Maiden Races Handicapping Tips & Picks
Handicapping Maidens That Have Yet To Win A Race
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Never consider a horse that ran 4 times and hasn't won yet, even if the horse came in
second all of the 4 times (best sucker bet in racing) - this should be your very first
rule in handicapping maidens. But if everyone in the race ran more than 4 times,
then you should favor the ones with the best speed, and the least run races!
The more a horse runs without winning, the more he learns how to lose, especially
those maidens that consistently place or show many a times, but just won't win - not
can't - won't, because they don't have the heart to go for the win, as soon as they
see a runner sticking his/her nose in front of them.
Horses dropping from Maiden Special Weight (MSW) into Maiden Claiming ranks (Mcl),
are a deplorable sorry bunch unfortunately, since their racing career is sealed, having
nowhere to go (up the stakes ladder), but remain within the claiming ranks after
breaking their maiden. Don't bet droppers with odds below 8/1 - it's not worth it.
The owner/trainer removed the horse from the MSW class, because they honestly and
surely don't think their horse is/will be stakes racing material. MSW means the horse
is not for sale, while Mcl means it's for sale.
The handicapping tips/info we are presenting here, is by no means new, but it's a
refresher course for some, and new to others. It is our own material and not copied
from anywhere else, and is written in no particular order of importance!
First time starters/runners are not as easy to handicap since there is no running line
published for them, so you have to go by the trainer win percentage, and other first
time starter angle/s that the trainer succeeds with, and the pedigree of the runner
itself, which is more complex than anything else. Look at the Dam & Sire stats also.
Second time starters that displayed early speed and lousy finish in their first start,
deserve attention, since that's a trainer's move to test the horse for speed in actual
racing, and then letting him finish last, so as not to use him/her, but save him for the
next race out (today) with higher odds going for him, because of the lousy finish last
Third time starters - unless they've made some effort anywhere during the race in
their first two starts, you can eliminate them.
Fourth time starters - by this time things are not going too good for the runner.
If the horse couldn't win in its first 3 lifetime races, then he/she won't win today
either, unless a real nice effort was made in the very last race (third race) ... but ...
... if the horse placed or showed (came in second or third, respectively), then the
odds are stacking against him winning today, since he already "shot his load" (as we
old timers always say), in his last race.
A maiden going for the first time for a longer distance, or shipping to another track,
or running on a different surface, or going up in class (Mcl to MSW - very rare), or
anything that the horse hasn't done before, will not be a win effort today, but a trying
to see how things work out with the new "something different".
Claiming prices in Mcl lower than $20,000 mean that the runner is of very poor quality.
You can also dig a bit deeper and find the sell price of the runner is he/she sold at
public auction, which you can see in the DRF.com or Brisnet.com PP's (Past
Performances - auction price shows up usually above the pedigree info).
If the first time maiden claiming runner's price (today's race) is less than the public
auction price listed, then the horse is not a bet. The owner/trainer knows that the
horse either has a major physical issue, or has no talent whatsoever or both.
Why would he sell the horse at a loss, otherwise?!
On the other hand (very rare), if the horse sold for less than $20,000 and is entered
today in a Mcl higher than $20,000, then either the owner is testing the horse against
better runners, or the horse is really well meant for today!
Workout times are trainer dependent and not of much importance, except if you see
"bullet" works (the heavy black dot before the workout time, which means the horse
ran the fastest of all training horses on the training track that morning).
Workouts of 5 furlongs or more are excellent for stamina building for longer distance
races, while short ones around 3 or 4 furlongs are for speed training.
The workouts should be equally spaced apart, about every week or two.
Look at where the big early money is going (these are the trainer, owner, and the big
They always bet as soon as betting opens for a particular race. They don't want to let
the public know they're betting big, since public betting doesn't start until late and no
one looks at that early action, but the smart folks like us and you - right?
We are talking about the Win Pool here. Big money never bets the place or show
pools. Those are bet by the public only.
Say a horse is 6/1 morning line (ML), but the betting by the big money opens at
below 2/1 and eventually the runner goes off at 5/1 or 8/1.
Big boys got in early without anyone the wiser, otherwise they would have been
detected later, by disrupting and lowering the odds, while everyone is watching.
Never bet maidens at low odds - let them win without your money. How can you bet a
low odds maiden? These are unproven runners - they're maidens - even if they are
MSW they're still maidens until proven otherwise. Let them win a couple of allowance
races before betting them at low odds. In the Mcl ranks is even worse.
These runners will never amount to anything other than a regular claimer, going
through the claiming ranks for the rest of their racing career, never winning an
allowance or stake race, as mentioned earlier.
Look at the body language of the horse in the post parade or at home on TV (harder).
If the horse sweats profusely and it's cool outside, then throw him/her out.
Normal to high sweat is ok especially when it's hot, but profuse sweat is never ok on a
If the horse does not show an interest in racing today, looks lazy or sleepy, or has an
erection, then the horse is a throw-out.
He/she must look happy, head straight and up, ears pricked and attentive, spring in
his walk, ready to run. Make sure head and ears don't turn around at every sound, or
the horse jumps around for no apparent reason, since all these are negatives for the
runner. Disoriented and tense horses are the last ones you'd want to bet.
In handicapping pedigree you would look at all the available data pertaining the
horses in question, which include Dosage Profile, Dosage Index, Center of
Distribution, Genetic Strength Value, Sire, Dam, Broodmare Sire, Influential Reines-
de-Course Broodmares (Queens of the Turf), Inbreeding, Female Tail Families, etc.,
All the above determines the quality of the horse’s breed on the sire, the dam and
broodmare sire’s side, and also whether the horse has the ability for speed in sprints,
or the class (stamina) for turf and/or dirt routes.
It seems that just about everyone is very familiar with the sire of the runner at any
given time, but very, very few are familiar with the dam and the broodmare sire (dam's
The least familiar and least understood is the dam (runner's mother).
The dam is just as important as the sire (runner's father) and even more so, yet no
one mentions her.
You must understand this:
The sire gives the runner the speed genes, and the dam gives out the class genes
(stamina for routes, turf and dirt). The better bred dam, the better the runner!
Pedigree handicapping is extremely difficult, yet very rewarding.
But pedigree handicapping is of little use after the horse's fourth lifetime race, since
by then you will be able to clearly see it in the running lines if the maiden/young horse,
has an ability towards running or not.
Please read our free 18 Angles eBook with the first 9 trainer racing angles posted on
our Trainer Angles page and the remaining 9 angles posted on our new website at
Horse Racing Picks & Tips.
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