Turning $1.80 into $457 at Canterbury College

It’s been a fun ride during the past four installments of Canterbury College.

But nothing topped the excitement of our final class on April 8, when one of my fellow students scored a winning superfecta for $457!

I’m rookie handicapper Kris Janisch, and hopefully you’ve enjoyed following along with my journey during Canterbury Park’s free handicapping classes. Previous blog posts:

Week 1: Reading the Form

Week 2: A Deeper Dive

Week 3: Arrigoni Gets Hot

Week 4: Learning About Betting

Added Excitement

Canterbury College Week 4 blogOur professors, Canterbury Park handicapping expert Jeff Maday, and Brian Arrigoni, our paddock analyst, added an element of competition to our final class.

They asked the 200 of us to write down winners for the five simulcast races we would watch. Then, they randomly selected names of students who had the winning horse and gave away prizes, typically an entry to a super satellite handicapping contest or a $10 betting voucher.

The best prize, however, came from Race 1 at Santa Anita, the second simulcast race we watched. Maday constructed a superfecta for $1.80. It hit. It paid $457.13. The crowd went wild.

It was a nice win for one of our students and surely a great way to cap off Canterbury College and get ready for the live racing season at Canterbury Park.

Live Racing Information

My horse in that race was No. 6. My reasoning was that the jockey and trainer had good win percentages and the horse had placed in the money in its last two races. It was off the lead the whole way and faded late.

First Race

The first race we watched was Race 3 from Gulfstream.

I liked the No. 4 horse, the favorite, primarily by process of elimination. I simply didn’t like any of the other horses. Mr. Sultana took home the victory and I was feeling pretty good about coming out of the gate with a win.

You already know what happened in our second simulcast race. (I still can’t believe someone came to Canterbury College, learned about handicapping, ate some pizza and walked with more than $450.) So let’s move on to the third.

Third Race

MR JAGERMEISTER - 02-26-18 - R07 - TUP - FinishI thought I had a good handle on Race 2 at Oaklawn Park.

But the first thing Arrigoni said in discussing the horses was that my horse had a “red flag class drop,” meaning it had dropped down to a lower level of competition and the owner was “begging for it to be claimed.”

Well, I wasn’t going to change horses in midstream, and I liked that it had showed early speed at the mile distance, and this race was only 6 furlongs. Plus, I thought the drop in class might be good for the horse.

I took solace in the fact that plenty of other people also turned in slips with the No. 9 horse, Strike Rate. Unfortunately, we struck out, and he finished third. The winner actually went off at 54-1.

Race 4

For Race 5 at Keeneland, the fourth simulcast race we watched, I thought I had a winner.

I liked the No. 3 horse, Prom Theme, which had won his past four races, had a trainer with a good winning percentage and had shown late speed.

The race unfolded as I had envisioned, but Prom Theme had too much ground to make up and came in second. No dancing today.

Final Race

Race 6 at Keeneland: Our final simulcast race for Canterbury College. Time to shine!

AprilKeeneland_PromosThis was a tough one to handicap. All the horses looked like winners. Arrigoni said it was the best race we had watched during Canterbury College, with horses that had run in Grade 1 races, earned over $1 million in their careers and were overall high-quality racers.

I took the No. 4 horse, Master Merion, which had won his previous four races, performed well on turf and had a jockey who had won nearly half of his races in 2018.

250,000 Bonus Points at Keeneland

In my head, I placed a trifecta wager, with horses 4, 10 and 6 in that order.

The 6 horse was flown in from India, and maybe that’s why he wasn’t a factor… But he had won nine of 11 races!

Let’s focus on the positive, instead. My horse didn’t win, but Master Merion did come in second, and the 10 horse won. Not the right order, but I was glad I was able to pick the top two finishers.

Canterbury Park Betting Club Bonus!

Maday talked about this summer’s Canterbury Park Betting Club, which features a cool bonus this year.

How it works: Everyone who enters will have a panel of racing experts make daily wagers from the pool. Those are sent out via email and you have action every day, along with email recaps and results, as well.

Plus, if you commit to both sessions at $50 each by May 23, Canterbury Park will kick in bonus share for the second session!

Session 1: May 25 to July 15

Session 2: July 26 to Sept. 15

Sign up now on the third level at Canterbury Park, and look for information on our website soon.

Final Thoughts

In 2017, the Leg Up Fund financially helped five injured jockeys with payments totaling just over $10,000.With Canterbury College now in the rearview mirror, there’s one thing I can say — the experience absolutely stoked the fires for me to bet once live racing begins on May 4.

I’m no expert, but I now have a sense of what to look for in the racing form, how to deconstruct a race and how to structure a wager.

I would absolutely encourage anyone who has considered taking Canterbury College to do so. It was a fun and enlightening course and I’m looking forward to applying my knowledge at the track.

