Tuning In

Joe Takach

Article Library



Over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself paying attention to “trends” or “windows of time” where something is occurring in front of me that I can capitalize on at once.

Let me give you a very simplistic example.

You walk into your track on any given day and the running bias has done a “180” for any number of reasons ranging from weather to track maintenance.  Whereas your track most often greatly favors speed, you watch the first 3 races (in which you had no betting interests) be won by deep closers!

Up comes the 4th race which you intended to bet before entering the track today and you only like 2 horses---a frontrunner and a deep closer.  Who do you bet?

We all got that no-brainer correct!

But every day more subtle aberrations are playing themselves out that could put more money in your pocket if you pay attention.  Now I’m not suggesting you bet these isolated aberrant situations blindly, but rather be aware that they are happening.

Here’s another example.  Have you ever taken notice of how hard a jockey rides on any given afternoon after he has 2 wins on the card.  He’s going for his “hat trick”.  Most jockeys put forth an extra effort on each of their remaining mounts until scoring number 3 for that day.  When winning a race by a nose, it can often be because a  jockey has extra adrenaline pumping thru his veins that somehow reaches his mount.  Once a jockey has 2 wins for the afternoon and you like him later in the card, be rest assured he’ll most likely ride the skin off every remaining horse’s neck going for his “hat trick”.

Conversely, the following day after any jockey has won 3 or more races, they seem to have a mental letdown.  Either yesterday’s euphoria hasn’t yet left them or perhaps they are simply tired from yesterday’s pleasant winning ordeal and their tanks are on empty.

While we’re on jockeys, closely associated with positive rides, there are some jockeys on the Southern California circuit that I like to see win a race early on the day’s card before mounting a horse I intend to bet.

I’m sure you have the same “spotty” type of riders on your circuit if not the same as mine.  Some days they ride like a Laffit Pincay (who rides strong every single day, every single race!) and other days they ride as if today were the first time they ever sat upon a horse! 

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that much like ourselves, some jockeys have very good days and very bad days.  Eddie D’s well-documented chronic sinus problem has most scratching their heads when he’s having an off day (unless they know of the problem).  I too have a sinus condition and when erupting, the last thing I feel like doing is standing up let alone riding a horse!  So in Eddie’s case it’s physical. 

Some jockeys as mentioned above, have mental letdowns on any given afternoon for any number of reasons ranging from personal problems to simple weariness from overwork.   If you plan on “betting the farm” this afternoon on a specific horse late in the card, simply ask yourself if your rider is “awake” and riding well or just going thru the motions this afternoon---and be honest with yourself!!!  If he’s breaking “speed” horses dead last, or racing horses wide for no reason, or getting caught in blind switches and/or trapped on the rail, or running over the very worst part of the track, he could very well be “asleep on his feet”--------at least for that specific afternoon!

Another good trend is a Daily Double with the first half being won by a jockey who sits upon your choice in the 2nd half of that specific double.  If he’s on a “live” mount in the 2nd half, you’ll get a “ride”!  This is doubly true if he sits upon a chalky favorite in the 2nd half of that double.  He and his agent both knew their 2nd half of the double was “very live” and most likely their money is “down” for the sweep!  (And yes, I know that jockeys aren’t allowed to bet and they don’t ever bet-----yeah, and Mother Theresa was really a “commie pinko bastard” in drag!)

OK, I think we’re moving along well here and you get the drift, so let me give you more food for thought.

Jockey trends are easier to catch because they can ride up to 9 or more horses each day, whereas few trainers start more than 2, 3, or at most 4 horses a day.  Trainer aberrations and trends are there in front of you, they‘re just a bit more subtle and require you to really tune in!

When a trainer suddenly gets “hot” or is reported so by the Racing Form or on your local sports page, his “hotness” started long before it made it to print!  By the time the general public and most “beat” writers for the Racing Form catch on to this trainer’s “gravy train” pushing everything he starts down to even money or lower, your profitability is long gone!  You have to spot the change in any specific barn as it is occurring, not after everyone to include your favorite “hot dog lady” has a direct line on this “hot”conditioner. 

How do you do this?  Simple!  In most cases you begin to notice a specific trainers’ horses all seem to look a bit better in the paddock day after day and run a bit better until the entire barn  looks very strong.  Often coughing and colds plague an entire shed row making all sick.  Once the malady finds a new home, the beleaguered barn comes alive like a crocus in spring.  Everything starts winning!

This is obviously when to bet them regardless of what the “backpaper” in the Racing Form might imply.  If you don’t, once the horse wins, the cat is out of the bag-----the horse you’re getting $14.60 on today, will only pay $3.80 next out if fortunate enough to string 2 victories together.

Even more subtle are owner trends.  If you closely scrutinize every large barn on your circuit (and even some of the smaller ones), you’ll notice that some trainers win more races for some of their owners than others.  This can be for any number of reasons, but the main one is that some owners simply have better racing stock even though they employ the same trainer.  Just because a certain trainer has a 25% win percentage, this admirable performance is NOT always equally spread amongst all the owners in equal proportions.

 Finally, I’d like to address “hot” or “now” horses.  By this I don’t necessarily mean a “horse for the course’ who only seems to win at a specific track.  By “hot” horses I mean rising stars much like we offer each week in our HORSES ON THE UPGRADE or STRONG MAIDEN PERFORMANCE sections in our SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH.  We give you the good ones early on in their careers, so that you can maximize your profitability long before everyone else knows of the horses’ true ability.

I’ve only scratched the surface of  “tuning in” to current situations as there are countless and very profitable scenarios---but I hope that I’ve got you thinking and moving in the right direction!


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