Track Index
The Importance of Record Keeping

Susan once owned a paper packing plant back in the 90's. She secured the contract to clean out the Chessie Railroad warehouse that is now part of Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles baseball stadium. You can see the Chessie warehouse building behind the stadium when the Orioles are on TV. When her company went in and performed the clean-up and packing of all that paper, she came across two ledgers from 1864. These ledgers were cloth bound books weighing 26 lbs on which were a manual recording of the expenditures of the C and O Railroad company. Susan decided to keep one for herself while giving the other one to her mom, and to date they've kept them.

Each entry in this very large and heavy hard-bound ledger was recorded with a felt tip pen in an amazingly organized, detailed and orderly way. Susan's ledger is book one and the year was 1864, during the time of the Civil War. I have taken that ledger out and gone through it many times. What struck me the most is the absolute item- by-item detail in that book. Through record keeping you can find out what you need to know about a corporation just as with record keeping I can find out everything about my bets as a horseplayer.

Copy of a page out of the Rail Road Ledger

I promote record keeping as much as I can without getting obnoxious. I understand it is difficult to do but the relationship of one item to another item is what creates purchasing power. Record keeping is an act of processing to find out the limits, nature and dimensions or scope or reason for deciding value or coming to a decision. For my record keeping I track 13 items: the date, track, trainer, statistic, percentage, class, Morning Line, odds, Win, Place, Show, bet amount and win amount.

The way I sort and evaluate my betting records is by looking at my last 100 bets. This short critical account or examination of how I have performed through each category is needed when I am losing. I may be winning and have a positive ROI but have a very low win rate, so it may seem like I am losing.  
I start the recording by sorting the:  

From January 30 to March 21, 2010, I placed 105 win bets. I won with 30 for a 29% win rate and my average win mutuel was $6.68. My Return on Investment (ROI) is 96%. I lost $0.04 cents on the dollar.

During this time frame of 49 days I bet an average of 2.1 bets per day. I produced 0.60 wins a day or about a 1/2 win per day. When I evaluated these bets I knew that I needed to increase the bets per day and get up to five bets a day so that during these 49 days I should have produced about 245 bets. I also acknowledge that the winter months will produce fewer bets because of the number of tracks that are open plus the weather has had an effect on the tracks and consequently the number of plays per day. During this run I did not have a single day with five plays. I had six days in which I was able to place four bets. On Feb 14, Valentines Day, I had my best day. I bet four and hit three.

With spring here there are more tracks opening and the clear weather should allow me to get to that five bets a day, though I know I will not be able to make up for those 140 bets I am down.

What tracks are good and what tracks are bad bets?
Fair Grounds: 10 bets 6 wins 60% win rate
Golden Gate: 9 bets 0 wins
Gulfstream: 22 bets 4 wins 18% win rate
Hawthorne: 3 bets 0 wins
Santa Anita: 9 bets 4 wins 44% hit rate
Turf Paradise: 11 bets 6 wins 54% hit rate
Turfway: 5 bets 0 wins 

I placed bets on 18 tracks and the surprise from my record keeping was Golden Gate, which is one of my favorite tracks to bet because of the claiming trainers. And yet, I went 0 for 9. Only four of these bets were on claiming trainers and the other five were bets on the trainer's Layoff and Debut stats. I need to center up on the claiming trainers and only make that kind of bet at Golden Gate. I also have to place fewer bets at Turfway and Gulfstream. I find that when I need to win I go with the Claiming trainers. I look for more of those to bet on, in order to increase my win rate and ROI. 


I placed win bets on 64 trainers from that 105 plays. The two top trainers were:

Steve Asmussen, with five bets and four wins for an 80% win rate and Jamie Ness, with seven bets and three wins for a 42% win rate.

I went 0 for 4 with William Morey at Golden Gate.

The adjustment I need to make is to bet more Steve Asmussen and Jamie Ness horses. William Morey is an excellent claiming trainer and two of his big stats were claims so I need to stick with him, only bet when he has a claiming stat and eliminate all other William Morey Stats as bets. 


Surprisingly the stats that I chose to bet came out very even with only a four- point swing from lowest to highest.

Layoffs: 31 bets 9 wins a 29% hit rate
Claims: 30 bets 8 wins 26% win rate
Debut: 25 bets 7 wins a 28% hit rate
Won Last Race: 7 bets 2 wins a 28% hit rate
Various sub-sets 11 bets 4 wins 30% win rate
I need to make more bets. I am choosing the correct stats to bet. 


Separating by win rate percentage is an eye opener.
From 30% through 34% I chose 22 horses to bet and I won one for a 4% hit rate.
9 were Maiden Special Weight.
10 were Claiming events.
3 were Allowance Optional Claims.

I now know I have to be more aware of what percentage to choose and reduce the bets I make from this category of 30% to 34%. The percentages I am choosing to play are where the hole in my playing is and thus the reason why I have been down for the last 105 bets.

That left 82 bets from which I won with 29, for a 35% win rate. These bets had percentages and wins that were between 35% and 83%. 


Allowance Races: 6 bets 4 wins an 80% hit rate.
Allowance Optional Claiming: 10 bets 2 wins a 20% win rate.
Claiming: 46 bets 13 wins 28% win rate.
Maiden Claim: 23 starts 9 wins a 39% win rate.
Maiden Special Weights: 15 bets 2 wins a 13% win rate.
Stakes: 3 bets 0 wins.

My weakest plays are Allowance Optional Claims along with Maiden Special Weights and Stakes. The stakes bets may end up doing better although I try to not bet on many stakes races because more horses have a chance to win than the in the other classes.

The other two categories, Allowance Optional Claiming and Maiden Special Weights, are linked to the percentage, so I can now clearly evaluate which classes and their percentages, in order to reduce the number of losing bets. 


The Morning Line selections can be pretty interesting because the people who make the M/L are trying to guess what the public is going to bet as the favorite. Once the betting starts the M/L is not relevant.

I had one bet at 3/2 and three bets at 2/1. All were selections that I gave out on Twitter, and three won. From 5/2 to 5/1 I selected 78 plays and won with 26 for a 33% hit rate.

At 6/1 and up I went 22 bets and one win a 4% win rate.

I need to do a much better job with 6/1-and-up; this category is also related to the 30%-to-34% hit rate. I will be more aware of my M/L and the win rate percentage of 30%-to-34% selections. 


Final odds can be very disappointing, especially when the M/L is off. I may think I have a good bet with good odds but once the betting starts it becomes just a play.

46 of my bets were bet down to 2/1 or lower and 23 won, for a 50% win rate. The average win mutuel is $4.84

58 bets were made at 5/2 and up I had 7 wins for a 12% win rate and an average win mutuel of $12.71.

Overall all the 105 bets had odds that averaged out to 7/1.

I have to be careful making selections with long odds and pay more attention to their percentages with long odds. I also know that this category can climb quickly and I will not make a major change in my approach with these odds.

The categories that are left are Win, Place, Show, Bet Amount and Win Amount. They speak for themselves. 

I only reference my records when I am losing to find out if I need to change anything, and normally it is just one category. That is true of this 105-bet ledger period.  My selections have to be made by reducing the number of bets I have been making with a 30% to 34% win rate while placing more bets that have a 35% win rate and higher, and that change should get me a handful of more wins and make me profitable. The weather has had a big effect on my play; more bets are needed to make a living that should happen over the next 30 days. Other than those two things I will not change my approach.

Record keeping was important in 1864 and it is just as important in 2010.