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Dec 01, 2006

An Angle That Gets an "A" for Excellence

By: Ray Taulbot

THE A ANGLE DEALS WITH A HORSE'S last two races; it is composed of a good next-to-last race in which the horse finished in-the-money, followed by an easy conditioning race last start.

The following running lines of the last two races outline the basic theory of the "A angle":

Last start: 65 76 76-1/2 89

Next to last: 41-1/2 31 31 21/2

Here, the horse turned in a very sharp performance in its next-to-last race. Following this sharp effort the trainer decided for any one of a number of reasons that his horse needed a conditioning race before trying again for a purse.

It should be clear that relationship between the next-to-last and last race exists only when the next-to-last race was run at a comparatively recent date. The more recently the next-to-last race was run the better.

However, the date of the next-to-last race is not the most important factor. The angle has real value only when the speed rating for the last race, as compared to the speed rating to the next to last race, reveals that the horse has not gone completely off form since turning in the good next to last effort.

For instance, suppose the horse earned a speed rating of 88 for its next to last race, over a fast track. Further, suppose that going the same distance over a fast track next start the horse earned a speed rating of only 70. The drop of 18 points in the speed rating indicates that the horse may have lost its previous sharp condition, and the angle is of little or no worth.

The "A angle" has winning power only when the speed rating for the last race is no more than 10 points below the speed rating earned for the next-to-last race. In other words, if in the above example the horse earned a speed rating last start of 78 or more the angle would be acceptable. In some instances the speed rating for the last easy, conditioning race is higher than the speed rating for the next to last race. The improvement in speed rating last start makes this angle very powerful, regardless of the date of the last race.

The "A angle" becomes a power angle when the horse is entered today for a claiming price or in a class no higher than the class of its last race. And when the horse is entered for a price or in a class lower than its entered price or class in its next-to-last race, the angle takes on even greater strength. Consider the examples outlined below:

Speed Figure

Entered today $4,000

Entered last start $5,000 79

Entered next to last $4,000 85

The drop in claiming price today makes the "A angle" a power angle of normal strength. In the following example, the angle becomes a very powerful angle because the horse is entered today for a price below its entered price in its good next to last race:

Speed Figure

Entered today $4,000

Entered last start $5,000 79

Entered next to last $4,500 85

This angle is frequently found in combination with other angles, and when this occurs the angle takes on additional power. For example, the "A angle" may be present in conjunction with the switch in distance angle. This occurs when the last race was run over a distance different than that over which the next-to-last race was run, and when the horse is entered today go the same distance it ran in its next to last race, the following example:

Today six furlongs

Last race 1-1/16 miles

Next to last race six furlongs

Since the horse is entered in a six furlong race today, we have the "switch in distance" angle combined with the "A angle." The point to remember is that the presence of these other angles in combination with the "A angle" constitutes great winning power. These additional angles mean more winning power.

Fans at Laurel on November 20 last year found a classic "A angle" horse in What A Whittle One. Before November 20, the horse's last outing had resulted in a sixth-place finish in an easy conditioning race. Her next to last race, on October 28, had been a solid, rallying third-place finish. Clearly, trainer Dale Capuano had a sharp horse on his hands and wanted to keep her on top of her form cycle.

Note that What A Whittle One met the speed figure requirement of the "A angle" as well: her Beyer figures from October 28 to November 8 only dropped five points. The November 8 race was also a big jump up in class. The finishing touch for horseplayers looking over What A Whittle One's PPs on November 20 were the added turf-to-dirt and distance-cutback angles. The savvy angle player could see that Capuano had taken several steps in order to keep his filly in competitive form. Her "A angle" status, combined with two other angles, steady speed figures and return to a class level and distance where she'd been competitive before all pointed to an imminent win. In light of these positive factors, 3-1 on November 20 was definitely a square price on this filly.

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