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American Turf Monthly

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Weight Shifts and Evolution of an Overlay

SOMETIMES THE ANGLES WE present to readers stir up a lot of controversy. The one offered may be one of them but such is not our intention. This angle is based on our experience and research and all we ask is that you don’t knock it until you have checked it out on a few hundred races, as we have.

Turf writers have used up a lot of ink over the years in telling their readers about the effect of "weight off." Since we have studied this subject for a great many years, we have been unable to bring ourselves to believe in the old theories concerning weight shifts.
Every factor involved in the winning of a race is related in some degree to some other governing factor or factors. Take weight, for example. The effect of this factor is governed largely by both class and current condition. In other words, the relationship among these three factors is very close. Therefore, it is impossible to estimate the probable effect of pounds on or off without taking full cognizance of the factors to which weight is related.

The performance of a high class horse, for instance, will not be affected by a substantial increase in weight to the same degree that the same number of pounds would affect the performance of a cheaper horse. Thus, the relationship between class and weight is clear.
Much the same applies to the relationship which exists between weight and condition. A substantial number of pounds on will not affect the performance of a sharp horse to the same degree that an identical number of pounds will affect the horse that is short of the peak of its best form.

Since the above is fact and not theory, it should be clear that under certain conditions (which we shall explain a bit later,) the addition of from two to five pounds has little or no effect upon the horse’s performance. But these same increases in weight frequently do affect the horse’s odds.

To put it briefly, weight on tends to increase the odds; while weight off will usually reduce the price the horse will pay. We are speaking of only horses that are fit and logical contenders.

For example, take the horse that last raced within the past 15 days and which turned in a good effort, finishing within 3-1/2 lengths of the winner. This type of horse, if properly placed as to class and distance, will frequently pick up no fewer than two pounds and no more than five and win at a price that is far out of line with its actual chances for success.

This occurs because, as we pointed out previously, the public has been led to become highly weight conscious, with the result that the crowd tends to shun a horse that is picking up even a small number of pounds in a field where other horses are getting in with weight off. In short, the public has reached the point where it blindly responds to weight shifts without considering the relationship of weight to the other handicapping factors involved.

This is all to the good of the player who recognizes the facts and, therefore, is in a position to take advantage of the public’s common weakness.

There is a wealth of evidence to support the idea that some trainers who relish a good price on their horses also take advantage of the situation. They appear to accept pounds on in exchange for higher odds.

The following rules for making selections will produce exceptionally good results for the player who applies sound judgment in regard to the class factor:

1) Check and mark all horses in the field that last raced within the past 15 days. It is among this group that you will find a play, if any.
2) Discard any horse you checked under Rule One that didn’t finish first or second or within 3-1/2 lengths of the winner.
3) Of the remaining group, discard any horse which does not pick up at least two pounds and no more than five pounds over the weight it carried last out.
4) If there is only one remaining horse after applying the rules above, it is a play— provided it is not badly outclassed by some horse in the field which also enjoys sharp condition.
5) If two or more horses qualify at odds of 5-1 or more, the classier horse of the two is the play. Any qualified play that goes postward at odds of 5-1 or higher is worth your support.

Remember: The horse must pick up no fewer than two pounds and no more than five pounds over the weight it carried last time out. Rule Three keys the success of these selections.

Below, you'll find the past performance data for Cleverly Intended in the fifth race at Aqueduct on January 2.

Note that the filly was picking up five pounds after winning her most recent race, 12 days ago. She also had received a workout on December 30. Although she was switching from claiming to allowance company, her easy repeat win by 3-3/4 lengths today showed that she was not outclassed. Her win payoff was $20.00.

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