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Aug 12, 2006

The Fore-N-Aft Gain Angle

By: Ray Taulbot

WE HAVE STATED QUITE OFTEN IN this space that many handicappers like to depend entirely on angles as a means of selecting plays. To begood, an angle must be restrictive. If the rules are too loose, handicappers will find themselves making far too many plays to earn a profit.

The horseplayer who does not have the patience to wait may find themself stretching the rules. Rather than doing this, the player should employ a few good, solid, restrictive angles to give himself more action.

One of the best angles is that "oldie but goodie" known as the "fore-and-aft gain angle." As its name implies, this angle involves a twin gain. The first of these is the type of gain which reveals approaching good form.The second confirms the evidence of the former, which insures the player that the horse inquestion has not lost its sharpness since first revealing its improving condition.

To clearly understand why this angle produces a good percentage of nice winners, it is necessary to explain its inner workings in detail.
Too often, in those instances where a horse is in strong contention during the final furlong of its most recent race, the excessive effort deprives it of some of its reserve energy. When this happens, it is quite likely that the horse will not come back with another good race; not, at least, until it has had time to regain the energy it expendedin that hard-fought contest.

Likewise, the horse that finished either first or second laststart will very likely go to the post next out at short odds. Thus when the player sticks to so-called "hot form" horses, they frequently deprives themself of a price commensurate with the normal hazards involved in turf speculation.
Therefore, it behooves the player to search for horses that have given evidence of good orapproaching good condition and whose last race did not deprive them of the reserve energynecessary to the winning of today’s contest.

Evidence of this is sometimes found in the nature of early footin the next-to-last race. In other instances, the evidence is found in a sharp beaten-length gain between the first and second calls. Such gains are often the result of riding orders from trainer to jockey such as the following hypothetical conversation:

"This horse is getting good, son, and we want to know if itis ready or if it needs more racing before going after a purse. Let him break on his ownand given him a quarter of a mile to find his stride. Then bear down on him during thenext quarter. If he can reach contention, okay. If not, let him run on his own."

Orders like these often result in a running line which may appear something like this in the past performance block:

89 75 98 1011

Not very impressive, you say? Well, since you weren’t privy to that conversation between jockey and trainer, that gain of four lengths between the first and second calls does not register on your eye. But it is important nevertheless.

In the next start, the trainer may shoot the works, or he may give the horse another race. It all depends upon the report he received from the rider after the race shown above. If the rider’s report was favorable, then the trainer will try next start. If the report was not good, he will give the horse another racebefore going all out to win.

In those cases where the trainer tries for a win following the type of race we have described above, we have the perfect set-up for an angle play next start, always provided the horse does not win or finish second, and provided it gained in both running positions and lengths during the final furlong.

Thus the current last two races of an angle horse will look like this:

78 75 55 32

89 75 98 1011

This horse has now displayed a gain both "fore and aft." It gained in both running position and lengths in the stretch last start, and in its previous race it gained lengths between the first and second calls.

In short, the trainer shot and missed after his horse had previously made a gain between the first and second calls. It appears that the report the trainer received following the next-to-last race was sufficiently good to tempt him to try next out. Unfortunately for him, the horse needed another race.

The following rules will point out an angle horse like those shown in the examples and most of them will go postward at prices conducive to profitable turf investment:

1. The horse’s last race must not have taken place more than 15 days ago.
2. Examine the first two calls of the next to last race and make note of any horse that gained three lengths or more between the first and second calls shown in the horse’s Daily Racing Form past performance block.
3. Next examine the last two calls of the last race. In order to qualify as a possible play, the horse must have gained both running positions and lengths between the stretch call and the finish. The horse must not have finished closer than third. It may have finished farther back, but not closer than third.
4. The class of today’s race must be no higher than the class of the horse’s next-to-last race unless the closing odds are 10-1 or higher.
5. If the horse passes these four simple rules, it is worth an investment—provided its odds are 5-1 or higher on horses that are not moving up in class or 10-1 or more on those that are, provided it has not been out more than 15 days.

• • •

For a good case study of the fore-and-aft gain angle, turn backto page 49 and take a moment to study the past performances of Perfect Night in the tenthrace at Meadowlands on November 5—the Cooper’s Ferry Stakes.

Note that this filly had gained more than the required three lengths between the first two calls of her next-to-last race and had also gained both running positions and beaten lengths between the stretch call and finish of her most recent race.

She had raced just seven days ago and though she was moving up in class from her next-to-last race her odds of 10-1 permitted her to do so (see RuleFive.) Perfect Night, an outstanding angle play, returned $23.40 to win.

The date rule is one of the hardest for any angle player toabide by. There seems to be so little difference between 15 and 20 days that most fans maybe inclined to fudge a bit.

Personally, we abide by it. But where the line is thin and the rewards are great, we do not believe a player will hurt himself too often if he stretchesthe date rule somewhat.

A case in point was Flashy Love who paid $44.20 in the secondrace at Hawthorne on November 28. The gelding had never been closer than fifth at any callin his top two races but still met all the angle requirements. Though he had not raced for18 days, his generous odds justified stretching the day rule in this race.

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