Photo coutesy of Eclipse Sportswire.
Trying to predict the winner of a race is always a tricky endeavor, but sometimes it can be made easier by a process of elimination.
For instance, if you believe the favorite or a top contender in a race is quite beatable, by leaving that horse out of your wagers you can inflate your potential payoffs while narrowing your handicapping options.
Kingsford Drive fit rather neatly into that model in the 7th race at Saratoga on Aug. 1. He was sent off a 7-5 second choice after a powerful win in a $20,000 claimer in his previous start on July 5. Claimed that day, he returned in a $35,000 claimer, which amounted to a significant class hike.
Yet more than the increased claiming tag, what stood out most was the distance and the surface of the Aug. 1 race. Kingsford Drive was coming off a win in a six-furlong race on the dirt. In his previous 11 starts, he had not raced beyond seven furlongs. Yet here he was being asked to tackle a two-turn mile on the turf.
Kingsford Drive had just one win and no seconds or thirds in four career starts on turf. He was also unplaced in one previous start at a mile on turf.
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire.
As strong as Kingsford Drive’s previous race might have been, had handicappers been willing to take a stand against him because of the extra distance and a mediocre turf record they could have removed a key player from the mix in a five-horse field and made their search for a winner easier.
Had they reasoned that Kingsford Drive would use his sprinter’s speed to run both himself and the 6-5 favorite Vindication Now into defeat, they stood an excellent chance of focusing on a winner – especially after 9-2 third-choice Torment and 6-1 shot Gamblin Fever finished in a dead-heat for the win spot.
THE LESSON: Finding flaws in a top contender and eliminating that horse from your wagers can only make the search for a winner that much easier.