Helpful Hints for Playing BabiesWritten by Jon Stettin
Two-year-old races are underway again. With more tracks starting to run, and barns getting to wait a tad longer with their babies, we should see some solid baby races with lots of opportunities. A lot of people shy away from baby races as there is not as much information to go on. I see that as an edge. Less can be more.
Here are some of the things I look at when studying baby races. When you have a field full of first-time starters, you have to have some things you can identify which you value. I have several.
The old sayings follow the money, or they knew, hold up pretty well in baby races. Fast horses generate a buzz on the backside, and that equates to tote action. The money shows on babies that can run a good percentage of the time. You don't have to blindly play every baby favorite or every one who gets bet hard, but you should pay attention and be aware. Sure they can always be a morning glory, and you never know until they race, but money talks loudly in baby races.
Trainers stick to what works for them. Some trainers work their horses fast, some slow, some long and some shorter. That's the obvious part. What I like to do is keep a book on what trainers have done in the workouts with horses who came out smoking. Sometimes you'll spot different moves when they "like" a runner or have one highly regarded or who they think can win. If you spot that, it is invaluable and will lead to more than one big score. Bill Mott, for example, they say is bad with first-time starters and on the surface his percentage may not be so great. I think if you watch him closely, you can gauge the ones they like in the barn. It pays to pay attention to details and patterns more so than the times.
If you spot a pattern on a trainer, they use when prepping a horse that won, which differs from other patterns you've found gold. Please make a note of it.
Pedigree matters with babies. Looking into winners from the female side of the family can be worthwhile. If you have been around awhile and have a good memory, it can save you some time, as pedigrees repeat. If a mare throws early or first time out winners, that will be a consistent thing more often than not. Finding one that throws first-time stretch out winners can take a bit more work but yield bigger profits and a more significant edge over other players. Win early families have been extremely consistent historically.
In the short sprints they card for the babies a trainer who puts speed into his horses is obviously a plus. Most of us know who those guys are. It's better to know who doesn't put speed into their babies and races them into shape. Eliminating can be as valuable as using. I like to eliminate trainers who never try or just never win first out, and they're out there. Bill Mott isn't one of them.
Handicapping two-year-olds is a challenge, but can be lucrative and give the astute player the ever-elusive edge. Like I said, I have a book on all these trainers and can tell them when they are live more so than when they can tell me. It takes work, but it pays well.
Some trainers will run a good baby in a stake first out, knowing they can win. Stanley Hough is one of them. He'll probably do it again at some point if he has the horse. Some trainers are not as good judging their own stock just like people are not objective judging their own kids. These are the types of things that will find their way into your book, and lead to dollars in your pocket.
It is a good feeling when they ask you what made you love that horse, and the answer is it's proprietary.