Beating Odds-On Chronic Losers

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By Dean Arnold

When handicapping a race with an odds-on favorite that’s a chronic loser, take any horse that fits the distance and class conditions that has been running recently (often any ‘fit & ready’ horse will do). Pick a runner at generous odds as long as it is not so untalented that it has been trailing the field throughout races or been beaten double-digit lengths in recent outings. In the winter months, the ‘fit and ready’ horse normally prevails over chronic losers, even when the losers are from the barns of top connections.

This angle can be applied at all levels of competition. Whenever a horse looks far superior to its opponents in terms of speed figures, 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 since its ability to run quickly is obvious. Plus the near misses show 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 on paper, they should pose little threat to the odds-on favorite. And until psychologists manage a breakthrough in equine medicine, opportunities to play such upsetters will remain a part of handicapping for players willing to set aside traditional measures of performance.

The first obvious place to find these betting opportunities is in the maiden ranks. By definition, no entrant has 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 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.

In allowance non-winners of a race other than maiden, claiming or starter race, 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 only just won its maiden race after eight or more attempts, now facing winners for the first time. The speed figure from its maiden win often looks competitive, and the ‘win last time out’ angle attracts additional play. However, a horse that took so many tries to secure its first victory is unlikely to take the next rung up the ladder with ease. Such horses frequently resume their competitive, yet losing, ways.  

Requirements For Playing Any Horse Against Chronic Odds-On Losers:

– The race favorite has proven to be a chronic loser, but has run competitive enough races to draw heavy betting action.

– Key types of chronic odds-on horses to bet-against: In maiden races, three plus in-the-money finishes without winning. In ALWNX1, the horse either won its maiden long ago and since turned into a chronic loser, or just broke its maiden after eight plus attempts.

– Select a horse that fits the class and distance conditions and has run in the last 30 days and has avoided trailing the field throughout or was beaten by 10 or more lengths.

– Layoffs of more than 30 days are a disqualifier unless the trainer has shown success with horses and races like today’s scenario.

Be sure to check out Dean Arnold's handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Amazon.


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