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X marks the spot
Sunday, January 19, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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Recently, while playing Pompano Park on weeknights, I noticed there are a lot of races for trotters. When I use the term “a lot” I mean by comparison to other harness raceways. On Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 there were five races for trotters out of 10 on the card and on Jan. 15 there were six races for trotters out of 10 on the card.

On both Saturdays within the aforementioned week, however, there were only three races for trotters out of 20 races, 10 on each program.

I like the weeknights better because, unlike so many players and public handicappers, I love trotting races, especially to wager upon. The fact that Pompano is offering fewer trotting miles on its only weekend race program has something to do, no doubt, with volume and class, but it may also reflect the public’s lack of appetite for betting on trotters, especially conditioned trotters of any age.

Either way, it’s a bad habit to dislike betting trotting races because they offer unimaginable value due to a single fact: players are warned from the beginning that trotters break stride a lot and that makes them risky propositions. It’s as if to say pacers don’t break—which they do—or that pacers are safer to wager upon because they stay on gait so much more.


I have never supported the emphatic suggestion that player should steer clear of wagering on trotting races since breaking stride is the sole reason the suggestion is made. All of my public writings and playing document that I embrace trots that are not certified “classy” by the company they keep. This does not mean I never bet trotters that are eliminated when they jump and gallop. Of course it happens; and it happens up and down the class ladder. But the alternative result offers me tons of money, a lot of it because of all the people that don’t bet one horse or another because it may break.

Pompano has been filled with fields of trotters that are dismissed by bettors because the horses’ past performances show too many breaks. Sometimes the crowd doesn’t even peruse the past-performance lines for lots of little “x” marks; they simply turn the page of the program because the word “TROT” appears near the race number. It’s ironic that over the past few weeks that I have been active playing Pompano’s trots I have noticed that many of the conditioned trotters have smooth race lines, undaunted by the deadly mark of misstep.

It’s ironic in a sense that the very reason people stay away from betting on trotters is a factor in getting such healthy prices from trotters that win. It’s practically zen because as long as bettors fear the trotter that breaks, I can sensationalize and win on the trotter that broke but does not break this time around.

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