A couple of questions came in today regarding how to use the Track Phantom Analysis Reports specifically around the large suggested pick 4/5 tickets.
The preferred method of creating pick 4/5's is to use the staggered, weighted approach. In other words, weighting the tickets with A's, B's etc but there isn't real estate on the sheet for that, nor the time to do it that way.
If you watch TVG, you'll see the experts create small-ish pick 4/5's ($30, $40) with goal of getting their audience to play the ticket blindly. I am steadfastly against this approach. First of all no handicapper should ever make a bet in the blind. The information in the report should be used to augment an approach, not replace it. Secondly these tickets are often favorite heavy. I have little interest in sharing a $150 win with many other TVG viewers.
Here's the approach I use. I purposely create a larger ticket (even larger than I normally play). I'm absolutely not suggesting players should play them in the blind although my goal is that the ticket wins with the numbers suggested. My main objective is to illustrate a "structure" that allows the player to pare down to their desired bankroll. I prefer to show which races I would go deep and which I would thin out. The player should then structure their tickets around this idea (if they believe I'm on the right track) around their bankroll and their opinions.
I truly believe the majority of players who use my analysis sheets are excellent handicappers in their own right. I do not want to replace their work or acumen but give ideas on hidden information and which races are more reliable than others.
HOW TO INTERPRET THE REPORT
Here are some guidelines to remember when using the Track Phantom Analysis Report.
1. Pare down the suggested pick 4/5 tickets to fit your bankroll
2. Pay attention to the handicapping confidence number in the top right. The higher the number the more confident I am that I'm on the right track and/or the information used to identify the horses is somewhat hidden and thus more valuable.
3. Top pick and value pick. I personally grade my performance on how often the top pick or value pick win a race. So far this year the winner of the race is either my top pick or value pick just short of 40%. This is over 1,248 races and 135 unique reports. (You can see the recent sheets and results here).
4. Read the comments. There should be some important information about strength of a race, troubled trip, vet scratches, etc. Not every race lends itself to unique information but I attempt to give something of value in the comments area.
5. My definition of a "Best Bet" is the horse who has the best chance to win at the highest odds. Rarely will the Best Bet be a favorite.
6. My definition of a "Live Longshot" is the horse at the highest odds that has the best chance to win or run in the exotics.
7. My definition of "Most Likely" winner is just that, the most likely winner of the day no matter what the expected off odds are.
8. A, B, C categories. This question gets asked a lot. It's an attempt to separate out the must use horses (A) vs the want to use horses (B) vs may use on a larger ticket (C). Read up on the Steve Crist method of horizontal wagering using the A,B,C strategy for more detail here.
9. Not the quantity of winners but the quality of winners. I'm not trying to find the best horse in every race and make that my top choice. It sounds counter intuitive but I'm trying to find more obscured winners. I believe there are four quadrants a horse can fall into: 1) Obvious 2) Logical 3) Difficult 4) Impossible. I try to have a good mix of all of these categories.
10. Augment, don't replace. This sheet should always be used as an adder to your own opinions and not to replace them. Do your own handicapping and mesh it with mine. I spend many hours per sheet but it doesn't guarantee I'm going to get it right.
Hope this helps. Ask away if there are questions!