Joe Takach

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I just received a letter from a fellow handicapper that I thought all would enjoy.

First his letter and then my reply.

Hello Mr. Takach, first of all I like to say that I've enjoyed all your
articles on handicapping, particularly the ones on physical handicapping
Which leads me to my questions:

I've notice on a horse that it had like a yellowness on both of its front
shins. I asked the trainer---he didn't know and told me to ask his assistant
who was helping him saddle it and she didn't know or they both pretended to
not know. Do you know what this is for? I'm guessing that it's not good.

On another occasion I saw a mare with a white bandage underneath its tail it
looked like it was covering its vagina. I first thought the horse was as
they say in season but I was over there again (about 2-4 weeks later) and it
still had it on in that area. Can you give me any info on this.?

Also, I've been writing down which horses, while their in the paddock
stalls, keep going around in circles. Is their a rule of thumb here a few
rotations is O.K. or about 8 in a row is a sign of nervousness?

Finally, I read in one of your articles about jockeys that have their legs
out of their stirrups leading to the gate. I've noticed that has his out a
lot and he's a top 5-10 jock. Can you give me an explanation on why this is
a negative?

Thank you on any info that you can give me.


Jxxxxxx Jxxx

Let’s answer JJ’s questions one at a time in the same sequence in which asked.

Regarding “yellowness” on both shins, it was most likely one of two things. 

If the horse in question had white hair on his legs from the knees down and was standing in ice all morning for the therapeutic benefits derived from same, his white hair will have a yellowish hue to it as long as it stays wet.  To keep the therapeutic benefit right up to the very last minute, cold water front wraps are added for the walk from the backside to the paddock and are kept on until fully saddled and ready for the walking ring.  So when you saw yellow on the shins, it was most likely due to wetness.

The only other thing that comes to mind is iodine whenever it is placed on white hair.  This will also give you a yellowish hue or tint. (Additionally, some iodine gives off a deep purple color).

The reason the trainer and assistant trainer played “stupid” is because they had no idea who you were and therefore saw no benefit to themselves by answering your question.

Regarding your seeing white adhesive tape covering a female’s vagina, this is allegedly done to stop a female from sucking in air when she races. 

Very few females do this, but those that do can be helped by this tape.  If you were wagering in Southern California, you’d quickly notice that every female raced by Jack Van Berg is adorned with this vaginal tape.  Evidently Jack thinks that every female sucks in air whenever they race, which they positively don’t!

From a wagering standpoint, I’d prefer not to see it because it only implies another potential problem (either real or imagined) or more “excess baggage” that a female can bring into a race.  She’ll encounter enough problems during the running of the race---she hardly needs to bring any more with her.

Regarding horses moving in circles in their stalls or walking ring, this is just another way of keeping horses calm before a race so that no energy is wasted thru excessive sweating, nervousness, or the worst case scenario of total “fractiousness”.

If you keep a horse moving, you keep his mind off the upcoming race or so the theory goes.  If a horse isn’t thinking about the race, he isn’t worrying about it.  And if he isn’t worrying about it, he isn’t wasting precious energy that will be needed for the actual running of the race.

As far as counting the number of times a specific horse circles before you label him as “nervous”, there is no specific number of times.  Nervousness is more easily distinguishable in other ways such as front leg sweat, heavy kidney sweat or overall washiness. 

Since all horses are individuals, some need this “circling” to keep them calm while others are calm no matter what the situation.

Finally, regarding a jockey having his legs out of the irons during the walk to the starting gate, perhaps it would be better to tell you what the horse “reads” from this.  He sees this as “relax” time because his rider is “relaxed”!  How’s that for some intricate “Rockey Scientry”?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of my wagers “relaxed” 1 or 2 minutes to loading.  I want him to know he’s about to compete and be asked for everything.  I want him to be ready when the gate opens and not coming off a 2 minute state of “mental relaxation” where he thinks he’s out for a Sunday stroll!  I want him fully prepared to win!  (There are exceptions to this rule but are very few and far between).

If a top jockey you mentioned who is usually in the top 5 to 10 riders at your track were to change his pre-race “methodology”, he just might find himself as one of the top “3 jockeys” at your oval rather than just another “commoner” in the top 10.

Hope I’ve answered all your questions to your satisfaction and good handicapping!

Joe Takach



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