Handicapping two-year old horses can be a bit daunting. Two-year old Maidens can be even more vexing. But it doesn’t have to be.
Sometimes a small change can bring out a big difference in a young, inexperienced horse.
While past performances do not include statements about a trainer’s intentions, they can provide some clues which will help you read between the lines.
To start off, a basic remedy for a young horse who has yet to reach its potential is to add blinkers so the equine athlete will be more focused on the task at hand.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Seems like a roll of the dice. But it doesn’t have to be.
The key in this instance is to find a clue that the trainer has already dabbled with something different and it generated an improved effort.
For example, let’s look at READYFORPRIMETIME in the 2nd race at Saratoga on August 25th.
The 2-year-old colt trained by Linda Rice was making his fourth start in the 5 ½-furlong grass race for Maidens.
In his first three starts, he was 3rd, then 2nd and 5th in his most recent start.
What could be the difference maker this time? Blinkers were being added.
Would they help? There’s no sure way of telling by studying past performances, but as mentioned, there are clues.
In the PP’s you could see a workout on August 20th in which READYFORPRIMETIME zipped five furlongs in a quick 1:01 1/5 and was the 6th fastest of 17 workouts at the distance. By comparison, his previous work at five furlongs was on July 17th and was timed in 1:02 4/5, which was the 5th fastest of seven works at that distance.
Big deal, so what, you say. But the sneaky little clue here is that he wore blinkers for the August 20th workout and they appeared to help him focus on running faster. AHA !
It’s a gamble, of course, but when a horse like READYFORPRIMETIME is pegged at 8-to-1 odds, it’s a very worthwhile gamble.
Which did indeed pay off.
Wearing blinkers for the first time, he was ready for some prime-time exposure at The Spa. He scampered out to the early lead and never looked back as he maintained the lead to Finish Line and recorded a two-length victory, paying $16.20 for a $2 Wager, and got his picture taken in the Winners Circle.
So to collect on that value play a handicapper needed to do a little extra sleuthing to recognize the clues. Well worth the effort.
Stop Back on Friday when the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at Saturday’s Grade 1, million dollar Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing, in Philadelphia.