The Morning Line

The morning line consists of the odds that an official track handicapper produces. These are based on many of the factors we have already discussed in previous lessons. The morning line does not technically reflect how actual betting will progress, but it does provide a basic framework. Many bettors bet in proportion to the morning line, thus giving it an inflated importance.

Until you are ready to create your own lines (something that is discussed in our college courses), the morning line is your guide. Basically, what you are looking for is an overlay when you compare the actual betting odds to the morning line. An overlay occurs when the public’s betting odds on a horse are worse than the morning line. For example, you might find a horse that the public has bet 10/1 on, while the track program says that the horse is actually an 8/1. Because you would be getting more of a return than the morning line, an overlay exists.

Although this happens in almost every race, it does not make it an attractive option every time. Placing a bet blindly based on overlays might make money here and there, but if your horse has no realistic chance of winning, just because it is listed at 50/1 does not mean that you should bet the farm on it. Bet proportion sizes are discussed in our next lesson.

The morning line is constructed giving the horses roughly 120 percent odds. Remember in our Kindergarten class we discussed the track’s commission fees? This is the reason that the odds aren’t simply 100 percent; the track needs to take its profits off the top.

The construction of the line is a bit tricky, and I will warn you: it requires a bit of math. A basic understanding of fractions is imperative here. For example, a horse that is a 2/1 shot accounts for 33.3 percent of the post-commission money pool since it will supposedly win one out of every three races. 3/1 is 25 percent, 4/1 is 20 percent, 5/1 is 16.7 percent, and so on.

A sample race card for an eight horse field might look something like this:

The Morning Line

The major problem that occurs is that the odds change. Sure, you might have bet on an overlay in comparison to the morning line on what you think is a truly fantastic horse, only to have the public suddenly feel the same way. Your overlay has suddenly disappeared and your bet now has a negative expected value.

The most obvious way to solve this problem is to simply hold off on betting for as long as you can. The closer it gets to post time, the less time there is for the odds to change. This, of course, is not always the most practical method, since long lines close to post time might prevent you from even being able to place a wager.

For our next lesson we will be doing even more math. Money management at the racetrack is a necessity. Many would-be successful handicappers have been ruined because of poor money management. I do not want this to happen to you.

elementary school
Pre-KHorse Racing Basics
KindergartenPari-Mutuel System Betting
1st GradeHorse Racing 101
2nd GradeWhy Pick One Horse Over Another
3rd GradeReading Horse Charts
4th GradeWhy Class Matters
5th GradeSpeed Figures
middle school
6th GradeIntro to Exotic Betting
7th GradeExotics Part II Multi Race Bets
8th GradeSelecting the Right Races
high school
9th GradeThe Morning Line
10th GradeMoney Management
11th GradeBetting Tactics to Avoid
12th GradePerfecting the Craft