The biggest race of the year is closing in on us fast now. The first Saturday in May signals the running of the Kentucky Derby (as well as the sipping of Mint Juleps), and I've been studiously following the trail leading up to this great event for many weeks now.

I believe I'm in the great minority of people who understand just what it takes for maturing 3 year old horses to win this race, the distance of which the current day thoroughbred should never be asked to attempt at such an early point in his career.

Without meeting clearly defined "foundation" requirements, the present day 3 year old is simply unable to win this grueling test at a mile and one quarter.

And make no mistake about it.

This one race has ended the careers of many a nice 3 year old that could have gone on to greatness.

There are some notables that don't qualify with enough foundation for the 2004 renewal of America's biggest race, including Lion Heart and Tapit, the latter not even being considered by me as a contender for any of the superfecta slots.

Right now I have the 20-horse field down to 9 contenders, and I'll have that down to 5 after post position draws on Wednesday afternoon.

But foundation is not the only requirement to win this marathon for sophomores.

There are other key factors that combine to define a clear "profile of a Kentucky Derby winner."

And many perceived contenders will be running for 2nd or 3rd money at best.

Some having no realistic shot at even hitting the board.

If you are interested in subscribing to my 2004 Triple Crown Selection Service, please click here.


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Now on to this month's newsletter, which will be short and hopefully sweet.

As I outlined above, I have 3 main focal areas of handicapping, which happens to be only one part of the equation necessary to success at making money on the thoroughbreds.

The other two being what I describe in my book as valuation and strategic action.

As you have certainly noticed by now, one of the areas I stress heavily is final fractions, both raw and actual.

But a study of past performances shows clearly that there are a significant number of winners that lost ground in their last race from the pace call to the wire.

Obviously, these horses will not have last out actual final fractions that will match up well with some others that did not lose ground or that gained ground.

Therefore comparison of final fractions alone can be misleading.

A horse can have what may appear as a strong actual final fraction that is not a contender at all.

Take this case in point.

A 6F race (field of 10) with raw splits of 22.3 45.4 58.3 111.2.

The raw final fraction is 25.3 (111.2 minus 45.4).

A horse that at the beginning of the turn is 12 lengths off the pace in 8th, at the top of the stretch is 13 lengths off the pace in 7th, and at the wire is beaten by 8 lengths in 5th would show up as having a strong 24.3 actual final fraction due to its gain of 5 lengths in the final quarter of a mile.

But as we all know, the profile of a 6F winner is anything but a horse that is that far off the pace at the beginning and end of the turn.

So an examination of past performances is a necessity when working with final fraction comparison.

Just as misleading (and often under the right conditions just as valuable) can be the past performance line that shows a horse "hitting the brakes", or "dropping anchor" in the stretch.

In reality, a horse that is close up early to the pace call before fading back out of the money to finish 9 lengths off the winner can under the right conditions be a very logical play in his next outing.

What are those right conditions?

Well some of those conditions cannot be discussed in this forum, but suffice it to say that among my identified "moves within a race" are the Profile play and the WIR play, both of which are speed/fade moves.

I'll mention one key component of a playable speed/fade move horse.

And that is a drop in class.

There are other key elements that pertain to this play, all of which are clearly defined and identified in the new release of C.H. Data, including its running style, its speed compared to the others in its present match up, pace analysis of the speed horses, the pace shape of the race and how the horse finished its speed/fade race.

As you'll see in the 2 examples of the speed/fade/class drop play I'll cover today, waiting out situations like these can be very rewarding.

While my personal wagering strategy normally includes the exacta and/or trifecta when enough value is evident, for this and other spot plays I will often go with only the win or win and place bet.


Both of these examples are from Saturday April 17, 2004 at Aqueduct, and by themselves made for a profitable day.

Race 1 kicked off the day with a good score. It was a 1-turn mile event out of the chute, a field of 9 going for claiming tags of $20K down to $18K.

