Paddock List for Sunday, July 27:
- Scott Hutchison
- Rich Hoffman
- Matthew Ackerman
- Dave Freeburg
- Jenn Hanson
- Michael Leake
- Jim Lietz
- David Hatfield
- Joan Jones
- Fred Wilkie
Please meet at the entrance to the paddock immediately after the running of the second race. Yodeler is in the third race and our Customer Service staff will meet you there.
The Morning Line
Dancing Yodeler is the “morning line” favorite for Sunday’s race. The morning line odds are not actually a handicapper’s best guess of who will win the race, but is their best guess at how the public will wager. The morning line is printed in the Daily Racing Form and also in our Official Track Program.
Yodeler’s “morning line” is 5-2, meaning that Rob Rao, our staff member that makes the morning line believes that he will be the favorite in his race and that his best guess at the final odds is 5-2 ($5 returned for every $2 bet).
The morning line may seem simple, or in a sense a “best guess” but it is actually a mathematical formula. To explain it further, I’ve found an excerpt from Ed Burgart – race caller at Los Alamitos. His references to the takeout works for Washington as well (our Win takeout is 16.1%).
(The following column is reprinted from the October 2000 issue of The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal.)
Calculating the Morning
While establishing the morning line looks simple on paper, it requires a mathematical formula. It isn’t as easy as putting down 5-2 on one horse and 10-1 on another.
A good morning line maker wants his total odds to “balance.” If we didn’t have to worry about a takeout in the win pool (about 16 percent in California), the complete race odds would balance at 100 percent.
“But we have to leave room for percentages we don’t calculate,” says Russ Hudak, morning line maker at Hollywood Park. “The takeout in the win pool is 15.75 percent. With the takeout about 16 percent, we want to allow for a margin of error. I usually allow the morning line to run between 123 and 125 points. We can allow one point per horse per race.”
Therefore, by adding 16 and 100 percent, we arrive at 116 percent. By allowing one point per horse, the morning line will generally balance between 124 and 126 points for fields with eight or more horses. For simplicity reasons, I try to keep my morning line odds around 125 points for nearly every race, regardless of the field size.
How does an oddsmaker arrive at points for odds? And how do the odds eventually add up to 125 points?
I use odds ranging from 2-5 to 30-1. In a majority of competitive races, I make the morning line favorite around 5-2 or 3-1. I always strive to find horses that I don’t think the public will like and make them longshots, in the range of 20-1 or 30-1.
Then, I look for middle-range horses, the type I sense some fans will like and others won’t. These horses are usually in the 6-1 to 10-1 category. The horses I think the public will wager heaviest on are the lowest odds on the morning line. In the case of a standout horse like world champion Tailor Fit, I make his morning line odds even lower than 5-2 or 3-1, because the public is likely to wager more heavily on a proven runner.
In these scenarios, the final morning line balances to 125 points. So how do we compute the odds to total 125 points? By dividing 100 percent by the odds plus 1, we arrive at a point system. For example, 2-1 represents 33 points (100 divided by two plus one). Odds of 7-2 are 22 points (100 divided by 7/2 plus 2/2 equals 100 divided by 9/2). Odds of 4-5 are 55 points (100 divided by 4/5 plus 5/5 equals 100 divided by 9/5). By reverting to grade school mathematics, we multiply 100 X 5/9 to arrive at 55 points for 4-5. And we multiply 100 X 2/9 to arrive at 22 points for 7-2.
On your next trip to the track, you can determine if a morning line balances by using the point system in the accompanying box. Coincidentally, the final odds always balance around 125 points as well — use the aforementioned formulas when looking at final odds in a race chart.
To help fans understand the difference between handicapping and making a morning line, the Los Alamitos program includes this disclaimer: “People around the track talk about the morning line but few know what it really is. No, it’s not another person’s opinion as to the winner of a race. Instead, a paid racing official tries to predict how the public will bet a particular race.”
Morning Line Points
I calculate the morning line odds of a race using this point system:
Using what we’ve learned above, and the point system, has our morning line odds maker hit his balance of 125 points? See if you can do the math!
(The morning line is in bold above the jockey’s name).