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Dec 03, 2004

Half the Race is Out of Your Control (Part 11)

By: Joe Takach



A very common occurrence that goes totally unnoticed by the vast majority of handicappers is the unannounced addition and deletion of racing equipment. 


These equipment changes undoubtedly influence the outcome of races and unless you are aware of them and their implications, these changes certainly put some of the race out of your control.


Consider the following.


On the major Southern California circuit consisting of Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, barshoe information is not supplied to Equibase by any of the race tracks.  And as you probably know, all past performances are generated from Equibase information.


Since this crucial betting information is not given to Equibase, barshoe notations for Del Mar, Santa Anita, or Hollywood Park, never appear in anyone’s past performances be they the Daily Racing Form’s or any other source of running lines.


In fact, the only source of this unannounced negative barshoe information as well as all other negative shoeing such as ¾ shoes, Square Toes, covered frogs, etc. for the major Southern California circuit is in my DAILY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH.  


How do we obtain this proprietary information?


Real simple---we stand in the paddock and look at the shoes of every horse in every race.


And now that we are a “real-time” publication, our DAILY SCHTW clients know about the addition and deletion of all negative shoeing the same day that it occurs and long before the race is run.  This saves them countless bad bets.


All other handicappers on our circuit without this proprietary information are placed at a distinct disadvantage.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times over the past 12 years we have seen barshod 6-5 shots finish well up the track while burning tons of money.


This barshoe situation also applies to other racing jurisdictions throughout the country, though to a lesser degree. 


While barshoes are usually listed in the past performances for just about every other major racing circuit outside of Southern California, the addition or deletion of them on the actual race day is rarely offered to the public.  Some tracks offer it over their TV monitors, but unless you happen to be watching at exactly that moment, you won’t see it because it is off the screen as quickly as it appears. 


You should further understand that the deletion of a barshoe from a horse that has been running in one, can hurt a handicapper just as much as an addition because the deletion doesn’t show up in the past performances until the next time that horse runs. 


Dramatic form reversals often come about when a barshoe is replaced with normal shoeing.  A handicapper might note in the past performances that a horse ran in a barshoe for his last 5 starts and finished up the track each time.  He assumes that today the horse will again run with a very negative barshoe. 


But how does he know if the barshoe was actually removed today? 


That’s right, he doesn’t unless he’s privy to “real time” information or he himself is standing in the paddock and actually sees the unannounced equipment change!


Other unannounced negative equipment changes in addition to shoeing can also put some of the race out of your control and therefore cause you to tear up more tickets.


Martingales, Blowouts, Stops and Run-Out Bits quickly come to mind. 


Unlike barshoes, these negative pieces of equipment are all visible to every handicapper even if viewing at a satellite facility or a computer with a good monitor, but all are unannounced!


A “martingale” is an extremely negative piece of equipment.  Typically, it is used to stop a horse from carrying his head too high or continually throwing it about and/or to keep the saddle from slipping.


There are a couple of varieties, but the one that concerns the handicapper is the martingale with a breastplate. This leather strap passes around the breast and back across the shoulders, fastening to the saddle cinch about level with the rider’s knees.


Its sole purpose is to keep the saddle from slipping backwards on horses that are abnormally skinny, or those runners with “flat ribs” (a conformation defect).


The last thing any jockey needs to worry about is his saddle slipping as he goes to the whip turning for home.  It is not at all uncommon to see the “martingaled” horses very weakly ridden thruout their entire races, especially in the drive to the wire.  They very rarely win races unless running against the absolute bottom rungs of the “horseydom”.   My suggestion to you is to throw them out with utmost confidence no matter what the class level!


A “blowout patch” is a small piece of adhesive bandage placed on the inside of either or both rear knees that supposedly acts as a shock absorber.


If a horse is fitted with this negative piece of equipment, he’s hitting himself!  The “blowout patch” allegedly reduces the pain on impact, while attempting to protect the skin from getting cut and bleeding.


A “stop” serves much the same purpose as a “blowout patch”.  They are white adhesive patches about the size of a silver dollar.  Once in a great while, you’ll see “rubberized” versions in black that have no adhesive backings and are held on with black electrical tape.


These “stops” are placed directly above either or both rear hooves.  This is done because the horse is hitting himself just above the rear hoof when he’s racing and fully extended.  It is foolishly hoped that these adhesive patches will “stop” the horse from cutting himself while absorbing the never-ending impact.  Thus they were named “stops”.


The adhesive white “stop” is frequently knocked off with the first couple of repeated strikes.  And while the black rubberized versions often stay in place much longer and sometimes for an entire race, the horse still slows himself down because cut or uncut, forcefully hitting himself in the same exact spot over 100 times during a race has to hurt like hell!


You’d be well advised to stay off these horses!


Another common unannounced equipment change that can affect the outcome of a race is the addition of a run-out bit.  Run-out bits are called by different names in different parts of the country such as bear-out bits or leverage bits.


A run-out bit is a special running bit used with problematic horses that can’t or won’t run straight for any number of reasons.  The bit itself is extended out on either and/or both sides of the mouth.  These extended bits can protrude as far as 4 inches or more and allegedly offer additional rider leverage.


These very negative bits are employed with the hope that any increased jockey leverage will help to prevent the horse from either getting out” on a turn, or “lugging in or out”.


These bits sometimes help, but most often they do not!  


Again, stay off them!


Those are the unannounced equipment changes that I feel can surely change the “flavor” of any race and put part of that race out of your control if they go unnoticed.



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