Jim Hurley Racing Network
Under The Shedrow
(Volume X - Number 48)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
BELMONT PARK OPENS FRIDAY...FIRST OF 38 DAYS OF RACING...PLUS FINAL HORSES TO WATCH FROM SARATOGA AND DEL MAR AND MONEY MANAGEMENT HINTS FOR A WINNING MEET.
Another Saratoga meet has finished and today Del Mar will run the final day of their 2008 meet. For all the successes, failures and perplexities that are a part of the summary every year there is one observation that remains universal. What's done is done...and it is time to move on to the next phase. In New York that next phase begins on Friday (9/5) with the first of 38 days of racing at Belmont Park. Southern California race fans will have to shift their calculations to Fairplex Park for the immediate future. That meet runs from 9/5 until 9/22 with 16 days of racing (Tuesday is the dark day.) But on Wednesday, September 24, the always anticipated Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet begins, which this year will host the two-day Breeders' Cup Championship. The Breeders' Cup will be run there on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25 and the meet will run one more day, Sunday, October 26 before the action shifts to Hollywood Park beginning Wednesday, October 29.
As exciting and competitive as both Saratoga and Del Mar are, the fall race meets in New York and Southern California as well as the mini-meets run at Keeneland (10/3 - 10/25) and Churchill Downs (10/26 - 11/29) in the latter part of autumn are, as a whole, the nexus of thoroughbred racing for the calendar year.
With that in mind I will begin at the chronological beginning...which means this Friday's kickoff at Belmont Park. I'll take a look at a few things you might want to consider for the opening week and also have a few money management hints that you might want to consider. For those of you who have always felt you could improve your bottom line by applying the same wagering standards day in and day out, perhaps the 38 days of the Belmont meet could provide a testing ground. I suggest you might think about shifting from Trifecta Boxes to Part Wheels...and I'll explain why below.
I'll also have my weekly Horses To Watch from Saratoga and Del Mar with a look at how they project moving forward to Belmont and Santa Anita (or Fairplex).
Belmont Park Begins Friday
Belmont Park's 38 day Fall Championship meet begins this Friday, September 5.
There will be 23 Graded Stakes races run between Friday's start and the final day of 2008 racing at the historic Long Island oval, including 9 Grade I affairs. On Saturday, opening weekend features the Grade I Ruffian and Grade I Garden City (see below.) In all, there will be $8.3 Million added offered in Stakes and Handicap races alone, capped by the biggest day of racing in New York for the year, Saturday, September 27 when the NYRA presents five Grade I affairs with a total payout of $2.95 Million. That day the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, Joe Hirsch Turf Cup Invitational, Flower Bowl Invitational, Vosburg and Beldame will not only be an exciting showcase for fans and bettors alike, but will also go a long way in determining key players in the 2008 Breeders' Cup lineup(s).
When the gates open on Friday the usual highly competitive trainer colony will be rooted, but the power bases that get established at Saratoga shift a bit once the racing moves back to Long Island.
Sure, you can expect Richard Dutrow to be a force. He finished first with 25 winners during the most recent Belmont spring/summer meet and carried that over to a third place finish upstate. But Saratoga's top two in races won, Kieran McLaughlin and Todd Pletcher won't necessarily reside atop the leader board at Belmont, not because of loss of talent, but because they don't run as many horses. Their stables are spread out to strategic locations at major venues around the country. The same can be said of Bobby Frankel. He had a solid meet at Saratoga, finishing fourth in the standings after coming in ninth at Belmont before the action moved north.
Does that mean Frankel becomes a trainer to avoid downstate? Not necessarily...after all, he did win with 26% of his starters during the spring/summer meet.
Another trainer with cross-over credentials is Barclay Tagg. The conditioner ended the recent Belmonmt meet tied with Bruce Levine for second with 20 winners, but did so at a 28% clip. At Saratoga he finished tied for fifth with Steve Asmussen and Wesley Ward with ten winners, but once again won selectively as his 24% Spa success ratio would indicate.
