The Race AfterWritten by Jon Stettin
We've all heard the phrase "The Morning After" but today we will talk about the race after. In keeping with one of our recent themes, we will again look at an angle which can translate to some nice scores. That's what it is all about.
Last weekend we saw two of the most impressive sprint performances in years. Imperial Hint smoked a field that included Met Mile winner Mitole. It wasn't just that he smoked the field; it was also how he did it and how fast he did it. Anytime a horse breaks a track or stakes record it is indeed impressive. When they break one at Saratoga, you just can't help but think about how many great ones raced there at that distance, whatever that distance may be. In Imperial Hint's case, it was 6 furlongs, and he needed just 1.07:92 to run it. That's what they call racehorse time and a new Saratoga track record.
The very next day, we witnessed another epic sprint performance. Shancelot needed just 1:14.01 to run 6 and a half furlongs. That's flat out fast. Unnoticed by many, not us of course, was that Shancelot ran 6 furlongs in 1:07.63 which was actually faster than Imperial Hint. He won't get track record credit in the books, but we can all have a footnote here that says "wow" or something like that. Not only did these two run as fast as polished steel, they were visually impressive as well. Imperial Hint looked like he was toying with the field. Shancelot looked like he was in his own race.
Of course, accolades came in on both runners after their respective races. Rightfully so. These were two impressive sprints. People were already talking about where they'd run next, and how much they'd win those races by. If racing history as taught us anything, anything at all, it's not so fast!
One of my favorite angles is betting against short priced horses coming off monster efforts. You can rest assured both these sprinters will be well bet in their next starts. Before we even talk about a bounce or regression, let us ask this. Is it reasonable to expect either of these horses to repeat a performance like their last one in their next start? History and past performances say no. It is much more likely they don't repeat those performances than they duplicate them. I doubt either goes forward as well, although I must admit I'd enjoy seeing that. Wouldn't we all?
A fast race, no matter how easily the horse may have made it look is always taxing. Time doesn't lie, and fast times will take a toll even on a horse who makes it look easy or wins under wraps with their ears up. Think about it. Do you really think either of these two could have gone three quarters of a mile in 7 flat or less? Not too likely.
When horses run monster races most bettors assume they will win their next race and bet them hard accordingly. You just can't be sure of that, and it is even harder to spot in the morning with a good horse. Good ones have that alpha trait. They may train well, eat well, and act on their game after a big race. When they actually run and regress even hall of fame trainers will say, "they fooled me."
The key for me evaluating how to handle this type in their best race is simple. I try and anticipate the regression and handicap asking the question can they regress and still win? Often that answer is no, and they are for me a big bet against or toss. If the answer is yes, I may use, but I prefer the former scenario. Tossing a favorite or short priced horse off a big race can be a key to a nice score. This is a situation I like to get aggressive with, and I will be looking for just such an opportunity when Imperial Hint and Shancelot run back. I'll be in the minority, but that has never stopped or hurt me before.