today’s game, we as handicappers are sometimes forced to make decisions
that we’d rather not make.
many times do we see horses seeking their 2nd, 3rd,
4th or 5th straight win while making apparent
step-ups in class and we toss them out with confidence,
citing valid statistical probabilities? We then watch them bury
us with another victory after we were dumb
enough to bet against them!
how many times do we see horses step up to the 25K claiming level off
a loss at the 20K level (or any level), and win for fun
at more than generous odds after we tossed them out, reasoning that
if they couldn’t win for a 20K claiming tag, how the hell could
they step up?
apparent step-up is illusionary and really didn’t
perfect example would be the 8th race last Sunday 3/4/01
at Santa Anita. It was a 25K claiming affair for 4 yos and up----the
“bread and butter” of the claiming races
LOUIE was seeking his 3rd straight win after winning
for 16K, and then going up to 20K and doing it again while running an
even faster race.
the surface, you would think that he was up against it wilh all the
drop-downs in this 25K
affair, but most were has-beens and re-treads
ready to sink even further in their next outings if necessary. Some
had won for as much as 85 to 50K in the recent past.
thru it all, he was the “lone F” (frontrunner), though
far from the apparent “class” of the field.
handicapping books of yesteryear would have told you to pass this race
or to toss him right out unless you were getting at least 12-1 which
is the “natural” odds of any horse winning 3 in a row. At 3 minutes
to post, he was fluctuating between 5-2 and 3-1 with every other flash.
As soon as LOUIE would drift up to 3-1 when the crowd poured
more money on the eventual 2-1 race favorite who finished a well-beaten
5th, more money would once again rush onto LOUIE driving
him down to 5-2. He’d again rise to 3-1 and go back down a couple of
more times before the gates FINALLY opened.
took him at 5-2 and as I suspected, he wired them again for the 3rd
straight time, just holding on by a half-length. But
when computing my own personal speed and pace figures the next day,
I took notice that he actually ran a step slower than
he did when winning at the lower 20K level 21 days earlier!
step up in class never really occurred, although
he got paid the same money for the 25K victory and had his picture taken
in the winner’s circle.
should have run an adjusted time a tad quicker
on 3/4/01 for 25K than he did on 2/11/01 when winning for 20K.
is he didn’t----he just beat slower horses at a higher claiming tag!!!
The step-up was nothing more than an illusion!
fact, I wrote up PROUD LOUIE in our SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
HORSES TO WATCH in the NEXT OUT BOUNCERS’ section as
one who was sure to “bounce” or fail in his attempt to
make it 4 in a row at the 32K claiming level-------that is,
of course, unless he’s facing an even more inflated
field at the 32K claiming level than he just beat at the 25K tag!
guess what? If that occurs, I’ll bet him again
if he still looks good and tight, warms up properly and is once
more the “lone speed”-----I could care less how high the purse
level is inflated or how high the claiming tag appears
the competition is bogus, it’s bogus!
a win is a win is a win------I’ll take them any way that I can get them!
brings us to another scenario that I’ll caution you about.
been beaten in the past by horses stepping up off a loss in their most
the losses weren’t necessarily close ones when they were beaten at apparently
lower class levels.
does this occur? Basically, it’s the exact same principle
it might appear that a losing 20K claimer is stepping up in class when
moved higher to the 25K claiming level, it sometimes depends on who
he’s running against. Many others in this specific field may be just
like himself-----losers at a lower level and merely out for exercise.
But suddenly when the trainer looks over the field when the “overnights”
come out, he knows his horse might win even if running
a sub-par race. In a heartbeat, the intended riding instructions of
“just give him a race” turn into serious tactical instructions
as if this were the plan all along.
sometimes comes down to handicapping a race as if there WERE NO
RACE CONDITIONS or claiming tags as in “Graded” races. The
purse goes to the best horse whether or not he’s ever won a “Graded”
race prior to today, or for that matter, will ever win another “Graded”
race in the future.
of the “listed” class level of today’s race, if nobody
else has done it before in any field at this specific plateau, all
could be considered somewhat equal in that they are all unproven.
It matters little where the eventual winner lost before
he wins. If he can beat the other contestants before him today, he’s
a winner at this level----weak as it might be for this specific race!
easy to comprehend, but whenever you see this occur or you get beaten
by “lesser”, make sure your selection was all that you initially thought
are, he too was nothing more than a prior inflationary
or an illusionary runner who was jumping in against others of very similar
and questionable quality.