On the other hand, successful trainers such as Bruce Levine (26%), Carlos Martin (24%), Michael Hushion (22%), Mark Hennig (21%) and David Jacobson (18%), who don't necessarily train high priced juvenile maidens or upper level allowance horses or stakes performers and don't have as much opportunity up North are in their element downstate.
The trainer colony could also get even more competitive than it already is if some of the successes shown by the likes of Chad Brown, David Duggan and "newly arrived" Seth Benzel carry over. I noted the astronomical success both percentage wise and on an R.O.I. basis for the first two in a previous edition of Under The Shedrow...suffice it to say they are worth a deep look every time they enter. As for Benzel, who recently went on his own after a well informed internship with Todd Pletcher, he got his first two career wins as an independent conditioner this past weekend at Saratoga on the same day and could be ready to roll. Another worth watching is the veteran John Kimmel. He suffered through a 1-21 start to the Saratoga meet, but during one stretch in the final week of the meet saddled seven straight winners. As you'd expect, the trainer competition will be fierce...but the four I just mentioned may still turn out to have more value than the perennial fan favorites, so pay attention.
The jockey colony that exited Belmont and made their services available at Saratoga will pretty much be back in Elmont. It will be interesting to see if the spring/summer meet leader Eibar Coa will shake off his so-so Spa meet (fourth in winners at 14% and highly over-bet) and return to the top of the standings or if Alan Garcia, who almost duplicated the actions of last year's Belmont to Saratoga success story Cornelio Velasquez by parlaying a second place finish in the standings downstate to a 3 win margin over John Velazquez in the final standings upstate, will stay hot back at Belmont.
Right now, John Velazquez, despite his second place finish at Saratoga, is a tough saddlebag to fill. His R.O.I. upstate was very low and his 16% success rate at the recently completed Belmont meet indicates that one should be very selective when engaging his mounts.
This past spring's third-sixth place finishers, Rajiv Maragh, Cornelio Velasquez, Edgar Prado and Javier Castellano can be expected to take their places at Belmont as well. Castellano may be one to watch right away. He finished downstate in sixth place with 42 wins and a very respectable 19% win ratio. But upstate he managed just 16 wins and 9%. If he wins a couple of races out of the box you might want to ride him as he is a streaky and often long-shot jockey.
Rajiv Maragh is another who might bounce back at Belmont. He had a good spring/summer meet, finishing third with 52 winners and a 16% success rate, but at the Spa he dropped to seventh and won at only a 12% clip.
On the other hand, Prado finished fifth at Belmont at 16% and third at the Spa at 15% so consistency is what to expect from Edgar.
On Friday I'll have some interesting statistics and angles from the last two weeks of the spring/summer meet at Belmont regarding track biases and standards as well as how speed horses vs stalkers vs closers stacked up at various distances and over the different surfaces. This should give you an idea what to look for as you attack this 38 day meet early on.
I'll definitely be attacking it early as I've already seen the condition book, have gotten word on a few horses shipping in over the first five or six days not only downstate from Saratoga, but also from Monmouth, Delaware and Philadelphia. Make sure you return to these pages often...
...and OPEN THOSE E-MAILS...I'll be sending you a few very informative newsletters over the course of the next three or four weeks and you'll find more than a few hints that will take you to the windows to cash.
Looking Ahead...Indian Blessing And Tough Tiz' Sis Work...Ready For Grade I Ruffian?
Starting this Friday [no twilight racing...the first race is at 1:00 pm eastern] what is arguably one of if not the best 7 ½ weeks of racing gets underway when Belmont Park begins their Fall Championship Season. The meet, which will run through and including October 26 features twenty-three Graded Stakes races, nine of which are Grade I tests.
Two of those Grade I races will be run on Saturday, September 6...the Ruffian Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track for three and up fillies and mares and the Garden City Stakes, a nine furlong grass contest for three year old fillies.
