Database Handicapping Software- JCapper Rewards are Proportional to Work
July, 2008


People are often surprised to learn that I don't handicap on race day. About 98% of my handicapping is done in the months and weeks leading up to race day. I'm constantly using the Data Window to perform my own R&D. I make it a habit to capture the essence of my best discoveries in the form of UDMs.

On race day my "handicapping" consists of getting scratches and changes and running a Calc Races and looking at the HTML Report. This allows me to put my focus where it needs to be: Making play or pass decisions on horses that fit my UDM Definitions.

My approach is a complete departure from what everybody else does. Centering focus entirely on UDM selections lends itself very well to tight discipline. In my opinion discipline is the single one thing that separates the tiny percentage of winning players from everybody else.

Ok. So what are some of the things I look for in the Data Window?

One of the first questions I want answered before risking money at any venue is:

Q. What is the Track Profile?

I used to maintain track profiles for every surface and distance for all tracks I was playing. I used to do this in Excel. And as you might have guessed by now, maintaining detailed track profiles can help a player understand when a surface is speed favoring. Conversely, a track profile can also clue the player that a surface is speed tiring. Understanding how a track is playing can make a difference to a player's bottom line. But if track profiles have one drawback it's this: Maintaining them is work.

During the Spring 2008 Keeneland meet, I finally got fed up with keeping Track Profiles by hand. I bit the bullet and made it possible for a JCapper user to run a Data Window Export - and a few mouse clicks after that - be looking at the same exact Track Profile that I was getting by hand. Mind you - done automatically and completely from inside of JCapper.

Other questions I want answered are:

Q. Who is riding well?

Q. Who stinks?

And -

Q. Who is training well?

Q. Who stinks?

Once a quarter I used to spend a few days at the Data Window running queries for every rider at those circuits I was following. I'd break the data out by many different categories. CPace ranks 123, late pace ranks 123, dirt sprints, dirt routes, turf sprints, turf routes, off track... you name it, I looked at it. Doing this was a lot of work.

But this is exactly the kind of work that always seemed to pay off. It allowed me to see who was good and bad at what. When somebody was riding lights out on the front end I'd know about it. When somebody couldn't ride his or her own way out of a brown paper bag from off the pace - well, I'd know about that too.

This kind of extra work always had a way of paying off for me. It may not be the be all end all of my handicapping. But it DOES allow me to create some very interesting rider and trainer UDMs.

I use these types of UDMs to produce what I call a "Layering Effect."

Say for the sake of argument that one of my "business" speed and pace UDMs (the same type of UDM illustrated in Finding an Edge) is flagging a horse in a given race. As soon as I see the HTML Report I know at a glance that the horse being flagged has a lot of hidden positives in the areas of speed, pace, and form. But when I also have a rider based UDM pointing out the same horse, and maybe even a trainer UDM - and maybe even a track profile UDM - when all the stars line up - my understanding of that horse takes on a different dimension.

The converging UDMs tell me things about the horse at a glance that the public likely will have a very difficult time seeing - if at all. Not only does the horse have advantages in speed, pace, and form - but it also is being ridden today by somebody overlooked who's been riding lights out on the front end... maybe even for a trainer who's proven over the past several weeks that he's on his game too. And to top it off, the horse fits the track profile perfectly.

Such additional "Layers" of information have led me to some truly phenomenal scores over the years. Carefully kept records of my own live play continually tells me that horses flagged by business UDMs that are also flagged by layering UDMs are far stronger plays (better bets) at all odds ranges than horses flagged by business UDMs alone.

Keep in mind that running individual rider and trainer names through the Data Window and breaking out their starters by dozens of different categories IS time consuming.

Well earlier this year (summer of 2008) I again decided to bite the bullet. I created a way for JCapper users to run a Data Window Export - and a few mouse clicks after that - to be looking at comprehensive reports for riders, trainers, and owners broken out by the very same categories I base my own research on. What used to take me days to uncover can now be seen - literally - in seconds.

I haven't touched on the mechanics of speed and pace UDMs yet. I think I'll save that topic for a separate write up.

I'll wrap things up with this final thought: One thing years of experience has taught me about this game is that the rewards you get out of it are directly proportional to the work you put in.

Best of luck to you.

-jp

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