Thoroughbred Handicapping:
Learning, earning and loving the track.

NetCapper Store
New Stuff

The Grandstand
Capper Demo
Spot Play Demo
New Features
Track Tracts
TTs Archive
Contact Info
More Books
Capper Email























Track Tracts

Upside vs. Downside Risk - Part 11 (Answers Continued)
by Joe Takach

36---UPSIDE---Whenever a competent trainer reclaims one of his runners in his very next start, he�s sending a very strong message---------he likes the horse! Please note the operative word in that opening salvo is �competent�.

Many marginal trainers reclaim in the next start because they need to recover the �day money� (daily training fee charged an owner) that they lost when the horse was claimed away from them. They are not necessarily in love with the animal, but the horse serves to help fill the stalls and therefore helps to pay overhead.

In today�s game, nearly every horse is problematic to some degree.

Claiming horses, for the most part, are obviously more problematic than allowance and graded runners. Within the problematic claiming ranks, racing-sound horses are hard to come by. And keep in mind that some problematic claiming horses are racing-sound. As a quick example, older winning claiming horses 6, 7 and 8 years old or even older. All seem to walk a short, suggesting a mild extension problem and therefore they�re considered problematic. But they should be problematic considering their age. The fact that these hardened veterans are still running and winning of itself is amazing.

But this is not to say that with a very solid pre-race warm-up of 5 or 6 furlongs that momentarily counteracts their minor extension problem, that they can�t win at some level when in top physical condition otherwise. They do and it is a common occurrence.

Some trainers are actually elated when they lose a horse via the claim box. Why? They just got rid of a problem! So if a competent trainer reclaims a horse in his very next start (especially for the same owners), he�s silently screaming he can win with this horse.

If he didn�t feel this way, why else would he take the horse back? He�d be looking for younger and fresher stock. He�d have to be brain-dead to reclaim an old headache!

37---DOWNSIDE---There�s an old adage that states �if it ain�t broke, don�t fix it�.

Talented turf trainers don�t explore different surfaces with turf winners, with the operative words being �turf winners�.

Foremost, or least it should be, is the concern that wear and tear on the front end of any horse is taxed to a much greater degree over the dirt than the turf. The front pounding over the grass is less intense because the turf �gives� more than the hard dirt.

And before you start screaming and reminding me that many turf horse�s worktabs are solely over the dirt before all of their winning turf races, keep in mind that most turf horses leisurely work half miles in 47 or 48 over the dirt when prepping for a turf race.

Slow dirt workouts or far from a dirt race where they might get caught up in a speed duel in 44 and change. If they get involved in one of those dirt speed duels, every single muscle on their body is elastically stretched to its max. That�s exactly when injury has its greatest possibility of occurring. Overextending always invites trouble.

Whenever you see a confirmed turf winner show up on the dirt for the first time, take a �wait and see policy�. It costs nothing to �watch� a race.

38---UPSIDE---One of the best bets in our game if not �the� best, is finding a race where you can isolate the �lone speed� in the past performances regardless of class level. If the isolated �lone speed� further passes muster in both the paddock and pre-race warm-up and is running over a speed-conducive surface, he�ll control the pace from gate to wire. The race is literally over about 3 jumps out of the gate.

Finding winning sprinters with distance pedigrees stretching out for the first time is one of my favorite bets for as long as I can remember.

As I�ve mentioned many times in the past, �speed unchallenged wins� is the only immutable law in all of horseracing. And �unchallenged speed� wins over any surface and at any distance. If you can�t catch the speed, you don�t get your picture taken.

When winning sprinters are 2-turning for the very first time and have valid distance pedigrees, they are nearly impossible to catch, especially when their respective field contains all routers. Whereas the stretched out sprinters are normally battling on the front end in 44 and change when sprinting and firing on all 8 cylinders to put early challengers away, when routing, they suddenly find themselves setting a snail-like 46 and change fraction for a half mile. Nobody is breathing down their necks---the balance is chasing. Of course these stretched out sprinters are going to have something left in the tank at the quarter pole----they often running slower fractions than their morning workouts!

Always search out these first-time stretchout pedigreed horses----the rewards are unending!

39---UPSIDE---If you answered this question incorrectly, you haven�t been paying attention. Anytime that you can add another �viable dimension� to your personal methodology without altering it a single iota or compromising it, you have to improve your game.

The operative words above are �viable dimension�. Anybody can add a half-assed angle to their game such as �taking a double drop in class, sheds 4 pounds or more, comes back in 14 days or less with 2 workouts and gets a positive jockey change�.

But anytime that you can add a really positive non-compromising dimension to your personal methodology that costs you nothing and is timeless in its validity, you�d have to be comatose not to-----that is, if you�re really serious about winning, rather than just having fun.

And yes, applying proven and time-tested �physicality factors� to your game requires work on your part.

So does putting up speed and pace figures. So does taking trip notes. So does reviewing past races in the charts, or keeping trainer/jockey records, or tracking �key races� (races where many participants come back in their next starts to win), so does reviewing race replays or whatever.

It all depends on how far you want to take your game.

If you wager on football, basketball or any other game with athletes, you consider the physicality of the specific team and specific players don�t you?

Why should horses be any different?

40---DOWNSIDE---It is tough, if not impossible, to be a consistent winner in races where some or most of the participants are unknown to you and are shipping in from many different tracks.

Sure, anybody can pick this or that race and get lucky once in awhile.

But give some serious thought to what you are trying to do with races like the Breeder�s Cup, Kentucky Derby or whatever.

You don�t �know� these horses in the same way that you �know� the population of your home track or circuit. You can�t! There are not enough hours in the day to keep up with 10, 15 or 20 racetracks.

I have a hard enough time keeping up with just one major circuit in Southern California and couldn�t possibly keep up with another circuit. And I put in 12 to 16 hour days---seven days a week!

If you wanna have �fun� with these races, do so!

But bet no more than 2 bucks a race knowing that you have virtually nothing �going your way� other than a hunch---and an uneducated one at that!


Copyright �2004 by Joe Takach.  All rights reserved.
Joe can be contacted through his website at

Track Tracts Archive

Back to Top