Theory aside; putting hindsight behind us; gimmicks on hold; chalk not necessary; forgetting a small profit for the time being; percentage plays be gone: By the book? Or hock the book?
Sound handicapping technique is as well and good as it is conservative. A complete racing library of everything from "Handicapping Maidens" to "Handicapping Mothers" is well and good.
But enough of what's well and good.
Enough $12 wins.
Enough $21 exactas.
Enough $40 pick six consolations.
How about this once in a while. How about a huge win ticket. How about three figures on the win, a $100 horse. It doesn't have to be the person betting his middle daughter's birthday with the $100 winner. It doesn't have to be the person who was given the wrong ticket. When it comes to major upsets and fat prices put up by horses that can't win, a person should wonder, why not me? And you. Mostly me. OK, fine, why not us.
To find a $100 horse, you have to scratch hard beneath the obvious. The obvious can be an illusion, 10-horse-monte, a variation of a shell game. The same thing seldom happens two times running because it's a new race with different competitors and conditions.
It goes without saying that you have to hit a $100 horse one out of 50 tries to break even, forgetting expenses. Some people go a lifetime without hitting a single $100 horse. So it's a good idea to play only the 50-1 shots that have a chance. Circumstances seem to produce the memorable tickets; find the right spot and maybe you can plug in the appropriate horse.
What makes for a live long shot? That which has produced a big price before.
The following could make for big memories:
Lousy horses picking up decent jockeys.
A rider's intent is frequently easier to read than cheap form. A good rider won't go out of his or her way to risk injury or flat earnings.
Not a weakness, like drifting, which suggests fatigue. Horses that lug toward the rail are usually trying hard. They're most often toward the front and don't produce gigantic tickets next time out. But it's not always a warning sign as many assume.
I have seen a horse toss a rider at 5-1, then come back in a similar race and with the same rider, at 20-or-more-to-1.
Horses that are around 1 for 30 in non-winners of two.
The one thing you can usually say about a regular plodder is it is probably reasonably healthy.
Which is more than you can say about lightly raced and declining cheap mummies that seem to ache to the touch.
Extremely late sprinters.
Shorter the race, bigger the surprise.
OK horses in bad posts.
Slip through on the rail, rocket speed.
Young long shots that seem healthy enough and had been bet once.
Sometimes having been halfway decent once is good enough.
Too often ignored, they frequently bring out the best or worst.
Cheap speed going longer.
A $3,000 claimer going from four furlongs to a mile and a half: go to the windows.
Success over the track.
There's no place like some places.
Write to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org