Handicapping Tip of the Day
by Rich Nilsen
There is one particular type of favorite that the experienced horseplayer should never fear. I’m talking about the type of public choice, especially a maiden, who always runs well enough to get bet next time out. His or her past performances always look like a horse in sharp form, with strong speed figures, and running lines that include a lot of 1-2-3s. But what is always in common is a lot of “two’s” and “three’s” at the finish position. This is the type of runner that lacks the will to win. The horse is talented. The horse has speed. The horse runs good enough to nearly get his picture taken, but the horse doesn’t want to “go on” and win the race.
A recent race at Finger Lakes was a perfect example of a money-burning maiden that fit this bill. November 15, 2016 at Finger Lakes featured the heavy favorite Hazen’s Notch. The New York-bred of D’Funnybone was seven-for-seven in the money racing at distances from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 mile and 70 yards and over tracks labeled fast, good and sloppy.
The versatile gelding was coming off another ‘good’ effort, a 2nd place finish at 3-1 odds at the maiden special weights level only 14 days prior. But look closer and this horse was life and death to hang on for second while drubbed 8 lengths by another rival. In only one of his last five races had this horse gained ground in the stretch. In all but one of his seven career races he went off at odds of 3-1 or lower. He was expected to win nearly every one of these races by many handicappers and had failed.
On this day Hazen’s Notch was odds-on during most of the wagering before finally settling at 1.05 to 1 at post time. He finished third, beaten only two necks for all the money, behind $18.40 winner Winlocs Utopia.
The chart caller’s comments read: Hazen’s Notch was well placed along the two path, angled out in the lane, gained some and hung.