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THE TOTE BOARD

The Tote Board
by Greg Melikov

How many times have you heard:

"That long shot just dropped from 15-1. Somebody must have bet a bundle on him."

"That horse should be lower than 5-1."

"There's no action on my pick at all."

Those are some observations I've heard watching the tote board trackside over the years. When the board lights up, you should pay attention. And since it's
often said "money talks," listen, because the board has loads to say that can be beneficial to your handicapping.

Early money wagered supposedly is smart money. If a barn truly likes its horse's chances, it traditionally gets its money down faster than you can say "odds
on."

How strongly a first-time starter is bet often reflects the barn's opinion because the public has little to go on except for workouts, pedigree and the
connections.

So when a horse receives solid backing for no apparent reason, a wager might be worth an investment, but you make the call.

Remember when the numbers on a favorite drop below 8-5 or so, odds on other contenders should rise. If those odds remain steady on the second and third
choices, more often than not that means smart money is going down.

One betting angle: When a contender that lost previously steps up in class and the odds are lower than that last outing, the horse may be worth a wager.
While logic says the odds should be higher, the contender may have needed that race. The more prolific the trainer, the better the chances to win.

Here are some tips from several experts on what to do when checking out the tote board:

Write down opening odds and watch for dips from 15-1 to 8-1 or so ? that's as significant as 9-2 down to 2-1. If consistent horses coming off a layoff or
following a bad race get some action, pay attention.

If a thoroughbred doesn't look as good as the odds that are lower than expected given the class, the horse still might be worth using in exotics.

First-time starters bet down to odds-on favorites at major tracks frequently make decent singles in Pick 3s, 4s and 6s.

Watching pools for the next race when they first flash on the board after the previous contest is important. Then compare horses that get the most action
with those getting the most action right before post time. Horses getting heavy play both times are likely to hit the board.

Pay more attention to fluctuations of odds in filly and mare races. They aren't as consistent as males and often perform poorly as they go through female
cycles. Early action often reflects confidence that they run up according to their capabilities.


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