Thoughts on handicapping the Triple Crown races and avoiding the same old mistakes
If you do handicap horse racing, you know how difficult it is to pick a winner in all three races of the Triple Crown. If you’ve followed the Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont races, then you’ve seen plenty of intense drama over the years. But honestly, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that some of this high drama is just hype.
How many times do we have to watch a horse win the first two stages only to be beaten in the Belmont? There are trainers who will hold a horse and aim for the Belmont with that horse. Some people claim that the trainer is a spoiler and resent his strategy, but honestly, some of these trainers are just very good trainers and know that the horse is not ready to win the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, but he may be mature enough and in good enough shape by the time the Belmont rolls around.
Another factor is distance. The horse may be well suited to the grueling distance of the Belmont. It takes a real warhorse to win the Belmont, while some other flashier types can score in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. This makes the Belmont Handicap very difficult. My advice is that you should look for this type of breeding and use it as a very important factor in your handicap.
I have watched with sadness as the favorite, winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, made a move too early in the race and found himself running out of energy in the stretch, only to be passed by a stronger horse. I wish I could talk to the jockeys of these favorites and remind them not to make their move too soon. It might also be helpful to show them videos of past Belmonts where horses that had a good chance of winning and looked fantastic in the early stages of the race lost out because a cocky jockey thought he had so much horse that he could just hit the leaders going into the final turn.
A little research will show that if you’re leading the turn at Belmont, you probably won’t win the race. Hi, are there any jockeys listening? This is my advice to jockeys.
My advice to handicappers is try to ignore the ad if you can. Look at the distance stats for the producers and the horse’s running style and make good comparisons with some grading method like Handicap on the pole. Before the race, be sure to meditate for half an hour or do some other stress-relieving activity, because nothing can stress you out like seeing your horse move too early and run out of gas in the stretch. The biggest handicapping mistake in Triple Crown racing, in my opinion, is to place too much importance on a horse’s performance in the first two stages of the TC. Belmont is a different place, or as we say on the back, a different kind of “cat.”
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