Nov 26, 2008
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
aThere's a valid theory in handicapping race-horses that is not often mentioned in the various handicapping books, manuals, etc., that are published periodically. It has to do with an off-track condition and its beneficial effect on the condition or conditioning of a racehorse. In simple language, the theory goes that a horse having raced on an off-track is usually in better condition after that race than he was before it.
In practical application with the aim of spotting a winner, the simple rule is that if a horse ran on an off-track within the last month (regardless of where it finished) and has not raced poorly since, the "off" track race figures to have helped its condition, and it is likely to run another good race today. If it raced last time out on an "off" track and ran a good race, and if this race was run not more than a month ago, it figures to come back today with another good performance.
It will be easier for all to understand and apply the theory to actual races if it is set down in the form of rules, of which only a few are needed.
Begin by favoring races for older horses (4-year-olds and upward) and passing races for maidens of any age.
Check off each horse that shows a race in its past performance record that was run on a slow, sloppy, muddy or heavy track, NOT MORE THAN A MONTH AGO, and has not run a poor race since.
A good race is any race wherein the horse finished first, second or third, or if lower than third, not more than four lengths behind the winner. However, if it finished fourth or fifth, but more than four lengths back, it still may qualify if it made a stretch gain in the race, either passing one or more horses from stretch call to finish or gaining one length or more from stretch call to finish.
If it qualifies on neither of these two conditions, the race is considered a poor one.
Example: Today is October 15. Horse ran a race on September 18 on a slow track, finishing far back. Since then it has raced once, and finished fifth, beaten five lengths, but showing a stretch gain of a length. This horse would qualify for consideration, although it finished far back in its slow track race.
We are not concerned with its finish position in the "off" track race; all we want to know is that the horse RACED on an "off" track within the last month, thereby gaining the benefit of the conditioning that theoretically accrues to a horse when it competes in muddy footing. Furthermore, its subsequent race when it was beaten by five lengths would have to be rated at least a fair performance, as the horse did make a stretch gain.
It is important to remember that we are looking only for evidence that the horse was helped by the "off" track race, and this evidence would not have to be in the form of an excellent race next time out. A fair performance is sufficient evidence that the horse is improving since its "off" track race.
If the horse ran a good race on an "off" track last time out, it qualifies as a play provided its last race was run within the last month.
If two or more horses in the same race qualify, it usually is best to take the one that has won the most purse money in the current year (or current and previous years combined in the first few months of the year). This will get the hardest-hitting horse of the lot.
This is an especially good angle for picking winners when the track is "off", because longshots often dominate the card on such days, and this angle gets its share of "longies."
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