Predatory Handicapping: Part 6
More Non-Physical Predatory Situations
As promised earlier in
this series, I�m going to offer you some predatory situations that
have nothing to do with �conventional handicapping�.
And by �conventional handicapping�, I mean any traditional
methodology that incorporates speed, pace, trip, class, weight, post
position, trainer and jockey stats, breeding, etc., to arrive at
Or in other words, the way that nearly every one of us handicap
In my 2nd book �Winning in the 90�s� first released in late 1989, I
wrote an entire chapter about the fine art of �Nuance Handicapping�
that was taught to me by Walt Karpinski.
Back in the 70�s I spent some of my winters at Keystone Park (later
renamed Philadelphia Park), enlightening myself as to the negativity
of betting multi-problematic, bottom-of-the-barrel $3,500
conditioned claimers who hadn�t won a race in 180 days.
Talk about an education! If you really want to learn how to spot
good-looking or �ready� horses, study the bottom first!
It was during this formative period of my career that I had the good
fortune, and I do mean good fortune, to come under the tutelage of
�Mr. Nuance� himself. He added another dimension to my game that to
this very day continues to pay dividends that I never envisioned.
Since I �live� in the paddock and have done so all my horseplaying
life, it came as no shock to me that Mr. Nuance and I would cross
paths in the immediate future because Keystone�s paddock wasn�t all
Though some 20 years my senior, Walt was one of a small handful of
players (along with yours truly) that braved the elements in the
paddock every single race during those unbelievably cold and
extremely windy winters at Keystone in search of an �edge�. The
�wind chill factor� frequently placed the �apparent� temperature at
the Big �K� well below zero! It wasn�t much fun and I froze my ass
off, but it was quite informative!
After noticing Mr. Nuance perusing the paddock for a couple of weeks
during a wintry January that to this day is the coldest I can ever
remember, a bleak and weekday afternoon found us the only 2
handicappers �working� the paddock.
He was armed with nothing more than a track program. I carried my
�standard issue� consisting of binoculars and a clipboard holding my
Racing Form and the track program on which I took my copious
physicality and pre-race warm-up notes.
I walked past him as I was moving closer to a specific horse I
wanted to examine and said something like �glad we�re both not out
of our minds standing out here freezing and being laughed at by
those inside enjoying warmth�! He smiled and said he couldn�t always
see what he wanted to see in the paddock unless he was standing
outside moving to and fro.
Thinking he was one of me (a handicapper with a slant towards
physicality), we began talking.
It wasn�t long until I realized that he didn�t know anything about a
horse�s anatomy, nor did he care!
He �worked� the paddock for reasons entirely different than my own.
While he too was looking for visual edges, he wasn�t looking at
horses! He was watching certain trainers, owners, jockeys, jockey
agents and grooms for �nuances� that translated into winning
When first hearing this, I thought he was not only a brick short of
a load, but I seriously doubted that there was any load to begin
However, after a couple of winters working the paddock with him
while simultaneously taking my own physicality notes, yet another
world within the �handicapping universe� graciously opened its doors
Not only did he convince me of the immense value of �nuance
handicapping�, but suddenly and on more than one occasion, I found
myself wagering on a horse in what I had initially believed to be an
unplayable race the night before.
I know what that must sound like coming from me-----of all people!
But after watching him consistently cash (and the operative word
here is �consistently�) $10, $20, $30, $40 and $50 dollar win
tickets year in and year out, what was I to say to him-----his
horse�s �numbers� weren�t good enough to win or that his $30 winner
walked a bit short before visiting the winner�s circle?
If Mr. Nuance uttered �it�s a go today� visual signals were hitting
him square in the face and hitting him very hard. I know the feeling
quite well myself whenever I see a horse that �towers� over his
field �physically�, while at the same time having a �number� to back
up his splendid appearance.
These nuances took many forms, but he had each one of them down to
an exact science. I know, I saw him cash countless times using every
single one of them.
He didn�t have any past performances, he didn�t make speed or pace
�figs�, He didn�t have �trip� notes, he didn�t collect past
�physicality� information, he didn�t have running profiles and he
didn�t use trainer/jockey statistics like the ones we use to this
very day. He used nothing but his track program!
The person that labeled handicapping horses an �inexact science�
sure hit that nail dead on the head, no?
What does �nuance handicapping� have to do with �predatory
Plenty----as you will soon see!
We�ll examine the best that he offered me. These nuances worked 30
years ago and they still work today. They work on the East coast and
they work on the West coast. They work on the dirt and they work
over the turf. They work on weekdays
and they work on weekends. They
worked at minor league Philly Park and they surely work at Del Mar.
Point is, they do work!
PART 7----Nuance Handicapping continued.
Copyright �2003 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
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