Pay close attention when a trainer ships a horse in for one race in the final days of a race meet.
Here’s an angle that serves well for the end of summer at Del Mar and Saratoga. As a race meet draws to a close, it is natural to see horses stabled at the track ship off to the next locale as soon as their final start of the meet concludes. What is unusual – and worth noticing – is when a horse ships in when everyone else is heading out of town, so take notice!
There is an easy way to tell if a horse is shipping in and hasn’t been stabled at the meet without racing - If it shows workouts leading up to today’s start that were conducted at another race venue.
To play this angle, the horse does not have to be shipped in for a feature or stakes race. In fact, it is often a more interesting sight to see an allowance, claiming or maiden runner ship in for one start. Horses will often ship in because they are traveling with a high-profile stablemate (the ‘other horse in the trailer’ angle). But that ‘other’ horse is sent in with one sole specific purpose: to grab a purse and get back out of town. With the meet ending and no chance for a second race over the course, it is clear that this type of horse is taking its best shot.
For instance, when a Maryland or Kentucky trainer ships a $25,000 claimer into a track like Saratoga at the end of a meet, the horse is being shipped for just one start. In other words, the connections are going out of their way to go after one purse. The shipping connections likely are confident that the extra cost and hassle of shipping in for a single try are outweighed by a pretty good chance of getting to the winner’s circle.
A great example of this occurred in the first race on August 25th this year at Saratoga. Dallas Stewart shipped a Louisiana-bred first time starter named Classy John into a maiden race on the Travers Stakes undercard. The horse was training over 1,000 miles away, but was sent to Saratoga two days before the race, and won gate-to-wire against open company, paying $26.40. For a horse ready to race and eligible to face far easier Louisiana-bred conditions in his home state, this was a move showing serious intent, especially from a trainer not known for winning first time out, and who was winless at the Saratoga meet up to that point.
Horses shipping in for one large purse this closing weekend at Saratoga and Del Mar before heading back to their fall destinations should jump off the page for handicappers seeking a well-spotted invader.
Requirements To Play Shippers At a Meet’s End:
– Horse that has not been stabled at the track ships in for a start in the meet’s final week of racing.
– Horse may be shipping along with a high-profile stablemate, but this is considered a positive sign for the lower profile horse.
– Whether the horse appears to be shipping alone, or with a stablemate that is high profile, consider the horse well-intended. The trainer is not simply filling up the trailer, so handicappers should expect a big effort.
Be sure to check out Dean Arnold's handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Amazon.
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