This past Sunday, two high profile nominees for this coming Saturday's Grade I Ruffian, Indian Blessing and Tough Tiz' Sis turned in sparkling 6 furlong workouts over Saratoga's fast main track.
Indian Blessing, fresh off a victory in the Grade I Test Stakes in her most recent was piloted by John Velazquez during the work, which was clocked in 1:12 flat. According to the jockey, "She went very well." He went on to analyze her prospects and running abilities. "I never rode her going long, but if she gets a post position on the outside [at Belmont Park a mile and a sixteenth is run around one turn], and you can sit quietly with her, you can get her to rate in the middle of the track and give her a chance. Once she's on the inside and you get someone pressing you, she just wants to go."
Tough Tiz' Sis also turned in a beautiful work, stopping the clock in 1:11 4/5. She appears on edge to move forward from her third place finish in the Grade II Clement L. Hirsch last time out.
THREE DAY BELMONT BETTORS' BONANZA!!
It starts Friday, September 5. It's Opening Day at Belmont Park and the Network has information that should be mighty interesting and very important to you.
In fact, we are ready to stake our reputation and chances of serving you further on the result of ONE RACE! We've got one sure winner in place, and several other strong plays to go with it. It all adds up to a Late Pick-4. It's only $15 to get this vital information. We have left nothing undone to put this one across for you. No matter where you are located, be it around the corner here in New York or in California, we want you with us on September 5.
With profit in hand, we move to Saturday, September 6, for the Triple Bankroll Builder! Saturday is the day a ready-to-explode top turfer begins a two-month long cycle that could lead to the Breeders' Cup. This hot tip special is primed for a major effort and looks much the best baded on the Jim Hurley Racing Network "Morning Clocker Dividends." And if that was all there wasy, Saturday would be a huge day, but it just so happens that a form-reversal upstart is about to outrun his odds...so we'll also give you that LONGSHOT OF THE WEEK. Again, the cost for today's picks is only $15!
Here's just a sampling of some of the winners we hit last year on Opening Weekend at Belmont:
Moneypenney: WON $14.40
Naughty New Yorker: WON $9.60 (McArthur Handicap)
That's Good: WON $8.60
Ginger Punch: WON $3.50 (Ruffian Handicap)
Doctor Dino: WON $9.70 (Man O'War Stakes)
Lost Etiquette: WON $12.40
Legislady: WON $17.00
Dragon Fi: WON $11.80
We finish Sunday, September 7, with the Round Robin Parlay of the Month and the Trifecta of the Week. Sunday's Belmont Card is tailor made for Flat Plays. Sunday's condition book offers serious sprint races and a turf event that appears to be a one-horse race. That's the Parlay! There's also a race that figures to draw a deep and contentious field behind one very key horse. This is a play that our gurus rate as having a very high chance winning. Get all four of Sunday's plays for only $15!
BETTER YET...GET ALL THREE DAYS FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNTED PRICE OF $35!
THAT'S LESS THEN $12 A DAY FOR INFORMATION THAT COULD MAKE YOU THOUSANDS!!!
Sign up now online or call my office at 1-800-323-4453.
Horses To Watch
The horses listed below ran during the week 0f 8/27-9/1 at Saratoga and Del Mar and gave plenty of indication that they are ready to run back to a top performance soon. You should play the horses listed under the conditions described in the analysis and play them twice or until they win...at which point they should be dropped. With only a week left in each meet it is important to realize that the Saratoga list carries over to the Fall meet at Belmont (begins Friday, 9/5) and that many of the Del Mar horses will be seen next at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet (begins Weds. 9/24). It would also be wise to check the entries for Fairplex Park, which will fill the gap in Southern California with a meet that runs from 9/5 to 9/22.
