No more boxes
There are some habits I have a hard time breaking even though I know they're bad for me. Take smoking, for instance, which still calls to me on occasion when I'm out at a bar, even though I "quit" three years ago. Or coffee, a vice that I give up about five times per year, for about a week or so, until I find myself at a place where it just smells so good and seems so right, like the track in the morning or while reading the paper on the porch on Sunday.
In any case, I also have bad wagering habits that I fall into, even though I know better. The biggest culprit is the dreaded three-horse exacta box, which I've come to regard as a sucker's bet. I was reminded of this as I reviewed my Value Plays for the season to date. The biggest waste of money for me has been the three-horse exacta boxes, which I will sometimes play out of some combination of laziness and indecision.
The significant Value Plays that I have cashed this season have mostly been exacta part-wheels, where I have singled one horse with four or five others. Sometimes I'll do it with only the single on top for a $2 base, and other times I'll do it both ways for $1. The same logic I was espousing about Pick Four strategies last week should also apply to exactas, in the sense that you will have far more success in the long run if you take a stand on one horse you like, and spread out to give yourself a better chance of cashing, hopefully with a price horse in there. Even if the number of possible combinations on your ticket is still the same, I have found that you'll do better with a single over six horses than you will with a three-horse box. In the former scenario, you only have to be very accurate in forecasting the winner; in the latter you are literally boxing yourself into a very narrow group of possible outcomes.
The other wager that we have done OK with this year is Win-Place. This one we use when the horse we feel strongly about is really a nice price and we don't want to mess it up. If a horse I really like is 5-1 or more, even if I do play exactas, I'm still betting to Win and Place. Nothing's worse than being right about a longshot and not cashing a thing because some goofy horse that you didn't even consider grabs second.
I won't promise that you won't see any exacta boxes at all from here on out. There's a time and a place for every wager, after all. But I am cutting back on them, and I'll be sure to let you know if there's a discernable difference in the percentage of Value Plays that I cash these next few weeks.