- Advertisement -
HomeHorse RacingThey Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at horses that fooled the...

They Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at horses that fooled the public (Aug. 23)

- Advertisement -

If we want to score big at the races, we need to know when the public’s money is on the wrong horse. When we are confident in our opinion, we should be confident at the windows–no matter where the public’s money is going. This column is all about looking back to find the kinds of horses that trick the public time and again.


The Claiming Game


One thing you want to be paying attention to is the claiming game. A horse is for sale in any claiming race. This means a licensed horsemen can put a claim in on the horse and if they are the only one, they purchase him or her; if there is more than one, then they basically roll the dice to see who gets it. Consider the simple business side of this: if you buy something for $40,000, what does it say for you to be selling it 6 weeks later for $25,000? It says you don’t want to be holding on to it for any longer because it might just be worth less. 


That’s exactly the case we had with South Street in Race 7 on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at Saratoga. Six weeks after being purchased for $40k, trainer Linda Rice entered South Street in a Claiming $25k n2l (meaning for horses who have not won twice).


People react in a handful of different ways to explain this scenario:

  1.  Might as well drop to a level where you can win. The purse along with the claim will offset the initial costs, might even clear a small profit
  2. It’s Saratoga and connections drop in class to get a prestigious win.
  3. There’s something wrong with the horse.


South Street was bet down to 4-5 in a field of 8. Rice’s horses have been getting bet harder than usual after her initial success in the meet, so that explains some of the action. The rest must be due to the public believing #1 or #2 above.


South Street pressed the pace but had nothing left out of the far turn, finishing a distant seventh. Achilles Heel won at 18-1.


Main Track Only (MTOs)


Horses can be entered into turf races as an MTO, meaning they will only run if the race is pulled from the lawn and run on the dirt, i.e. “main track only”. Often it sets up for a dirt horse to be facing turf horses who are only racing because they need to run for one reason or another, which allows for the MTO entry to get an easy victory. It’s a strategic move and some trainers lean on it more than others. Bettors know this, and I argue bettors often over-rely on this in their handicapping–they say “well this horse runs better on dirt than the turf horse who just happened to stay in the race. This is what the trainer was hoping for and they got it.” Also, off-the-turf races can throw a curveball at handicappers who analyzed the field thinking the race would be on turf, and a lazy approach is to simply back the MTO.


This makes MTOs underlays in many races where they show up, and they can be worth a swing against.


Race 9 on Wednesday, Aug. 16 was scheduled to be run on the grass but NYRA yanked it–”too much moisture in the ground”–as they continued to do somewhat inexplicably all week. Two MTOs drew into the field making it nine runners. Marley’s Ghost was given a good shot by the morning line oddsmaker at 2-1, but you can’t see the reason for it in the PPS. A fine second last out against lesser, which he could improve on, but a speed figure lower than many in the field, albeit they earned those higher numbers on grass.


Well, Marley’s Ghost was bet down to even money, and he got the same pressing trip racing in second all the way around the 5 1/2 furlongs, but he regressed going eight Beyer points slower than his last outing and never bid for the lead, finishing second. A coupled entry stayed intact, both racing even after the race was pulled from the turf, and the #1a Pauciloquent won at a juicy 6-1, which is a big price considering that you get both of the horses in a coupled entry, and either she or her stablemate #1 Galatrona could have won for you to get that 6-1.


MTOs can often be vulnerable and over bet. Many handicappers offer a knee-jerk reaction to seeing them draw in instead of giving them a full treatment to make sure their odds match their probability of winning. 


- Advertisement -
- Advertisment -

Most Popular