American Turf Magazine
View Cart
0 item, $0.00

Feb 10, 2006

Sucker Bets (part 8)

By: Joe Takach


It is hard enough to win over any surface let alone win over a new surface or over one that you’ve never won upon.  Very few runners can change surfaces seamlessly as if they were one and the same track.  And they don’t change surfaces just for the hell of it. These successful multi-surfaced runners usually favor one surface or the other even though they can win over both.  Most usually they stay on their more preferred surface until a great opportunity presents itself.


For example, suppose you have a solid allowance runner or a multiple Graded winner that has won over both surfaces, but has won many more races over the turf than the dirt.  What would make him move to the dirt?  Real simple---a hefty and winnable dirt purse, with the operative word being “winnable”.  


And by “winnable” it’s meant that you wouldn’t take a multiple winning Grade 3 turf horse and throw him to the lions in a tough Grade 1 dirt affair.  The horse has absolutely no business in that kind of race, even though he might show dirt wins at a lesser level in his past performances. 


He’s simply not a Grade 1 dirt horse, even though he’s a past Grade 3 multiple turf and sometimes dirt winner.  If he’s entered today in a Grade 1 dirt race with legitimate Grade 1 dirt winners, he’s a “sucker bet”.  This isn’t “Rocket Scientry”----- it’s nothing more than common sense.


That said, you can always avoid a “sucker bet” by paying strict attention to any and all surface changes no matter what the class level----be it dirt to turf or vice versa.


In our above example, if our Grade 3 turf-preferred horse (that has won over the dirt in the past) shows up in a Grade 3 dirt race, you certainly shouldn’t toss him out before closely scrutinizing the entire field and his realistic chances of winning.  And if you can ascertain the exact “why” for the surface change, he’ll be easy to include with your contenders for that race or you can toss him out before he receives your paddock and pre-race warm-up inspection for current fitness.


He won’t be a “sucker bet” to you!


As a “side bar”, the runners that do seamlessly change surfaces are not claiming horses for the most part unless you happen to play in the MINOR leagues where the only prerequisite to winning on any surface is that you are ambulatory.  Don’t get me wrong, there are claiming horses that can successfully change surfaces, but you’ll find that the overwhelming majority of multi-surfaced runners hang out in the allowance, mini-Stake, and Graded levels.


Don’t be “suckered” with the grossly over used turf to dirt move or vice versa on horses that quite obviously don’t belong on this afternoon’s surface.





I love this “sucker bet” because it fools so many handicappers---and some good ones at that!


While we don’t see all that many “conditioned” claiming races on the major Southern California circuit, they do pop up now and then to “fill” a racing card with fuller fields. 

Typically in our sunny “Southland” is the 25K conditioned claimer for horses who have never won 2 races lifetime.


Many handicappers fail to read “race conditions” for every race and I’ve been on the “bully pulpit” for over 40 years pontificating to all who will listen that you should never so much as look at the first entrant’s name in any field until you first read the “race conditions” that can be found atop any past performances.


And just in case you’re a bit new to reading the past performances, a conditioned claimer in the past running lines of any horse in Southern California, or any track for that matter, will show up as Clm 25000n2l 23k.


With that explanation out of the way, here’s where you become a “sucker” when asking a last out “conditioned” claiming winner to repeat against “open” company.


A horse wins a 25K “conditioned claimer” for non-winners of 2 races lifetime, puts up a good “number” with perhaps a wire-to-wire victory and returns in his next start against “open company” for the same 25K tag or perhaps he’s stepped up to 32K.


Why should you stay away from this horse no matter how good he might appear “on paper”?


Because he’s a “sucker bet”!


If he was a legitimate 25K claimer, what was he doing in a “conditioned claimer” for horses who have never won 2 races lifetime?


He was in the race for only one reason------he couldn’t beat “open company”!


There is only one exception to this “sucker bet” and it is a rare exception at that.  It occurs when a last out maiden claiming winner steps into non-maiden company of any kind for the first time in his career. 


As an example of this lone caveat, a last out 50K maiden claiming winner’s next start would traditionally be in a 25K claimer because as a rule of thumb, you cut his winning maiden claiming tag in half in his next start.


In a spot like this, if he gets claimed for 25K, he might as well run for the same 25K tag  against other non-winners of 2 races lifetime rather than against much tougher past multiple winners .  It’s surely a much softer “spot”.





<< Back To Newsletter

Redeeming a gift certificate or promotional certificate? We'll ask for your claim code when it's time to pay.