Training Schedule and The Morning Line

Training Schedule

Tribal Waters and Charlie Thomas are expected to work Saturday first and second after the renovation break (reno 8:30 – 9) pending track and weather conditions.

Tribal Waters was entered twice this past weekend but the race did not fill.

You can watch the horses work as part of Breakfast at the Wire – a casual morning gathering with special guest trainers, jockeys and more. You can get a tasty breakfast for $6 and the program runs 8 am – 10 am Saturdays until the end of August.

The Morning Line

The “morning line” are the odds in the official track program that are set before the races.

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.

Charlie’s “morning line” in his last race was 5-2, meaning that Rob Rao, our staff member that makes the morning line believed that he would 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.

Balancing Act

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:




4 thoughts on “Training Schedule and The Morning Line

  1. Very interesting about the Morning line, much more complicated than I imagined! Thank you for continuing to educate us Sophia!

  2. Hi Sophia ~ Did I see something this weekend about the Ross Barn getting Groom of the Week? Is Groom of the Week for a particular person or the entire Barn? Either way, they deserve recognition; please pass along congratulations.

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