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Dec 17, 2004

Half the Race is Out of Your Control (Part 12)

By: Joe Takach



While the actual race day “physicality” of any runner in any race is certainly out of our control unless we own and/or train the athlete, recognition of same is positively not.


It never ceases to amaze me how many excellent “paper” handicappers refuse to take their “methodology” to the final level and include the “physicality” of the horse himself in their selection process.


Those same “paper” handicappers will spend 10 hours a day pouring over the past performances and charts while putting up speed and pace figures, trip notes, running biases, trainer and jockey stats, equipment changes, trouble notes, nuances and a host of other factors, yet won’t spend 10 minutes a day looking at the runners themselves!


But if they were wagering on NFL football and got wind of the fact that the starting quarterback on a favored team was injured and couldn’t run or throw, they’d most likely use both hands reaching into their pockets to bet against that favored team and go with the supposed underdog.


If those 2 above scenarios don’t qualify for a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, nothing ever has or ever will again.


“Physicality” information is totally free and readily available to anyone! 


The past performances aren’t free.  Speed and pace services aren’t free!


I guess therein could lie the problem.  It is the rigid “mindset” of hardened “paper” handicappers that “if it is free, it can’t be possibly be any good”.


While that is generally true with most things in life, with “physicality” handicapping, it costs you absolutely nothing to confirm or refute your “paper” selection whether you or on track or at a satellite facility!  You can generate your own “proprietary” information!


So why don’t more handicappers embrace “physicality” handicapping and start treating horses like athletes instead of ignoring both positive and negative telltale signs?


I’ve heard many “bogus” excuses over the years. 


One of the more common is “it’s too esoteric and hard to understand”!  Yet those same “paper” handicappers who utter those words could easily spot sickness in one of their own dogs or cats.


Another often heard is “I don’t have time to learn everything”!  Yet those same handicappers have more than enough time to continually lose day in and day out while blaming trainers, jockeys, owners and yes, even the “hot dog” lady!


Sometimes you’ll hear “I never actually go to the track and only wager at a satellite facility”!  While I’ll agree that attending an off track facility isn’t the same as being on track, there is still an untold amount of totally free “physicality” information to be gleaned in those 5 second glimpses offered in the post parades for every race!


If I’ve convinced any skeptics that race day “physicality” matters and horses are not inanimate machines, allow me to offer you 3 questions that I always ask myself before putting down my money.


1----What does this horse “look like” and how does he act on days that he wins?


2----How did he “look” in his last outing?


3----How does he “look” today?


Keep in mind that with “physicality” handicapping, you don’t compare one horse against another until you compare that same horse against himself.


If he looks “right” and acts correctly this afternoon, then and only then do you start to compare him against his competition with regards to speed, pace, class, post position, trainer, jockey, surface, running bias etc.


Isn’t that exactly what you do when you handicap a football game, a basketball game, a hockey game etc.?  Don’t you initially see if all the first string players are healthy and capable of playing at their best levels?


Why should it be any different when handicapping a field of horses?


And as an added bonus, horses can’t lie about their “physicality”.  They don’t know how to! 


If they aren’t feeling well and aren’t 100% today, they won’t stand in front of a microphone and lie straight faced to an interviewer as would a starting NFL quarterback when questioned about his throwing arm being sore!


Horses give you countless signs that scream “stay off me today”!


Still not convinced?


If not, 50% of the race is positively out of your control!




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