don’t know what I’d do to come up with “fresh ideas” each
and every week for my handicapping article were it not for the readership
of my SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH.
I received an excellent question from a new client
who asked me why bad-looking horses won races and continue
to win them every day.
could most likely write a book about this question after viewing over
100,000 races on track in my 40+ year horseplaying career. I’ll
scale it down a bit and offer you reasons that will answer your questions
98% of the time!
1-----HORSES RACE HURT
like the NFL or the NBA, 4-legged athletes in our great
game race everyday at less than 100% readiness.
With some horses, this is done quite intentionally as the economics
of our game dictate that regardless of malady, you keep running as often
as possible because you can’t make any money to
pay bills by “standing in the barn” or relaxing on the farm.
things like the mild swelling of an ankle that might be cured with a
60 to 90 day rest in a pasture, are given “quick” fixes by adding
front wraps for support. Most inept trainers often do this
to keep the horse running non-stop, instead of
backing off and then adding the wraps for the support when the ankle
A horse in question might even win races and momentarily
do so on the rise, before the inevitable
downward spiral to the bottom rungs begins. And if this
injury is bad enough, it could cause the horse to literally break down
forever while in the midst of a race!
enlarged ankle is only 1 minor example of running “hurt” where
I could have easily listed at least 50 physical ailments that horses
run with on any given afternoon, but that isn’t
the scope of this writing.
only want you to be aware that horses run “hurt” every day at
every race track in this country to include Del Mar and Saratoga.
If given enough “bute”, Lasix and/or any other “illegal but
undetectable goody” that the mixing of bute and Lasix
together often masks, hurt horses can and in some
cases do continue to win.
this will only happen to a specific point before all the drugging (both
legal and illegal) will fail to momentarily correct
the injury. Usually at this point, it’s too late
for any rest on the farm and the horse’s potential ability is sadly
But again, keep in mind that up to this point,
they often win races!
2-----ALL HORSES ARE PROBLEMATIC IN AN UPCOMING RACE
cheaper your track, the more you’ll
see this type of race and runners.
Were I to view every 8K claiming race at Hollywood Park (their bottom
level), or the 10K stock at either Del Mar or Santa Anita (their bottom
level), I can usually find major “knocks” on every single runner with
the exception of breathing difficulties.
viewing 8K runners at Hollywood Park, quite often I’m faced with dilemmas
like is that enlarged right front ankle as bad as another’s
walking short or not getting a pre-race warm-up?
Are that’s one’s double “stops” as bad as another’s
double “blowouts”? Is that extension running bit
as bad as a barshoe? Is that martingale
as bad as another’s walking wide? Is this one’s front
leg sweat as bad as another’s dripping kidney sweat? Does
this one’s poor color make him a better prospect than
that skinny and ribby one? Does this one’s bowed
left front tendon still make him a winner over a fractious
horse with covered frogs?
could go on “ad nauseum”, but I’m certain that you get
the drift by now. And if you don’t, you never
A “problematic runner” is a “problematic runner”-----period!>
say that one malady isn’t as serious as another in this specific upcoming
race is absolute lunacy------at least from a handicapping
and wagering standpoint!
bad is that ankle, knee or bowed tendon today? Realistically, I have
no idea since I can’t speak “horse”
and neither can anyone else to include all
try and gauge or fully evaluate any specific
problem on any horse on any given day is sheer folly unless
the malady in question is incapacitating to the trained
eye (vet, trainer, jockey and/or astute paddock
an ankle is bad enough, a horse will limp or favor it. If his extension
is exceptionally poor, he can’t and won’t warm-up properly before a
race. If he’s wearing a bar shoe or has a covered frog, the negative
hardware isn’t there for fun or decoration!
just thankful that I and others who are willing to put in the time to
learn, have the ability to spot problems and refrain from
betting. And face facts, a “saved wager” is the same
thing as cashing a ticket on an even-money favorite!
you find yourself in a situation where you have major physical
“knocks” on every single runner, simply PASS THE
RACE! There’s another one in 30 minutes!