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HomeHorse RacingThey Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at the horses the public...

They Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at the horses the public missed (June 24)

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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 at the weekend’s races to find the kinds of races that trick the public time and again. The better we get at recognizing these, the better we’ll get at capitalizing on the public’s mistakes.


Let’s take a look at the last four races from Gulfstream Park on Saturday, June 24. Not all brought in prices, but each offered something instructive.


Pace Makes the Race

First the Carry Back Stakes, Race 8, a seven-furlong sprint for three-year-olds. Here’s the horses who took the public’s money: Swirvin and Mr. Peeks (two horses entered by the high-percentage trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.), Khozeiress (a formful entry with Lionel Reyes aboard who took the most early money), and the even-money favorite Super Chow, who was exiting a tough trip in Chick Lang (G3) and had six wins to his name in nine races. Of the field of seven, six had proven their mettle on or near the lead. Only one, Lightning Tones, was a late mover. Guess who won? 

Pace makes the race and the six front runners cooked it hot out front, frying each other in the process, and setting up Lightning Tones to swoop in late for the win at a generous $28.20-1. 

It’s too easy sometimes. When they go too fast early, they tire each other out. So what keeps the betting public from backing a horse like Lightning Tones? There were definitely reasons: 

  1. he was rising in class (claimed for 10k two back), 
  2. he had slower speed figures, and
  3. his connections were lesser known and won at lower percentages.

But assuming the horse was fit and in form–why would his trainer enter him in a stakes if not?–we should back horses like this every time. Especially when they go off at big prices. 

Pace angles are huge, and often come with value. It’s a factor like this that can even the playing field. If speed figures/performance ratings drive your play as much as they do the public’s, remember it’s most likely that these pace-compromised horses will put forward slower numbers, while the flow-aided horse will step forward.


Class Test

In Races 9 and 10, there were two interesting horses, both of whom would be overlooked by the betting public because they were rising in class. Each had broken their maiden in their last race and were set to face winners for the first time. But each also had a nice form line, having taken a meaningful step forward in their last race, and had won with speed figures that were competitive against everyone in the field. The public often over-emphasizes class, and we want to be there to capitalize on it when they do.

Though he did not win, in Race 9 it was Big Martini. He had taken reasonable steps forward in his first three races (which is a good sign that a horse hasn’t overexerted itself and is learning more each race), breaking his maiden in the last effort and now facing winners. A “class test.” Big Martini went off at exactly the same price but ran second, losing to the formful favorite Loco Abarrio

The same story for Millenium Condo in Race 10. Yes, it had taken him 16 races to break his maiden, which is usually a strong reason to fade a horse, but his situation was unique. His first win came after a long layoff in his first go as a 4-year-old. Another small step forward was all that was needed to beat the field, and when we see horses run well in their first or second start as four-year-olds, a step forward is what we should expect. 

Millennium Condo won and paid $6.50-1.


One Run Wonders

Race 11 was not as sexy, but the public loved Tik Tokable. With only one race under his belt, he had trip trouble for all to see in the PPs while still posting a solid number for this level and finishing second. If his best effort was hindered by a bad trip and all logic says a horse should improve on second asking, then why did Tik Tokable’s connections keep him at the same level? 

We see this often, and it doesn’t take too much creative analysis to tell ourselves a story of a horse who was cranked to go at first asking but can’t improve off that effort.  Bet down to 1.30-1, Tik Tokable finished third. The next two logical options finished first and second, with Great Kostas going off at 14.30-1, and the exacta paying $28.20-1 in a six-horse field. That’s a solid price.

The .50-cent Pick Four (6-10-6-3) paid $999.85. 


Keep these angles in your back pocket and when you see the markets play out in your favor, fie away.

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