Close Encounter - NYSB juvenile colt was all business as he ran down a sharp rival and drew off late to break his maiden in debut. The John Kimmel trained son of Friends Lake had a long series of very impressive drills prior to the start last time out and after pressing the 6-5 leader (fourth straight runner-up finish) throughout wore that one down as both pulled well clear of the rest of the field. The sire was a Grade I winner at a distance and this guy appears well ahead of his peers and should love the one turn mile to mile and an eighth at Belmont. Good enough to beat open allowance rivals...stay with him.
D'Wildcard - Wouldn't normally recommend a seven times loser that has made it to the maiden claiming ranks, but this 3-year old showed such marked improvement when sent to the turf and given a bit of ground (both for the first time) in his most recent. The Angel Penna trainee hasn't exactly been a bum sprinting on dirt. He had run a few decent races vs MSW rivals as a juvenile and after a seven month layoff closed ground late vs 50K maiden claimers two back. But on grass and going a mile last time the son of Forest Wildcat saved ground from off the pace early in the mile event, angled out entering the lane and closed to get the show, beaten a total of length by the two favorites. Finally breaks his maiden going two turns on grass.
Frosty Diamond - After racing greenly in the first two starts of his career, the juvenile colt showed marked improvement in start number three last time out. The Henry Collazo trainee ran evenly for fourth vs MSW foes at Calder in his debut then rallied from last in a 100K maiden claimer here on 8/6. In his most recent the son of Medaglia D'Oro sped right to the front at the start of another 100K maiden claimer, moved to the rail on the turn and held the lead through deep stretch after repelling the challenge of three different rivals. He dropped the 6 furlong decision late but dug in to hold the place and if the trainer keeps him in New York he gets his initial win vs the same upper level claimers or MSW foes soon.
Hurricane Annie - The 6-year old claiming mare was no match for the 3-5 favorite in a turf sprint last out, but considering she held on for the place her overall effort has to bode well for her next. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic set the pace along the inside until mid-stretch before giving way to the winner in the 35K claiming affair. But since she was facing the boys, a return to sprinting vs her own sex should put her back in the winner's circle she has visited 4 times from 8 career grass tries. Stay with the Linda Rice trainee.
Indian Delight - The David Duggan trained filly continued her improvement last out when she checked in second behind a Graded Stakes drop down rival. The daughter of Devil His Due was coming off a sharp starter allowance win in her prior when she faced the even-money filly in the six furlong entry level allowance race. The winner had matched strides with division leader Indian Blessing in the Grade I Prioress in her previous race and Indian Delight tracked in third, angled out in the stretch and closed to get the place a length and a half off the wire-to-wire winner and 7 ½ lengths clear of the show filly. She's in good form and eclipses the level next time.
Mesa Sunrise - The Bill Mott trainee moved to the grass for career start number two and the improvement shown indicates he breaks his maiden soon. The son of Sky Mesa gave way pressing a rapid pace in his debut 8/13, but sprinting on grass last time rated much more professionally, stalked the lead while three wide on the turn, went to the front at the head of the stretch and gave way late. Mott trained youngsters usually need a few anyway and he'll probably like more ground and a bit less pressured pace. Breaks his maiden soon if kept on grass.
Nautical Storm - Did a nice job last time out of holding for the show first time vs winners in only his third career start. The Wayne Lukas trained 3-year old stumbled at the break in his debut here 7/26 and never got involved. On 8/9 the son of Storm cat went right to the lead and blistered his rivals with a wire-to-wire effort. In his most recent he had every right to bounce off those close efforts and quick turnaround but battled the pace from between rivals, was a head off the lead inside the furlong marker and retreated grudgingly. Competitive colt should eclipse the entry allowance level soon if kept sprinting. Also bred to handle grass so don't pass on the surface switch.
Sacred Icon - It took him a while to figure it out, but the 3-year old claiming colt is beginning to show consistency and versatility. The Nick Zito trainee broke his maiden on dirt at the Spa in his seventh career start two races back vs 25K maiden platers. Prior to that race he had missed by a nose in a 45K grass sprint at Belmont. In his most recent he returned to the grass for a 5 ½ furlong test vs 35K claimers and finished strongly along the inside from between rivals after racing close up in tight quarters throughout. He is sitting on another win and looks a bit more comfortably on grass. Should love the level travelling 6-7 panels at Belmont.
