HANDICAPPING Part 5
often see us remark in our weekly SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES
TO WATCH that this or that horse was too thin
for our tastes, or that he held excellent flesh and color, or that
he was nondescript and just “so-so”.
is no great secret that heavily muscled horses win more
races than those who are anorexic.
is not to say that thin and ribby horses never win a race.
most often when they do, they only beat muscled horses who have major
physical problems such as poor extension, swollen ankles, bad knees
you intently study the population of any given backstretch for a short
time, you’ll begin to notice most barns fit a pattern.
good barns, nearly every horse is heavily muscled. In poorer barns,
the muscling is less evident. In mediocre barns, evidence of both persuasions
is often clearly visible.
like manner to the varied barns, horses fall into 3 categories when
it comes to muscling. They have muscles, don’t have them, or fall somewhere
in the middle.
first talk about the have-nots.
usually hail from very low percentage barns where saving feed money,
saving vitamin money, saving vet money, and saving training money are
essential. These no-win barns survive primarily on “day money” which
is the daily rate these know-nothing trainers have the audacity to charge
an owner for “allegedly” training his horse.
you’re a low-percentage know-nothing trainer getting $80 daily per head
in “day money” and can save 20 bucks a day by offering smaller quantities
of food, vitamins, veterinary care and morning workout exercise rider
fees, that’s more money that goes into your
say that you have 10 horses @ $80 each in day money. Saving $20 per
head every day for a full year nets you a cool $73,000!
you were getting paid $73,000 to be incompetent and do basically nothing
more than keep 10 horses alive, why would you ever want to succeed
or improve yourself or any horse under your care?
around this game for over 45 years, the one thing I’ve noticed than
never seems to change is that poorer looking
horses come from poorer barns.
is not to say that a good trainer won’t occasionally have a skinny horse
under his shed row. Horses come in all shapes and sizes, but a good
trainer’s barn is not chock full of greyhounds. For the most part,
top flight barns have nothing but heavily muscled
good-looking runners------that’s why they are a good barn!
it to say that if you can actually see the ribs protruding on any horse
to the point where it is very easy to count them, you might want to
look elsewhere if this runner was your “paper” choice when handicapping
this race the night before.
you are wagering via simulcast and the satellite beam, be rest assured
that it is very easy to see these skinny horses when they
are walking around unsaddled. If already saddled, you merely need to
look at the point of the hip that is directly behind the saddlecloth.
If it is prominent and seems to protrude outwards, he’s too
next type of muscling is good or heavy muscling and it is evident in
a few key areas.
the hindquarters, rump and upper rear legs should be massive and well
endowed. This is the engine of the horse. This collective
group of muscles moves the horse forward.
heavily muscled, there’s no indication of a protruding hipbone, nor
are the ribs clearly visible.
stomach is firm and the chest is full.
looks like an athlete, he’s built like an athlete, and most likely he’ll
run like an athlete. He’s not on a starvation
diet trying to save “day money” and he hasn’t been standing in the barn
since his last race with very few published workouts.
muscled horses will show a very steady morning worktab.
Closer examination of the entire worktab will show a well thought
out pattern or series of morning drills that explains the excellent
physical appearance of the fit and ready racehorse.
are a result of hard work by both the horse and trainer.
in between the “anorexic greyhound look” and the “Arnold Schwartzenegger
look” falls the nondescript or “so-so looking” horse.
neither skinny nor well endowed. Muscles are indefinable. His attitude
is flat, as is his energy level. He doesn’t look “ready”, but at the
same time, doesn’t look nearly as bad as a ribby half-asleep competitor.
nondescript horse wins far more races than their skinny and ribby counterparts.
But when facing a well-muscled “fit and ready” runner, they have no
now have the basic prerequisites for a wager. He must be a well-muscled
horse with pricked ears. He must also walk well with his tail well
off his rump.
these physical characteristics are clearly visible via the satellite
beam if you pay strict attention to your monitors rather than burying
your face in your Racing Form. Do your “paper” handicapping at home,
not at the racetrack!
still need to add a few positive features to our “ready horse” prototype.
Next week we’ll take a look at color and what it tells
us about readiness.