Half the Race is Out of
Your Control (Part 5)
7----LEGAL + ILLEGAL
DRUGS ADMINISTERED ON RACE DAY
If a racing neophyte were to look at the past performances wondering
what medication a specific horse was running on today, he would be
offered no more than Lasix and/or Bute.
To those of us that have �been around the block� more than once,
that�s already funny!
In most cases, Bute and Lasix account for only a portion of the
medication, both legally and illegally, that any horse races with on
any given afternoon.
I�m not going to waste anyone�s time defending that position because
I positively know it to be fact.
If you choose to believe those �fairy tale� stories printed by the
Daily Racing Form and by every state racing association as to how
�clean� our game is, by all means dream on----it is much later than
you think! You will soon be parted from your money whether a bettor
or an owner.
It is no secret in the annals of horseracing that I�ve been bitching
about illegal �drugging� long before the first time I was captured
in print in the July 1985 issue of Gambling Times Magazine with an
article entitled �Lasix: The Great Equalizer�.
Keystone, which is now known as Philadelphia Park, provided the
background for my story about Lasix. Keep in mind that at this time,
the Daily Racing Form wasn�t listing any Lasix horses in their past
performances as they now do, nor was any other publication taking
the initiative. If you wanted proprietary lasix information, you had
to dig for it.
I might also mention that although Keystone�s track program listed
horses running on Lasix, track management made sure to keep the
public in the dark as to when it was 1st Lasix! But funny thing,
just like �stuck� horses, that same track management had absolutely
no problem noting
1st Lasix horses on the overnights that were plastered all over the
Getting back to my Lasix article, the gist of my writing was that if
you bet $100 to win on every horse that went 1st or 2nd Lasix at
�Keystone� during the months of November and December 1984, you
realized a healthy profit of $4,530.
This came about from betting 105 horses that went 1st or 2nd lasix.
Of those 105 first or second lasix starters, a total of 23 runners
won for a win percentage of 21.9%. If one were only betting $2, this
would have translated into a healthy R.O.I. of $2.86.
I might also mention that this unbelievable profit came about
without incorporating any other known handicapping principle such as
speed, pace, trip, breeding, etc. The only thing one had to know was
if a specific horse was 1st or 2nd Lasix! If he was, you put 100
bucks on his nose and got plenty �fat�.
Since I had been keeping track of 1st and 2nd Lasix from the day the
drug first became legal, I was almost tempted to entirely end my
daily 18 hour routines, that included keeping track of everything
under the sun to assist my future wagering.
I was tired of those never-ending draining days, but they were
needed in order to eek out an existence.
I wanted to live the �Life of Riley�. You know, sleep until 11, roll
out of bed, shower, leave for the track, return home with handfuls
of money, have dinner and watch TV all night instead of burning my
eyes pouring over tomorrow�s past performances. How wonderful life
would have been if the only thing that I had to do everyday was to
keep track of 1st and 2nd Lasix!
It�s a good thing I hesitated, because reality was right around the
I don�t know if it was a coincidence but soon after my article was
published, much pressure came to bear upon the entire racing
industry by race fans everywhere. And under that pressure, nearly
all racetracks fell into line like prearranged dominos and began
listing not only Lasix horses, but 1st Lasix horses.
And just as soon as they did, the 21.9% win percentage I enjoyed at
Keystone suddenly plummeted to a little over 10% with an R.O.I. well
1st and 2nd Lasix suddenly became nothing more than another losing
angle because the trainers �laid down� and ran most of their horses
So much for my short-lived �Life of Riley�.
The purpose of this quick diversion was to show you how much a legal
�panacean� can affect the outcome of any race.
Try to imagine the effect of today�s unknown designer drugs for
which there are no tests!
Without any doubt, when designer drugs are administered, the outcome
of the race is surely out of our control!
Many racetracks now inform their patrons of any track maintenance
that has taken place since the end of the last race the day before.
But what does that mean to Joe Six-Pack?
Most likely nothing even though the changing of the racing surface
can, and usually does, have a profound effect �bias wise� on the
next grouping of races the following day. This could be evidenced by
yesterday�s strong front-running bias morphing into a closer�s
paradise the very next day or vice versa without any warning.
This is why it is often good advice to merely �watch� the first race
or two on any given race day to see if yesterday�s running bias has
changed. If you don�t and merely bet as if the running bias hasn�t
changed from the day before, part of the race is surely out of your
Half the Race is Out of
Your Control (Part 6)
Do you know how many jockeys on your home circuit ride while hurt?
I�ll take a wild guess and say every one of them!
