Handicapping 101: Class
Ray Cotolo
August 26, 2014
In this series of people, who has the most power: a pauper, a merchant or a king? The obvious answer is the king, as he is atop the social-class ladder. This chain of superiority is also a wide-spread belief among many racing experts, in which classier horses have more power than their lower-classed competitors. They are right. A stakes type like Foiled Again could easily defeat a horse competing a top the condition ranks, theoretically speaking, since this is racing and logic is the last factor when it comes to the conclusion of a race.
Because the use of class in handicapping is such a common angle, it is not a strong edge for handicappers. Yet, that doesn't mean it should be ruled out of the picture.
Here's one example from a Tuesday night at Yonkers Raceway.
Little Michael B was competing against non-winners of $5,000 in their last six starts (would appear as NW$5,000L6 in program) at the half-mile oval. Now, if I'm not mistaken, his last start was against NW$8,500L5. While the number of eligible races is decreased by one, $8,500 is a larger number than $5,000, and that's a fact. Little Michael B was dropping in class.
Should his drop in class be the only reason for him to be a contender? No. His class should be determined on how he competes i.e., his trip (trip handicapping will be analyzed in another edition). Looking at his two trips against the NW$8,500L5 group, he was fairly competitive, so he would be a logical contender.
Is he an outsider? No. Every other bettor has at hand the exact same information we're examining, which explains his morning line of 1-1 (even-money). Sure enough, he was victorious and paid $2.80 to win (odds of 2/5).
Of course, while there is an example proving classier horses are superior, there are always instances of a pauper getting his shot in the spotlight. Here's an instance from a Tuesday night at Pocono Downs.
Western Credit was competing against NW$10,000L5. His last race was a victory against NW$5,500L5 at Pocono Downs. Using kindergarten math skills, he was stepping up in class. His victory is also a notable class move, going from claiming races to a conditioned race. These moves are usually positive signs, showing that the connections of the horse want to retain ownership. Yet, it still counts as a step up in class. The adverse can be viewed as negative, but also qualifies as class relief.
When dropping out of the claimers and into the bottom-level condition at Pocono Downs, he closed to win, paying $30.40 to win. While the public may have been deterred because the horse's trainer was driving (This will be further discussed in another part), it's an example of a class drop that can be profitable.
Now that he's stepping up, he can't win because he's outclassed, right? Wrong. There are frequently horses who easily ascend on the class ladder. Is this a gelding who can take the class hike? Absolutely. Four of the nine in that field raced in this level before and did not put in a great effort. Would Western Credit be the top contender in this race? Not necessarily. There was a horse racing to the left of him, from post 4, Buffalino Hanover.
Buffalino Hanover was the Little Michael B of that race. He was racing well against much better competition, most notably against non-winners of $22,500 in their last five starts (likely a typo in the program). Yet, his rise to the top was followed by a long fall to the penultimate level at the bottom of the class ladder. That could make him a bad bet, especially since when competing against slightly better (NW$13,000L5), he put in an average performance.
With all this information in mind, our original subject, Western Credit, was victorious and paid $77.80 to win off a $2 bet, an ROI of 37.9%, or a 3,800% difference. A majority of horses in similar situations as Western Credit might pay closer to $25 to $30 on $2 investments, which is still an ROI of 11.5%-14%.
Just because the return on horses moving up in class is much more substantial than the case of Little Michael B, that doesn't mean that one should only look for Western Credits. Like many things in life, handicapping should not be interpreted as a black-and-white subject.
For every angle there is an opposite and both can be profitable. In the case of Little Michael B, he was the key horse, so an exacta or trifecta may have been the route to take. Find a couple of long shots to use underneath and the exotics still returned $24.40 and $107 on $1 tickets. With Western Credit, all that was played was a $2 win bet.
Every race opens different scenarios and opportunities. In order to spot these situations where profit is possible, continue to follow this series to further educate on the wonders of handicapping harness races.
Ray Cotolo, long time follower of the harness racing industry, is a presenter on North American Harness Update.
Copyright © 2013-2014 SRN Mediaworks Productions in association with Ray Cotolo
All rights reserved. We are not responsible for the content of external links.
148.ca | Cafe | Fab | Radio | Local