Joe Takach

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Now that we’ve profiled all the meaningful imported turf newcomer trainers, what do we do with this information to help us pick more winners?

First off, pay strict attention to each trainer’s strengths and/or weaknesses that we listed earlier, be they atop the “A” list, or on the bottom with the “D and F” conditioners. 

Understanding who can and who can’t and for what reasons, often points to a winner!

Secondly, so there are no misunderstandings, if you have an “A” imported turf trainer and a “C” trainer both with new imports in the same race, you don’t AUTOMATICALLY dismiss the “C” runner!

As we all know, nothing is “for certain” in our great game.

While an “A” trainer will surely win with more turf imports than a “C” trainer in the long run, “A” trainers simply don’t win every single race, nor every single time they face less talented imported turf trainers. 

The horse runs the race, not the trainer!

We as handicappers are always looking for “ironclad” rules or a way to attach a numerical rating to everything so we can compare to others.   Allegedly, this somehow makes us feel more comfortable when we walk up to the mutuel windows to back our opinion with cold hard cash.

You simply can’t do that in this “imported” situation.

Here’s a perfect example.

Suppose we have a two-turn turf route race in front of us.   The  “C” trainers’ runner draws the

2 post position.  The “A” trainers’ horse catches the 12 hole.  Further, not a SINGLE HORSE has won from the 12 post position since the start of the meet that is now 49 days old with 47 turf route races completed.

All else being equal to include the likely abilities of both horses whom you have never before seen run, do you like the “A” horse or the “C” horse?

If you picked the horse of trainer “A”, I have some “swamp” land in Del Mar that I can sell you for only $29.95 an acre!

I’d pick the “C” horse 11 out of 10 times due to the HUGE hostile bias against the 12 post position of the “A” horse and the very obvious and very favorable bias (saving ground) towards the “C” horse.  Again, keep in mind that we handicapped these horses as being about equal in overall ability.

If the 12 horse (“A”) beats you (for any number of reasons to include a troubled trip by the “C” horse or a “dream trip” for the “A” horse from the impossible 12 hole), then he beats you! 

The very next time he runs, should he draw the inside and physically look as good as he did today, you can bet the farm to recoup today’s looses.   If he was the 1st horse to win from the

12 hole in a 49 day-old meet, imagine how he’ll perform if saving some ground!

While this might be a grossly simplified example, it was used to show you that you have to pay strict attention to not only our “A” and “B” list, but to our lesser gradings if a specific situation such as the above unexpectedly presents itself.

Here’s another plausible scenario.

You caught the post position bias and accordingly decided to bet the “C” horse at the mutuel windows just as soon as you watch the pre-race warm-ups of both horses. 

Suppose each is just fine, but at 2 minutes to post, the “C” horse suddenly drops the rider and runs off very quickly for 3 furlongs before getting caught by an outrider and returned to the humiliated jockey for remounting and loading into the starting gate.

What do you do here?

Do you ignore what you just witnessed, or does the wasted 3 furlongs of extra effort before the start by the riderless “C” horse give back what he had gained by the very positive 2 post position verses the hostile12 post position? 

Maybe yes and maybe no, but it would stop me from betting either!  Most likely I’d stand there and just “watch” the race while making a “mind” bet.  That way, I could only lose my “mind” and not my cold hard cash.  There is another race in 30 minutes and if not today, there are always the possibilities of tomorrow!

There is no need to “push” a bet once the integrity of your initial handicapping has been violated.  Continuing with the same betting intentions at this point suddenly becomes little more than total downside risk!  And it matters not if you are talking about new imported turf runners or hardened fleet 50K claimers. 

Whenever your handicapping is compromised (even a little bit), PASS THE RACE! 

This will cost you nothing and if your early selection loses, you feel like a King for being so damn smart.  If he wins, you slap yourself on the back and tell yourself what a superb handicapper you really are. 

If I sat here long enough I would unearth many other scenarios where you would react differently depending on circumstances.  That’s not the scope here.  All that is trying to be conveyed is that nothing is “carved in stone” with the exception of your name on your tombstone.

The “A” to “F” list was formulated to give you nothing more than a starting point to begin your investigative work.

Good hunting!


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