Part 7: Nuance
by Joe Takach
(Editor's Note: I'd like to welcome Joe Takach to Capper's Corner.
This is the seventh article in a series by Joe Takach, well-known
physicality handicapping expert, but the first article by Joe to
appear in Capper's Corner. The first six articles in this series
can be found in the
Track Tracts Archive. Joe can be contacted through his website
After each specific
nuance mentioned, I�ll offer you Walt�s very sound logic for
employing these subtleties to his advantage whether actually
wagering or passing a race.
Initially I found �nuance handicapping� quite confusing due to the
occasionally conflicting signs or omens. And it�s probably good that
I did because looking back now, it gave me an early appreciation of
how other handicappers still feel to this very day when first
entering my world of �physicality handicapping�.
Confusion has always been a �given� for me whenever I encounter
anything new that I�m excited about. I�m like most handicappers and
probably a lot like you. If I find something helpful that can
translate into cashing more tickets, I want that knowledge
�yesterday�! I also want guarantees as good as the ones the FDIC
offers my bank that this knowledge will work reasonably well forever
and a day if I honestly apply myself.
Perhaps that�s why in all of my writings over the years, I�ve always
attempted to oversimplify physicality concepts by comparing the
horse to a human and giving him human qualities. To this very day,
I�m still trying to convince diehard �paper handicappers� that
horses are not machines, but rather warm-blooded animals who like
humans, can change from day to day.
Recognizing these physicality changes from race to race affords the
ambitious handicapper �inside information� that is not only
extremely profitable, but absolutely free. Or put another way, it is
a win-win situation with all �upside� risk. All that you have to do
is �look� at the horse either in person or via your satellite
You�ll find very few of these win-win situations in handicapping.
Well, guess what?
You woke up lucky this morning and you didn�t even know it.
You�re about to enter the world of �Nuance Handicapping�. You�ll be
handed another very profitable handicapping �win-win situation� and
another �freebie� from the Takach �bag of common sense�.
But before submerging you into yet another �world of handicapping�
(as if the �physicality world� weren�t more than enough), Takach
positively wouldn�t be Takach unless first offering you a sometimes
annoying but always essential caveat that only serves to enhance
�Nuance Handicapping�, much like my own �physicality specialty�,
offers no absolutes!
If you are looking for absolutes, try the local branch of your
favorite bank. It is called a savings account.
However, moving to the other side of the coin, �Nuance Handicapping�
offers predictable, recurring, and very profitable outcomes based on
Here we go!
Mr. Nuance offered me 5 areas on which to focus. These are the same
5 that I employ to this day--------trainers, owners, jockeys, jockey
agents, and grooms. Walt watched all of them with the same intensity
that I �work� the paddock before a race.
He missed nothing------at least �nuancewise�!
The first thing he mentioned to me about trainers was that it was
always a good sign if they showed up in the paddock to personally
saddle their horse. While at first you might see that as a
�no-brainer�, I invite you on any afternoon to venture into your
paddock and see which horses are actually saddled by their trainers.
Mark them down in your program. Better yet, do this for a full week
at your home oval using 5 different days------i.e., Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday----or any other combination of
5 different days. The reason for insisting on different days is so
that you see the proper mix of both weekdays and weekends.
After the 5 days or week is completed, pull out all the programs.
Add up the number of horses that won with their respective trainers
absent from the paddock.
Are you shocked?
I sure was after keeping strict records every single day for 6
straight months in Keystone�s paddock!
The reason I suggested a week of your personal research at your home
oval rather than 6 months is because what you�ll discover the very
first week, also rings true the second week and every single week
thereafter �ad nauseum�.
�No shows� by trainers are big time �no-nos�!
Mr. Nuance�s logic behind his �no trainer/no bet� subtlety was crisp
and clear. If the trainer himself didn�t think enough of his horse
to show up to saddle him, why should he bet him?
Do horses ever win when saddled by anyone other than the trainer
In Southern California, the answer is �yes�, but a very weak �yes�.
With rare exceptions, only a few of our very �best barns� win races
with the trainer absent regardless of reason.
Bobby Frankel, Richard Mandella, Ron McAnally, Neil Drysdale and Bob
Baffert win races when they are absent because they have the best
�help� that money can buy. Most of their first assistants would be
excellent trainers in their own right. You�ll also notice that the
first 4 named Southern California trainers are Hall of Fame members
with Bob Baffert the �lock of the century� to join them in the very
first year that he�s eligible.
But here�s a sub-caveat!
Even the above mentioned Hall of Fame trainers win many, many, many
more races when present than when not!
We at the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH literally tracked the
trainer �no-shows� along with our many other paddock notes for over
8 years to gather empirical evidence to support the above statement.
We offered this information as �standard fare� side by side with our
�physicality notes� in our old weekly SCHTW edition. (In June 2002
we became a daily publication known as the DAILY SCHTW).
Okay, that�s your basic 101 trainer �nuance� and it most likely
rings true on your circuit as well!
But wait-----there�s so much more to go on trainers!
As I mentioned above, nothing �got by� Mr. Nuance when it came to
people and their peculiarities in the paddock anymore than I missed
a horse walking with poor extension. He somehow mixed all his visual
�intakes� and walked to the windows whenever the urge hit him.
His methodology though totally foreign to me at the time, slowly
began to make sense and a lot of it. Much like the way that I sized
up a horse�s overall physicality before a race knowing that the
runner had the �backpaper� to win, he �sized up� every single member
of the connections of every runner in every race. It didn�t matter
if the next race was a bottom-feeding maiden claimer or an �uptown�
allowance race. He watched knowing that when certain conditions were
all present together, with the operative word being �together�, he
could make a killing.
To this day it�s hard for me say what I�m about to and it almost
pains me to do so were it not for the fact that �nuance
handicapping� is so deeply ingrained into my own personal
methodology. Mr. Nuance never �looked� at a horse. He never gave a
single thought to the animal himself. �Physically ready� to run or
�warmed up properly� were simply not part of his handicapping
vocabulary. What�s more, he could have cared less about past
performances of any kind and every other factor that today is
accepted as the handicapping �norm�.
Would you like his explanation as to why he didn�t �look� at a
horse, or why he failed to employ traditional handicapping
�That�s the trainer�s job, I just bet them�!
I loved that reply then almost as much as I enjoy it at this very
moment-----�Rocket Scientry� at its very finest!
Those who have the misfortune of knowing me, are fully aware that
when I was learning the finer points of �Nuance Handicapping�, I was
drilling Walt like a dentist going after Mr. Toothdecay.
I had to get to the
bottom of that �nuance� thing! He was continually cashing huge
tickets while totally oblivious to the horse itself---with the
operative word being �continually�.
Countless times he showed me tickets that I couldn�t have bought
after the race was over!
I quickly became a �believer�.
And yes, at the end of our discussion on �Nuance Handicapping�,
you�ll clearly see how this visual art is an essential part of
becoming �predatory� in your personal handicapping and how it can be
applied either on track or if wagering at a satellite facility.
PART 8----NUANCE HANDICAPPING / TRAINERS continued.
Copyright �2003 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
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