How to find value horses at the racetrack

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It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So is wagering value.

As much as ascertaining value is a key element in handicapping a race, it’s as subjective as any other part of trying to pick a winner.

What could be an overlay to one bettor just might be seen as an underlay by another.

There might not be a clear-cut answer, yet that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Value is too important to be pushed into the background during a day at the races.

Value should play a lead role in your handicapping repertoire since it allows you to wager more efficiently and effectively by focusing your bets on horses that offer an enticing risk/reward ratio.

As much as the pursuit of winners is paramount, there are times when backing a horse at low odds does not make sense. Maybe that horse is the most logical winner, but if you view it as only marginally better than a couple of other main contenders, then taking an odds-on price on it is way too risky.

In that case, Plan B might be a better option. Even if you believe the 6-5 favorite is the most likely winner of the race, if you view a 10-1 shot as being close to the chalk in terms of ability, it’s obvious that backing the horse at longer odds makes more sense – especially in the long run when the percentages will ultimately work in your favor.

Look at it this way. If your top choice at 6-5 wins 30% of the time, your return off 10 win bets will somewhere in the neighborhood of $13. Now if your 10-1 shot wins just 15% of the time, your return off 10 bets will be $33.

That’s basically how value works.

While some might interpret value as simply betting on longshots, it is more precisely betting on a horse whose odds are higher than they should be. Some horses who are priced at 40-1 can be underlays. They might actually deserve to be 100-1. Meanwhile, if you believe a horse should be the 3-1 or 4-1 second choice, but it’s actually 10-1 and the sixth option in the wagering, then you should try to put value to work for you.

Equally reflective of the way value works, there might be a time when a 6-5 favorite actually offers some value. Not a lot, but some. Those occasions are the times when you believe that 6-5 choice is so much better than its rivals that 1-2 odds seem a better fit.

Best of all, value rests with you. You’re the one deciding who should be 6-5 and who deserves to be 10-1. While the morning line might seem like a big help, in the end it’s your belief in the differences between each horse in the field that dictates whether the odds on the tote board are askew and you should try to capitalize on it.

Yes, value is indeed in the eye of the beholder.