Handicapping The Horses – Trainer Intention – The Prep Race

Sometimes when looking at the Past Performances, you will notice horses entered that seem like they don’t belong in the field for one reason or another. They might seem to be overmatched, entered at a distance that they have never run well at, or even on a surface that they have never run well on. This is where trainer intention comes in. Is this horse entered here to really try and win, or is this race part of preparation of a future race?

The horse may have been laid off for awhile and is coming back at a shorter distance than what they usually run well at. You can go back in the P.P.s and look to see where they have put forth their best effort-sprinting,routing, dirt, turf, etc.. If a horse is a true turf router and is coming back off a 3 month layoff and is entered today at 6 to 7 furlongs on the dirt, you can bet that this is probably a prep race of some kind. Trainers will telegraph what their intentions are sometimes and you will get better at recognizing these things as you gain experience.

Sometimes, they will use two or even three prep races to get their horse into competitive shape. There are some other keys to look for when you think that the preps are over and this is the real thing:

–Horse is entered today at a suitable distance.

–Horse is dropping in class to where it has been competitive in the past.

–Horse is switching to a jockey who it won with before, or the trainer’s favorite jockey.

–Horse is switching to a better jockey than was aboard during the prep races.

Some trainers will win with the route to sprint angle, but that is very rare coming off any kind of layoff. Unless the horse is at the very least, a standout type. This is usually the stakes level horse who has been off for some time and is entered in an allowance race just to brush him up before another stakes event. These usually go off at very low odds anyway, the kind of bets that I avoid, and I advise you to do the same.

The prep race angle is just one of the ways to handicap when looking for value. I will discuss others in future writings.

Posted in Gym

Michael Ortiz

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