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Jan 26, 2006

Sucker Bets (part 7)

By: Joe Takach



Here’s a “sucker bet” that we see every day!


It sets up something like this.


A 25K to 40K claimer has been running sub par races in his last 5 or 6 starts while hitting the board once in a while.  Suddenly he takes the “Nestea Plunge” to 10K or 12.5K for no apparent reason.


What do most handicappers do?


They wrongfully assume that with the 4 or 5 step drop down the claiming ladder signals positive intent from the barn.  They’ve found the “lock” of the century!


It’s no doubt positive barn intent, but not the kind that the handicapper assumes.  The dropping barn is positively trying to “sucker” another trainer into taking his “damaged goods” off his hands. 


If the horse does somehow manage to win because he’s facing a multitude of other very “problematic” runners, it’s a “bonus” for the owner.  And if the winless dropper gets claimed, victorious or not, the owner throws a party because he’s rid of the questionable runner, the draining “day money” (daily cost of training) and all the never ending vet bills.


The first question that you should ask yourself when you see one of these multiple step class drops is exactly how does the trainer know that the level at which he placed his problematic runner is the correct one?


The simple answer is that he positively doesn’t know at which level his horse can win-----he’s only guessing!   And keep in mind that he most likely has much more information and knowledge about his disappointing runner than do you


So where does that leave you if you bet him?


It leaves you as a “sucker”!


Stay off them!


There’s another race in 30 minutes where you’ll most likely have more concrete information about all the runners and you won’t have to take some blind stab on a horse that most likely has more problems than the United Nations!



A Breeder’s Cup number in this scenario could be defined as a number that is totally out of place in a specific horse’s past performance lines.


If you rely on the very crude “Beyer” numbers in your handicapping as do most players  that are too lazy to compute their own more reliable “figs”, an inexplicable high number could be defined as one that goes from the 70s to the high 80s or low 90s.  The bizarre performance is clearly an anomaly that should be viewed by all as more than very suspicious.  Horses simply don’t improve 8, 9, or 10 lengths out of nowhere---especially bottom-feeding 10K stock!  Trainer excuses of a changed racing bit or a new type of shoe simply don’t cut it. 


This sudden extraordinary performance might be the easiest of all last out winners to throw out in their very next starts as “sucker bets”!




Most likely, the career best Breeder’s Cup Number came about due to only a few reasons.


The most obvious explanation is illegal drugging that may or may not go undetected in the post-race testing. 


The illegal drug “ran the race” not the horse.  He might have been offered something that gave him a total insensibility to pain.  If he doesn’t feel the pain in his shoulders, knees, ankles, hips, or hooves that he’s felt in the past before illegally drugged, he most likely will run his heart out even though he’s probably causing irreversible damage to his entire system.


The end result in his next start is a “bounce” or a reversal back to running his per usual much lower “numbers”.  If he was illegally drugged and it went undetected, most cheating trainers don’t want to draw unnecessary scrutiny to themselves from the State Stewards or their racing commission by repeating the outlandish performance in the horse’s very next start. 


Why would he?  He’d only be “set down” for 30, 60, 90 or more days!


Another way that a Breeder’s Cup number comes about (though very rare) is due to how the race was actually run.  Once in a great while a specific horse might get the “trip’ of his racing career because he was in “exactly the right place” at “exactly the right time”.  He could have benefited from running his entire race on the “golden path”, or perhaps he caught a “dream trip” sitting just behind a suicidal front end duel. 


If the race was won legitimately and without illegal drugging, the chance of this horse getting the same “perfect trip” is virtually nil. 


No two races are ever run exactly the same way, so by definition his “dream trip” will fail to materialize in his very next start or in future starts.


Toss him right out, unless you enjoy being a “sucker”!    




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