Good luck!

Summer School

Canterbury Park will offer one-day summer school classes for a $20 fee, which includes Race Day admission, $2 betting voucher, past performances, $5 food voucher, a bottle of Pepsi and a Canterbury T-shirt!

Classes will be offered on Saturdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. to on the following dates: Saturday, May 12 (Ladies Edition), June 16, July 7 and Aug. 4.

Registration will be posted soon on our website.


Learning About Betting at Canterbury College

The rubber met the road at Week 4 of Canterbury College.

After three weeks of learning how to read a racing form and dissecting that information, we got into betting during the March 25 class.

I’m Kris Janisch, a rookie horseplayer who has been taking Canterbury Park’s free five-week handicapping course. Find previous installments of the blog:

Canterbury College: Perspective from a Rookie Handicapper

Rookie Handicapper: Week 2 at Canterbury College

Taking a Shot at Canterbury College

(Note: Registration for the current series of Canterbury College is closed. However, Canterbury Park will offer one-day classes for a small fee, which includes Race Day admission, once the live racing season begins. Details to come.)

Preferred Bets for PA and BA

One thing has become clear over the course of Canterbury College: two of our professors, track announcer Paul Allen and paddock analyst Brian Arrigoni, like to pick winners.

That might seem obvious, but it matters when it comes to the types of wagers they prefer. Instead of trying to structure their bets vertically — picking the top two, three or four horses in a single race — they would rather create horizontal wagers, which is picking the winner in three, four or five consecutive races. These are known as Pick 3s, Pick 4s and Pick 5s.

Canterbury College Week 4 blogAllen talked about getting a group of friends together to make several such bets, spreading out the risk and increasing the chances of making a big score.

“There are several ways to skin the proverbial cat,” he said.

For Daily Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s and Pick 5s, there are certain strategies horseplayers can use, Arrigoni said.

If you identify legitimate favorites, those are fine to use in a horizontal wager. But at some point, “you have to take a stand,” Arrigoni said, and pick a non-favorite or longshot in one of those races. Most people will be picking the odds-on horses, so identifying vulnerable favorites is essential.

In a Pick 4 example, you might end up choosing two horses to win in Race 1, three in Race 2, three horses Race 3 and one in Race 4. You multiply 2 X 3 X 3 X 1 to get 18, and at 50 cents each the cost of that bet is $9.

Or, Arrigoni said, you can get a few people together to make a $200 wager, potentially hit a longshot and cash in for $10,000.

Allen also noted that the Pick 5 Jackpot at Canterbury Park will return this year. If there are no winners, a portion of the pot carries over and the jackpot grows larger.

“It can hit six figures,” Allen said.

Analyzing the Races

A week after thinking I was getting better at selecting winning horses, I was a bit dismayed to have a hard time handicapping our first simulcast race, at Gulfstream Park.

Still, it looked like the favorite, The Accuser, should win. But with the odds at 6-5, it wouldn’t make sense to bet the horse, Arrigoni said.

Racing form Canterbury CollegeBut in a Pick 4 situation, it could be a good race to take a stand against the favorite, Arrigoni said. If 75 percent of other Pick 4 players were using The Accuser in that race, it might be an opportunity to select another horse (or horses) and knock out the other bettors in the same Pick 4.

Allen and Arrigoni said they would have used the 2 and the 5 horse in a Pick 4, rather than the favorite. Props to them, because both those horses finished ahead of The Accuser, which came in third.

If you really like a favorite, it’s fine to use that horse in a horizontal wager, but at the same time it has to make sense in relation to the odds, and sometimes “you have to get creative,” Arrigoni said.

Vertical Wagers

While our professors prefer horizontal wagers, we did discuss vertical bets (single-race bets), as well. Specifically:

  • Exacta, picking the top two finishers in order
  • Trifecta, picking the top three finishers in order
  • Superfecta, picking the top four finishers in order


You can also “box” these bets. That means the horses you pick to finish at the top of the race can end up in any order among the top two, three or four, depending on the bet.

Superfectas can be exciting to play, Allen said, noting that he has seen 10 cent wagers hit for $180.

They are an inexpensive way to enjoy betting on horse racing, for example putting together a boxed superfecta for $2.40, Arrigoni said.

“You can have a lot of fun with superfectas,” he said.

But Allen cautioned during our second simulcast race, at Fair Grounds, that you have to be aware of the odds you’re getting on vertical wagers. The exacta that hit on our second race only paid 8-5, and you might be better off not betting it.

Pre-race Preparations

At Canterbury College, we have three hours to look over our racing forms and experts whose brains we can pick as we try to deduce what will happen in a given race.

When you’re planning to come to Canterbury Park on race day, however, you should take some time beforehand to study up and have a plan in place.

“It is essential,” Arrigoni said.

