American Turf Magazine
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Aug 24, 2007


            The following is an informative lead that can help you spot some upset winners by following some outlined rules. Good Luck!

            There’s no thrill quite like hitting one of those “upset” winners…especially if you happen to have it hooked up in an exotic-betting ticket that pays off. Spotting the “upsetters” is the key to hitting these big payoffs, especially the exactas or quinellas because then your “upsetter” can run second and still be an important part of the ticket. So let’s examine a few of the ways your past performance paper can key you in on an “upset” winner.

The average bettor at the track — or elsewhere — favors horses that have “hot form” …that is, finished in-the-money in its last few races, at least its last race. These are the horses that draw the heavy play in the exacta and quinellas and triple betting pools, and of course they’re the ones you’ll be trying to knock down with your “upset” horse.

Since it’s a fact of racing life that many races are won by horses that finished out-of-the-money last time out, and many of these also finished out of the dough in their previous two or three races also…then the place to look for the “upsetter” is among these horses. But it is also quite obvious that you need a special method of telling which ones are “live prospects” for a wakeup, and which ones just plain have the losing habit. The idea is to spot a “bad form” horse that is ready to break out of its slump with a strong effort.

The thing to keep in mind is that a racehorse is not a computerized apparatus that can be programmed to win; it cannot come back race after race and run well every time. We are all subject to periodic slumps, and certainly the race horse is no exception.

It is equally true that no one can say when a streak will end and a slump begin—or vice versa. The race horse can only keep on going to the post and running in races until he gets out of the doldrums, and back in winning form.

The only exceptions to this are lightly-raced horses. Stakes and handicap horses often run up long strings of good efforts but you’ll find in nearly every instance that their races are spaced at least two weeks apart and usually longer. The ones that race more often than that, rarely run up extended strings of good efforts. For this reason, it’s a rare claiming plater that can finish close up in race after race for a couple of months.

The trick is to tell when a horse is ready to snap out of its slump and suddenly run a good race. It’s a mighty good trick, and it involves some guess-work, but I have a couple of suggestions that might help you uncover a few of these winners and cash in at healthy odds.

Did the horse make any kind of a stretch gain in its most recent out-of-money race? (I’m assuming that you are looking at the past performance record of a horse that has been out of the money in its last three races). If in its most recent start it showed some signs of life by passing at least one horse in the stretch run, or gaining at least two lengths of ground, then it may be ready to come to life today. Usually these gains go unnoticed because the horse was out of the money in all recent starts, and the result is an outlandish price if the horse does come to life.

Of course, if it’s a maiden or a horse that seldom wins or finishes in the money, forget it. But if it shows a few winning races in its record, or was in the money in at least 25% of its starts, it’s a likely “waker-upper.”

Another tip that a horse is ready for a wake-up can be found in the jockey assignment. Jockey agents don’t go around looking for bad mounts for good riders. When a good rider—one of the leaders at the meeting takes the mount on a horse that has been out of the money in recent races, you may be sure it is expected to run an improved race.

One more hint of a “wakeup” may be found in a distance switch. If the horse has been running in sprints, and suddenly is dropped into a race at more than a mile, this may be the tip that it is ready to come to life. Or, vice versa — if it has been going distances and starts in a sprint, the wakeup day may be at hand.

These are three good angles for spotting these “come-to-lifers,” but as you go along, hunting for them, you may come across others. One thing you must remember — don’t try to make the horse on sound handicapping principles. If it has shown, at any time in its past performances, that it can beat today’s company, then you’re just taking a chance that it will suddenly come alive and do the trick.


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