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Jan 26, 2007

Premature Emutuelization

By: Joe Takach

Are you guilty of one of the greatest mortal sins in handicapping?


At times, I’m as guilty as the next punter.


The Takach Dictionary of Handicapping defines “premature emutuelzation” as the act of getting oversold on a particular runner for any number of reasons, long before you arrive at the track or satellite outlet and long before the horses enter the paddock for saddling.


Handicappers become oversold on a specific horse for any number of reasons.


Perhaps the most glaring example of “premature emutuelization” is speed or pace figures.  You burn the midnight oil putting up numbers on every runner in an allowance sprint and you find “your” horse. 


He stands out like a sore thumb.  If he merely runs back to his last race or comes close to it, he’ll humble this bunch.  You can’t wait until tomorrow’s event and you’re salivating like Pavlov’s dog.  You’re going to get “fat” and have a great day at the track.  What a sensational feeling! 


However the next afternoon, he never picks up a hoof after the gates open with no apparent “excuse”.  Thoughts of “stiffing” immediately come to mind.  You’ve been had, but you’ll lay into him with both hands in his next start.


Another frequent source of “premature emutuelization” is trip. 


You pour over the past performances, the result charts, your own trip notes and find a runner who unfortunately encountered severe trouble during the running of his last race after breaking from the 1 hole.  He got bumped at the start and nearly lost his jockey, somehow recovered only to get steadied going into the far turn, was forced into the 9 path turning for home, but still made a wild charge down the stretch to miss by a diminishing neck. 


You say to yourself that had he been the beneficiary of a clean trip that day, he would have won by 10 lengths.  This afternoon, he’s breaking from the outside and will likely get a “dream trip”!  He looks like a “lock”.  You make a “pit stop” at your ATM before entering the track.  You’re going to nail this one!


The “takedown” is a prime source of “premature emutuelization”. 


This has happened to all of us many times in our horseplaying careers.  We smoke out a 6-1 shot and he wins like a good thing in a wire to wire performance while never taking a deep breath!  At race’s end, we’re mentally dancing on top of the doghouse like Snoopy.  Life simply doesn’t get any better than this! 

Suddenly the inquiry light comes on and there’s a jockey’s objection.  Our knees weaken, our heartbeat quickens, and we run to the nearest monitor saying to ourselves that we didn’t see him do anything wrong. 


We watch the head-on and pan views.  So what if the 4-5 race favorite behind him had to steady a bit going into the turn and fell back to last--------the damn horse had no chance anyway! 


The red lights keep blinking for what seems to be eternity and then some. 


Finally they go out.  A dead hush comes over the audience as the track announcer comes to life.  “Ladies and Gentlemen the stewards have determined that “your 6-1 winner” took away the path of the steadied 4-5 race favorite going into the far turn and has been disqualified”.


Sound somewhat familiar? 


I thought so.


You mentally mark him down to get your money back the very next time he runs.  This time you’re going to double your bet.  You’re pissed off.  “Premature emutuelzation” is all over you like a cheap suit in an August rain.


I could go on and on with real life examples and I’m sure you could add your own.


How do we overcome “premature emutuelization”?


Real simple.


No matter how tough your “beat” last out, you have to remember that the next time a horse runs everything is going to change.  


This would include things like new race day competition, post position, running bias, running profile, jockey, weather, race day physicality, pre-race warm-up, post time odds, and a host of other ever-changing variables.


The only way to beat “premature emutuelization” is to leave it on track when we suffer a tough day.



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