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Making Adjustments When Handicapping Horses
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( Originally Published mid 1950's )
The first thing a race fan should do in handicapping a race is to make certain obvious adjustments in his list of entries or racing paper.
If a horse is assigned a new weight, that fact will be noted on the "Late Changes" board when betting on a race starts, so your own figures should be checked accordingly.
Also, in a $5,000 claiming race your horse might be entered for $4,500 in order to get weight off. But unless you correct that $4,500 figure opposite his name before you start handicapping, you are likely to make a mistake. Just change it to $5,000 right off the reel.
Other adjustments that should be made merely involve using a little common sense. For instance, one of our rules says that if a horse was fouled in its last race and was advanced to second place or first as a result of the disqualification, that horse shall be considered to have gained in lengths during the stretch run no matter how the chart of the race read.
Here is how this works out in practice:
In the first day of our initial test of the "Late Action" method, on Sept. 1, 1952, two selections at Narragansett were involved in this situation.
In the first race the filly Rissan had run 2 races in the last 11 days and also 3 races in the last 17 days, thus filling the late action requirement on two counts.
Rissan had finished in the money in her last race as required, but instead of gaining in the stretch she had lost a quarter of a length. We therefore were about to discard her until we noticed that she was blocked in that race and placed second through a disqualification, the same situation that cropped up in a later race at Narragansett that day. That left her still eligible because you figure that she probably would have shown a gain in the stretch if she hadn't been blocked.
In checking back we also noted that she not only qualified on weight and class (having run second at a higher claiming price) but also that she seemed ideally suited by today's distance of a mile and 70 yards although in longer races than that she had faltered right at the finish. The matter of distance was merely an added factor in her favor, however, because she was an authentic play anyway.
Here is how Rissan looked going into the race:
9/1 Rissan 1.70 $2500 3F 110
Making Obvious Adjustments 65
Rissan was closing well when blocked, was dropping from 115 pounds to 110 and was going a further distance this day. That powerful combination of factors always should be watched closely in a borderline case, although this filly did actually qualify under the rules.
Rissan, making sure to stay out of trouble this time, took the lead right at the break, made every post a winning one and paid $11.60, $6.60 and $4.00 across the board.
And here's a similar example, which cropped up in the last race at Narragansett that very same afternoon, which shows that it pays not to be in too much of a hurry when you look at a horse's record:
9/1 Tel-Aviv 13/16 $2000 5H 117
We see that Tel-Aviv qualified two ways on the late action requirement. He had run 2 races in the past 10 days, and also had been given a total of 5 workouts and races in the past 17 days.
Next we note that Tel-Aviv finished in the money on August 25th in his last race, as required, but that apparently he was faltering a bit at the finish, winding up a full length off the pace after having trailed by only half a length at the stretch call.
But right here is the time to use a little common sense again, because the horse actually placed second, not third, in his last race, as the result of a disqualification. There fore, since the race was not truly run, you can not throw Tel-Aviv on such a trifling technicality. This was exactly the same situation as the one in which Rissan was involved in the first race that same day.
To make sure that Tel-Aviv "can do" on the score of class, weight, and also distance in this particular case, we skip several races and find that he qualified on all three counts on July 11. In that race, at today's distance of 13/16 miles and for today's claiming price of $2,000, he won easily by 4 lengths even though he was carrying 120 pounds, 3 more than he is assigned today.
Tel-Aviv won rather easily, by a length and a half, and paid $8.00, $420 and $3.00 across the board.
Both Te1-Aviv and Rissan were legitimate selections strictly on the rules, but in the next chapter we will give one of the very few examples where the rules may be stretched a trifle.