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    Handicapping Essay: When Spot Plays Collide
     Based on question from a Midwest handicapper

You know how much I love hearing from all of you, whether by phone, email or letter. On Saturday, November 11, Nick D. from the Midwest called me. We were getting ready to head out to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday, and as much as I wanted to talk to him, I would have to get back to him. I have had numerous talks with him over the past couple of years. He always has very interesting insights, and I couldn't wait to speak with him.

When we connected, he asked a very interesting question, one that hasn't been asked in any similar fashion in many years. After noting how it's been longer than usual since we last spoke, Nick got right to the heart of the matter: “What do you do when you are handicapping a race, and you see while you are handicapping that spot play methods collide. For example, in the same race, you might have one horse be an Even Finish Spot Play qualifier, another be an Elite Eight qualifier, and yet a third qualifying for the Fitness Factor?

It's an excellent question, one that in one sense is hypothetical, but in another sense, as someone who handicaps five to six days as I have for a few decades now, it is a situation I have found does occur, not every day, but it does happen, and I can certainly appreciate Nick's question.

For example, let’s say within the same field:
Horse #1 is a picture perfect Big Four Plus 1 selection;
Horse #2 is a qualified Place-to-Win for Sprints selection; and 
Horse #3 is an
Elite Eight qualified selection.

Do I pass? Go with the Place-to-Win entry? Let’s say I was going with the Big 4 selection, hesitated a bit but eventually stuck with my selection. I watch the race live or later on only to see my Big 4 selection run out and the Place-to-Win horse win. The next time a similar situation arises, you may be questioning yourself. 

When developing our spot plays we do careful research and testing of handicapping factors so that they are as effective as possible at isolating horses which have a realistic and legitimate chance today. However, these are spot plays which in essence makes them limited to the type of races for which they are designed, i.e., you're "spotting" a horse in certain types of racing conditions. An obvious example is Place-to-Win for Routes - it was designed for routes and not sprints. And some of our spot plays could certainly be used effectively for several types of races.

When the same spot play qualifies two or more horses in the same field, or when two different spot plays qualify the same horse, I then just do a little extra handicapping with the TIPS Methodology. Over and over, when I employ TIPS, (handicapping angles in the Tom Worth approach, also known as tipoffs)I invariably and quite quickly find one of two outcomes:

#1) The two or three contenders still appear to be too closely matched, as there is not a distinct edge in tipoffs, especially Horse TIPS, and I either pass the race, or perhaps dutch the horses to win, or wager on the longest odds horse, or if the odds are generous enough consider an exacta/quinella box; or

#2) Quickly, I see that one horse has a very clear and identifiable edge in tipoffs, and then my decision is relatively easy, and I give the nod or edge to the horse who has the edge in tipoffs, especially Horse TIPS.

Once you take those extra couple of minutes to look at horses in question under under the TIPS microscope, you are then better informed to decide on your plan of action. You know very quickly whether the horses are indeed closely matched or if one horse possesses an easily identifiable edge, preferably in the number of Horse TIPScompared to his competitor.  

Now, if you don't regularly handicap with any of the TIPS, also known as tipoffs, because either you just never have or because you think it takes too long, I strongly encourage you to reconsider and to start using them. If you stay practiced at it, it will go more quickly for you, and you'll find it extremely effective. This is especially because the TIPS Methodology is an inclusive rather than an exclusive handicapping approach. 

TIPS s a way of “seeing” the races, serving as an overall approach to analyzing the past performances. Since the 1970s, TIPS has been an evolving methodology, initially based on my dad's research and then over the years input from me but especially from numerous generous handicappers who shared some of their own most effective and favorite angles greatly contributed to the success and effectiveness of TIPS helping you find one horse with a distinct edge compared to his competition.  This, in turn can help you greatly improve your bottom line profit, and earn more money!Without the contributions from other handicappers we might not have at our disposal some of the most effective angles we do have. It's incredible how, thanks mainly to other handicappers, how much the TIPS method has improved and evolved and continues to serve handicappers so well.

Some handicapping methods are rigid, requiring you to stick only to the factors the author listed. With TIPS being as inclusive as it is, you can include a favorite and effective handicapping factor that is not part of the TIPS methodology in with your TIPS handicapping. Otherwise it would be short sighted to ignore any factor that is proving profitable for you just because it's not part of TIPS. 

Another huge benefit of TIPS is that they are correlational in that certain tipoffs are more powerful when found in relation to one another. 

Now, as TIPS Handicappers know and as defined in the TIPS Update, the over 80 TIPS, or tipoffs, are split between two categories: Trainer TIPS and Horse TIPS. There are more Trainer tipoffs than there are Horse tipoffs, which can be very powerful indicators of a horse's fitness level, and can help you, the handicapper, realistically rate a horse's chances against today's competition, see if one horse definitely has an edge today. Horse TIPS, more so than Trainer TIPS, can help you separate two closely matched contenders quickly and easily. So when spot plays collide, use the TIPS method, and especially focus on the  Horse TIPS to help you sort through the field.

