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Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk - Part 10 (Answers Continued)
by Joe Takach

31---UPSIDE---Keeping running profiles for both surfaces of any track that you play isn�t an option, it is a necessity.

You have to know what running style is more favorable than another at specific distances when travelling over either surface. Every distance on either surface plays a bit differently.

As an example, consider how �closers� (any horse over 6 lengths behind at the 2nd running call) are faring at Santa Anita thru the first 53 days of the 84 day Winter/Spring 2004 meet.

A total of 346 dirt races were run thru 03/06/04. Of that 346 race total, only 26 �closers� visited the winner�s circle or 5.78%.

Here are the breakdowns:

5.5 furlongs----4 winners from 37 starts = 10.81%
6 furlongs----3 winners from 85 starts = 3.53%
6.5 furlongs----8 winners from 64 starts = 12.50%
7 furlongs----5 winners from 31 starts = 16.13%
8 furlongs----2 winners from 67 starts = 2.98%
8.5 furlongs----4 winners from 55 starts = 7.27%
9 furlongs----0 winners from 6 starts = 00.00%
10 furlongs----0 winners from 1 starts = 00.00%

You can view and interpret these �numbers� any way that you�d like, but one thing is very obvious -- all dirt distances have played quite differently for �closers�. Of particular note is the fact that 4 �closers� have been able to win at 5.5 furlongs from only 37 starts while only 3 were able to do so at 6 furlongs from 85 starts. And what�s even more remarkable, only 2 of 67 closers were victorious going a mile!

You�d naturally think that it would be harder to close from 5.5 furlongs than from 6 furlongs or a mile, but so far thru 53 days of racing at Santa Anita, that simply ain�t the case!

It�s rather obvious that those keeping running profiles for their home tracks have an enormous edge over those who don�t. Sure, it takes a little work every day, but the return is more than worth the time invested!

If you�d like to set up running profiles for your home track or any track for that matter, visit my website @ . Every Monday I post the up-to-the-minute meet-to-date running profiles for whatever Southern California track is running at the moment (Santa Anita thru 04/18/04).

You can also read a full-blown explanation of running profiles and apply them to any track.

The time and effort you spend setting up and maintaining your running profiles are nothing but �upside� risk!

32---UPSIDE---I don�t know a single professional that makes his living at the track by betting the slowest horse.

There are exceptions to every rule in horseracing with the sole immutable law of �speed unchallenged wins 100% of the time� being the lone �untouchable�.

At times but very infrequently, a slower horse wins a race due to any number of reasons or combinations of excuses that range from bad racing luck encountered by faster animals, to outside post positions on the turf with the rails out 30 feet, to quicker animals that are out of shape and not ready to run their best.

You�d have to be brain-dead to bet a slower horse in any race no matter how badly the faster animal(s) might appear to be compromised-------period! If in doubt, simply pass the race!

33---DOWNSIDE---I�m not sure who once said that your first impression is usually the most correct, but that sage �had it right�!

I see nothing wrong with rechecking your work -- once! I do it all the time no matter how big my wager. But if you have to go over it a 3rd or 4th time or even more, you simply ain�t as sure about this upcoming wager as you might think you are.

Whenever I catch myself going over the past performances for a 3rd time or looking too closely at a specific horse�s race day physicality in the paddock, I�m subconsciously sending myself a very loud message. The race ain�t all that playable and my actual best bet is passing the event!

34---DOWNSIDE--- About 1/3 of a horse�s red blood cells lie dormant in his spleen. It takes about 4 furlongs or a half mile of light cantering for his spleen to release those red blood cells.

Once released into the circulatory system, they add to the existing red blood cells already at work carrying essential oxygen to wherever it is needed for optimum output in the upcoming race.

This is the exact reason why I�ve been harping for 40 years to all that will listen that the pre-race warm-up is simply one of the two most important parts of the �physicality� side of the betting equation. The other physicality part is his overall paddock appearance and deportment. When both physicality factors are acceptable and he has the best �backpaper� in his field, there simply isn�t a better bet in the game!

And while many satellite players might be moaning that they can�t actually see the pre-race warm-ups as could an on track observer, many pre-race activities are shown on the beamed in races from the post parades straight thru loading. You get to see each runner 2, 3 or 4 times or more after the post parade. If every time you see a particular horse he�s walking or slow trotting rather than in a light canter, he most likely didn�t get the essential 4 furlong canter needed to release the essential oxygen-delivering red blood cells needed for maximum output.

Seems like a no-brainer that horses running with full tanks of oxygen after a proper pre-race warm-up consistently outperform horses with little or no pre-race warm-ups and only 2/3 of a tank of oxygen-----no? But you�d be amazed at how many handicappers have never considered this as being an essential handicapping factor!

35---DOWNSIDE---I�ve stated countless times in my turf writings that it is impossible to compute daily turf variants as you do for the dirt for many reasons.

First off, most tracks only card 2 or 3 turf races a day due to the grass course itself getting chewed up. You can�t re-grade the �living� turf course like you can the �lifeless� dirt course. You can replace the thrown divots as you see maintenance crews doing after every grass race, but you can�t replace the overall �wear and tear� as is done with the dirt when re-graded.

Since the turf course is so fragile, tracks can only card a few grass races a day. If you have only one turf sprint and only one turf route, you have nothing to compare these races to. Whereas with 7 or 8 dirt races a day, you always have 3 or more sprints or routes to compare to each other so you can make a �legit� daily dirt track variant.

With valid variants, one knows if the winning �number earned� was actually fast or slow for a particular class and distance. Obviously, you don�t have this same knowledge with 1, 2 or 3 turf races a day.

Secondly, with the turf rails constantly moving out and tracks not always compensating for this movement by moving the starting gate forward in exact like proportions, horses are actually running further that the actual stated race distance itself. The past performances should be stating �about� a mile or whatever to show the handicapper that the final times should be altered because the race tracks themselves can�t or won�t compensate when moving the rails out.

If for 1 minute you doubt this is going on, I cordially invite you to visit Southern California. As only 1 example at this current Santa Anita 2004 Winter/Spring meet, consider the following.

There are 5 possible rail-out positions, namely 0, 8, 15, 24, and 30 feet out, yet the starting gate can be found at only 3 positions when there should be 5 different rail-out starting gate positions! If the rail is listed at zero (0) or 8 feet out in the program and past performances, the starting gate is in the same position when it should be move forward when out 8 feet. The gate position for 15 feet out stands alone as one of the 3 different positions and is moved forward as it should be. But when the �rails out� are listed at both 24 feet out and 30 feet out, the starting gate is in the same exact position, even though it should be moved further forward when going from 24 feet out to 30 feet out.

When I questioned the starter at Santa Anita many years ago, his exact reply was �the best horse will still win�. How�s that for racetrack management �suit-speak�?

That said, it becomes painfully obvious that Santa Anita is not moving the starting gate where it should be. And if the starting gate is not in its proper position, the final times of the race are surely incorrect! If the final times are incorrect, any variant derived from same has to be incorrect! How�s that for Rocket Science?


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

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