Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
The start of a seasonal meet can often be a confusing time for handicappers.
At a meet like Oaklawn Park, which is not part of a year-around circuit such as New York and California, the first few days of racing can produce an eclectic group of horses from a wide variety of tracks.
Speed figures can help sort out the fastest horses, but on occasions the tracks where horses last raced can underscore a class edge.
For instance, on Sunday, Jan. 12, the third day of the 2014 Oaklawn Park meet, the third race brought together three horses who last raced at Remington Park, two from Churchill Downs and one each from Turfway Park and Fairplex.
Of those four tracks, Churchill Downs is the one that stood out as having the best brand of racing, giving an edge to the Louisville shippers, Maybelle Slew and T Jays Affair.
Of the two, Maybelle Slew had the best current form. Maybelle Slew was coming off an odds-on victory in a $7,500 claimer at Churchill Downs that made her an even more attractive choice in a race for $7,500 claimers at Oaklawn.
Not surprisingly, Maybelle Slew was sent off as a slight 2-1 favorite, and after a convincing 4 ½-length victory she provided her backers with a $6.40 return for those who invested $2 on her.
The honor of completing that exotic wager went to T Jays Affair, who was sent off at 13-1 and completed a $72 All-Churchill Downs exacta.
THE LESSON: At the start of a meet filled with shippers from a variety of circuits, horses from the stronger circuits often have an edge.
OAKLAWN'S THIRD RACE ON JAN. 12