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Blog - GAMBLING

File photo by Eclipse Sportswire

There are dozens of ways to analyze a horse race, but sometimes the easiest way is the best way.

A case in point is the fifth race at Saratoga on Aug. 15. The post time favorite was Latigo Trail, a horse who had finished second in his last two starts at Belmont Park.

Each time, he held a clear lead at the eighth pole in a turf sprint - most recently by three lengths and by two lengths the time before that.

Each time he was passed, losing by a half-length last time and by a nose in his previous start.

Based on that information alone, it was logical to figure that someone would probably collar Latigo Trail in the shadow of the finish line once again.

Except that there was something different about this race.

Unlike Belmont Park, where turf sprints are contested at six furlongs, Saratoga’s turf course allows for a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint. A horse such as Latigo Trail that was narrowly beaten at six furlongs now had a shorter distance of ground standing between him and the finish line.

Latigo Trail

Logic indicated he would be much tougher to catch in a shorter race. Some might have argued that even at 5 ½ furlongs an inherently quicker pace would, as usual, take a toll on Latigo Trail in the final yards. Nevertheless the difference between six furlongs and 5 ½ furlongs was the handicapping angle that seemed most important in deciding who would reach the finish line first.

In the end, in a tip of the cap to Captain Obvious, what seemed obvious was indeed obvious.

This time, Latigo Trail pressed the pace in second while 5-2 second-choice Vischer Ferry set the pace. He forged to the front at the quarter pole and actually pulled away in the final furlong to win by 3 ¼ lengths.

The payoff was $5.30 for a $2 bet, which isn’t a king’s ransom.

But it was easy.

THE LESSON: Sometimes the most obvious handicapping angle is the best one. Just ask Captain Obvious.

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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