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Track Tracts

Part 12: Predatory Handicapping/Nuances
and Jockeys, Jockey Agents and Grooms
by Joe Takach

We�ll conclude our subtopic of �Nuance Handicapping� with a few words about both jockey agents and grooms.

I�ve always found most jockey agents to be totally non-committal and have often heard them remark to others when quizzed---�He�s got a shot�. Or, they positively �love� everything their rider sits upon. Neither is of much help �verbally� and you can certainly understand why they are the way they are.

First off, the jockey agent most likely �bets� himself and if he really knows something and tells you, you in turn will tell someone else, who will tell someone else, who will tell someone else, who will tell someone else-----etc. His rider�s horse with a morning line of 4-1, suddenly falls to 2-1 when the bell goes off and he has nobody to blame but himself for opening up his big mouth.

Secondly, most trainers don�t like agents �broadcasting� that their rider is sitting on a �live� horse. If the horse fails to win, it is usually the trainer who has to explain the �why� not only his owner, but to complete strangers who will walk right up to him and ask: �What happened to your horse? Billy (the rider�s agent) said he was a �sure thing�!

However, all is not lost. Jockey agent �nuances� are alive and well.

Watching jockey agents for �go� signals isn�t all that difficult. All you have to do is identify who the agents are and keep an eye on them. Most jockey agents are just like each one of us when we wager. Each has a particular window they go to when wanting to get serious.. All the tellers know who they are. The alleged reason, or so I�ve been told, that the agent goes to the same teller is because the agent feels �his� teller will keep his mouth shut or at worst, �give� the horse out to only a few others.

When you start following agents, if they aren�t wagering with a teller, they will repeatedly go back to the same ATM or at least the same area to punch out their own tickets on a machine.

You�ll never see a few agents bet. This isn�t because they don�t wager. It�s because they wager only once, and do so very early during the day so as not to be spotted by �nuance seekers�. Right after a race is completed in which they had winning tickets, they�ll rush the least populous line and collect their booty. Rarely do you see these agents bet in between the first and the last race of the day, but you�ll hear them after any winning race praising the horse and their great rider!

Another agent nuance that you might look for is the agent who casually strolls away from the paddock area once it is �riders up�. Almost inconspicuously he moves to another floor to bet at either a window or an ATM. The further he gets away from the paddock area, the fewer the people that recognize him wagering. If that same floor-moving agent remains in the paddock area in a race where his jockey has a mount, you can be rest assured that it is a very �dead mount�!

I�ve also noticed that no matter how or where the specific jockey agent wagers, he does it remarkably fast. He isn�t an annoying �leaner� who props himself at a window as if planning a long stay while calling out innumerable ticket combinations. The reason the agent is so fast, is most likely because he�s only wagering to win. It�s been my experience that most agents bet only �on the nose�. Any agent who takes a lot of time at a window or an ATM, is buying far too many ticket combinations and is most likely guessing!

Finally in the nuance department, even grooms can tell you quite a bit about the horse you are considering.

Usually, the larger barns have the best horses on the grounds. If it is a big race and today is a �go�, you can be rest assured that the trainer has given the horse to his head groom. This makes tons of sense. The trainer has put a lot of work into this specific horse to get him �ready� and he wants to be as sure as possible that there is no mishandling. He also knows that by employing his top groom, the chance of a �runaway� is minimized.

But even past that �head groom nuance�, every groom can tell if one of the horses under his care is at peak conditioning. After all, he spends much more time with the horse than does the trainer. He can easily spot both highs and lows.

Look for grooms who are well groomed (excuse the play on words). Everybody wants to look their very best any time that they have their picture taken, especially the ladies. If there is a good chance that this or that horse will end up in the winner�s circle, the groom will at least be wearing clean clothes and if of the fairer sex, makeup will be clearly evident.

You�ve just completed a �primer course� on some of the finer parts of �Nuance Handicapping�. And as you know by now, it does require your participation. If you want to maximize the rewards of �Nuance Handicapping�, your �on-track� attendance will be required.

But even if playing via satellite and the sending track offers you paddock shots, you can still greatly benefit from most nuances. Just keep your eyes pinned to the TV monitors. Sooner or later you�ll begin to recognize things that occur when specific trainers or jockeys win or think they are about to win. And conversely, those same nuances will be no where to be found if their horse is just out for exercise.

So there are no misunderstandings, even if you are on track every single day, I�m not suggesting that you abandon any of your current methodology and revert solely to �nuances�. Keep in mind that �Mr. Nuance� himself stood out in the elements for many years getting wet, cold, sick, sunburned etc., to perfect his craft. But �perfect it� he did!

Like anything else in our great game that is worth mastering, it will take time to incorporate many different nuances. But the time will be well spent, because these nuances will continue to offer huge dividends year in and year out.

Keep in mind that all of �Nuance Handicapping� as well as all of �Physicality Handicapping� requires not a single change in the way that you presently handicap a race. Both merely serve to enhance your personal methodology without changing any of its positive aspects.

Now you have the best of 3 handicapping worlds----Yours, �Physicality� and �Nuances�!


Copyright �2003 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

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