When To Use the ‘All’ Button

Tips
(Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Pushing the “All” button in an exotic wager such as an exacta is an acquired taste among handicappers.

Some loathe it for the inevitable array of losing tickets it generates – even when you select the right horse.

Others are enamored with the way it can lead to the cashing of a gargantuan ticket that a conventional handicapping process would not have covered.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Relying on that “All” button too frequently will definitely drag down a ROI (return on investment) in the long run, but there’s at least two cases for using it judiciously.

A prime time for covering all the bases would be when you like a longshot. Let’s face it. What’s worse than liking a 20-1 shot, covering him with four of the other eight horses in the race, and then ripping up your tickets when a 50-1 shot that you viewed as hopeless and left it out of your wagers completes an exacta that requires IRS information to collect it.

The other would be a turf race. If there’s a certain type of race that brings out the best in a longshot it would definitely be a turf race.

For proof, consider these numbers: Of the 95 races at Belmont Park from May 11-22, there were five races in which a horse at odds of 40-1 or more finished first or second. Four of them were on the turf.

Look at last Saturday’s Preakness card. In the 14 races, there were was only one race in which a horse sent off at odds of 20-1 or more finished first or second. That was Vielsalm, who was second at 76-1 in the Grade 3 $150,000 Gallorette, a stakes at a mile and a sixteenth … on the turf.

All of that should not be surprising since the very nature of turf racing breeds surprising results.

With the sharper, tighter turns in a turf course (which is usually placed inside the main track), it’s not unusual for horses to have bad trips where they are blocked or forced to rally wide and lose valuable ground to rivals fortunate enough to work out rail trips.

The sharp turn of foot in the late stages of races that many successful turf runners have can also lead to times when there’s a loose-on-the-lead front runner who can hang on for a victory or a runner-up finish at long odds.

While turf races, especially claiming races, filled with veteran horses with plenty of turf experience can be formful much of the time, grass races for young horses can be filled with chaos due to the presence of horses that have never been tested on turf.

Even if a horse has been awful on dirt, there’s no reason it can’t blossom on turf, even if it lacks a pedigree tailor-made for grass racing and is dismissed at long odds. That doesn’t happen all of the time, or even most of the time.

But when it does, you’ll probably be glad you pushed the “All” button.

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