Sea Of Trees - The 5-year old turf horse took a realistic drop in class for his most recent and almost spit the bit after getting stuck behind a wall of rivals for most of the journey. The son of Belong To Me has raced above his head for most of the last two years while in the barn of Wayne Lukas and finished fourth after the tough trip vs 35K rivals in his most recent. The chart says "saved ground and rallied mildly" but that is not accurate and the claim out of the race by Richard Dutrow, Belmont's top wins trainer for the spring/summer meet, could prove timely. Beats this kind, or slightly better, going two turns on grass or dirt. Bet him back.
Storming Off - The three-year old son of Theatrical continues to hold good turf form after checking in a close third vs 60K claimers in his most recent. The David Jacobson trainee was the only sophomore in a group of nine solid turf veterans and he stalked three wide for three-quarters in the 8 ½ furlong test, made a move to the leaders at the top of the lane and held well for the show. He had won twice in a row vs slightly lesser in his prior two and now posts a consistent 9-3-3-2 grass mark for his career. Will win another soon if kept on the grass vs open claimers or second level allowance foes.
There Are Rainbows - The juvenile daughter of Dixieland Band turned in a solid effort in her debut last time out and should be ready to roll with a little more ground at Belmont next out. The Todd Pletcher trainee is bred to go long and after a series of strong drills got her education in a 5 ½ furlong turf MSW affair. She broke slowly, was outrun for a half mile and rallied along the inside while making up about 5 lengths in the final 3/16ths to get the show beaten a little over a length. Breaks through soon, especially going 7 furlongs or longer on the grass.
Walkabout Winner - Trainer Seth Benzel, who got his first career winner earlier on the card went right back to the victory circle after the 3-year old NYSB filly broke her maiden following a 9 month layoff. The daughter of Aldebaran rallied strongly in the late going in her only other start last November and returned to the turf to make her second strong rally a winning one. She was in hand and off the pace while out in the course down the backstretch of the 8 ½ furlong test. On the far turn she got her cue and moved forward to take the lead inside the furlong marker before drawing off by 3 ½ lengths under good handling. It looks as though she'll make up for lost time. Bet her right back in restricted conditions.
Special Note - Not sure Michael Maker will be running many horses at the Belmont Fall Meet, but he did so well at Saratoga that it might be wise to follow him, especially as he returns to Kentucky. Two horses you might want to check both here at Belmont and on the Blue Grass State rosters are Jump It and Jamuladin, both of which he claimed on August 30. Jump It was no match late for the 9-10 favorite in a 25K claimer, but continued to run well for the place when caught in deep stretch. As for Jamaludin, he finished second in a 35K mile and an eighth turf test with a five wide move after being outrun early on. Both are on edge and should be followed.
Ashton Girl - The Irish bred filly continued to show improvement as she rallied for the place in an entry level allowance/optional claimer last time out. The Pat Gallagher trained 3-year old chased the pace from a bit off the rail in the 5 furlong turf test, moved five wide in the stretch and ran out of real estate while dropping a neck decision. She looks as though she'll handle more ground and is in good enough form to eclipse this level soon.
Global Heat - Given his most recent, it would appear that the son of Future Storm has found his proper level and surface. Once considered a player on the Triple Crown trail, the Darrell Vienna trained gelding was all business as he wired entry level allowance foes on the turf last time. The 5-year old went right to the early lead in the mile event, held a clear margin on the far turn and stayed clear to the wire under urging. He should have plenty left for the next level and could handle a bit more ground. Bet him back.
