When Early Speed Holds Up It Can Really Pay Off

When Early Speed Holds Up It Can Really Pay Off

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I use several handicapping aids but the first one I look at is IHandicapRaces with Pace Pals. And the first thing I look at on IHRwPP is the screen which shows the run style of the horses and also shows their speed rating. I scroll through the races, looking for sprints with one early speed horse, especially maiden races. I prefer them on the dirt, but I’ll look at a race on the turf if it’s 5 furlongs. On dirt, I look at races up to 6 furlongs.

On August 3rd, the 5th race at Gulfstream Park was a maiden race at 6 furlongs on the dirt. There were 3 first time starters, which would normally make me pass on the race. More than 2 and I think a race is a crapshoot. For some reason though, maybe intuition, I gave the race a look.

There was one “rabbit” or Early speed horse and it was in the 1 post, which is a good post in sprints at GP. Proud Legacy was being ridden by Pedro Monterrey who has 9% for wins for the last year. Not too impressive, but I keep in mind when I handicap GP at this time of year that the top jockeys have all gone North this time of year. The best racing action is at Saratoga and Del Mar, the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest tracks. GP is kind of in a holding pattern until the fall when their best season begins.

Monterrey had ridden the horse last time out when it was 7th by 4 and a half lengths. Not too impressive but maybe not as bad as it looked at first glance. I noticed that the horse led all the way until near the finish and that it was a turf race and Proud Legacy’s first race back since December of last year. Hmmm…

This 3 year old filly is now in a claimer for $20,000. When she was 2, last winter, she had been in Maiden Special Weight races with higher purses. Monterrey had ridden her last year too and she hadn’t shown much, just some early speed but never ran close to hitting the board. Like I said, I use several handicapping aids and one of them is Equibase to delve into a horse’s past results.

Phil Combest is Proud Legacy’s trainer and has been since her first race. He also is her breeder and co-owner. He definitely has a big stake in this horse and has spent money, time and effort on her for over a year. I’m thinking that he probably spent more than $20K, her claiming price, on her, so he probably wants more than that back. A win for the purse money would certainly help that situation, wouldn’t it?

I looked at the other horses in the race, of course. Why the favorite, Tricky Mint in the 3 post, was the favorite was a mystery to me unless the bettors were betting on the jockey, Miguel Vasquez, who is one of the top, if not THE top jock at GP right now. He and the trainer have won 2 out of 3 races together. But the horse didn’t impress me at all. Last time out, it lost its rider and thus never finished the race, officially. In its first race, it came in 6th by 15 lengths and didn’t show early speed or closing ability.

I went back to IHRwPP and checked the Pace Pals screen which showed that the run style which wins 6 furlong dirt races at GP most often is EP or “foxes” using the Pace Pals icons. There were none in this race. The second best run style for winning sprints at GP is Early Speed or “rabbits” and Proud Legacy, as I mentioned, was the only one. Unless one of the first time starters was an early speed horse and got the lead and kept it, I thought Proud Legacy had a good shot at winning this race.

I decided to take a chance and played it to win and place. When I do that with a longshot, I always play it in an exacta box with the morning line favorite, so I put down $4 on an exacta box with Proud Legacy and Tricky Mint, even though I didn’t think much of Tricky Mint’s chances.

Well, I was right about Proud Legacy but wrong about Tricky Mint. It was a very exciting race, as maiden races so often are. Tricky Mint sprinted out to the lead, surprising the heck out of me, and Proud Legacy chased her and caught up with her. They battled it out right up to the wire and crossed it evenly for a dead heat.

Proud Legacy paid $13.60 to win and place and the exacta paid $20.90.

Pedro Monterrey rode a very smart race and rated Proud Legacy well. She ran a very tough race also and just wouldn’t give in. I like that in a horse, especially when it’s at long odds and I have a bet on it.

I don’t always bet on dirt sprint races with only one “rabbit” that I find with IHandicapRaces with Pace Pals, but it’s a very good starting point. When I find one, I delve into the horse’s history, try to figure out if the horse is well meant in this race by looking at what the trainer has done with the horse in the past, look at the jockey’s strengths and weaknesses and then do the same for the other horses in the race. Proud Legacy isn’t the first longshot I’ve found this way and I’m sure she won’t be the last.