Trap Days

March 8, 2019

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In this week’s column for AmWager we talk about “Trap Days.”

Trap Days

By Jonathan Stettin

Those who follow football in the NFL know what a trap game is. That is when a supposedly better team takes a game lightly against a team they are supposed to beat. Often this happens when the so called better team is looking ahead to a more meaningful or tougher game the following week. Better teams get beat in trap games. In our sport, the Sport of Kings I have my own version of trap games I refer to as trap days. I’ll explain and share my best methods to overcome them.

This coming Saturday is what I call a trap day. Good cards with meaningful races will lure many of us to play tracks we do not normally follow daily. This can be dangerous. In a game that is tough enough on your home court or shall we say your home track or meet, it gets much more challenging at a track you do not follow.

Being in the groove, knowing who is hot, who is not, the track trends, any bias, and the nuances give you an edge. Take that away and now you are playing from behind and against those who are in the groove at this circuit. You are playing into their edge. “Tall task.”

Now many of us will want to play Tampa and Turfway on Saturday. They are both having their banner days and races with Kentucky Derby points on the line. Santa Anita being closed will drive the pools and attention even higher. If you are going to play, and these are not your familiar circuits I will share my approach in not giving up the edge.

I will handicap the cards in detail, taking my time as I normally do before any turf speculation. I will pay extra time and attention to the replays I watch of races over the track. This is crucial as you can pick up trends.

I will diligently review the charts for the meet with an emphasis on the last two weeks or 10 days. I am looking for any bias or noticeable trend or edge.

Nest I will look at the high percentage trainers and riders, and look at the moves or situations they excel in. These are fundamentals, but at a track you play every day, or at least often you probably already know this. On a trap day at a strange track you probably don’t.

I will look at the meet leaders to date. I will also look at who rides for who first call. While none of these stats or observations will point me to a specific horse or bet, combined with handicapping they will strengthen or dampen my opinions. My goal when done with my homework is to know the meet as if I play it every day. This won’t guarantee a win, but will take away anyone having an edge on me.

Turfway is a synthetic track. They are tough to play  and gauge. Generally, and I mean very generally turf horses seem to do well on synthetic surfaces.

Tampa is a heavy track. It can play fast at times but is heavier than most dirt tracks. It is a great track to get horses legged up over and for years I have made money with horses coming from Tampa races. They are often overlooked as many consider Tampa a second tier meet. That’s a mistake. Their shippers do well.

To avoid the trap day, or at the least level the playing field you are going to have to spend more time than usual getting prepared. If you don’t you run the risk of beating yourself with an oversight. I suggest not letting that happen. Be prepared. Take your time and do it right. Your bankroll might thank you later.

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