Don�t get me wrong. I�m not saying that 100% of your jockey colony
is hurt at any given point in time. But what I am saying, is that
every jockey on your circuit at one time or another will ride
knowing that he is not 100% sound and unable to offer his best.
Once in a while you can spot these situations if you are awake and
paying attention, but most other times you can not. Consider the
The most recognizable situation comes about whenever a jockey comes
back far too soon from a serious injury.
If his mishap gets written up in your local newspaper or in the
Daily Racing Form, it will usually state that he or she is expected
to be out for 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks or whatever.
The expected recovery time stated in the newspaper is not relevant.
What�s important is the actual time that it takes for the injured
jockey to return to the saddle. If he comes back as scheduled, he�s
probably fully healed or close to it. If he�s early, he�s most
likely not 100%.
It�s been said that pound for pound, jockeys are the best
conditioned athletes in the world.
I�ve never subscribed to that antiquated theory. Furthermore, I
seriously doubt that you could get any competent doctor to endorse
such a ridiculous theory. Granted, jockeys are superbly conditioned
sport figures, but are we to actually believe that they are in
better shape than football, basketball or hockey players?
I doubt it!
Most likely this antiquated myth came about because nearly all
jockeys miraculously return from their specific injuries much faster
than expected. Football players can�t seem to do this. Neither can
hockey players or basketball players!
So how do jockeys accomplish this?
Do jockeys have better doctors? Do jockeys possess better
recuperative powers? Are jockeys intrinsically more healthy and in
better shape than other athletes?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, they�ve been fooling
you for many years and they continue to do so to this very day.
The only reason that jockeys return to their sport faster than any
other type of athlete is the fear of losing their business.
They don�t have better doctors. They don�t have any mystical
recuperative powers. And with their stringent and restrictive diets
to maintain their riding weights, I can assure you that they are
positively not any healthier than other athletes on non-restrictive
diets. In fact if anything, they are less healthy than most athletes
because of their diets!
When Laffit Pincay was on his successful quest to break Willie
Shoemaker�s win record, a local newspaper journalist once asked him
why he continued to accept mounts in 8K and 10K claiming races? With
his riding tenure, didn�t he know that these cheap horses were more
likely to break down during a race and potentially put him in the
hospital. Laffit�s reply was an honest one that hit you right
between the eyes. He fired back that �you can�t win races sitting in
the jockey�s room�!
This is exactly what goes thru the mind of every single injured
jockey when he sits on the sidelines waiting to heal. He can�t
fulfill riding engagements sitting in the jockey�s room or sitting
at home. What�s more, he doesn�t have any guarantees that another
jockey won�t take over some or all of the business that he had
before his misfortune.
So what does he do? He prematurely returns to riding after �getting
by� the track doctor by saying that he�s no longer in pain and feels
When doing this he might keep his business intact, but he rarely
wins until fully healed.
Since I�m always in the paddock before a race taking copious
physicality notes on horses, I�ve often spotted jockeys that were
quite obviously not 100% physically correct. It might be the way
that they walk or the fact that they�re sporting an Ace bandage on
one of their wrists.
Whenever I spot these jockey negatives, it is either right after a
spill where they didn�t take any downtime or soon after they return
from a more serious injury.
Another way that you can learn about jockey injuries is by being
lucky enough to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right
Some years ago at Santa Anita I was walking past Gary Stevens� agent
when he remarked to another guy next to him that Gary took a nasty
spill during morning workouts and injured his right wrist. He
further stated that Gary was going to ride anyway.
Stevens had 4 mounts that afternoon, to include a 9-5 morning line
favorite in the 8th race that I initially had planned to bet. I
watched Stevens struggle thru his first 3 rides of the afternoon and
I do mean struggle! It was obvious to me that he was merely �going
thru the motions� and was far from 100%. I also noted that whenever
he whipped a horse, it was only with his left hand.
When the 8th race rolled around, I knew that I had a bit of
�proprietary information� that few others possessed. Gary would be
atop a runner that was the type of horse that had to be kept to task
the entire length of the stretch. He would have to whip both
left-handed and right-handed to win the race! That just wasn�t going
to happen! I decided to pass the race!
I have to credit Stevens. Even though he was hurt and in pain, he
gave it everything and tried his best. He even attempted to
encourage his mount right-handed when it was called for, but dropped
his whip when he struck his horse the first time.
He finished a well-beaten 4th.
As mentioned above, I was very lucky that afternoon to overhear his
agent�s conversation and saved myself a bad bet.
But most times, we are not privy to such information. At one time or
another all of us wager on horses piloted by injured jockeys.
This situation surely ranks up there with other aforementioned
scenarios to potentially make a portion of some races out of our
(Continued in PART 7 of HALF THE RACE IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL)
Copyright �2004 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at
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