Four Keys to Playing Claiming Races

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 11, 2017 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Poker is a great game and most of my horse racing friends are scared away from the tables. – I admit I enjoy the game, and like horse racing, there is a cerebral element that draws me like a moth to a flame. But the majority of good horse players keep this off their lists of things-to-do. – Horse racing has an element of combing over your data, making decisions how to use your info, and watching the beautiful horses thunder home. – They ruffle the cards, you look at your hole cards, and know right off the bat if you’re going any further. No looking around the table at players with dark glasses, or the mysterious player at the end who has watched too much TV. – Betting the ponies is about you versus the other players just like in poker, but mainly it is you doing battle with your toughest opponent. – You. – Here are some key plans on enjoying a day at the races which could translate into a profitable day.

1. – Skip the maiden claiming races = Right off the bat you are sitting out a race and that can be a great thing. Maidens are those which have not won a race and they are in for a claiming tag already. That sends me the signal the connections aren’t too happy with what they have in their barn and losing them for a tag isn’t a bad idea. – There are a few races that may have a troubled trip runner or one that is shipping in for top notch connections. – They may offer some value but remember they are there for a reason. There is nothing like nailing down a win and getting claimed. The barn and owners could “dump” a marginal horse and have a bumper payday. You’ll have some winners now and then but if you skip these you’ll be better off in the long run.

2. – Lower level claimers going up in class = Initially you would think this is a good thing stepping up from $4,000 claiming event to $5,000. – Mom use to say you are measured by the company you keep, and jumping up in class from the bottoms draws a flag every time. – Do you really think this is the beginning to the start of the huge turn around in class ? Or do you think they are so happy with what they are seeing in the morning they’re ready to try their hand at the next level. – Racing offices around the country “hustle” horses into races creating full fields which bettors love. Sometimes they’ll reach out to a trainer and they’ll enter using the race as a way of a work with company, and they’ll be better off when they drop back down in class. – I must admit I look for horses dropping back to where they belong. They have seen a little better, and if they are fit they may benefit from the drop back in class.

3. – Condition claimers skipping a class and going back – I love to see a runner going from a $5,000 claiming non-winners of two races lifetime and skipping that condition to try $5,000 non-winners of 3 lifetime. – Believe it or not this is a strong play against. There could be runners that just glide through the conditions with the greatest of ease. – I look for the condition skipper and toss them. You never get the value you deserve, and they are skipping for some reason you’ll never know. For the one that will score you’ll have 8 that will come up short. – The big bonus is when they drop back down to their class level. – When you see this, go ahead and toss them into your wagers.

4.- Take a double look at the rider aboard – I’ve been seeing many bigger riders take a mount in a low level claiming race and  scratch my head. – If they are dropping from Allowance company to upper level claiming races this may be a great move to watch. – But if they are taking a small time rider off in a low level claiming race to be replaced by a top three rider in the standings. You have to do some homework. – Is there a super work after that last race ? – Have they been showing speed in races with a closer’s track bias ? – Was there a troubled ride with the lower jock a few times ? – Was the past rider an apprentice ? – All have to be factored in as you may be getting a bonus. – Many times you have  a rider that is taking a mount for a trainer and later in the card they have a mount for the same trainer on a much better runner. – An agent may be asked to ride his good jockey and they do it in the name of business. – Keep your eyes peeled and be on the look.