Many of these speed/fade/class drop plays will be found in claiming races since there is so much movement up and down in the claiming ranks.

This particular match up of 9 included a pace shape that favored early speed with running styles of: 1E 3EP 3P 2S.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

Here was the field after the late scratch of #2 Baseball, again in post position order including running style, last Beyer speed figure, raw/actual final fractions (always adjusted for distance switches that include 1-turn routes) and any moves-within-a-race made.

3. Kylemore Abbey P 76 26.2/28.0 ---

1. Cozy Man EP 78 25.2/25.0 ---

4. Zamaroo EP 73 25.0/27.1 WIR/W.O.

5. Brocco Bry S 71 25.4/26.2 ---

2B. Bullistic Flight P 75 25.2/25.0 ---

1A. Bo Barley E 82 25.2/25.2 ---

6. At the Wheel EP 69 27.2/28.0 ---

7. Stellianos S 68 25.0/26.0 ---

8. Garret P 55 26.0/26.4 ---

In a pace shape like this that favors early speed runners, the S horses have little chance at the win. If they show some positive signs, however, they can be considered for 2nd or 3rd in the exotics.

The speed/fade/drop play in here was #4 Zamaroo, who as you can see in the past performances was within 2 lengths of the lead (for a $30K claiming tag) all the way through the pace call before he faded back out of the money to finish 6th in a field of 8, beaten 12 3/4 lengths.

The beauty of this kind of last out performance is that many handicappers will focus on the beaten lengths rather than the speed/fade effort with ensuing next out class drop.

They did not focus as much on the fact that the horse in this example was in his next outing taking a 1-level class drop of $10K.

And this play was strengthened by Zamaroo's prior effort, which was a 10-length score with an 89 Beyer speed figure!

If you look at the Beyer pattern of his last 4 outings you see 85, regress to 72, 89, regress to 73, and then the speed/fade/drop play.

In my opinion $10.80 was an overlay win payoff on this horse, who sat a close 4th and 3rd at the first 2 call points before taking over at the pace call and drawing clear by 3 1/2 at the furlong marker.


Three races later an even better result was on tap.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

Race 4 was a 6F sprint for fillies and mares 4 years old and upward going with claiming tags of $35K down to $30K.

Here was the 8 horse field (with the late scratch of #4 Notmyfault), again with a pace shape favoring early runners with a running style recap of 3E 2EP 3P.

2. Halfway to Heaven P 59 26.1/26.4 ---

1. Heavenly Rose P 80 26.0/23.3 SRE

1A. Trick Again E 80 24.4/24.4 ---

3. Big Tease E 73 24.4/25.0 ---

5. Sharp Miss E 61 25.2/24.4 ---

6. Irish Glory P 63 25.1/25.1 ---

7. Marquet Rent EP 56 25.4/27.2 WIR/W.O.

8. Won Dozen Roses EP 76 25.1/25.0 ---

The speed/fade play in this race, #7 Marquet Rent, was taking a triple class level drop, but was overlooked by the betting public as a horse that had finished dead last 4th in her last, beaten 15 3/4 lengths in a "total collapse" effort.

But in reality, by trainer design or by happenstance, the race she ran set her up perfectly for the match up she would face 16 days later in a race that involved a cut back distance switch move also.

Despite coming off a couple of 2-turn route races, she was forwardly placed throughout, never more than 2 lengths off the lead before getting to the front by a head at the 8th pole and holding on for a hard fought neck win at a generous win payoff of $17.60.

It would be prudent to be on the lookout for the speed/fade/drop play.

And if you want them identified for you, along with all sorts of other indicators of potential for strong next out performance, be on the lookout for the next release of C.H. Data Selection Service.


For the free selections I post most racing days on my private web page for subscribers to this newsletter, you can bookmark this page:

http://www.free-horseracing-info.com/hinpsp.html

Or you can click here.

Until Saturday June 5, 2004, I wish you Fair Skies and Fast Tracks.

Jim

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