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Tips for Betting the Morning Line

Making a morning line is not an exact science, but here’s how to make the most of it when handicapping horse races.

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By Denis Blake for Quarter Racing Journal

Just as you would consider the skill and success of a particular horse, trainer or jockey as you’re considering your bet, you should do the same for the morning line maker at any tracks you like to play, advises line maker Rick Lee.

An easy way to gauge the ability of a morning line maker is to simply examine a few days of past races to compare the morning line odds with the final odds at equibase.com. 

Keep in mind:

  • Making a morning line is not an exact science, so if the favorite is set at 5-2 and goes off at 2-1, that’s pretty close. 
  • Most morning line odds makers will not put a horse higher than 20-1 or 30-1, so if a horse is tabbed at 20-1 and goes off at 60-1, that shouldn’t be considered a “miss.” 
  • Looking at the first four or five lowest odds in each race and comparing them to the morning line will give you a good indication of how much trust you can put in the morning line at a particular track.

“If you bet a track and have a lot of confidence that the line maker knows what he’s doing, then you can take advantage of overlays much more effectively,” Rick adds.  

“If a good line maker has a horse at 3-1 and he’s going off at 8-1, he’s probably a genuine overlay and not just one that the line maker missed. Or if he makes a horse 4-1 and he goes off at 6-5, there’s probably no value there.”

In addition to its obvious use for the current race on the card, Rick says the morning line can also be helpful when it comes to multiple-race wagers like the Pick-3 or Pick-4.

That’s another reason people should pay attention to how good the line maker is, Rick advises. 

“It helps for a Pick 3 or Pick 4 when you are looking at the future races (and don’t have the benefit of current odds like you do on the next race up).”