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Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk - Part 6:
Answers Continued

by Joe Takach

11---DOWNSIDE---There is only one question that I would ask of those handicappers employing �universal turf ratings� (includes every service that doesn�t include �track-specific� information when formulating their turf ratings).

Suppose a horse that you intend on betting this afternoon is making his turf debut over your home oval. Additionally suppose that the 3 major turf rating services (what ever companies these might be) give your intended wager very high marks in the pedigree department. In fact, all 3 services rate the horse�s sire, grandsire and damsire excellent marks when it comes to running over the grass.

Finally suppose that it is not only possible, but very probable that 1, 2 or even all 3 of the horses (sire, grandsire and damsire) making up this high rating given by these services, have never so much as placed a hoof over your turf course.

Why would anybody in their right mind want pedigree information (for the turf or the dirt) on any horse if part or even all of that specific horse�s parental lineage had never raced over the specific surface you are about to wager on?

Why indeed!

If you believe that these �universal turf ratings� are the way, the light and the truth---good for me and all others who know that there is only one way to go when it comes to making pedigree decisions before you wager-------and that is �track-specific� breeding.

�Track-specific� breeding offers the serious handicapper a �common sense approach� to the breeding question. Horses only get rated if 1, 2 or all 3 of his pedigree parents actually won over the specific surface itself-------period!

As of this moment, my DAILY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH is the only publication in existence offering nothing but �track-specific� ratings. However if you don�t wager on Santa Anita, Del Mar, or Hollywood Park, they won�t help your game.

If anyone in this day and age still believes that �universal ratings� are more correct than �track-specific� ratings, get in touch with me at once. I have 5000 acres of swampland in Beverly Hills that I can let you have for 5 bucks an acre!

12---DOWNSIDE---We�ll assume a ten race card for the day to keep the math easy---no need to wake up your hamster and get him on his wheel quite yet.

It matters little what the size of one�s bet might be. If you are wagering on half or more of the events of any day�s card, it is only a matter of time before your bankroll disappears.

Why is that?

Simply because there is rarely, if ever, 5 solid or �upside� wagers on any race card no matter what track you are playing. I�m quite happy if I can find 1 or 2 solid and �upside� wagers a day. and when I do, I bet them with both hands.

After keeping strict records for over 35 years, one thing rings true with me personally. The more wagers I made in any given year, the less my �bottom line� was come New Year�s Eve----period!

13---DOWNSIDE---Many things change from race to race. In the past you�ve heard me repeatedly and unrelentingly blast those non-winning professional handicapping authors whenever the use the line �if this race were run 100 times, yadda, yadda, yadda whatever�.

Talk about hamsters being off their respective wheels, their hamsters aren�t even awake.

No 2 races are run the same way, let alone 100. I can think of at least 30 things that would be different, even if you had the same horses ridden by their same jockeys.

Just because a horse caught serious trouble last out and was unquestionably �the best�, there is no guarantee that even if handed a �perfect trip� this afternoon, that he�ll get the job done. While he might be a real �nice horse� with plenty of moxie and heart, you have to handicap today�s race as if that trouble had never happened last out.

14---DOWNSIDE---His �number� could have been produced by his being the beneficiary of that �dream trip�. After all, he was drafting behind the top pair and letting those 2 run themselves into the ground. I�ve always found it better to actually throw that winning race out as if it never happened. Why? Because it is next to impossible to get back-to-back �dream trips�. This is not to say that it never happens, but I can�t remember 5 times in my horseplaying career where it did!

15---DOWNSIDE---I�ve studied trainers and their individual methodology as long as anyone playing this game. And as you most likely already know, it all begins with the trainer---not the horse. Had you given Secretariat to an incompetent trainer from day one, the horse would have never showed up for the Kentucky Derby, let alone the Triple Crown after winning the Belmont by 31 lengths---------31 lengths! The vision conjured up in my head as I just typed that last sentence still gives me goose bumps-----31 lengths!

Getting back to our subject, if somebody asked me to name 1 specific trait that runs thru every single trainer�s methodology, it is that they are creatures of habit. Once they formulate their specific way of doing things, it is extremely rare to see them deviate and still be successful.

Here�s an example. Hall of Famer Richard Mandella knows what he�s doing. Yes, he gets good stock, but the man knows exactly what to do with it. I love to bet his horses when everything looks right. There is no subterfuge. He sends them right at you with confidence and why shouldn�t he? After all he is Richard Mandella!

The workout pattern in my question 15 was actually about a Mandella morning worktab that I�ve seen in the past. It doesn�t happen all that often, but I�ve seen it. If a Mandella horse is working every 6 or 7 days and suddenly disappears for 15 days before working again, something happened that made Mandella cancel that missing workout. The horse might have taken a bad step, or caught a cold or whatever. I haven�t a clue exactly what it was, but it was something. These horses with the �missing workout� run well, but they don�t end up in the winner�s circle.

The name of the trainer is meaningless. But once you have a trainer�s methodology down to an exact science, whenever you see him or her change something, you had best beware! NC


Copyright �2004 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

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