Handicapping Tip of the Day #57 – Wide with Intent

“Now do you get it?” my friend asked me. “He wasn’t intending to win.”

By ART PARKER

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

One of the things I learned to do years ago with my trip handicapping was to watch for the wide running horse. A buddy of mine that followed a dozen or so trainers told me how some will prep for the winning race by telling the rider to go wide and give the horse a good public workout.

He showed me what he was talking about one day when the replays were on the track monitors about an hour before post time of the first race of the day. As the replay from yesterday’s third race began, he said, “Here it comes. Watch the number two horse.” The gelding broke well and was allowed to gradually fall back near the rear of the field. I saw the horse fall behind by about a dozen lengths. Once the horse was about a dozen lengths behind, it ran even with the field and was wide entering the stretch. He finished about ten lengths behind. “I looked at my buddy and quizzically said, “Okay?”  In other words, “so what?”

Access the Head-On Replay

That is when he told me to watch the head-on replay. There it was on the monitors. After allowing to fall gradually behind, the rider shifted his mount off the inside and was in the middle of the track and drifting wider. There was no need for that – no bias in the surface. Once he was in the clear the rider allowed the horse to keep up but away from traffic and then proceeded to maintain the same wide course in the turn, again for no reason. Once in mid-stretch, the rider asked him for a little more and the horse ran well but finished behind and well beaten.

“Now do you get it?” my friend asked me. “He wasn’t intending to win.” I responded. “But what do I do with this information?” I asked. That was when my buddy pulled out a small notebook and showed me how he recorded the effort with the horses’ names on his list of notes for that specific trainer. He explained to me this trainer would usually give his horses a race after a layoff. “If he (the trainer in question) runs one wide like this it is strictly a prep for the big effort next time out. Be looking for this horse in a couple of weeks in the same class or with a slight drop,” my friend explained.

Of course, I forgot about the lesson I should have learned that day. A couple of weeks later the horse was entered. I passed the race for one reason or another. When the race was official I noticed the winner paid nearly $20.00. About that time I heard a voice ask me, “Did you bet him?” It was my friend who reminded me that I just missed a lucrative opportunity.

From that moment on I have always remembered to make a note of any horse that looked to be running intentionally wide. It’s helped me catch some good winners over the years. Just remember, the head-on replay is what tells the tale.

Did you miss Handicapping Tip #56 – 2nd time starters

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 17-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the 2018 NHC Tour with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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