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Dec 15, 2005

Sucker Bets (part 4)

By: Joe Takach



This “sucker bet” has been around for as long as I can remember and for decades before the past performances started listing front wraps.


It sets up like this. 


An allowance horse that has been running in front wraps in his last 5 or more outings, goes winless although possibly finishing in the money in 1 or more of those events.  All of a sudden he gets dropped into a claiming race and the front wraps disappear as if they were never there and were never needed in the first place.


What’s going on you ask? 


Real simple! 


The barn is trying to get the horse claimed for any number of reasons, of which the most probable is further aggravation of the existing problem or possibly there’s an entirely new problem.


Horses don’t run in front wraps for 5 or more races for “decorative” purposes.  These wraps are difficult to put on properly for the anticipated support that they can offer. 


What’s more, front wraps never cure the actual malady that they mask.  In many cases the wraps can temporarily slow further deterioration, but the problem rarely disappears unless curable by turning the horse out for an extended period of time.


That said, why would you take front wraps off a problematic horse and drop him in class to where he’s “up for sale”? 


As mentioned above, he’s “claim bait”. 


The trainer of the dropdown is hoping that some other trainer takes his problem off his hands before it gets any worse. 


By his removing the needed front wraps, he’s hoping that the old adage of “outta sight, outta mind” will apply.  No wraps implies no problem.  No problem is a “green light” to a trainer looking to claim a horse.


The usual outcome is that the losing “allowance” horse is now a losing “claiming” horse, but often resides in a new barn.



After reading the above “sucker bet”, it should be quite obvious that debut runners showing up in the paddock with front wraps are a big time “no-no”!  The horse hasn’t even had a real race and he’s already wrapped up like a mummy????


He’s wrapped because he’s problematic-----period!


Stay off them!





If you play in the major leagues of Southern California, by now you’ve noticed that there are a great number of South American, Australian and European imports running on this sunny and lucrative circuit.


Most imports are complete mysteries regardless of their impressive morning worktabs for their stateside debuts or their Hall of Fame trainers.  Until they begin running against the local population, nobody really knows where they belong in the hierarchy.


More often than not, if they have any ability they visit the winner’s circle by their 3rd or at worst 4th stateside start. 


Should they remain winless even if frequently in the money thru 5 or more stateside starts, they become future “sucker bets” beginning with their very next outing.  And the closer they get to winning, the more one thinks that they just “gotta” win next out!


They rarely do!


They’ve been running over their heads since day 1 and have more or less wasted five or more lifetime starts that could have included wins had they been properly placed from the beginning. 


These “sucker bets” often fool good trainers. 


These talented conditioners think that if they can change this or that on their import, he’ll win next out.  They try things like blinkers on or off, different shoes, changes of running bits, shorter or longer distances, naming of stronger riders etc., but most often to no avail.


Until they’re dramatically dropped in class or meet a totally gutless field, they’ll continue to disappoint as do all “sucker bets”!




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