March 19, 2010

Morning Line Mistakes

Every horse player takes a look at the morning line odds as one of the first steps in breaking down a race. A good morning line can be a useful tool by offering a general guideline as to how each respective horse will be bet by the general public, but there in lies the rub. It is, or should be, nothing else. A morning line should not represent the odds maker’s personal feelings of what will happen in the race, nor should it be a calculation of the individual’s estimation of what odds a horse deserves to be. When an odds maker utilizes one of these rationales for setting the morning line, it does an injustice to the betting public.

Plain and simple the best morning lines are the ones that closest mirror the odds of the horses when betting closes. Major differences in morning line odds and final odds are problematic for horseplayers, especially for those who bet early. If your betting is influenced by the odds, and it certainly should be to a point, morning line odds that are not close to the final odds create misconceptions and confuse wagering strategies.

Are all morning line odds going to be right on? Of course not, there will always be cases where horses are bet either more or less than anticipated by the best of oddsmakers. If the morning line made sense, this can in turn offer overlays or underlays that can be taken advantage of by savvy horse players. A good morning line helps the handicapper to discover the horse that will be an overlay (higher odds than you think the horse should be) and therefore a great horse to bet, or conversely the underlay (lower odds than you believe the horse should be) that you should avoid betting. Well calculated morning line odds can make the job of handicapping easier for the average bettor. For the opposite reason, a bad morning line creates confusion that can even change the way people bet, and for the wrong reasons.

As I said before, morning line odds are not an exact science, and I do not take much exception when, for instance, a maiden race (lesser proven horses) has a drastically different set of final odds to the morning line. I have less patience for a morning line on a high profile stakes race that is not well thought out. Case in point, tomorrow’s Grade 3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

In the race, Venezuelan superstar Bambera makes her first run in the United States. The morning line, as laid out by the Gulfstream Park odds maker, has Bambera listed as the 8-1 fifth choice. Is this realistic? No, it will not be close to the final odds. I list Bambera as the 5-2 favorite on my personal morning line. I make no distinction as to whether she is the horse to beat, or what odds I believe she deserves, but rather I am predicting what she will go off at when betting closes. That is what the morning line is supposed to be. I feel sorry for all those bettors who are licking their lips in anticipation because of Gulfstream’s morning line. It is simply a bad morning line. Bambera will not be 8-1, not even close.

13 comments:

Rachel said...

I a feeling because she really isn't well known in the US... yet. She'll go off lower.

C T Coleman said...

the one min. handicapper mentions that what is more important then morning line odds are the odds at first flash. His reasoning behind this is that all the inside information (owners, clockers, trainers) will bet the race early. Concept works on paper but isnt nearly as important as figuring out pace, and horse form

Anonymous said...

Beulah Park gets snowed out a few weeks ago. Some of the races are on the card later in the week. Same horses,same distances but with very different ML odds.???
RG

Brian Zipse said...

Strange RG...two different oddsmakers perhaps???

Kimness said...

I agree - when I was watching HRTV's "Against the Odds" last night & I saw Bambera was @ 8-1, I was thinking WTF? and Im all over that one!
Same can be said about Lentenor - he'll be way over bet because he's Barbaro's baby brother.

CiarĂ¡n said...

we have tissue prices in the paper over here that are similar. never to be trusted in my book..jus make ur own tissue...

Ernie said...

Agree with every word. Also, quality linemaking is a lost art.

I, too, would've made Bambera the ML favorite. No question.

Steve Munday said...

I thought the exact same thing Kimness did when I saw Bambera at 8-1: "WTF, is this some kind of a mistake?" Look at the pps and you'll see an impressive string of wins in G1 stakes races at a mile and longer. Looks like the odds on favorite to me.

LDP said...

Bambera should be favorite, no doubt about that. IMO, if Zardana, coming from South America can do what she did, imagine what Bambera, who is supposed to be even better, can do. Hopefully she runs to last year's form and can give Queen Z a run for her money in the AB.

sid fernando said...

I agree with you Zip. However, to address some comments from readers and issues you touched upon, too:
1.Bambera is only a plain black type winner on Int'l form because her G1s in Venezuela are not recognized internationally as G1s.
2. Zardana, bred in Brazil, was a legit G2 winner here, plus Brazil is a country whose Graded races are recognized internationally.
3. There have been several high-profile failures of well-regarded Venezuelans here in the past.
4. The filly that Bambera defeated in the Clasico del Caribe, Vivian Record, is from Mexico, whose black type races are not recognized at all internationally.

Given these factors, she perhaps should be 8-1, on handicapping, but as Zip pointed out that's not the realm of the ML maker.

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you Sid Fernando! I pride myself on keeping up with stakes doings internationally, but there is no one who knows as much about the foreign runners as you. Find Sid at: http://sidfernando.wordpress.com/ and http://werk2.werkhorse.com/wordpress/

Colins Ghost said...

Hey Brian: Nice piece -- some of the m/l at GP this meet have been awful. Bambera line is one of many that are not just off but WAY off.

railrunner said...

Great write-up, I was thinking the same thing about Bambera's odds as everyone else it seems. It's going to look like a bargain if she lives up to her previous form in the US.