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Feb 18, 2005

How do you eliminate horses when handicapping? (Part 3)

By: Joe Takach



Any horse that I’m considering as a wager or even a strong contender, must match up to both the running bias and the running profile for the specific surface and distance of his upcoming race.


Every track that I handicap is unique unto itself in various ways.  By this I mean that certain tracks have very discernable running biases and running profiles on both surfaces at different times of the year. 


It is essential to know how each and every racetrack on the Southern California plays year-in and year-out.  All 3 tracks are quite different.  Santa Anita is not Hollywood Park, which in turn is not Del Mar.  It might be early speed in September from the inside, to mid-pack runners from the outside in February.


Running biases are evident every day at every racetrack in the world. 


So there is no confusion, a running bias is nothing more than a deviation of the expected. 


As a crude example, the shortest distance to the finish line in any race is flush against the rail from gate to wire.  Horses removed from the rail are losing ground on the turns and running further than the horse hugging the wood. 


Long ago it was mathematically proven that for every path that they are off the rail on any turn, they are giving up 1 length.  If a horse runs in the 4 path around an entire turn, he loses 3 lengths or runs 3 lengths further than the horse running on the rail.


However, flush against the rail might be the slowest or deepest part of the track.  


The fastest part of the track might be the 4 path on a turn.  And even though a horse running in the 4 path is losing 3 lengths on that biased turn, the surface itself is not taking anything out of the horse.  It’s like running downhill.  Conversely, the horse saving all the ground against the rail might be racing over the deepest part of the track and laboring to do so---almost like running uphill.


I’m sure you get the drift. 


You most likely know the running biases on your home circuit. 


You wouldn’t bet the outside when everything is winning from the rail in wire-to-wire fashion.  If you like a sprinter breaking from the 10 hole with lots of speedsters to his inside and the rail is the place to be, your 10 horse is never going to see that rail as a pacesetter and is most likely a loser long before the starting gate opens.


I could go on and on.  But we all know that biases can and do influence outcomes at every track in the world.


So do running profiles.


Running profiles depict the exact “type” of running style that wins any specific race, at any specific distance, over any specific surface at any specific racetrack. 


I break my running profiles down into 4 specific categories:


1—WTW (wire-to-wire)—includes the pacesetter and dueling horses within

                                            ½ length of each other at the 2nd running call.


2—S/P (stalker/presser)—any winner that was from ¾ to 2½ lengths behind the

                                           leader at the 2nd running call.


3—M (middie)—Any winner that was 2¾ to 6 lengths behind the leader at the 2nd

                            running call.


4—C (closer)—Any winner that was over 6 lengths behind the leader at the 2nd

                          running call.


Here’s what’s happening at Santa Anita at the moment:





                          12/26/04  THRU  02/13/05




                    5        5.5          6         6.5         7                 8          8.5         9        10     11     12


WTW                    15           43        31         7                25         16          8         1 


S/P                          9           13        13         9                  7         13          2                   


 M                          3             7          4          3                  5           5          2                       


 C                           0             2          4          4                  3           4          0



                              28          65         52        23               40         38         12        1


                259  TOTAL DIRT WINNERS----12/26/04  thru  02/13/05 




                      6.5                               8           8.5            9           9.5           10          12        14          


WTW              2                              14                            2                            2            0   


S/P                  7                                4                             2                            0            0         


 M                 10                                7                             3                          0            0                 


 C                    1                                3                            0                            0            0



                      20                              28                            7                            2            0          


                              57  TOTAL TURF WINNERS-----12/26/04  thru  02/13/05


MEET TO DATE        


259 DIRT  + 57 TURF = 316 TOTAL WINNERS  (38 of 85 RACE DAYS)




I look at every horse to see if their running style “fits” which running profile is winning at the moment for the specific race distance.  If closers are winning, I wouldn’t think about betting wire-to-wire type runners.  If speed is the way to go, I wouldn’t think about betting closers.


Do horses “beat” either running biases or running profiles, or both? 


Sure they do for any number of reasons. 


But I know of no professionals making a living by betting against running biases or running profiles, let alone both of these strong handicapping factors.



(Continued in PART 4---NUMBERS)




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