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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Finding Longshots

The goal of any wager placed by a handicapper is minimum expense with maximum impact. In most cases throughout any race card, the favorite in any particular race is installed with low-odds for a reason. The odds maker and the betting public knows and understands that he is the horse to beat.

It is no magical feat to single a favorite and your payout will often reflect that. If you are looking to beat the odds, you must dive into the full field and search for that diamond in the rough. Most times, that longshot horse will be decked out with flashing lights, arrows and a huge spotlight directed squarely at his nose. You just have to know the signs and where to find it.

The Past Performance sheet is not the place.

Breaking everything down into common sense is a handicapper's best tool for profit. Not every race will offer an easy chance to capitalize, however, every race that you wager on, you must search outside of the public's perception and strike while the iron is hot.

Let's dive in to one of the easiest longshot entries of the 2023 Breeders Cup weekend in order to breakdown why this horse was worthy of your gambling dollars and the steps that need to be taken when using common sense above the printed figures. This exercise should be done with every horse in every gate that you gamble on. The goal is always maximum profit.

Taken from the Pre-Race BC Juvenile Analysis:

Post 9 - FIERCENESS 6-1 Pletcher/Velasquez City of Light

DP = 1-3-2-0-0 (6) DI = 5.00 CD = 0.83 ANZ = 9.00

Mare Profile = 5-6-6-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.92 Triads = 17-20-19

Built correctly for the track. Last race is a toss. He lunged at the break and temporarily threw his jockey off balance, therefore he did not get his lead and he was set completely off his course. After that, he was bumped by another and also traveled 7 wide at one point. If this guy reverts back to a clean break and forward style, he is one fierce competitor. Major shot to surprise. I'm rolling that dice that he breaks well here and displays all of that beautiful inheritance.

How did we get there?

The very first item is to gauge whether or not the longshot is built for the race. If he is not, there is no need to go any further. The only way to understand the foundation of the horse, especially a 2 year old horse, is to consult his numbers with alignment to the bias and distance of the race.

1. Advantage for Santa Anita at 8.5f screams hefty speed chef inheritance.

Fierceness sitting with a 5.00 Roman index, a 9.00 ANZ index. √

2. Mares either to lean heavily to stamina or loaded triads in order to sustain that speed 1-1/16th.

Fierceness with loaded triads at 17-20-19. √

3. Evidence of Forward running style, lead tier capability.

Two prior races. Maiden shows favorable capability of lead tier style. √

Maiden Race Results:

Pretty impressive maiden race on August 25th on a sloppy muddy track. The horse traveled gate to wire and beat the field by over 11 lengths. The horse comes back 5 weeks later, installed as the favorite in the Champagne Stakes, again on a wet and sloppy track. This time, the horse loses the race miserably by over 20 lengths.

Based on the PP's for the Juvenile, Fierceness gets overlooked by the betting public because of the dismal speed figures as compared to the other entries.

These are the type of odds that should be on every handicapper's radar. Common sense dictates that something went amiss. It may turn out to be nothing and you move on, but the goal is to find the diamond in the rough for profit.

Everything listed across those two races screamed to the handicapper, "Look deeper into this, something is off."

His breeding numbers coincided perfectly with his short maiden. His style of running coincided as well. Both races on a wet sloppy track. Breeding gave no indication of distance limitation. In fact, these are quintessential 10f Kentucky Derby numbers.

The 8f distance played no part in his poor performance in the Champagne. Obviously, the wet track did not interfere either.

First race he ran gate to wire. The second race he decided to come from the rear. That right there tells the gambler that something took him away from his preferred style and away from his breeding. In the comments for the Champagne Stakes, all one sees is "Lunge st; tired."

Horrible call figures, loss by 20 lengths and the word "tired" is all the betting public saw and this horse tumbled to 16 to 1 in the Juvenile gate. I would imagine they saw the upgrade from the 6f maiden to the 8f distance of the Champagne and assumed the horse tired because of a loss of energy and distance limitations.

A past performance sheet is useless when trying to determine if a well-bred colt deserves further inspection, especially with those favorable odds. His chart and numbers being the first clue that with his advantage on that track bias, you definitely need to figure out why did the horse "tire" at only 8f. You won't find that answer on the PP's. You may not even be able to tell from the race replay as well. The minimal comment on a PP sheet does no justice when considering any longshot.

You must always consult the Race Results Chart. It takes 5 minutes of your time and could mean the difference between ripping up your ticket or cashing an $1100.00 superfecta. As a serious handicapper, this should be, first and foremost, your job if you are seeking a profit. The goal should always be to find the one who will pay you. The extra five minutes is essential.

The very first item to look at with any Race Results Chart is the START line:

Right off the bat, you can easily see that Fierceness was the only entry on the field that did not have a good break. Common sense tells you that because of this mishap, he did not secure his preferred lead spot. With further inspection, even more information can be ascertained as to why this horse did a complete 180 from his spectacular gate to wire run to a 20 length loss.

You must read the Footnotes.

From the Footnotes, can one assume that the 16-1 longshot, one who had such a stellar maiden race, may have had a few reasons why he did not perform to his breeding capability in the Champagne? Using common sense, can one give the benefit of the doubt in the poor call figures and horrendous performance? Can one take a reasonable shot with a better break this time that the horse will secure his preferred lead tier spot and run to his breeding?

Based on two criteria, that answer is a resounding yes. The first is the circumstances documented in his actual plight right out of the gate. The second reason holds even more common sense; Todd Pletcher entered this "poor performing" colt into the Breeders Cup Juvenile for a reason. It is obvious that the Champagne Stakes is a complete toss based on the race results chart.

Concrete evidence shows a colt who is built spectacularly for the race and with every advantage in his running style IF HE BREAKS WELL and gets his preferred lead tier spot. At 16-1, this is exactly the circumstances that handicappers should be looking for in every single race he gambles on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but every single piece of information must be tackled in order to find the correct answer. Only then can the puzzle be put together correctly for a profit.

Fierceness had the proper breeding, first and foremost. He performed to that breeding in his maiden. The Champagne Stakes held no bearing with the poor figures and how he would react if he broke well in the Juvenile. Would the risk be reasonable based on the situation presented in his prior race? At 16-1, that would be a gigantic yes.

When handicapping, the pedigree chart, the numbers, the PPs and THE RACE RESULTS CHARTS all go hand in hand and must be consulted in order to at least have a shot at some profit. This is where your insight for the specific horse is revealed.


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