While we will not often find a perfectly orderly match up, we can zero in on those that come at least fairly close, such as the one I will discuss below.
It was Race 2 at Aqueduct on Saturday December 17, 2005, a field of 7 (after the late scratch of #2 Fountain’sprincess) going around 2 turns at a mile and 70 yards for claiming tags of $25K down to $22.5K.
The past performance listings (PP’s) and results chart for this race can be found by clicking here and here, although you may want to postpone looking at the results until after the review.
As you can see in the P.P’s, this is not a perfectly orderly match up of fillies and mares, but the two main exceptions to the factors bulleted above had some pretty good indicators showing that could make us expect a forthcoming top effort.
#3 We’ve Got a Chance was exiting a sprint in her first try after a 9-month layoff, and #6 Hero’s Affair had last competed in a turf race.
My running style labels from the rail out were: P, E, EP, S, P, S and S for a recap of 1E-1EP-2P-3S (7).
With only 2 early speed types signed on with 3 S runners aboard, this pace shape suggested an advantage to the horse or horses that would be on the lead up the backstretch.
And since the lone E runner #3 We’ve Got a Chance figured to be the early leader coming off a 6F sprint, that in conjunction with going first-time lasix and having indicators for a strong next-out performance made her the key contender.
But the public saw things the same way and made her the 4-5 chalk.
So far in this field we have an edge, but no value.
One of the ways I can quickly come up with potentially "live" contenders (within a minute or so actually) is what I call the Red-Scan Qualifying Technique, which is fully described in my book "Calibration Handicapping – The Next Level", which you can read about by clicking on the link below (Be a Winner!).
The entries in this match up that qualified as per the Red Scan were the logical favorite, as well as (in post position order) #1 Sunshine Johanne, #6 Hero’s Affair, and #7 Clarksburg Queen.
In a pace shape such as this that favors early speed, and which also includes the speed of the speed that looks ready to pop, the closers or S-labeled runners are at a distinct disadvantage.
This means that #5 Edit It, #7 Clarksburg Queen, and #8 Chicago’s Girl had their work cut out for them, and as things turned out they finished last, 3rd-to last, and 2nd to last respectively, with the Red Scan horse finishing 8 1/2 lengths in front of the last 2.
The key to making this a scenario that had the prerequisite of edge but not value into one that did have the latter was #6 Hero’s Affair, who was erroneously dismissed by the betting public at odds of 29-1.
She had not only proven herself at the distance when winning her prior outing, but she was a good-looking (especially with the Red-Scan) speed/fade play coming off her initial try on turf.
The reason she was overlooked in the wagering was not only due to the presence of the odds-on favorite, but also because of her finish.
She beat only 1 horse in the field of 9, beaten 9 3/4 lengths, and her Beyer speed figure earned in the previous win was inferior to most of the others she would face in this match up.
But finishes and speed figures are not what make for long-priced contenders.
If she was exiting an effort on grass that was dull and far back for the entire trip I would agree with the public.
But she actually flashed indicators that she was still in form from her previous dirt try.
She was in 2nd only a length behind after a quick 23.1 first quarter (around a turn), 2nd by 4 1/2 after 4F and only 1 3/4 off the lead in 4th at the pace call, which for this race is after completion of 6 furlongs.
That is all she needed to show to be considered a prime candidate with the horses she would face here.
What she did after the pace call, which was fade back to finish 8th really didn’t matter all that much.
That is to those of us who saw the next-out readiness indicators and didn’t focus on the finish and the speed figures.
While she did not win, she did make a 1-3-6 trifecta box possible and just missed by a neck making the 3-1 $20.20 exacta a $100+ 3-6 payoff, as the speed of the speed did take her field from start to finish.
The 3-1-6 $194 trifecta payoff was, however very good value in a 7-horse field with the odds-on 4 to 5 favorite winning.
One could have elected to box the 1-3-6 trifecta and then key the 3 over 1-6, and also key the 3 top and bottom in exactas: 3/1-6 and smaller 1-6/3.
Or one could have decided to use the "other" early speed horse #4 I’ve Got to Win and even the remaining Red-Scan entry #7 Clarksburg Queen, which finished 4th and 5th respectively.
In this scenario, however they would be best used in the 3rd slot of a trifecta play, such as this part-wheel: 3/1-6/1-4-6-7, at a $2 wager cost of $12.00.
If you don’t yet have the nifty desktop exotic wager calculator that has been offered for a number of years on the web, you can click here and save to your desktop.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for pace shapes that favor in-form speed, which is a high percentage play, especially with the presence of 3 or more sustained closers in the field.
And even if such a key contender is bet down heavily, there are a number of occasions like this one in which enough value using other contenders will be present to make the potential reward worth the risk of wagering, which is what making money at this game is really all about.
Wishing you Clear Skies and Fast Tracks,