American Turf Magazine
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Jul 09, 2004


One of the simplest and easiest ways to keep ahead of the racing game is to play a good list of “horses to follow.”

The ancient truism among professional bettors is, “Stick and stay, they always pay.” Meaning that if you pick a good

horse and it loses the first time you play it, stick with it for another start or two…give it at least one more chance to

justify your original confidence in it.

Following up on a horse has certain advantages, most important of which is that it “forces” you on certain

longshot winners that you probably would not have played if you were not “following up” on that particular

horse. On the other hand, not all horses are good follow-up propositions. It’s necessary to know the difference

between good and bad follow-up types if you hope to make a success of this type of play.

A good follow-up type is a horse that: (1) wins a fair share of its races consistently, about one of each six

starts on average; (2) is on the upswing of its form cycle; (3) is on the way up in class rating.

A poor follow-up play would be a horse that : (1) seldom wins a race, fewer than one of each ten starts on

average; (2) is on the downswing of its form cycle: (3) is on the way down in class rating.

There are, of course, exceptions to any good rule. There are other good types of follow-up plays, and other

bad types. But generally speaking, the above guidelines will keep you on good follow-up plays and off bad

ones, while making the operation as simple and easy as possible.

Anyone can select good horses-to-follow simply by watching for a horse that is running well and is moving

up in class, while avoiding those that have begun to move down in class, and the ones that have poor racing

records. A horse on the way down is on the way out, and may already have won its last race. A horse that

seldom wins may lack the competitive spirit to get itself out of the runner-up class. There are many like this,

including some that run in the better-grade allowance races.

As for how long a horse should be followed—for how many losing races, that is—three is a sound arbitrary

limit. It doesn’t pay to “get married” to a horse; it’s better to pick another follow-up play than to stick doggedly

to a horse that has already lost three times since you started following it.

There are exceptions to this, of course, but most good follow-up plays will win within the three-start limit, and

only a comparative handful are worth following after three failures.

The more consistent the horse’s racing record, the more likely it is to reward a follow-up. The more consistently

your choices adhere to the three basic principles of a good follow-up play, the more likely you are to pick horses

that don’t keep you waiting long for payday.


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