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Horse Racing Wagering System:
The Red Badge Of Courage
Big League Of Horse Racing
Weight Will Stop A Locomotive Or A Good Horse
Gelding Repeaters Beat Lovers At The Racetrack
Supplementary Claiming Horses
Final Summary Of Racing Systems
Glossary Of Racing Terms
More Horse Racing Tips

The Red Badge Of Courage

( Originally Published mid 1950's )

During the 25 years which our little group of handicappers spent in striving to detect similarities in the previous performances of horses that win, two outstanding factors emerged.

One was that a horse that in its last race did not lose any ground, from the standpoint of beaten lengths, from the stretch call to the finish, is a potential winner, if he finished fairly close up.

The other was that in claiming races, geldings win many more races than do other types.

Therefore, these two factors are stressed repeatedly in handicapping claiming races. And the business of not losing any ground in the stretch is much more important than the gelding angle, which will be discussed in a later chapter.

Outside of trying to make money on turf investments faster than the wife or girl friend can lose it by plunging on her selections, the most formidable obstacle confront ing the handicapper is detecting the precise stage at which a horse probably has reached the peak of his current racing form and now is likely to go into a tailspin.

In this connection, a real old-time turf writer used to define "form" as "that brief interval between the time when a horse comes to hand and the time when he starts to tail off."

Therefore, in many cases we will eliminate a horse that faded near the finish of its last race, because quitters are poison. Most of the exceptions will be for horses which win a great many races, or are dropping down sharply in class.

At this point it seems advisable to explain just exactly what is meant by saying that a horse lost ground from the stretch call to the finish in his last race, because it is one of the most important rules in this book's systems.

For instance, a horse might be leading in the stretch by 8 lengths and win by 7, yet he would be considered here to have lost ground in the stretch, even if the chart of that race later on describes him as having won "easily." Likewise, being ahead by a head in the stretch and winning by a nose also is considered to be losing ground.

Even worse, from the standpoint of figuring what the horse is going to do in his next race-and that's the race in which you're interested-is a horse that doesn't have much of an advantage in the stretch to start with, and then has his lead whittled down almost to the vanishing point.

This fading winner generally is passed by his oncoming rival a few strides after the finish, because of the mounting momentum which the runner-up has been building up while the winning leader was stopping.

But our fading winner doesn't realize immediately (if he thinks anything at all) that the race is over and that to him will go the honor and the glory. All he probably knows is that the other horse has passed him, has proved to be the better horse when the chips were down. If horses understand philosophy or something of the sort, it could be that our fading winner is saying ruefully to himself: "Well, that guy sure has it on me," and thus develops a sort of defeatist complex which may do him no good at all in his next start.

The direct opposite of the fading winner type is a horse who, like the great Equipoise, will fight tooth and nail to retain his lead. Equipoise, when a rival tried to pass him, would lunge at the interloper, savage him, and even try to kill him if not restrained. His eyes would be blazing with anger and you almost could hear him saying, "Get out of here, you bum, I'm the boss man around here."

There you have the red badge of courage-the will, and the gameness, to retain whatever advantage he previously held over his rival or rivals at the start of that gruelling stretch drive.

Of course, if a horse can not only retain his advantage, but increase it, that is even better. And that is the type for which we generally look.

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