Half the Race is Out
of Your Control
I've just completed an
article that will appear in the June 2004 issue of American Turf
Monthly that is entitled 'A Paddock Refresher.' I highly recommend
it to all but not from an egotistical standpoint, because after
writing 9 books and composing more articles than I'd like to admit,
my ego hardly needs any stroking. However, your paddock skills might
need a mini tune-up!
At the very beginning of my paddock refresher, I made a brief
reference to how much of any specific race is out of one's control
from a handicapping standpoint. I wanted to expand that reference
greatly in that paddock piece, but the article was written to help
you in the paddock.
With that 'physicality revival' completed, I can now greatly expand
on the topic that tells us that 'half of any race is out of our
A wise sage whose name escapes me, once penned a profound statement
that went something like this; 'Better than 50% of any given race is
out of the control of any handicapper and is therefore
unhandicappable'. If I butchered this enlightening assertion a bit,
I apologize to the author. The concept is what's important here, not
the exact words.
When I first heard this postulation it stopped me cold and I do mean
Could it really be true that 50% or more of handicapping any race is
beyond our control and not included in our overall methodology?
Because if it is true that 50% of any race is out of our control,
that's scary! Scary, that is, if you have no way to counter this
alleged 50% 'tax' much the way one does when trying to 'beat' a 15%
'mutuel take' with any win bet.
I'll let you decide at the end of this writing whether or not you
believe that 50% of any race is beyond your control.
But before making your decision, I'll offer you many things to
consider. You won't necessarily become an instant believer of this
50-50 alleged axiom, nor should you refute its validity before
considering these many different items. And to further ensure a
valid answer from you, I'll try to keep my personal opinion until
last so that you get 'the facts and only the facts' a la Joe Friday.
There was a time when I hadn't even considered putting a 'number' on
what parts and/or percentages of any specific race were out of my
control. But self-reflection has many benefits as I'm sure you're
already aware, especially in our handicapping universe. If we didn't
do personal and proprietary research and investigation, we wouldn't
know anything-----or at least not enough to win consistently. We'd
merely be carbon copies of Joe Six-Pack and most likely oblivious to
all that goes on before us at the racetrack. 'Mr. Six-Pack' believes
the whole game to be nothing more than a matter of luck and being in
the right spot at exactly the right time.
I'm all for luck and positively love the 'feel' of luck whenever it
crawls all over me. Whenever I'm in my 'zone', I usually know it and
always attempt to maximize my profitability. I couldn't 'make a
mistake' if I wanted to. But that is exactly what being in one's
'zone' is all about.
'Zones' have lives of their own and last just as long as they do.
All handicappers end up in their 'zones' sooner or later. Sometimes
my 'zone' lasts for only an afternoon, but I've also known it to
continue for over a month and swell my head to enormous proportions,
not to mention my bankroll.
My late father used to say that he'd 'rather be lucky than smart any
day of the week'.
Amen to that Papa!
When my daddy was 'hot', he was like an 8 year old kid on a roller
coaster enjoying every second of his exhilarating experience. And
when his ride was over, he patiently waited until it was 'his time'
to ride once again.
While cut from a completely different mold than my father who very
rarely went to the track, he did teach me how to know when luck had
unexpectedly become my best friend and how to maximize my 'gloat
time' over my unexpected good fortune for as long as I could.
Because as we all know, Lady Luck often departs faster than she
Furthermore, I'm sure he'd be happy to know that I've taken luck
recognition to another level.
More often than not, I can induce my own 'luck' whenever I so
choose. All that I have to do to find my 'zone' is to work both
harder and smarter than Joe Six-Pack. And the smarter and harder
that I work, the 'luckier' I get!
I didn't mean to go into a lengthy 'sidebar', but have faith. My
momentary wordiness on luck or being in one's zone, plays heavily in
determining if 50% of any race is actually beyond one's control.
I know that in certain types of races, I feel that the entire event
is totally out of my control, not just 50%. I get that eerie
sensation every time that I look at the past performances for a
bottom-feeding 8K or 10K claiming race in Southern California.
But the unpleasant gut feeling of total uncertainty isn't indigenous
to Southern California racing by any stretch of the imagination.
Before relocating to California's sunny 'Southland' 12 years ago, I
felt no different on the East coast when confronted with similar
races. Handicapping the 'bottom' is handicapping the 'bottom'
whether you do it at Del Mar or Saratoga.
Granted, these bottom-claiming ranks all have different degrees of
uncertainty with cheaper tracks having an overabundance, but if
there ever was a point or juncture to understand or give serious
thought to our '50-50 theory', the bottom claiming ranks is surely
the starting point.
Whenever a longshot silences the stands or stuns a satellite
facility, you're very likely to hear roving post-race pontificators
offering absurd reasons why the winner won. You're likely to hear
things like he drew the 4 hole, he was taking off 9 pounds while
moving to a better rider after his last out claim, he was shortening
up 2 furlongs when coming off his 2 year layoff, he was facing a
bunch of nobodies, it was late Thursday afternoon, and most
importantly of all, it was the trainer's birthday and his wife was
out of town.
And the louder and longer these post-race pontificators go on about
why this longshot buried his respective field, the more that you can
be self-assured that he didn't have 2 bucks on the horse.
Continued in PART 2 of HALF THE RACE IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL
Copyright '2004 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at
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