The Ultimate Guide to Betting Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs entranceTampa Bay Downs has (rightfully) earned its reputation as one of the more player-friendly tracks racing, and we at and always welcome its return, which this year is Wednesday, December 4.

Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets will be available all meeting long. This is a great tool for Tampa players in part because the multiple-race wagers at the track are so lucrative with 15% takeout on its daily Pick 5 and 18% takeout on twice-daily Pick 4s and rolling Pick 3s (there are three Pick 4s on 12-race cards).

Like any (honest) horseplayer, I know that I handicap certain races better than others. As someone who loves multi-race wagers, Daily Selections is like a friend to talk through the sequence with, point out horses I may have missed, or give the necessary encouragement to single. Even more important is that it's the same friend every day. The full-time handicapper who did opening day at Tampa did the meet last year and will do the rest of the meet this year. It's someone who knows the track.

Numbers know the track, too, and 2012-2013 meeting statistics can give a clue as to what information is more powerful than others when handicapping. Again, there is no oracle-no be-all, end-all opinion or stat that will guarantee profits, but number crunching, like consulting Daily Selections, can help make plays more profitable by eliminating underlays and including overlays.

I used my ALL-Ways database to look at win percentages, ROI, and impact value of how certain handicapping angles performed during the 2012-2013 race meeting.

The highlights:

In 652 main track races (all conditions), the horse with the best winning percentage on dirt won 40.95% of the races. That is a staggering statistic to me, though not one that escaped most bettors because the Impact Value is "only" 1.45 with an ROI of -18.5%. Still, respect dirt form!

Consider class. The top class only won 27% of all 913 races at last year's meeting, but the Impact Value was a robust 2.18 with a -9% ROI (i.e., ahead of takeout). Horses ship in from all sorts of different tracks. Pay careful attention to the strengths of the races, and don't assume that New York or Kentucky is always > Calder or Suffolk. Let's Class Ratings be your guide!

Trust's pedigree information when racing on an off track. Tampa had good weather last year, as only 54 (5.9%) of the meeting's 913 races were run on off going, but the top mud pedigree won 22 (40.74%) of them with a 2.22 Impact Value and ROI of +32%. If the pedigree says a horse can run on the mud, trust that info at Tampa Bay Downs (for more information on pedigree handicapping, check out American Produce Records Online);

The top Prime Power horse won 283 (31%) of the races throughout the meeting-an impact value of 2.57 and pretty much right at the takeout mark of a -18% ROI. To me this number is less about automatically going with the top-ranked horse than it is about recognizing those within range of the top-ranked horse are also contenders. Indeed, the top three Prime Power horses won 593 (64.95%) of the races at the meeting.

So... who ya like on the opening day card?

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