996, when he decided to give professional gambling another go. This time, everything clicked. He began to win immediately, and never stopped. Some people think that his being an insider helped his gambling, but he says, "What I learned was that people on the inside didn't know very much about handicapping. Their horses were like their babies - they always loved them, and couldn't be objective about them." He says he rarely uses his backstretch knowledge in his handicapping, except when checking out the body language of some 2-year-old or first time starter in the few seconds the horse is shown on one of his monitors.

 

       When rebates became available in Nevada, Haley moved there. Eventually, Nevada outlawed them, but by this time he had made connections with several rebate shops. His handle kept getting bigger, his success bigger still.

       Just like the fabled computer groups that move millions of dollars through the windows annually, Haley believes that the key to his success is being able to bet a lot of combinations in a single race.

       "The biggest hits I've ever had have come in races where I didn't like the even-money favorite and I could structure a bet against him," he says. "When you've got the type of favorite who returns only 60 or 70 cents on the dollar, it's a tremendous edge to leave him out because he's got a huge percentage of the exotic pools." 


                When Haley finds such an animal, it's bombs away, with exactas and trifectas his choice of weapon.  He also isn't afraid to box three or four horses in an exacta. "Let's say you've got a 12-horse fields and four of them are simply too fast for the rest of them," he says. "I don't mind using all four, sometimes betting more on some combinations and less on others. I don't feel I have to simply pick one horse and hope I'm right."  

       Haley is always looking for profitable opportunities, and he made the most of one incredible one in 2001. In a promotion, Hawthorne decided to offer a daily $100,000 guaranteed Pick 6 pool, even though it handled less than half of that. And the bet would be available in $1 denominations, which made it twice as easy to hit. Additionally, Hawthorne took no special effort to ensure that the pick 6 was filled with evenly matched full fields.

             The promotion lasted only nine days before the track's continuing losses forced its cancellation. And those continuing losses could be traced to a single bettor‑Tim Haley. Some days more than one-third of the pool was his. Three times there was a single winner of the guarantee, which the track was forced to subsidize because the pools never came close to matching the guaranteeand all three times it was Haley. He showed me the W-2Gs:  

                * $76,905 won on May 5  

                * $76,924 won on May I I  

       * $83,884 won on May 13 There was another $25,612 he earned on May 4 as well.  

      Strangely enough, he says he's been a net loser on the Pick 6 the past couple of years, though he doesn't play it often enough to make much of a difference in his bottom line (though he did put in an unsuccessful $20,000 ticket when Churchill's carryover exceeded $300,000 one day in June).

      When the charts are published each day, Haley's assistant compiles certain figures so that Haley can quickly deduce if there was any inside‑outside or pace biases. He looks at where certain posts finished, and compares those results with the odds of t h o s e horses. If a preponderance of inside horses outran their odds while the majority of outside horses ran worse than their odds, Haley considers it a bias possibility.  

     "It's not an exact science, but if you've got certain trends happening three or four days in a row, you've got something," he says. "I'd like to know that there's probably a good rail rather than to know nothing.

 

      He then looks for horses who've been either helped or hindered by the biases. Haley checks the figures for pproximately eight tracks and keeps them in a neat notebook. So he can easily see if shippers had some               advantage or disadvantage in their last race, and he can reasonably handicap a carryover card at a distant track  if necessary.

 

      When he's handicapping two tracks, Haley spends about ninety minutes the night before the races on one, and handicaps as he goes on the other, using the 15 minutes between the finish of a race at one track and the start of the next one at the other to do his work.

 

      His work is probably less complex than what many less successful handicappers do. Except for trainer switches, he rarely looks much at supposed trainers specialties. He doesn't care about horses-for-courses. He maintains        no horses-to-watch list. He has no interest in velocity numbers, horse win percentages, trouble notes, jockey tendencies, workout reports, pedigree ratings, or much of what passes for modern-day handicapping.

 

     "Mostly I'm about pace and bias, and knowing the horses," he says. "I watch the races live, and the replay  right after the race. I've studied the Form, So I feel I know these horses. But I don't want to do a million things. 


               Some guys have so much information they don't know what to look at. I want to do a few things, but do them at a high level."

 

     The first thing he does when he gets the Form is to look at the probable pace of the race. "I try to figure if it's going to be fast or slow, and who's going to be where," he says. "I first figure out if the pace is likely to benefit a front-runner or a closer. I like races where there's either a whole lot of speed, or where there's no speed. Then after I've done that, I try to analyze which horses are the best ones. I'm simply trying to fit the pieces together."

 

              He looks at the Beyer figures, but with a practiced skeptic's eye. "If I think a number is too high for a horse, for instance, I'll look up the race and see what the other in-the-money horses usually run," he says. "If a horse is shipping from Delta Downs to Fair Grounds and shows up with a 60, for example, I'll go back to that race. If the horses he barely beat usually run 42's, I pretty much discount that number. I try to get a sense of what a horse can typically do, not just look at some high figure he ran last race when he got a w a y with a slow pace.      

