When facing a heavily bet favorite that’s a chronic loser, take any horse with recency that fits the distance and class conditions.
This angle can be applied at all levels of competition. Whenever a horse looks far superior to its opponents and yet repeatedly finds a way to lose, astute gamblers are offered an opportunity. A horse that consistently generates high speed figures while narrowly losing looks formidable in the past performances. Its ability to run is obvious, and the near misses show that the horse is competitive. Yet for one reason or another, the winner’s circle remains elusive.
In these cases, inferior competitors will often manage upsets, even when they seem to pose little threat on paper to the heavily bet favorite. Until sports psychologists manage a breakthrough in equine medicine, opportunities to play such upsetters will remain a part of racing for any bettor willing to set aside traditional measures of performance.
The first obvious place to find these betting opportunities is in the maiden ranks. No entrant has ever won, and often horses with impressive in-the-money finishes will be heavily favored over unknown commodities like first-time starters. Maidens with three or more in-the-money finishes will usually be hammered at the windows due to their near misses, but they are likely to remain winless. If you find a chronic loser drawing action due to those in-the-money finishes, look for other maidens that show positive attributes and fit the class and distance requirements.
In first-level allowance races, claiming races, or starter-allowance races, two types of favorites make appealing horses to play against. The first type is a horse that won its maiden race long ago and has since become a chronic allowance loser, often finishing close but never hitting the wire first. Second, look to bet against a horse that just won its maiden race after eight or more attempts and is now facing winners for the first time.
The speed figure from its maiden win often looks competitive, and the “won last time out” angle attracts additional play. However, a horse that took so many tries to win its first race is unlikely to take the next step up the ladder with ease. Such horses frequently resume their competitive yet losing ways.
This angle often works well with stakes horses that have name recognition but lack a decent win-column tally. Since winning the Super Derby (G2) in September 2011, Prayer for Relief has contested nine stakes races without a win. Despite this, he was still 8/5 odds in the $200,000 Governor’s Cup stakes on August 11 at Remington Park. He ran second. Obviously, he has trouble closing the deal, even when he looks far superior to the competition—and his backers have suffered at the windows, often at very short odds. The lesson is simple: former stakes winners or not, there are better 8/5 shots to play than a horse on a twelve-month 0-for-9 streak.
Requirements for Playing Any Horse Against Heavily Bet Chronic Losers:
Be sure to check out Dean Arnold’s first handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Xlibris Publishing (www.xlibris.com/ABettorWay.html) and most major online booksellers.
- The race favorite has proven to be a chronic loser but with competitive enough races to draw heavy betting action.
- Key types of horses to bet against are: in maiden races, three or more in-the-money finishes without winning; in first-level allowance races, the horse either won its maiden long ago and has since turned into a chronic loser, or it just broke its maiden after eight or more attempts and is now going against winners for the first time; in stakes, the horse consistently finds ways to lose despite its ability.
- Pick a horse that fits the class and distance conditions and has run in the last thirty days.
- Layoffs of more than thirty days are a disqualifier unless the trainer has shown success with horses and races that fit today’s scenario.
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