Jan 19, 2012
Distance Switch Debate
By: Ray Taulbot
The following article is by Ray Taulbot, you can purchase all of his articles through www.americanturf.com or by calling 1-800-645-2240.
by Ray Taulbot
Every trainer knows that when his horse is capable of leading or running close to the pace by the time the field reaches the pre-stretch or stretch call, the horse is razor sharp. However, he also knows that frequently such an effort takes a great deal out of the horse. Therefore, the smart trainer gives the horse an easy race following the race where it was leading or pressing the pace.
In some instances, the trainer hikes the horse in class in the race following the outing where it was leading or pressing the pace. Yet this is not always the case. Some trainers do not follow this procedure; they simply give the horse an easy race in the same company as the race in which the horse demonstrated its sharp condition.
Remember, there are few trainers — if any— who’ll drop their horse in class in order to give it an easy race following a good effort. Remember, too, that the easy race is for the purpose of replacing the energy the horse expended in its previous race. So if the horse was not moved up in class for the "breather" race, you should make sure that the next-to-last race was run within the past 30 days.
If the trainer waits more than 30 days (35 days for non-claimers) to start the horse following a race where it had the lead at the stretch call, the delay in re-entering the horse may mean that the horse has gone wrong since turning in a race that indicates sharp condition.
However, if the horse has been working regularly since its next-to-last race, then we are safe in assuming that the trainer has taken great care in choosing his slot. This is only natural, because if the race that is chosen is not the right one, all the trainer’s work is wasted. Horsemen learn this early and, as a result, you will seldom see a trainer — particularly in the mornings — without a dog-eared condition book sticking out of his back pocket.
Generally, conditions books are issued every two weeks by the track’s racing secretary, listing all the races to be run over the course of the next two weeks. A trainer with a good horse which has just come to hand as one condition book ended may be disappointed to find out that the new book contains no race that suits his horse as to distance and conditions. So he’ll opt to keep the horse sharp with workouts while awaiting the next condition book, which is sure to have something for his charge.
All this brings us to a highly effective angle, which often will point out a good investment at odds well above the profitable point. This angle revels not only hidden form, but the trainer’s intention as well. Don’t 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.
Let’s look at two examples as a means for making clear the exact meaning of a switch in distance. First let’s look at a change in distance. A horse ran, say, six furlongs last start and today is entered in a route race. In other words, it is changing distance.
The switch in distance 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 might be in reverse to the above. The horse ran a route race in its next-to-last start, changed to a sprint distance last start and is switching back to a route today.
The reader may wonder what the trainer hopes to accomplish by this move. If the horse ran a sprint distance in its next-to-last race and switched to a route last start, the change in distance was in fact a means of legging-up the animal’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 start, the change in distance was made in order to sharpen up the router’s speed, which will of course contribute to its effort next start in a route race.
It is this latter application with which we shall concern ourselves this month.
There is nothing mysterious about the switch-in-distance angle; it is simply a part of the training procedure. Yet the payoffs on many qualified angle horses are as big as those hung up by much more complicated "hidden form" angle horses.
A mistake commonly made by some fans when considering the switch-in-distance angle has to do with the time factor. When the switch is from a sprint to a route, and then back to a sprint, the final time in which the route race is run has little meaning. We all know that the pace of a sprint race over a fast track usually results in a faster early pace than does a route race run under the same conditions.
This is not true in those instances where the switch involved a change from a route to a sprint and then back to a route. In such instance the time factor is important; this is because a gain of a length or two through the stretch run has real meaning only when the time for the sprint race was reasonably fast.
Following are the mechanical rules which will point out these angle horses:
1. Horse’s most recent race must have been run within 10 days for claimers, 20 days for non-claimers.
2. Its previous race must have been run within the past 30 days for claimers, 35 days for non-claimers.
3. The horse must have been leading or running within one length of the leader at the pre-stretch or stretch call of its next-to-last race.
4. The horse’s most recent race must have been an easy effort.
5. The horse’s next-to-last race must have been a route and its last race a sprint; today it must be returning to a route distance.
6. Horses which have not raced in the past 10 days (non-claimers) must have had at least one workout since their most recent race.
7. Where two or more qualify, play the horse going off at the highest odds today.
NOTE: For the purposes of this angle, races of one mile or less are sprints and races of more than one mile are routes.
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