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PHYSICALITY HANDICAPPING

NEGATIVE EQUIPMENT

Dateline: 12/27/00
By Joe Takach publisher of "Southern California Horses to Watch"

No discussion on “physicality handicapping” would be complete without an in depth look at negative equipment and how this negative equipment literally “robs“ you at the mutuel windows.

If you currently play the major Southern California racing circuit, you might be interested in knowing that this negative equipment is tracked by the staff of the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSES TO WATCH.   It is published weekly in their “Master No-No List”.

Probably the best place to begin is with front wraps.

The Daily Racing Form now offers their readers notification of the addition and deletion of front wraps.  But a caveat is in order if you use the Racing Form information------at least in Southern California!

Innumerable times they completely miss the addition and deletion of front wraps when the wraps are black in color.  One can only assume that the person on the Racing Form’s staff responsible for this extremely important piece of information fails to visit the paddock each and every race, or fails to use binoculars from his “comfy” armchair in the press box.

Trainers John Dolan and Doug Peterson always use black front wraps in Southern California, yet they are missed 100% of the time by the Racing Form staff if the horse in question is a bay or is black or dark brown in color.  Unless you’re close up and on top of a horse in the paddock or use binoculars from the press box, these wraps are very easy to miss on dark-coated horses!  One can only assume that if this is happening on the major Southern California circuit at Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, it is happening elsewhere as well to include your own circuit!

Since long front leg bandages imply tendon problems either real or imagined, many trainers tape every claiming horse that they run to make other trainers “think twice” before dropping a claim slip on their runner.  In other words, it’s similar to bluffing in poker.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the horse to warrant those front bandages.  If the trainer can imply tendon and/or ankle problems, it’s a cheap insurance policy that guarantees he’ll still be the trainer of the horse after the race.  Sometimes it is easy to scare off potential claim-aways-----especially the higher up the claiming ladder you go!

I can’t possibly see how front leg bandages really help or hurt any horse.  If he’s basically sound, they won’t stop him from winning unless the track is muddy and mud could cling to the bandages making his legs heavier and slightly harder to lift with every stride. 

If he’s unsound, the tape won’t stop him from bowing a tendon.  If it could, all horses would race in front wraps in every lifetime start and there would never again be another bowed tendon!  Of course we know that isn’t reality and horses will continue to “bow” even if you make them look like “mummies”!

Do horses ever win with front wraps?  Sure they do and at every racetrack every day!

Okay, so why even mention them?

Simply because the addition of front wraps can never be seen as a plus!

The trainer using them believes that they will help a problem (unless he’s faking so as not to lose the horse via the claim box).  While they might add some, and I only say some, support to the damaged or problematic area and delay the inevitable breakdown, front wraps won’t stop it!

Ok, so why are you even mentioning them?

Because there are a few things you should look for.

If a horse has won with front wraps in the past, he’ll most likely win with them in the future.  Old front wraps have never bothered me, provided that the horse in question passes “muster” in every other category of readiness.

What bothers me is first-time front wraps or the re-adding of front wraps.

If you are in the paddock and see a horse show up with front wraps for the 1st time, look to see if one ankle appears bigger than the other.  Unless the trainer is bluffing, you’ll most likely see swelling somewhere under the wrapping.  If you do, it is better to pass the race if this newly front-wrapped horse was your betting choice “on paper”-----it costs absolutely nothing to pass a race!

Short bandages on the rear legs are used to protect horses who have the problem of “running down”.  These horses scrape the back part of their rear ankles when racing.  These short rear wraps serve as protection to the skin when running over sandy surfaces.   As long as there is no swelling evident, rear wraps would never stop me from betting a horse if he looked physically correct in every other respect.

Liniment and/or sweet smelling body rubs are used to counteract soreness by increasing heat in the area of soreness or injury.  If you’ve never experienced the “smell” of a muscle sore horse, I encourage you to visit your paddock area during the cheapest races of the day. 

Horses rubbed with liniment are easy to locate.  A very heavy exotic scent quickly saturates the paddock air as the rubbed horse walks around.  If you look closely at each and every horse, one or more of them will have very shinny areas on their coats or legs.  On the body, look for the shoulders, back, or hind to have a slick or shinny spot.  Frequently the rubbed area is about a foot square.  If on the legs, it can be anywhere from the hoof up to the barrel (main body). 

Muscle sore horses are always a no-no!

Muscle sore horses rarely generate enough speed to be competitive anywhere in a race.  Just think back to the time that you were sore from overwork or a wrenched muscle.

Were you at your best?  I doubt it!

If you smell liniment and can identify who is wearing it, toss them out!

Next week-------PART 2

Additional issues:

Joe Takach and his staff have published the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HORSE TO WATCH since 1993. This insider's 30 page weekly on Southern California racing is the only publication of its kind with a slant towards the "physicality" of the racehorse and well as other crucial betting information not found anywhere else. Joe is also the author of 7 handicapping books and 2 videos on the "physical readiness" of the racehorse and has been a guest speaker at the last 3 Handicapping Expos in Las Vegas. For more information on his products contact him at joetakach@worldnet.att.net or call his offices @ 949-248-2246.

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