Karolly - In his most recent the juvenile maiden claimer found the 6 ½ furlongs a bit too long at this point in his development. But the drop down to 50K-40K rivals definitely improved his game as he carried his speed much better than he did in his prior race at Hollywood in mid-July. The Eric Kruljac trained gelding showed good early speed outside rivals, angled to the inside on a clear lead as they traveled the turn and into the lane and just failed to hold off the winner while 3 ½ lengths in front of the show horse. Gets his first lifetime win vs these soon, especially at 6 furlongs.
Mt. Orient - The 4-year old turf sprinter got into a head-banging duel with the even money favorite in his most recent and held on until deep stretch. Off since 4/20, the Mike Mitchell trained gelding dueled outside the winner through a :44 3/5 half mile in the 5 furlong dash and then battled the runner-up before falling short and settling for the show. He definitely needed the race and should beat these entry-level allowance/optional claimers soon.
North Rodeo - Lost enough ground last time to cost her at least the place and maybe the win. The Bob Baffert trainee was three deep early, angled in to duel on the pace in the Cal-bred entry level allowance, moved up again in the stretch and held well for the show while pressured throughout the mile event. The 3-year old filly was sent off as the even money favorite and gets a chance to redeem herself vs the same next time. Bet her back.
One On The House - The Kathy Walsh trained turf gelding just missed getting a first level allowance win in last. The 5-year old gelding is in good form right now and after a bit of a rough trip two back moved in close attendance between rivals early in his most recent, moved up to best the pace setter in the stretch of the mile and a sixteenth grass test and gave way late to the 8-5 favored winner. Beats this kind next time...stay with him.
Rhodine's Kid - The Bob Hess trained veteran got stuck pressing a sharp pace and just missed holding his lead last time out. The 5-year old horse had finished second vs slightly lesser in his prior and vs 25K claiming foes this time stalked the pace from well off the rail in the 6 furlong dash, moved between rivals to take the lead in the stretch and settled for the show only a half length off the winner. Same effort and a bit less contentious early battle and he connects vs this kind.
Sportie's Squeeze - The 4-year old claiming filly lost all chance when she was bumped at the start of her most recent. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was making her first start since a win at Pleasanton on July 4 and after getting bumped moved between rivals and swung out at the top of the lane. After losing ground she flattened out through the stretch in the six furlong 40K event. She was haltered out of the race by Rafael Bacerra and has the resume to bounce back vs the same or slightly better next time.
Velvety Smooth - The low level claiming filly was looking for her second in a row last out but was compromised by her outside post and a wide trip. The Art Sherman trained mare broke alertly but dropped back to track her 10K claiming foes from the outside in the 6 furlong test, moved between horses on the turn and swung five wide into the lane. She made up ground late but came up 2 lengths short in the 6 furlong race. Wins another soon if kept at this level.
Via Venetto - The owner-trainer combo of Donald Dizney and Bob Baffert struck pay dirt as this juvenile daughter of Orientate easily dispatched nine MSW rivals in her debut. She entered off the usual battery of quick works by the trainer, broke in a bit of a tangle and then settled just off the pace-setter in the 5 ½ furlong event. By the time they hit the top of the stretch she had found her best stride, moved up three wide, took over and held off the rest under a strong hand ride. Wins right back...stay with her.
Waive Liability - The 5-year old claiming gelding got away slowly in last but showed definite late interest. It was his first race in eight weeks, and he might have been further compromised by his outside (12) post as he had to move in a bit and go between rivals after chasing early in the rapidly run for the 12.5K level race. The Martin Jones trainee moved five wide into the lane and was only beaten a length and a half. One more step forward and he wins one of these at a decent price.
Playing The Trifecta - To Box Or Not To Box...That Is The Question
Here I go again...flying in the face of convention.
When it comes to betting the Trifecta my experience tells me that upwards of 75% box the play, 20% play either a box, part wheel or key as their knowledge tells them and 5% wouldn't play a box if the takeout were 15% instead of the extortive 25-30%. I'm sure you already know where I'm going with this.
