National Race Masters Blog

Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by Hank Goldberg on Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 1:31 PM

Hank Goldberg
Thursday, 7/12

On Friday, July 20 Saratoga opens their 40 day 2018 Race Meet.

As the days wind down until the first race on opening day you will read countless previews from countless public handicappers, private analysts.

If you watch the races live on mobile units you will be bombarded by pundits who work the TV desks for wagering platforms such as TVG and others. I will admit that some of them do have a working knowledge of racing. But never forget that while they pass themselves off as astute handicappers with your interests at heart, in essence at least one, and many times more have a stated opinion on every race. From their featured horse of that race to Pick 3, Pick 4 and more selections, their opinion serves one purpose…to keep you wagering on their platform.

Please don’t dismiss this as a Hank Goldberg soap box statement. There is a very important point. And the point is as follows. When it comes to betting Saratoga there are many opportunities to wager on races that offer value and many situations in which certain types of races…based on conditions with a tradition of providing lower than standard value should be avoided.


When I say that based on conditions I mean the race conditions of any given race, a juvenile maiden special weight dirt race, a non-winners of two lifetime 40K claiming sprint, a second level mile turf allowance, etc., and the history of the results of those conditions and what value is presented by that particular condition.

I know what I am talking about. I have been handicapping and wagering on horse for over four decades. And I certainly did not hit the track at the top of the profit hit parade. It took me years to fine tune my approach. But fine-tune it I did: to the point where Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg is a household name among serious horse players.

I have been involved in Triple Crown Draw and Post Derby TV shows as a handicapper since 1996. He participated as a host or guest in 24 shows, including the Belmont and Breeders Cup.

Over that span I have picked more winners on camera than ANYBODY. And it is noteworthy that an even higher percentage than my overall success has been accomplished at Saratoga, where my decade’s long followers will tell you they bet what I bet because they know we make money.

Let me give you are brief example of what I mean by isolating those “condition” races which do not come close to presenting the overall value that races present in their entirety at Saratoga.


Saratoga’s genuine claim to excellence, from the standpoint of a racing fan is that there is one or more “Stakes” races every day of the meet.

As you would expect, these races bring out the best horses, best trainers and best riders in the thoroughbred game. But for a horse bettor, are they “Stakes” races the best value moves that can be made?

Let me show you the average payoffs for last year’s Stakes races at Saratoga.

Average Win Payoff - $10.19
Average Exacta Payoff - $59.50
Average Trifecta Payoff - $358.86
65 Races…24 Winning Favorites…36.9%

Now let’s take a look at another segregated group of races…all level races run at a mile and an eight on the main track.

Average Win Payoff - $10.19
Average Exacta Payoff - $59.50
Average Trifecta Payoff - $358.86
45 Races…18 Winning Favorites…40%

In both the Stakes races and the mile and an eight dirt races the win, exacta and trifecta payoff averages were significantly below the overall payouts for those categories for all races combined at the meet.

So as someone who believes, as I said in the title of this piece, THERE IS ONLY ONE REASON TO PLAY SARATOGA [and that is] TO MAKE MONEY I will demand considerably more from these two types races before I consider them worthy of a play. Again, I am not saying that you should blindly eliminate such plays any more than you should blindly eliminate them. But on any given race day, if all my information is equal on a handful of races with “overall” higher value based on my long time knowledge of not only how horses run but how the public bets, I will make sure that I, and you if you join me, are wagering on the higher value and higher probability races.

Don’t forget to check back with me next week as I delve further into some angles you might want to pay attention to.






Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in