Handicapping Tip of the Day #33 – Horse Racing’s Biggest Drop

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Dropping in class? Are you sure? There are many ways to try and determine if a horse is dropping in class. There is one way, in a given set of every day circumstances, to determine a class drop. And, make no mistake about it. It is the biggest drop in racing. Years ago one of my mentors told me to do one thing first when look at maiden claiming races. Find any horse that is dropping out of maiden special weights into a maiden claimer race.

Few horses that win stakes races or multiple allowance races begin their careers by winning their first race in a maiden claimer. Horses that run for the bigger money later on usually start where the purses are higher and that is not in the maiden claiming ranks. The most inviting class dropper is the one that ran in maiden special weights a few times, showed some talent such as some early speed or the ability to stay in contention, but now drops down for some class relief.   The maiden special weights to maiden claiming move is the most potent class drop in horse racing.   It is one of the easiest ways to find a way, sometimes at remarkably good prices.

This Bud’s for You

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerby Jude Feld (reprinted with permission from our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Bud Strelitz was one of the best handicappers I have ever known. His sons, Roger and Lenny, were classmates of mine at Temple City High School. Bud was a daily visitor to Santa Anita, often found reading the Form, under a shade tree, in the paddock garden near the walking ring.

Since he spent so much time at the track, Bud saw a lot of races. He had a keen eye for trips, and was a great source of information in the days when replays were not nearly as readily available as they are today.

Because the paddock was his main hang out, he also had an eye for horseflesh, although he often downplayed those skills to me, saying, “You would know better than I.”

We often compared notes on the races and although we were not always on the same horse, we had mutual respect for one another’s skills. Bud cashed on more longshots and had more big exactas than anybody I have ever known. His secret?

“I never bet a horse dropping in class.”

We were standing on the mezzanine level near the escalator at the Great Race Place when Bud said those words to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. He had just cashed an exacta for $976.

I had thought the odds-on favorite, a W.R. Johnson-owned gelding, trained by Joe Arena, who was dropping in for $10,000 off a victory for $12,500, looked too tough to bet against and I passed the race.

“Any horse can get beat,” Bud said, “Especially at this level. Nobody gives money away. I like to bet horses that are improving. If the trainer thinks they can win a bigger purse, who am I to argue?”

This was an important moment in my development as a horseplayer.

The public gravitates to class droppers and sometimes they win, but the prices are so short that they are a bad long term investment. Any time your handicapping turns you into Captain Obvious, it is probably best to keep your money in your pocket.

Always be on the lookout for the improving horse – one with speed figures on the rise or one showing better early speed or one moving up off a solid maiden victory. Jump on the bandwagon before the public catches on to them.

Whenever I am handicapping my final contenders, I always hear Bud’s soft-spoken words in my head and it helps me to focus on the best bet among them. It was just a 30-second conversation as we passed each other in the grandstand, but it turned into a lifetime of better-priced winners for me.