              I study the running lines and assume most horses will do what they usually do.   "Did the pace hurt him or help him last time [Haley uses what he calls an average pace figure for each distance at each track to determine this? What about biases? My main ability is figuring out how good each horse is."

      Haley says it's easy to be swayed by things we see. Take, for instance,
the horse that breaks slow  "Right at the start, all the horses are close together
so a slow start might cost the horse only a length," he says. "At the end of the
race, you've got horses strung out all across the track, so that one length may
not mean very much. And sometimes the horse races better because he's off
slow so the jockey relaxes the horse and maybe he avoids a speed duel.

 

      "I don't care that much about ground loss, either," Haley says. "I'll notice if a horse had a bad trip, but just because a horse was wide at some part of the race doesn't mean he would have done any better if he saved               ground. Remember that I'm not computing exact numbers, just getting a general sense about a horse's ability. I'm more interested not in the obvious trouble, but in situations like when a horse does better when he's rated and the jockey decides to send him; the horse doesn't run his best race and the running line looks bad, but to me the race is a throwout because the horse was uncomfortable, and uncomfortable horses don't run their best.

         "Some players are statistics junkies, but I think they get way too involved with their numbers," he says. "Let's say a trainer wins going sprint-to-route one time in eight, for instance. If he's got 16 races, he probably won't win exactly two. He might win zero, or he might win four.  Neither result means much to me.

            0r take the player who writes down the characteristics of every winner a certain trainer sends out. Let's say you've got a split maiden field and the top four finishers in one race run much better than the winner in the other. Why should anybody ignore the trainers of the horses who ran faster in favor of the trainer whose horse won because, luckily, he faced a softer field?"
 
           
Haley isn't finished with what he believes are the misconceptions of many players. "Why do people assume a horse loves a certain track just because he won there,  or hates it because he lost there?" he asks. "Maybe he won at Keeneland last year because he was feeling good at that time, and his form wasn't as good at Churchill because he was facing better horses and had just been sick? If a horse is 1-for-5 at a track, how can you tell if that means anything? Who did he beat? Does he consistently run better numbers at one track than another, or          not?"

 

     What about win percentages? Are some horses simply hangers, like the maiden with four seconds and six thirds? "Usually, speed types have a lot of wins and not so many seconds and thirds, while closers are more likely to get there too late and have to settle for a piece," he says. "So when you find a maiden with a lot of seconds and thirds, just look at his running style. That explains things a lot more than any supposed 'hang' the horse might have." In fact, when Haley keys one horse in a race which he says he does maybe 30 to 40 percent of the time - he'll generally key a speed horse only for first and second, while he'll often key a closer only for second and third (or, in a superfecta, for fourth).  

     "You can't got locked into one way of doing anything," he says. "I'm always looking for horses who I think have a better percentage chance of doing something than their odds would indicate. When I find them, I try to structure a creative bet to take advantage of this.  

     "I'm not necessarily looking for the winner, which is what most people do,"he continues. "I'm just trying to get a feel for the race, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to do until the last minute because everything depends on the odds."  

     Haley rarely talks with other horseplayers, and prefers it that way. He says he has his own opinion, so why should he worry about anyone else's? Besides, it's much easier to concentrate when you're alone in a room with no distractions. No one to follow you to the window, or ask who do you like, or maybe try to borrow some money.  

     Even though he's lived there for months, Haley's hotel room resembles the bachelor pad of a horseplayer who's on a two-week gambling bender.   Clothes are piled in a closet, a suitcase laying disinterestedly on the floor. Everywhere are strewn Racing Forms, Simulcast Weeklies, and Haley's own stat sheets. The television monitors constantly show horse races, and the room's one computer is glued to the Internet toteboard.  Concept unlikely to be discussed in such a room - anything not involving racing.

           OK, it's a bit of a one-dimensional life, but so what? Haley is content. He still enjoys his work. And he's very, very good at it.  He says, "I'm basically a little bit better than most people at figuring how things are going to happen," he says. "I just get a better read on the races. Some people j ust aren't looking at the right things."

           

           Haley admits he does get a little wild with his wagers, sometimes betting a few thousand dollars too many at some of the medium sized tracks he plays. "I bet too many races, and too many combinations," he says. "If rebates went away, I'd have to tighten up my game." He says he was a tad more careful when he was playing for the rent money. Now, if he blows $200,000 or so on a bad run (which he has done), he can shrug it off.

 

              Asked his advice for those who'd like to do what he does, Haley says this: "I think to make it doing this, you have to be a gambler in the first place. A lot of these guys who play tournaments, or play in the racebook, are  very studious - but they're not really gamblers. Unless you have the nerve to bet real money, and a lot of it, it's just like you're studying golf from behind a rope, which is a lot different from trying to sink a putt for $100,000. 


              Being a good handicapper is not the same as being a successful player.  "What can the typical player do to improve his play?" he asks. "Study and try to pick up things, and don't listen to anybody."   Haley never made much money as a salaried employee, and his family doesn't own any oil wells. 


           All the cash he's accumulated - and it's considerable - has come from having just a bit better opinion than most people about how to win at the races.

 

 

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Reprinted with permission - from Meadow's Racing Monthly, website is trpublishing.com.

 

 

 

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