Now a word of caution, while Horse TIPS are indeed very good at helping you separate contenders, if you are handicapping higher class animals, such as those found in high class allowance, (especially older horses) and Graded Stakes races, (especially horses with a history, meaning older than 2-3 years old), then you also need to properly determine a horse’s class, as Horse TIPS are certainly not a magic wand. For example, if a horse has been a low or medium level claimer all its life and shows 6 Horse TIPS, but today is facing successful Grade 3 stakes horses and is far outclassed, just because it has an edge in Horse TIPS, you cannot reasonably and suddenly expect this claimer/allowance horse to suddenly beat proven Graded Stakes or “Name Handicap” horses.

TIPS are most effective in maiden, maiden claiming and claiming races, which comprise the majority of the races carded at most tracks.  And because, generally speaking, these are the types of races targeted by our spot plays, TIPS is an excellent companion to any of our spot plays, especially when you have closely matched contenders.

As a brief but important aside, there are several Trainer TIPS which also can help you separate closely matched contenders in maiden races. 

For example, in our Best Bets selection service on 10-28-17, two Trainer TIPS made my decision much easier to give McKinzie the edge compared to Morning Line and post-time favorite Shivermetimbers. The favorite did manage 3rd at slightly under 2-1, but McKinzie won by over 5 lengths at 7/2The two Best Bets for the day returned over 100% ROI. Of course every day isn’t like this, but using the various TIPS handicapping factors, can improve your handicapping as well as help you make the decision to pass or to select one contender over another.

As I was writing this essay, there were three interesting days in our Best Bets service that coincide nicely with Nick's question. Below is the Best Bet email sent to clients from 12-6-17.

-----Original Message-----
From: TIPS Report <tipsreport@aol.com>
Sent: Wed, Dec 6, 2017 12:06 pm
Subject: RE: BEST BETS

TODAY 12-6-17



5/2 ML

1-1.5 UNIT WIN @ 2-1




AND 1/2 UNIT BOX 3-9

The Best Bet, #3 Warrior’s Shadow, ran an excellent race and was leading by 5 lengths at the top of the stretch. However, the horse I suggested for the exacta, the #9 Moscow’s Got Talent, catapulted ahead between the stretch and the finish to win drawing awayall in just 1 call!! The best part is that he rallied and won at just over 13-1. Moscow paid $29 to win! Warrior ran 2nd to complete the exacta. He did not meet win odds of 2-1 but went off at 4/5, so even if you did not opt to wager on the suggested exacta, you would have made a profit on the place and show wager. However, the extra $2 for a ½ unit exacta box boosts your profit exponentially, as does the other option suggested in my email which would have cost $4 for a 1 unit exacta with the #3 over the #9, and then a ½ unit exacta box with the 3-9. 

And what's of special interest is that I selected Moscow namely due to three important Tom Worth TIPS, including a terrifically powerful one which helped make my decision to suggest to subscribers to include Moscow in the exacta an easy one. The 1 unit straight exacta of the Best Bet over Moscow ran out, but the half-unit exacta box returned $36.40 and therefore boosted the ROI on this race to just over 100%. It pays (you), and can put $$ in your pocket to know your TIPS!

Here is another Best Bet from a couple of days later, this time from the Fair Grounds. I do not find as many Best Bets on turf races, however, Trust Factor qualified. Here's the email I sent to clients.

-----Original Message-----
From: TIPS Report <tipsreport@aol.com>
Sent: Sat, Dec 9, 2017 11:47 am
Subject: RE: BEST BETS 12-9-17






8/5 ML





3-1 ML


5-1 ML

As you can see, two other contenders looked strong due to the fact that they showed a couple of powerful TIPS:
#6 Fort Pulaski and especially #8 Extra Credit.

Extra Credit, in particular, showed 3 excellent Horse TIPS and 2 'ACE' tipoffs which jumped off the page! Trust Factor still qualified as a Best Bet for possible place and especially show wagers, but the other two looked like terrific exacta candidates. With an eye to the percentages, as the post time favorite is part of the exacta approximately 54% of the time, this seemed like an opportune time for clients to consider an exacta box. The results? 

Trust Factor finished 3rd, but the very good news is that the two other contenders I suggested to include in an exacta, finished 1st and 2nd. The exacta returned $18.20 for $1, and again boosted the ROI to a very respectable 60%.  More important instead of a small loss, you instead have earned $$! 

