Aug 12 2013

Saver Tickets Can Save Your Day, Meet, or Year!

Saver Ticket

Saver Ticket

Spend enough time with horseplayers, and you’re bound to hear, “Had that one on a Saver ticket.”  Saver tickets are often last minute, “I’m not getting beat by this horse, trainer,  or jockey again.”  In simple terms, it involves making wagers on horses that are not your top picks, or even your second best picks.  Sometimes it’s throwing horses in the mix that seem like they have no chance at all.

Most of the time you end up crumpling these tickets up, but at least with some peace of mind that you covered the bases.  With a race coming at you every twenty minutes, there’s something to be said for keeping your “peace of mind.”

And for the times you do cash one of these saver tickets, it’s usually a windfall return … because chances are the majority of the betting public didn’t have these horses on their radar either.

So, two Saver Ticket stories come to mind.  One last summer at Saratoga, relating to an article about a race involving a 2-5 favorite that I thought was beatable.  Click here for a full recap of that story.  The other a couple of years ago, that is not my story, but one of my horseplayer friends, Vince.

My Saver Ticket Story.

On July 27, 2013 in the 5th race at Saratoga was a 2-5 favorite, Kauai Katie.  As I said, I thought she was beatable, for reasons I explain in the article listed above. So, what do I do with that opinion?  I decided to construct some Pick-3 tickets starting with that race, and throwing her out of the mix.  I figured that way, if she beats me in the first leg, at least I can move on to the next race without worries.

My main ticket involved a 3 x 4 x 3 combination for $36.  Then I added another ticket 3 x 3 x 1 with just my favorite horses for $9.  That way, if my top selections win, I cash a full $2 Pick-3 ticket.  Total investment of $45.

Now it’s about three minutes to post time, and I’m looking at my handicapping notes, and I see that I had not crossed off a horse named Lighthouse Bay trained by George Weaver, a trainer with a hot hand at Saratoga.  He doesn’t start a lot of horses, but his win percentage and ROI are near the top year after year.  So I decide to make a last minute 1 x 3 x 1 Saver Ticket for $3 using his horse in the first leg, and my top selections in the other two legs.  I knew Lighthouse Bay was up against it in this race, but at 21-1, and for $3, what the heck?

Here is the video replay of the race:

So, Lighthouse Bay upsets the field, and my $3 Saver Ticket is alive.  A little thin, but I really liked the chances of my single in the 3rd leg.  My immediate concern was getting through the 2nd leg.  I had three horses 3-1, 5-1, and 8-1.  Fortunately, the 3-1 horse closed strongly and won the 2nd leg.  Good thing, because my other two horses were no where to be found.

I immediately checked out the Will-Pay amounts, and found that my single in the 3rd leg was paying $1,070 for a $2 ticket.  So, I was looking at a $535 return on a $1 play.  I felt pretty confident when my single, Favor Factor opened up at 6-5 odds and never wavered.  Regardless of the outcome, it was a good feeling to be sitting on a solid Pick-3 payout with a 6-5 favorite.

The trip notes on the Result Chart sum up nicely the subsequent effort by Favor Factor:

FAVOR  FACTOR raced off the rail on the first turn, settled nicely in the middle of the field while on the outside, waited patiently while behind a rival near the five-sixteenths, was asked outside the quarter-pole, swung four wide into the stretch, rallied on the outside, closed strongly to get the lead outside the sixteenth-pole then powered clear under steady urging.

Saver tickets come in all shapes and sizes.  This one saved my day.   But sometimes they save your meet or even your entire year.  For just such a story, check back for the second part of this article: Vince’s Season Saver Ticket.

Kentucky Downs

Modeled after European style turf courses, come visit the only one of its kind in North America. The author had a truly enjoyable visit to this unique race course last year. Click here to read more about that adventure.

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By Neal Benoit

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