The misguided consensus regarding a Trifecta Box is that such a play affords the bettor that many more chances to finish first, second and/or third. By the reasoning, a four horse Trifecta Box would give the player four chances to finish first, four chances to finish second and four chances to finish third. And try as you might to get a player to understand that this might be the "worst" and not the "best" wager, unfortunately the Box Mentality prevails over, and is much more popular than the tactically far better Part Wheel.
Let's compare a four horse Trifecta Box with a Part Wheel in which you use two horses in the first slot, three in the second slot and as many as five in the third slot.
Before I start let me say one thing to those of you who are already questioning why I would write this when my service has on a number of occasions given out Trifecta Boxes. The reason for those releases is simple. DEMAND. Clients would rather, as I mentioned in the percentage breakdown above, play a box rather than a Part Wheel. Naturally I hit the better share of those boxes, and people do make money...but if I could convert to belief in the Part Wheel they'd make even more.
There are a number of reasons that too often a 4 horse Trifecta Box does not add up. In the first place you are not increasing your "probability" of winning, but decreasing it. How can I make such a statement when I'm only presenting a scenario that puts 2 horses in the win spot while a box places 4 horses there?
I can make the statement because it's logical. If you box 4 horses (1,2,3,4 with 1,2,3,4 with 1,2,3,4) you pay $1 for a $24 box and you have given yourself 1 opportunity at winning and 23 possibilities of losing. When you play a Part Wheel (1,2 with 1,2,3 with 1,2,3,4,5) you also create 1 opportunity to win, but you only put yourself in a losing position 11 times.
Also think of it this way. With the Part Wheel example cited above you are only spending $12 for your combination. That leaves you two options...you can play yet another combo in another race without diluting your bankroll any further, or you can double the payoff by placing a $2 Part Wheel as opposed to a $1 Box. If every Trifecta paid evenly, that would mean you would have to hit it twice as many times in a Box.
On the "cost of doing business" alone the Part Wheel is the much more logical and effective method. But it also makes sense from a Handicapping standpoint, because if you really believe that you have isolated 4 horses that are equally good enough to be excluded from the rest of the field and equally good enough to finish first, second or third, then you are really not a very selective handicapper. Sure, finding 4 horses in a race that are equal in ability and value is a possibility. But it is a much rarer occurrence than the wagering public apparently believes, at least based on the number of 4 horse trifecta boxes wagered...and more importantly, on the tote board. For you to have found four horses of equal or near to equal "logical probability" then it would follow that in say, a ten horse field, your four choices would have to be the high end of 7-2, 4-1, 4-1 and the low end of 9-2 to suggest one example. How many times does that happen? And when it does, how many times do the four provide the top three finishers?
And finally, let's put another positive light on the Part Wheel from this standpoint. If you have a 10 horse field and you box 4 horses you are going against a subtle factor of selective handicapping. It is much tougher to handicap the third place finish than it is the second place finisher, which is in turn tougher than the first place finisher.
I do not mean that it is easier to pick the winner in the sense that you are making a win bet, but in the sense that you are constructing a wager which places your horses in slots that construct a winning ticket. Because when you bet a Trifecta involving that 10 horse field the following dynamic occurs. You have 3 slots for 10 horses (a 30% possibility). But once one of your horses fills a slot you now only have 2 slots for 9 horses (a 22% possibility) and once that slot is filled you have 1 slot for 8 horses (a 12.5% possibility). Since there is rarely a time where there are 4 horses equally capable of winning, the possibilities once that slot is filled make it that much more difficult to find two and even more difficult to find three.
Those are just a few reasons why a good handicapper will handicap an Exacta (find the 2 and/or 3 key horses) when looking for a Trifecta and add into the third spot those horses with a lesser chance of winning but nonetheless viable chance of hitting the board, long before he or she will box 4 horses.
I could extend this into a number of further reasons and examples, but for now just mull over the idea...I'll continue the point in later Issues of Under The Shedrow.
Get more articles by Jim Hurley here...