Handicapping Maiden Races

by | Jan 12, 2018 | Horse Racing

Handicap the Maiden Races

Attached are copies of race 7 of the Daily Racing Form.  One copy is clean, one copy I marked up in red marker to help follow along with the write-up.

I was going over the racing form for Saturdays Gulfstream Park card and as I was looking at the form I came across race 7, a maiden race (maiden stands for ‘horse that has not won a race’).

This is a perfect race to teach some handicapping lessons, especially maiden races.

There are 11 horses in the field running at 6 furlongs on the dirt. One of my favorite things to look at on maiden races are horses that have run before, particularly second or third time running.

The 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 11 are all first time runners. The 2, 6, 7 and 9 all have run before with

the 2, 6 and 9 all having two races while the 7 has one career start.

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Look at horse number 2, MACHISMO. He has run twice already (you can see on the far left), 22July17.  He ran July 22 of 2017 at Saratoga (SAR).  He ran about a month later on 23AUG17.  He ran on August 23 of 2017 at Saratoga (SAR), but after the distance (5 ½) we see a circle with a T inside. That tells us he ran on the turf.   So to sum this up, we have a horse that went from dirt to turf and is now going back to dirt, but also has not run since August. You also see the letters Md Sp Wt 83k.   These are all abbreviations for words – it actually reads Maiden Special Weight 83k.  The key here is the 83k. That was the purse for the race. Pretty expensive race. This race he is running in is a 50k Maiden Special Weight. Gamblers call this “drop in class”, going from 83k to 50k.  Trainers will drop horses in class hoping to get a win, which allows a horse to enter races that are more profitable. Just to the right of the Md Sp Wt we have numbers in bold 51 and above that is 63. These are the horses racing figures called BUYER figure. The higher the number the better the horse performed. We see exactly what we want here, he ran a 51 first time out and second time out he ran a 63. Horses tend to do better second time out, which he did, but we must be concerned about that race being on TURF. This race is on dirt. Did he increase his figure because it was on turf?   This is why they call it gambling.

Let us look at the 7 horse, GAMBIT. We can see this horse ran on 20Aug17, meaning he ran on the 20th of August of 2017 at EIP (won’t lie, have no clue what track EIP is). We can also read the race was Md Sp Wt 40k.  Maiden Special Weight of 40k.   This horse is stepping “up in class” going from 40k to 50k as opposed to the 2 horse who is going “down in class” going from 83k to 50k. He also ran a 51 buyer his first time out, same as the 2 horse.  I want you to look all the way to the right on this horse and see “Brushed gate, angled in.”  This is good to know, tells us the horse had a bad start.

Let us look at the 8 horse, MAGNUM MOON. First time out, so we have no prior race experience. The trainer is Todd Pletcher. He is legendary for his two-year-old horses. His go to jockey is Johnny Velasquez, but today he has Luis Saez riding (under lined in red on the left).

What I find intriguing is that they paid $380,000 for this horse at the September Keeneland Sales. You can see that in the middle section to row.  B.c. 3 (MAY) KEESEP 16 $380,000

(KEESEP 16 $380,000 stand for KEENELAND SEPTEMBER 2016  $380,000 is purchase price).

This horse has no buyer figure to look at since he has not run before.

Sticking with the 8 horse, I expect this horse to run for two reasons, Todd Pletcher as trainer and high cost of purchasing. You do not pay this amount of money for a horse and put it in a race to not perform.

Briefly, we have a maiden race with eleven horses at a distance of 6 furlongs. Seven of the horses have never run before, three of the horses have two career starts and one horse has one career start. We also have Todd Pletcher debuting a horse the owners paid $380,000  and another horse coming in off a five-month lay-off, dropping down in class and going from turf to dirt. You can see how handicapping can be very time consuming and very frustrating.

As I mentioned earlier, I like the angle of horses that have run before. Therefore, I will wager this race accordingly.

I am going to use in an exacta box the  6-7-9

I like the 7 as second time out, producing a 51 buyer after hitting the gate at the start. I expect improvement.  I like the 6 horse because it is his third race of his career, which is also the third race of the form cycle, I expect improvement as well. I like the 9 for the same reasons as the 6, but the 9 had buyers of 50 then 64, if he improves off the 64 and goes up to 72 or more he has an excellent chance of winning.  

If you are wondering why I did not take the 8; these are three-year-old horses, not two-year-old horses and Johnny V rides for Pletcher on his maiden two year olds.  I may get burned on this, but that is why it is gambling.

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