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Dec 05, 2003

Distance Change or Distance Switch

By: Ray Taulbot

Almost every month we receive letters from readers asking substantially the same question, "Can you provide an angle, or combination of angles, not involving any kind of handicapping that will keep us ahead of the game? We don't mind waiting for good investments, three or four a week is enough for us, if they win with a fair consistency at profitable prices."

Yes, we can do this. One cannot expect to get profitable high payoffs if he insists on avoiding a qualified selection only because it does not measure up to his standards. Good prices usually result from smart moves on the part of trainers.

All of you know that we are pace handicappers. But we also have a fair knowledge of racing angles, and we are not above making full use of them, especially where a good price is involved. In this field, one can't afford to become dogmatic about anything. We'd never argue that no one can win consistently unless he confines himself to pace handicapping, although we have found it to be more profitable than any other means of making selections day in and day out.

When one makes spot selections through the use of angles he will obtain the best results by employing combination angles, especially those angles that reveal stable intentions.

One of the most effective trainer angle is the "Switch in Distance" angle, which is part of the conditioning process. One must, however, be careful not to confuse this angle with the "Change in Distance" angle. The latter angle has very little winning power compared to the strength of the switch in distance device.

So let's look at two examples to clarify the exact meaning of a switch in distance. First, let's look at a "Change in Distance." A horse ran six furlongs last start and today it is entered in a route race. In other words, it is changing distances.

The "Switch in Distance" angle is entirely different. Suppose a horse ran six furlongs in its next-to-last race, ran in a route race last start, and today the horse is entered in a sprint race. In other words, it changed distances last start and today is switching back to a sprint race. The same move could be in reverse to the above.

If the horse ran a sprint distance in its next-to-last race and changed to a route last start, the change in distance was made as a means of legging-up the horse's stamina so that it is not likely to be short next start in a sprint race. When the situation is reversed, that is, when the horse ran in a route race in its next-to-last start, and changed to a sprint last time out, the change in distance was made to sharpen up the router's speed, which will contribute to its effort next start in a route race.

So you see, there is nothing mysterious about the switch in distance angle, it is simply a part of the training procedure.

Now what angle is likely to prove most effective in conjunction with the switch in distance angle? The answer is one that offers additional evidence that the horse is well meant today. Thus, a drop in claiming price or class today is the factor that, when combined with the switch in distance angle, produces the highest percentage of winners, often at good prices.

Why does this combination of angles usually result in profitable prices? Because in many instances the trainer will step his horse up in claiming price or class when he changes distance. As a result, the horse will seldom show anything like a good race last start. Therefore, with little or no evidence of current sharpness or good form, the drop in claiming price today is seldom enough to attract heavy public support. The result is usually a good price.

A drop in class is obvious in claiming races as are moves which involve switching from claiming to allowance and back again. However, there is no way for the average racing fan to know the exact conditions of an allowance race from the past performances.

Since we have no sure way of telling whether or not class drops or hikes have occurred in allowance races, we will just assume that the trainer knows his business and let the distance switch alone control the play and price. Therefore, an otherwise qualified horse that shows races in allowance events in its last two starts and which is running in an allowance event today is acceptable.

Purse values can be compared to the purse value of today's race, but this comparison s not conclusive.

The date angle is another device that is highly effective when it pertains to horses that qualify on the combination trainer angle. This is because a trainer who has a horse ready is most anxious to get him into a suitable race as soon as possible after its last conditioning race. Trainers know that to keep a horse idle too long after it has been prepared could result in a performance below what the trainer hopes.

We have found over the years that horses qualifying on the above combination angle win more frequently when they come back within 14 days after their last race. By confining the date factor to 14 days, the player can increase the winning percentage of this combination angle. However, he is very likely to encounter a qualified horse that has been idle as long as 21 days which connects at a good price.

Our advice is to stick to 14 days. Beyond that time limit, we require the horse be given at least one workout since its last race and that the odds on such a horse be no less than 15-1.

As an example, we have selected the seventh race at Philadelphia on April 11. Here are the pertinent past performance information on the colt Saratoga Wave.

6-1/2 furlongs Claiming

Saratoga Wave c 3 $14,000

29 Mar 94 9 Pha 1-70 Alw 14500 5181/4

21 Feb 94 2 Pha 6f Clm 11000 23/4

When the trainer switched Saratoga Wave to a route race, and moved him up to an allowance, on March 29, he ran out-of-the-money by 18-1/4 lengths. When returned to a sprint and dropped in class to another claimer today, he returned $24.80 to win.

Don't use this combination angle in the belief that every selection is a sure winner. However, the winning percentage is good and the prices more than make up for the losers one is sure to get from time to time

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