Those 20 minutes between races can go quickly, and by having a game plan you will feel less stressed and have a more enjoyable day at the track, he said.

There is a “vast” wagering menu at Canterbury Park, and getting ready before you hit the track will minimize the work you have to do between races, Allen said.

“Developing a pre-race plan is a fantastic idea,” he said.

Canterbury College: Week 5

Next week will be the last for this session of Canterbury College.

I can’t wait to put my knowledge to the test when the live racing season opens at Canterbury Park on May 4!

Rookie Handicapper: Taking a Shot at Canterbury College

Canterbury College Week 3 blog Brian Arrigoni had a good day.

Our Canterbury College professor accurately picked the winners of the first two simulcast races we watched… then made a wager on the third. And won on horse that went off at 7-1.

This is rookie handicapper Kris Janisch back with you to recap the latest from Canterbury College, where my education in the art of handicapping is starting to take shape. With our Week 3 class of March 11 in the rearview mirror, the group seems comfortable with the most important part of our lessons: reading the racing form and dissecting the information.

Canterbury College: Perspective from a Rookie Handicapper

Rookie Handicapper: Week 2 at Canterbury College

(Note: Registration for the current series of Canterbury College is closed. However, Canterbury Park will offer one-day classes for a small fee, which includes Race Day admission, once the live racing season begins. Details to come.)

Let’s get into this week’s highlights.

BA Gets Hot

We watched Race 3 from Fair Grounds, a 1-mile race initially slated to be run on turf.

Track conditions forced the race to be run on the dirt, which is when Arrigoni opted to place his wager. (His horse was 10-1 at the time.)

Those kinds of changes should prompt handicappers to tag a race and place a larger wager than they would normally, said track announcer Paul Allen, another of our Canterbury College professors.

“In an isolated situation like that, you can create advantages,” he said.

After his horse won, Arrigoni laid out the specifics of why he placed the bet:

  • The switch to dirt favored his horse
  • The favorite looked vulnerable
  • His horse had been improving of late
  • Other horses were running more turf races
  • His horse recently went to a better trainer
  • There wasn’t much early speed in the race


“It played out exactly how I wanted it to,” Arrigoni said.

Student Handicappers

Our professors–who also include handicapping expert Jeff Maday–did more actual handicapping of races this week, when we watched five simulcast races, up from three last week.

It provided an opportunity for students to formulate their own takes on the races. Our continued examination of running lines goes more quickly, with fewer questions from the crowd on basics and deeper queries about how our professors interpret the information.

My pick came in second!
My pick came in second!

So, we took some time to handicap Race 3 at Santa Anita.

“Let’s ‘cap it out,” Allen said.

Unlike the previous race, Arrigoni this one had a legitimate favorite, so I tried to choose a horse aside from Violent Ridge (which did go on to win).

Instead, I went with the No. 9 horse, Raven Creek. Here were my reasons:

  • He placed in the money in several recent races
  • He had a strong jockey who had ridden him each time out
  • He was going off at 6-1
  • He had won one of his three turf races


Good old Raven Creek came in second.

While my horse didn’t win, I was fairly pleased with myself, thinking that if I had bet on him I would have made a “Show” wager–to have him finish in the top three. That feeling was short lived, however, when I recalled Allen saying Show wagers are “antiquated.”

Still, it was exciting to see a race play out as I’d envisioned. Progress!

Final Race

Our last simulcast race of the day was No. 4 at Oaklawn Park.

Here, I liked the 5 horse, primarily because he had run well of late (though he was coming off a several month layoff). Plus, the odds were around 12-1.

The first thing Allen said after the gates opened? “The 5 horse didn’t start well, that probably cost him the race.”

Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

Another horse I liked, Shoot Craps, did come in second, so I’ll count it as a minor victory on my road to becoming a better handicapper.

Amy’s Challenge

We also watched a replay of the March 10 race from Amy’s Challenge, Canterbury Park’s 2017 Horse of the Year and a contender for the upcoming Kentucky Oaks.

She went out to a massive lead at the Honeybee at Oaklawn, but couldn’t hold on and eventually finished second.

“She’s extremely talented. She’s extremely fast,” Allen said. “Watching it back, I’m surprised she lost.”

The initial pace was simply too quick, Arrigoni said, and the jockey should have tried to back her off a bit.

“She was easily the best horse in the race but didn’t win,” he said.

Still, she will likely be the favorite should she run in the upcoming $400,000 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn.

Coming Up?

While I’m not sure what the Week 4 lesson will look like, I’m hoping it includes how to structure our bets.

I feel like the group now has an understanding of how to handicap a race, and it’s exciting to imagine how we use that information to make money.

As Allen put it: mashing those variables together with the odds to find the best bet for that race.

“We’re competing to win,” he said.

Can’t wait!