When I first started playing the horses I never really cared about the Morning Line or getting value on my selection. I always thought if my horse had an edge it was worth a bet. Lately I have read a lot of information and watched videos on value handicapping and it made me take another look at certain aspects of racing that I may have taken for granted when I first began.
I have received a dozen emails regarding The Morning Line and how it applies to handicapping and wagering on races. In an effort to reply to everyone – I am going to give an explanation of what I think it is. Maybe you agree or maybe you don’t.
The Morning Line is offered in every track’s program for each race. Each race course has its own track handicapper that sets the line for each race. It is intended to be used as a guide, which tries to anticipate what the public will wager on. It attempts to handicap the publics wagering habits, rather than to handicap the actual horses. It tries to predict what the final odds will be for each horse. The line generally adds up to 120 to 125 percent. The additional percentage (20 to 25) is to account for the track takeout and breakage.
Here is a semi-detailed explanation of how I make my line. Generally speaking, when I look at a race I know what horse or horses I am focusing on. We will call those horses contenders. I handicap the race like I normally would, and then figure out my line.
The first real question I ask myself is, ‘if this race was run 100 times, how many times would each horse win?‘ Then I either assign odds or a percentage to each horse starting with the horse I think would be the most likely winner and then move on down the line. My line should add up to 100% or under. If you go over 100%, go back and adjust the odds. You do not have to make this a complicated process. Once you get use to doing it, an accurate line could only take you five minutes to make.
Note that your line can change at any point before post time. Maybe there is a late scratch, a jockey switch, or the track is off. Make your adjustments and see where you stand. Your line compared to the tote board will tell you whether the horse or horses you are looking at offer any value.
Here are a couple charts that I think will come in handy while handicapping based on a valued system.