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Dec 02, 2005

Sucker Bets (part 3)

By: Joe Takach


Almost without exception, established minor league runners shipping to major tracks are “sucker bets” and should be tossed out in a heartbeat.




Like everything else in life, it all comes down to money. 


If these minor leaguers were all that good, they wouldn’t have been running in the minor leagues to begin with.  They would have been running in the major leagues where the purses are greatly enhanced.


For the past 15 years in Southern California I’ve been on track nearly every day and have watched minor leaguers ship in from Golden Gates, Bay Meadows, Los Alamitos, Turf Paradise and Emerald Downs only to get buried just about every time they show up on our sunny circuit.


And when they do sporadically win a race, they do it most often at Hollywood Park, as  the Inglewood oval is the weakest link of our 3-track major circuit of Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood. 


These rare winning races occur 98% of the time on the very bottom in Hollywood’s 8K, 10K and 12.5K claiming races where the only real requirement to run in such a race is that you are ambulatory.  Fields contain nothing but the “walking wounded”.  


So if a minor leaguer is having a “good hair day” and every other major league horse in the field is having a “bad hair day”, the lesser horse might get up in the last jump of the race and visit the winner’s circle while lighting up the tote board like a Christmas tree!


Past these lowly and meaningless claiming levels, I just put a line thru any minor leaguer shipping into our Southern California circuit---------especially in all high priced claiming races, allowance affairs and Stakes events.


Many years ago it was no different when I lived back East.  Horses from Garden State Park, Philadelphia Park and Penn National had a near impossible time winning in New York at any level. 


If you want to stay solvent and stay off the minor leaguers unless they are running in the minors------period!




I hate horses dropping first out off a claim and so should you!  They are big time “sucker bets”!


Giving a claiming trainer the benefit of the doubt that he knew exactly what he was claiming, dropping first out off the claim most often signals only one thing---damaged goods!  This is doubly true if the horse gets shelved for 6 weeks or more before returning with his new silks at a lower level.


Something very negative occurred from the time the claiming trainer haltered the horse until today when you see him dropped in claiming price from the price recently paid. 


He could have grabbed a quarter, injured an ankle or knee, added a barshoe, sport a new ¾ shoe, added square toes, showed up in the paddock with a covered frog, acquired a new extension problem, began “hitting” himself as evidenced by the addition of a “blowout” or “stop”, or got sick and lost noticeable weight and color.


If I sat here long enough, I could come up with 50 more possibilities, but I’m sure you get the drift.


Let me ask you a quick question.


Would you go out and spend $50,000 for a car that you really wanted and then turn around 2 weeks later assuming that there was nothing wrong with the automobile and offer it for sale at $40,000?


Not unless you were brain dead!


So too is it with the claiming game.  Responsible and knowledgeable claiming trainers don’t spend 50K for a horse to run him back 2 weeks later for 40K----unless, of course, something is amiss!


On the other side of the coin, incompetent trainers of which there seems to be a self-replenishing and never ending supply, claim anything and often without any future plans for their new acquisition.   


It doesn’t matter all that much to me if a clueless conditioner raises or drops a last out claim because he probably took an infirm or problematic runner to begin with and he couldn’t possibly improve the new purchase. 


His new claims are “losers” long before they reach his barn and long before they race with the new owner’s silks.  Stay off them as well!



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