Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
When Warmhearted Windy won the 10th race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 17, shock waves were felt in every corner of the Hallandale, Fla., racetrack.
Horses who win at 81-1 odds tend to generate that kind of a response from folks who cannot fathom how the dark horse staged such a miraculous victory.
Meanwhile, there were some people who were euphoric over Warmhearted Windy’s triumph. Not many, mind you, but at least some.
What they saw in her was speculative at best. Yet as improbable of a winner as she might have been, Warmhearted Windy illustrated the fine line between handicapping and wagering and when 81-1 odds might be worth a fling.
Someone who handicapped the race would have been hard-pressed to come up with “Windy” as the most likely winner.
She had only one career start and it wasn’t much of an effort. Entered in a maiden special weight turf sprint, she wound up running on a wet dirt track listed as good after the race was washed off the grass course.
Sent off at 38-1 odds, she wound up fourth, beaten by 10 ¾ lengths.
So why bet on her in her second start? Well, perhaps it was best to include her.
Warmhearted Windy was the type of horse someone making an exotic wager like an exacta or sequence wager like a Pick 3 or double should consider using because of the mystery surrounding her and the long odds attached to her. Hoping a horse who has been running poorly on a surface will suddenly wake up and run huge is generally a hopeless situation. But here there was a logical reason to believe that Warmhearted Windy would improve on turf, the surface her connections wanted her on all along.
Had “Windy” returned in a dirt race, handicappers would have had some evidence of what to expect from her – which would have been little.
But in her second race, the 4-year-old filly was entered in a turf race once again. Though she showed a 10-length loss in her past performances, that dirt race had no bearing on how well – or how poorly – she would run on turf.
Betting her to win on the hope that she would thrive on turf was problematic because several other horses in the race had better form than her.
Yet if you happened to like Street Trick, the 7-2 second choice, and wanted to link her with a few horses in the exacta, why not take a chance and couple her with the unknown commodity in the race – especially when it’s an 81-1 shot?
While an 81-1 shot who had finished last in a couple of turf races figures to run up the track once again, an 81-1 shot trying turf for the first time has some upside. Betting $20 to win on her might not make sense, but if you’re looking for four or five horses to link with your key she’s worth including as a saver because of one simple reason: she might like turf more than horses who have raced on it and lost.
In this case, if you liked Brandys Secret, the victorious odds-on, 1-2 favorite in the ninth race, and used her in the late double with 5 or 6 horses in the 10th race – and included Warmhearted Windy - you could have collected a $284 double.
If you combined Warmhearted Windy with the runner-up Street Trick in an exacta box, your return was a much more generous $1,166.40.
Ah, the virtue of being inclusive.
THE LESSON: Longshots in poor form are bad bets. But a horse trying something new, like turf, is often worth including as a saver in an exotic wager, especially if the price on the toteboard is huge.
WARMHEARTED WINDY'S PAST PERFORMANCES AS OF FEB. 17