How to Quickly and Easily Identify the “Sucker” Horse

by Rich Nilsen

Trainer Chad Stewart has been on a tear since the Tampa Bay Downs meeting opened in early December, scoring with 35 percent of his starters, 8 winners in total. Every horse of his has to be seriously considered. At first glance it looked he might add to that impressive win total with Misidentified in the finale (race 10) on Wednesday, January 9.

The Singletary mare was making her second start off a layoff, had a race over the track, and was getting a switch to 15% rider Jose Garcia. She came up solid on the class and speed figures and was a competitive 3rd on the BRIS Prime Power Rating. Best of all, based on her debut, it looked like she could sit a good trip in this weak field of $8,000 maiden claiming runners.

Racehorse sucker horse

copyright 2013 Equibase and Bloodstock Research Information Services.


But then the “quick-and-easy sucker horse identifier” caught my eye. Misidentified had been well bet in all three career starts. Certainly nothing wrong with that, right? Some horseplayers love to see horses that regularly take action. The problem for this five-year-old mare was that she had not once been competitive in any of those starts. The kicker was the second career start when her connections gave her a huge drop in class from maiden special weights company at Golden Gate to a low-level maiden claimer at the Iowa racetrack. Off at odds of just under 3-1, she had trouble at the start and then was quickly pulled up. If that wasn’t a red flag enough, she was then given a long layoff during the heart of the racing season.

When she returned this December at Tampa Bay Downs, she was making her first start for a red-hot barn, was placed in a logical spot, and was well bet accordingly. She never lifted a hoof.

So despite her competitive numbers, the impressive trainer stats, and the various angles she had going for her, Misidentified was clearly a sucker horse.

Off at odds of 4-1 on Wednesday, she attended the pace and then called it a day when the real running started. She narrowly won the photo for 4th while well beaten behind a trio of horses who were a combined 0 for 30 lifetime.

Identifying low-priced sucker horses can be as easy as just looking back within the recent starts and spotting horses that should have run well in a given spot and failed to do so. When you see a runner that meets that criteria in 2-3 consecutive starts, at low odds, chances are you’ve found a horse that will once again disappoint. That’s almost as good as finding a winner.