Handicapping Tip of the Day #42 – Beware the Triple Drop

by Rich Nilsen

On opening day at Del Mar racetrack (July 19, 2017) top local trainer and crafty claiming horseman Peter Miller entered the 6yo gelding, Belisarius (Ire), in a $16,000 claiming race going one mile on the dirt.  On the ‘surface’ the winner of $174,659 lifetime looked like a major player. Although all his wins were on the grass (and this was on the dirt), Belisarius was making his third start off the layoff, getting a switch to a high percentage jockey, and was getting a sharp drop in class. At morning line odds of 8-1, he looked juicy … at first glance.

However, handicappers are always warned to look beyond the first glance.  With a closer look, one could see that Miller had dropped this runner in class three consecutive times since he had been moved into his barn from that of Hall of Famer Bill Mott.  His first start for Miller was an also-ran effort in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. He then returned off a layoff, dropping sharply in class to an optional claimer, two other than.  He ran dead last in the field of six, beaten nearly 16 lengths.

He then received an sharp drop in class to a $35,000 claimer for non-winners of three races lifetime.  Off at 6-1, he defeated two horses.  So, let’s try another drop in class and a surface switch. Red flags don’t come any bigger.  Miller was desperately trying to find a spot where the once-sound horse could be competitive.  We don’t know why, but some reason this horse had soured on racing.

race horse from Peter Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bet down to odds of 6.10 to 1, Belisarius was never competitive en route to a fifth place finish.   Miller wasn’t done yet with the class drops.  On August 5, he ran for $8,000 at Del Mar and finished a non-competitive sixth.

Class drops are not always positive, especially when it is a series of consecutive class drops that do not result in improved performances.

Handicapping Tips #1 -The Drop

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

AGameofSkill.com Handicapping Tip of the Day – July 7, 2014

Class drops in horse racing are situations where a horse has been facing tougher competition and now is dropping into “softer” company.  The most potent of all class drops is the maiden special weights to maiden claiming move.  In maiden special weight races horses can not be “claimed” or purchased for any price.   Whereas in the maiden claiming races, horses are entered for a specific claiming price.  Every horse in the race is for sale as a pre-determined price.  The drop is most powerful when the claiming price of today’s race is $40,000 or less.   The lower price, the softer the competition.  Handicappers will often see remarkable turn-arounds, such as a horse defeated 15 lengths or more in a maiden special weights who returns to win when dropped into the maiden claiming races where the competition is significantly softer.

One caveat that handicappers should be aware of with this handicapping tip is the state-bred maiden special weights drop into open maiden claimers, where horses from any state can run in.   In many cases, this is not much class relief for the horse in question and will not result in a huge turnaround.

– Rich Nilsen