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American Turf Monthly

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The Power of Claiming Price Moves

Why do so many racing fans fail to make turf speculation a paying proposition? We believe the reader will agree that success in any given undertaking hinges largely upon know-how. An individual is unlikely to succeed in any business if he lacks a substantial knowledge of that particular field.

Of course, there may be any number of reasons why a given individual fails to make turf speculation profitable. But when racing fans are considered as a whole, the failure pattern is strikingly clear.

There are four major weaknesses present in this general pattern:

1) insufficient knowledge of horse racing; that is, a misconception about the horseman’s business;

2) an attempt to do the impossible;

3) impatience; and

4) a lack of sufficient operating capital.

Unless one is well versed in the business of training racehorses, he can easily be persuaded to accept false concepts. For example, the idea that owners and trainers are more interested in the odds at which their horses go to post than they are in purse money. Such an idea is a fallacy of the worst sort. While it is true that betting owners and trainers employ many legitimate strategies in order to get a good price on their horse, purse money is, and always has been, the bread-and-butter of all stables.

Most racing fans also believe that horsemen have an unbeatable "insiders" edge. This is only true insofar as the general racing public is concerned. But it is not true of experienced handicappers and students of the game. Eight times out of ten a serious student of racing can spot stable intentions. The evidence in most instances is plainly visible in the past performance lines and results charts.

Thus, the racing fan’s insufficient knowledge of the business of racing gives him a distorted picture of his chances (as opposed to the chances of the horseman) to profit from turf speculation.

Now what about the second weakness displayed by racegoers, attempting to do the impossible? The average fan will back five or six or more races on the card. When he does this, he is attempting the impossible because there are usually only two or three races on a day’s card that offer the player a good chance of selecting the winner.

This brings us to one of the typical horseplayer’s greatest weaknesses: lack of patience, as shown in the inability to wait for really good investment spots.

Finally, most fans dream of winning a small fortune with a single $20 bill. The real damage that results from expecting too much for too little is that the failure to accomplish the hoped-for riches produces a negative attitude that frequently leads the player into making financially disastrous decisions.

With all of the foregoing in mind, it’s safe to say that claiming races offer the racing fan the best wagering spots. This is due to the fact that most trainers make free use of claiming prices to get good odds on a fit horse. There are many claiming-price moves, and we can’t possibly cover them all in the confines of a single article.

Therefore, we have chosen what we believe to be the easiest and one of the best price moves as our starting point.

The claiming-price move we’ll discuss is one that is common practice, and yet one that seems to fool or mislead racing fans with surprising regularity.

We’ll list the rules for this angle in system form to make it easier for the reader to follow.

1) The horse must have raced in the past 21 days, at today’s track or circuit, and have a gap of 30 days or less between its top two races.

2) It must not have won its most recent race.

3) The horse must have been moved up in claiming price last start and be entered today for a price lower than the entered price in its next-to-last race.

4) To be a play, the horse must be the only qualifier in today’s race.


March 7, 2001 Oaklawn Park 6th

6 furlongs

Claiming price $5,000

Temperence Dancer m.5

25Feb01–3OP fst 6f Clm 10000

1h 21½ 55 6 9¼ 18.20

7 Feb01–6OP fst 6f Clm 8000 31½ 52½ 68 812¼ 15.70


Temperence Dancer, the only qualifier in the sixth race at Oaklawn Park on March 7, 2001, was a perfect system example.

She had moved up in claiming price 18 days after showing some speed on February 7. Then just 10 days later she was dropped to a lower claiming price than that of her next-to-last race.

The mare paid $31.40 to win today’s race as a real overlay in the betting. u


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