I had another Best Bet the following day, Sunday, 12-10-17. I watched the odds for this race in New York, at the "Big A" and #4 Backyard Heaven was at 1/5; hard to make any money at that price—unless you can find one horse to key or put more of your exotic with the heavy favorite. Similar to the race at Penn, again one Tom Worth TIP in particular literally leaped off the page, and voila, in seconds I had my main contender in the #6 to go with the very strong favorite, #4. There was a second TIP, not a Horse TIP, but still one that can be a key to helping you solve certain situations. 

The result was the huge favorite, Backyard Heaven, hovering at 1/5, 2/5 for much of the betting, won.  However, EKHTIBAAR, the #6, which I suggested to include in the quinellas, and put all other wagers on, ran 2nd, at over 6-1, and helped make a tidy profit with the huge favorite.  We caught fair and square place and show prices, considering that the winning horse went off at 20-cents on the dollar in a small field. However, by taking an extra 2 minutes to handicap and thus spotting the #6 that led to two quinellas, the ROI rose considerably to 53%.

I was all set to finish this essay when another best bet opportunity presented  itself. Here is the email:

-----Original Message-----
From: TIPS Report <tipsreport@aol.com>
To: tipsreport <tipsreport@aol.com>
Sent: Thu, Dec 14, 2017 8:30 am
Subject: re: best bets 12-14

Today, Closest to a best bet, unusual for the turf




4-1 ML







I mention mainly if you wish to consider an exacta

Again, somewhat unusually the Best Bet was in a turf race; not only a turf event, but a Maiden event as well.  This race is a wonderful contest to examine in more depth; and thus we may spotlight this one with past performances in the TIPS Report.  However, despite the uncertainty with the turf, and a young horse striding onto the turf for the first time, (and this did briefly give me some pause). I could tell immediately by keying on a few tipoffs that this horse would be a very decent, "solid" type selection; but I hesitated briefly as to whether it would be a best bet. In addition to the initial tipoffs that had me zero in on this horse initially, I found some excellent extra tipoffs that indeed confirmed that this horse was the closest to a Best Bet this day.

I couldn’t totally count out Naples Mist which is why I mentioned him for part of the exacta. 

What a race! Golden Amber, the Best Bet, ran an excellent race, and indeed was clearly best, rebuffing all challenges!  However, Naples came on late, and likely you guessed it, capture 2nd place to complete a $33 exacta. Amber returned a fair and square $7.40 win, $3.40 place and $2.60 show.

Some TIPS can make it easy for you to find strong, well meant horses in maiden races and thus make a huge difference in your bottom line. Other tipoffs can be more important for handicapping claiming races, still others crucial for handicapping sprints, some more suited for routes, and some can prove helpful for Graded Stakes races.  

There are many tipoffs, some which are especially effective with maiden races, some with claiming races, still others in stakes or allowance races. All the TIPS are collected in one bookletThe TIPS Update. If you don't already own this invaluable resource, it's one from which you can greatly benefit.

The TIPS Update:
 is 48 pages and is jam packed with all of the handicapping angles that make up the tipoffs along with their complete definitions;

 contender screens and lists of significant pairs and significant groups of TIPS to help you jump start your handicapping; and

 an index so that you can easily find each TIP within the booklet.

The TIPS Update can improve your results using most any handicapping method including some of our best spot plays such as The Big Easy, Even Finish, Super Cluster II, Big 4 Plus 1, Only One II, Win-a-Profit to name just a few.

And to keep up with TIPS and learn how I and other handicappers use the various tipoffs to enhance our handicapping a subscription to The TIPS Report is a must-have for gaining valuable insight and interesting and inspiring reports from handicappers from across the country and even Canada.

Speaking of The TIPS Report, not only is a new issue about to be released soon, we are now offering a Digital Download option! So now when you subscribe to The TIPS Report, you can opt for either the Print or Download version. Many have asked for this so we're very pleased to have this as an option. To celebrate this as well as to usher in the New Year, we're offering a Double Bonus as so that you can enjoy a discount to expand your handicapping library and get inspired to have a grand year of handicapping!


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A couple of our spot plays rely heavily on Horse TIPS to separate contenders:  The Only One II & The Super Cluster II. Please feel free to give Jon Worth a call at 401-921-5158 or email him at tipsreport@aol.com for reccommendations.

Here are the links to the Downloads page, various spot plays, The TIPS Update and The TIPS Report. As always, please give us a call with any questions! Remember to your Promo Code NEWYEAR18 to get your 18% discount on applicable items.


TIPS Report subscription options

The TIPS Update

The Big Easy

The Even Finish

The Fitness Factor & Addendum

The Only One II

The Big Four Plus One

The Super Cluster II

The Elite Eight

The Sully Screen: A Contender Screen for TIPS Handicapping


Place-to-Win for Sprints

Place-to-Win for Routes

Show-a-Profit: A Maiden Method

Super Show-a-Profit

Improving Beyer Figures 

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