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Dec 17, 2004

When Figures Alone Are Worthless

By: Ray Taulbot

"Wishing won"t do the job but working will." When the moss of time is scraped

from the surface of this old saying one discovers gold beneath its greenish surface.

The mere yearning for something will not produce the desired attainment

of a given goal. Success in any field depends, first upon desire, secondupon

 the will to work. Thus, it may be said that desire is the fuel that powers the

 will to work. One without the other is useless.

One should, however, remember that work is of two kinds, the right kind

 and the wrong kind. the wrong kind results in nothing more profitable than

wasted energy; it is the right kind of work that produces the desired results.

Successful performance is wholly dependent upon the right approach. If one

attacks any problem in an incorrect manner, then his effort is wasted.

Unfortunately, too many racing fans are imbued with the mistaken notion that

figures alone are sufficient for making good racing selections. But this is a

fallacy of the worst sort. Figures serve to bring out the logical contention in

 a race; beyond this they have only a small value. Skill in the work of making

 sound selections is found in the individual"s knowledge of horse racing and

his ability to evaluate h is figures in accordance with the facts as they pertain

to thoroughbred horses.

If horses were machines, then figures alone could be accepted at near face

 value. But race horses are not machines; they are animal athletes whose

performances in many instances are governed by stable intentions as well

 as the physicalcondition of the horse.

The experienced selector knows that every race a horse runs

either contributes to the furtherance of good condition or tends to dull whatever

 degree of sharp condition the horse might have previously enjoyed. Further,

 the selector knowsthat no matter what the animal"s figures may seem to

 indicate, the horse s not going towin unless it is properly placed.

This is why a selector needs to know more than merely how to figure horses.

 He must know how to determine stable intentions, which is done through the

use of racing angles and the current condition figures.

Thus it is clear t hat he must be capable of accurately judging the probable

effect of a horse"s last race upon its current condition before he can evaluate

 its handicap figures. If the horse"s last race was an over-taxing effort its

figures lose most, if not all, of their face value.

We have in front of us the past performances of an allowance race run this past

 summer at a major track. In this field we have two animals whose respective

 last races were run in an almost identical manner. Yet the probable effect of

the last race is not the same in both instances. Study these two running lines:

Horse A ... 11/2 11 2nk 33

Horse B ... 11/4 11 21/4 33

These two animals ran, of course, in different races last start.However there

 was only one-fifth of a second difference between their respective final times.

Therefore it seems that each race should have a but the same effect in both


This apparent sameness in effect is due to the face that we are looking only

at each animal"s last races, both of which are almost identical insofar as the

running lines are concerned.

But it is what went before which tells us what the probable effect of the last

race will be. In short, we have to take a good look at each animal"s

next-to-last race before we are in position to make anything like an accurate

 judgment. Following are Horse A"s last two races:

Last race ... 11/2 11 2nk 33

Next-to-last ... 76 75 64 1/4 86

Note that horse A was NOT in form prior to running his last race. He came

 to form last start, and under normal conditions should improve today. Now

look at B"s last two races:

Last race ... 11/4 11 21/4 33

Next-to-last ... 31 21/2 11 11/2

Note that B was sharp and in form prior to running his las trace. It is not clear

 now that the effect of each animal"s last race is not likely to bethe same? A

 has just come to hand, and his last race should help him toward still further

improvement today.

B, on the other hand, has now had two trying efforts, which combined are

very likely to have taken something out of this animal. Its chances of improving

 today are much less than A"s. In fact, B"s last race appears to be the result of

hang-over speed from his winning race next-to-last start. Therefore B is likely to

stale off a bit today.

And that is just what happened in this race. A finished second,while B would

up fifth, beaten six lengths.

Why didn"t A improve enough to win this heat? That is a good question that

deserves an answer. A was defeated because in this field we have a horse

that has run three times in stakes company. True, it did not win any of the

 three stakes, but the fact that the stable spent money to enter the horse in

stakes events strongly indicates its connections regard it as being something

better than a run-of-the-mill allowance animal.

Is this alone sufficient to warrant either backing the better class animal or

passing the race? In this instance this animal was the logical final choice

 because since running its last race 21 days ago the horse had been given

 threeworkouts during the 21 day rest period.

A high class horse of near stakes grade can be brought to top condition through

 the medium of workouts. This cannot be accomplished with cheapsters; they

usually need actual recent racing to bring them to their best form.

So here we have a powerful angle which our handicap figuresalone did

 not reveal. In fact, the winner of this race was the third figure horse. But

this animal"s potential class enhanced its figures to a point where it became

 the logicalchoice in this field.

One can garner many an extra winner, often at a good price, in allowance

 races where there is an animal that has started a few times in stakes races and

which since running its last race has been given two or more workouts. There

are some proswho back only this type of an animal in allowance races.

The two preceding examples should convince the most skeptical fan that figures

 alone are not sufficient to make good selections. We shall always need figures

 in our work for the purpose of bringing out the ability of contenders in any

race. Buy the real sill in our work is developed through the acquirement

of a wide knowledge of the many other factors upon which our figures

must be evaluated.

At this point it seems advisable to warn the reader that angles, and knowledge

 of racing in general, apply to one of the two, three, or sometimes four

animals in the field whose handicap figures must be evaluated.

At this point it seems advisable to warn the reader that angles, and knowledge

 of racing in general, apply to one of the two, three, or sometimes four

animals in the field whose handicap figures place them among the top contenders.

It is a pure waste of time and effort to apply angles or anything else to those

 animals in the field with figures that do not support the idea that they are

capable of dealing effectively with their competition. For example, if a horse

has shown no signs of good condition in any of its most recent races there is

 no logicalreason for giving it detailed consideration. Such animals do now and

then upset things andwin, but no amount of time and effort is likely to point

them out as logical contendersbefore the race is run.

Upsets are a part of the hazards of racing, but because these sudden form

reversals cannot be determined before hand, the wise selector wastes no time

and effort trying to figure such an animal. He simply eliminates it from

 consideration andconcentrates his attention upon those horses in the field

which clearly own the ability and current condition to run well with their opposition.

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