Upside vs. Downside Risk
- Part 5:
I bet a horse to repeat, I have a very demanding checklist that must
be answered in the positive. One thing that I insist upon is that
the last out winner ran with the bias---not against it! While
running against the bias and winning at the same time shows an extra
lick of class, it does nothing for a horse�s stored or reserve
energy. Horses don�t necessarily �empty their tanks� every time that
they race, but some do.
Consider these extremes of the energy spectrum.
We�ve all seen races where a horse jumps to the front, wires his
field with ease in a hand ride while never so much as seeing his
rider�s whip and returns to the winner�s circle looking like he
never ran at all. He isn�t blowing hard with his sides rapidly
heaving. He doesn�t have that totally �exhausted� look on his face
as if his groom could let go of his reins and he wouldn�t move. The
�easy winner� is still quite full of himself in the post race and
looks ready to do it again as he dances out of the winner�s circle
in route to the testing barn---he�s still a �handful� and very
obviously not out of gas!
I can�t remember the last time I saw a horse win against the bias
and look �fresh� and ready to do it again in the post race as does
the �easy winner�. The �against the bias winner� nearly always
returns to the winner�s circle with head low and bobbing and his
sides heaving like the pistons in your car. His tank is clearly on
�empty� and any reserve energy that he had before the start of his
race was used up on the track fighting the bias for the win. Keep in
mind that it is extremely hard to beat a running bias and I�m
certainly not knocking the horse---he�s special! But beating a bias
usually throws a horse �off� for not only his next start, but
possibly 2 or 3 more races. He needs time to rebuild his strength
7---DOWNSIDE---Much like the above scenario, it is a very tall order
to win from the 12 hole. It matters not what the surface or
distance. It takes a special animal to break from the outside fence
and get the job done. Why? If he�s to get positive running position
necessary to win, he must use up a lot of energy at the start of the
race. Keep in mind that 11 other horses are also trying to get
position. Even if he is the superior horse on �paper�, he�ll have to
fight early on for that positive running position and again, that
uses up part of what is in his tank. This is why you see so many
outside horses fading like cheap wallpaper in the final furlong of
any race---they are simply out of gas. I�ll certainly agree with
anyone who says that it is easier to win from the outside going
short rather than long around 2 turns, but betting the far outside
in any race for any reason at any distance is nothing but �downside
risk� in my book. I don�t have to �push� a bet when I don�t feel I
have it going all my way. There�s another race in 30 minutes!
8---DOWNSIDE---Once a talented journeyman gets into a bad slump no
matter what the cause, it is anyone�s guess when he�ll snap out of
it. It matters not how talented the horse under him might be in any
given race. When good jockeys go bad, they become just ordinary
riders who do little more than steer their mounts---they �ride� very
few of them. And face facts, isn�t that what separates a great
jockey from a mediocre one.
Every good jockey and even the great riders of our game sooner or
later fall into this slump category. I�m not talking about a single
�bad hair day� or one where their �hamster was off his wheel for 24
hours. I�m talking about a long slump. I can remember Pincay going
ice cold years back for 3 weeks while atop plenty of �live� mounts.
After 4 days of watching his non-riding and 2 sizeable losing
tickets, I caught on as to the why even though it wasn�t public
knowledge for another 2 weeks when announced in a local newspaper
that he had fallen in the morning while exercising one of his future
mounts for an upcoming Stakes race.
Why did I stop betting him after only 4 days and 2 sizeable losing
Simply because it was very un-Pincay-like to have lost on both of
those mounts, especially in light of the fact that the horses looked
fine, warmed up fine, and encountered no negative racing luck. I
began closely watching his every move during the 5th day of his
slump and thought I saw a slight limp. He only rode twice that day.
But sure enough on the 6th day, all doubt had left my mind. The
mighty Pincay was slightly limping and riding �hurt� as if nothing
had happened. Most jockeys would have taken the balance of the meet
off due to the pain. But that�s what made Pincay the greatest rider
that ever lived and perhaps the greatest rider that will ever live.
He took pain in stride as part of his job, much like a football
player in the NFL. Unless Laffit was strapped into a hospital bed,
he was riding----pain or not! You don�t win over 9,500 race in the
major leagues as a �candy ass�. You win 9500 races being tougher
than the game itself, as was Pincay!
9---DOWNSIDE ---I don�t know about you, but after wagering on horses
close to 50 years, there isn�t a single iota of doubt in my mind
that my first impression of a horse is the right one for me. Every
time that I re-examine a race that I didn�t like the first time, I
rip up tickets and rip them up repeatedly. I�m not any better the
second time around. If I can�t get a feel for the race right away,
why push a bet? Any fool can stand there and talk himself into a
horse in an unplayable race! I know, I used to be one of those
10--DOWNSIDE---Nobody enjoys losing---at least nobody in their right
mind. I hate to lose and that�s surely the reason why I work so hard
at winning. I have no problem ripping up a ticket if I simply made a
mistake and bet the wrong horse. However, in Southern California
whenever I�m taken down by the �3 blind mice� who have the
unmitigated gall to actually call themselves State Stewards
responsible for fairness to all, I simply shut down mentally and
stop betting for that day. I continue taking my copious paddock
notes etc. until day�s end, but the Banko de Takach closes.
And I don�t care if I was about to make the biggest wager of my
career later on that day. And I furthermore don�t care if that
anticipated biggest wager of my life wins by 10 lengths and offers a
boxcar mutuel later on in the afternoon. Whenever I get taken down,
legitimate or not, I lose my balance and can�t think clearly. I need
time to calm down. For me personally, that�s at least overnight.
Maybe a �take down� doesn�t effect your thinking, or effect your
handicapping methodology, or negate your betting that 9th race.
Yeah, and maybe in your world pigs fly and elephants don�t crap. But
if you are like most handicappers to include yours truly, the main
ingredient in your being is rage!
Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, you are momentarily
not the same �player� after a take down that you were before you
were taken down. Stop betting until your blood pressure comes down
and your thinking is once again clear and unencumbered.
Copyright �2004 by
Joe Takach. All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at
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