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Mar 25, 2005

How do you eliminate horses when handicapping? (Part 5)

By: Joe Takach



While I never immediately throw out newly claimed horse from a good claiming barn, I have a small group of very bad trainers on the Southern California circuit that are instant eliminations. 


I’m sure you too have a group of poor trainers on your circuit (if other than Southern California) that you wouldn’t bet under any conditions.  These total incompetents are evident on every racing circuit.  They share many common traits.  Most have win percentages 5% and lower.  Most can take a racing sound horse and cripple him within a month.  Most claims they make have to be dropped 50% under the price they paid for them before they even hit the board, let alone actually win a race.  Most couldn’t train a fish to swim.  Yet these know-nothing trainers never fail to find moronic owners that are even dumber than themselves.   These brain-dead owners never seem to hesitate to give these halfwit trainers more money to make more bad claims horses to further show their combined stupidity. 


But what is even more amazing is that state racing commissions continue to renew their training licenses year in and year out.


There is no need for me to “name” names on my Southern California circuit.  I know who these charlatans are and so do they.  Whenever I see their name listed as the trainer of record, I quickly put a line thru their horse in the past performances. 


If they beat me, they beat me!  But I’m correct 99% of the time and when they do end up beating me, more often than not their horses win by default.  And by default, I mean other better horses in the race somehow get compromised and lose all chance. The incompetent trainer’s horse just happens to be running in the right path at exactly the right time and ends up the winner.





In case you hadn’t noticed, very few horses can change running surfaces at will and consistently win on the dirt or the turf.  Sure, a few horses can, but the overwhelming majority of runners simply can’t.


Whenever I see a turf horse showing up on the dirt for the first time or a dirt horse grassing for the first time, red flags go up all around me. 


Why is he changing surfaces? 

What is his trainer trying to prove by changing surfaces?


In the vast majority of cases, the trainer is only “giving” his horse a conditioning race of some kind and will return his runner to his most favored surface when ready to get serious.


So whenever I see a surface change for no apparent reason, I usually toss the horse out.  It’s hard enough to win over one’s favored surface, let alone a foreign one!





Unless you are new to our intriguing game, you are aware of how extremely hard it is to

win back-to-back races.  When a horse fails to win back-to-back races, he is said to have “bounced”.


I eliminate most last out winners unless they demonstrate all the following:


1---Put a number up in their last out win that is faster than any other horse’s last



2---Gained ground at every running call in that last out win.


3---Are running over the same exact surface over which they just earned their “big”



So that there is no misunderstanding here, the same exact surface means the same exact surface. 


If a horse last out ran his “big” number over a fast dry dirt track, he has to be returning on a fast dry dirt track today to be considered a serious contender.  If he won over a wet dirt track, he must be returning this afternoon over an equally wet track.  Wet dirt tracks are not interchangeable with dry dirt tracks.  And if considering grass runners, “firm” turf courses are not the same as “yielding” turf surfaces.


I forget where I first encountered the natural odds on repeaters but for a horse to repeat, the odds are 5-1.  Put another way, 4 out of every 5 last out winners will lose their next race regardless of class levels.


And should you be considering a horse to win 3 in a row, be aware that the natural odds of a horse winning 3 straight are only 1 out of 12!





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