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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (4/23/10)

Contact: Ron Uchman
(708) 780-3700


Many ask, “Can I truly make money at the racetrack?” This is a question that Jim Miller and I strive to answer on daily basis.

That answer, of course, is a resounding yes!

Mr. Miller and I not only do daily selections, but we also do “bankroll” bets under a menu called “Today’s Selections,” on Hawthorne’s website at It has been a profitable year for both of us.

Jim specifically concentrates on the Pick 4 wager. He usually does two each day. At Hawthorne, the Pick 4s generally start in the second race and there is another for the last four races on the card. Occasionally, however, we run more than 10 races and there’s always a chance that there will be another Pick 4 added to the lineup. That will be the case on Saturday when we will have an additional All-Stakes Pick 4 on races seven through 10. That bet alone will have a mandatory payoff on Saturday.

I’ll try to mix things up once in a while, utilizing Pick 3s, win and place bets, exactas, with an occasional trifecta thrown in for good measure. However, the Pick 4 is the bread and butter for my “bankroll” bets as well.

There are a number of reasons to concentrate on the Pick 4. First of all, it’s easier than the Pick 6. With fewer races in the sequence, it’s possible to spread more (taking multiple horses in any or every leg of the sequence) for less money, which provides a far greater chance to hit the winning combination.

Secondly, you only have to worry about the takeout (25%) once. Takeout is the money that is “taken out” prior to paying off winning wagers. It’s the cost of playing the game. That money goes to the state, the horsemen, and the tracks. If you played win bets on the same horses in a particular sequence, you would have to deal with the 17% takeout on each win bet. Who wants to be taxed more than once?

Thirdly, and possibly the most important part of the equation, is that the horse you like the best doesn’t have to win. In fact, you are generally far better off if the favorite of the race doesn’t win, unless of course that favorite was the only runner you used in that leg of the wager. The difference in payoffs between a favorite winning and a runner that wasn’t as highly regarded could be dramatic. If that happens more than once in the sequence, the difference in the payoff could in the thousands, depending on the size of the fields.

That always brings up a conflict of conscience for me. As a public handicapper, I feel it incumbent to pick winners, no matter what the price and I’m always disappointed when the runner I select doesn’t win. As a bettor, there’s little I like better than to see a 3-5 shot finish up the track, especially when I had the long-priced winner somewhere in the sequence.

We are well aware that we will lose more wagers than we win. The key, however, is to hit often enough to offset the inevitable losses and maximize on the possible profits. We are both rather conservative bettors and the wagers we recommend are well within the range of most casual bettors, though Jim feels compelled to do his two Pick 4 wagers a day while I am more than happy to walk away from betting if I don’t feel that it’s in my interest or the interest of those who choose to follow my advice. We know too many bettors that swing for the fences every time. That has a certain allure for those looking for the big score. They do score occasionally but we’ve seen too many squander those big hits and lose those winnings and more…much more.

Jim has hit 18 Pick 4s at the meet from 81 possible chances. Through the end of Tuesday’s races, I have accumulated a $1,600 profit, utilizing a variety of wagers. This will be the third straight meet where I’ve made a profit.

So, is it possible to make a profit at the racetrack? You bet!

Hawthorne Race Course is in its 101st year of racing under Carey family ownership. Hawthorne races Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday with a first post of 1:35 pm daily through April 25. For more information on racing at Hawthorne, visit our website at

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