Upside vs. Downside
Risk - Part 11 (Answers Continued)
competent trainer reclaims one of his runners in his very next
start, he�s sending a very strong message---------he likes the
horse! Please note the operative word in that opening salvo is
Many marginal trainers reclaim in the next start because they need
to recover the �day money� (daily training fee charged an owner)
that they lost when the horse was claimed away from them. They are
not necessarily in love with the animal, but the horse serves to
help fill the stalls and therefore helps to pay overhead.
In today�s game, nearly every horse is problematic to some degree.
Claiming horses, for the most part, are obviously more problematic
than allowance and graded runners. Within the problematic claiming
ranks, racing-sound horses are hard to come by. And keep in mind
that some problematic claiming horses are racing-sound. As a quick
example, older winning claiming horses 6, 7 and 8 years old or even
older. All seem to walk a short, suggesting a mild extension problem
and therefore they�re considered problematic. But they should be
problematic considering their age. The fact that these hardened
veterans are still running and winning of itself is amazing.
But this is not to say that with a very solid pre-race warm-up of 5
or 6 furlongs that momentarily counteracts their minor extension
problem, that they can�t win at some level when in top physical
condition otherwise. They do and it is a common occurrence.
Some trainers are actually elated when they lose a horse via the
claim box. Why? They just got rid of a problem! So if a competent
trainer reclaims a horse in his very next start (especially for the
same owners), he�s silently screaming he can win with this horse.
If he didn�t feel this way, why else would he take the horse back?
He�d be looking for younger and fresher stock. He�d have to be
brain-dead to reclaim an old headache!
37---DOWNSIDE---There�s an old adage that states �if it ain�t broke,
don�t fix it�.
Talented turf trainers don�t explore different surfaces with turf
winners, with the operative words being �turf winners�.
Foremost, or least it should be, is the concern that wear and tear
on the front end of any horse is taxed to a much greater degree over
the dirt than the turf. The front pounding over the grass is less
intense because the turf �gives� more than the hard dirt.
And before you start screaming and reminding me that many turf
horse�s worktabs are solely over the dirt before all of their
winning turf races, keep in mind that most turf horses leisurely
work half miles in 47 or 48 over the dirt when prepping for a turf
Slow dirt workouts or far from a dirt race where they might get
caught up in a speed duel in 44 and change. If they get involved in
one of those dirt speed duels, every single muscle on their body is
elastically stretched to its max. That�s exactly when injury has its
greatest possibility of occurring. Overextending always invites
Whenever you see a confirmed turf winner show up on the dirt for the
first time, take a �wait and see policy�. It costs nothing to
�watch� a race.
38---UPSIDE---One of the best bets in our game if not �the� best, is
finding a race where you can isolate the �lone speed� in the past
performances regardless of class level. If the isolated �lone speed�
further passes muster in both the paddock and pre-race warm-up and
is running over a speed-conducive surface, he�ll control the pace
from gate to wire. The race is literally over about 3 jumps out of
Finding winning sprinters with distance pedigrees stretching out for
the first time is one of my favorite bets for as long as I can
As I�ve mentioned many times in the past, �speed unchallenged wins�
is the only immutable law in all of horseracing. And �unchallenged
speed� wins over any surface and at any distance. If you can�t catch
the speed, you don�t get your picture taken.
When winning sprinters are 2-turning for the very first time and
have valid distance pedigrees, they are nearly impossible to catch,
especially when their respective field contains all routers. Whereas
the stretched out sprinters are normally battling on the front end
in 44 and change when sprinting and firing on all 8 cylinders to put
early challengers away, when routing, they suddenly find themselves
setting a snail-like 46 and change fraction for a half mile. Nobody
is breathing down their necks---the balance is chasing. Of course
these stretched out sprinters are going to have something left in
the tank at the quarter pole----they often running slower fractions
than their morning workouts!
Always search out these first-time stretchout pedigreed
horses----the rewards are unending!
39---UPSIDE---If you answered this question incorrectly, you haven�t
been paying attention. Anytime that you can add another �viable
dimension� to your personal methodology without altering it a single
iota or compromising it, you have to improve your game.
The operative words above are �viable dimension�. Anybody can add a
half-assed angle to their game such as �taking a double drop in
class, sheds 4 pounds or more, comes back in 14 days or less with 2
workouts and gets a positive jockey change�.
But anytime that you can add a really positive non-compromising
dimension to your personal methodology that costs you nothing and is
timeless in its validity, you�d have to be comatose not to-----that
is, if you�re really serious about winning, rather than just having
And yes, applying proven and time-tested �physicality factors� to
your game requires work on your part.
So does putting up speed and pace figures. So does taking trip
notes. So does reviewing past races in the charts, or keeping
trainer/jockey records, or tracking �key races� (races where many
participants come back in their next starts to win), so does
reviewing race replays or whatever.
It all depends on how far you want to take your game.
If you wager on football, basketball or any other game with
athletes, you consider the physicality of the specific team and
specific players don�t you?
Why should horses be any different?
40---DOWNSIDE---It is tough, if not impossible, to be a consistent
winner in races where some or most of the participants are unknown
to you and are shipping in from many different tracks.
Sure, anybody can pick this or that race and get lucky once in
But give some serious thought to what you are trying to do with
races like the Breeder�s Cup, Kentucky Derby or whatever.
You don�t �know� these horses in the same way that you �know� the
population of your home track or circuit. You can�t! There are not
enough hours in the day to keep up with 10, 15 or 20 racetracks.
I have a hard enough time keeping up with just one major circuit in
Southern California and couldn�t possibly keep up with another
circuit. And I put in 12 to 16 hour days---seven days a week!
If you wanna have �fun� with these races, do so!
But bet no more than 2 bucks a race knowing that you have virtually
nothing �going your way� other than a hunch---and an uneducated one
at that! NC
NEXT: UPSIDE vs. DOWNSIDE RISK--PART 12 (ANSWERS CONTINUED)
Copyright �2004 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at
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