Determining Whether a Longshot is Worth a Gamble

Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

For the most part, longshots are coming off poor efforts, and yet, some of these horses manage to rebound from that weak race and turn in a dramatically better performance that lands them in the winner’s circle.

The key part of this process is deciding which bad races are telling and indicative of another dismal showing, and which are simply glitches.

There’s no 100 percent foolproof system, but there are times when there are plausible reasons for a bad race.

As an example, there’s Too Charming in the sixth race at Aqueduct on Nov. 11. It was a non-winners-of-one allowance race on the turf and Too Charming was listed at 12-1 on the morning line.


In her last race the 3-year-old filly finished 11th, beaten by 32 lengths, in an allowance race at Saratoga on July 28.

That was hardly an inspiring effort. Yet it was also the only really bad effort by her in five starts on turf this year.

In those other races, she had a maiden win and two seconds (including one in a stakes race at Monmouth). Even in the one bad race, she was seventh, but was only beaten by less than four lengths.

One common link in those four races was that they were run on firm turf. In her last race, Too Charming raced on wet, yielding turf.

Was it the wet turf that Too Charming disliked? Or maybe was it something not visible in the past performances that was addressed during the 3 ½-month gap between races?

Plus, since she is owned by the world-renowned Godolphin Racing, there’s reason to believe they would have dropped her into a claimer or retired her if she was mired in a tailspin.

It might be a guessing game, but there are usually reasons why you should consider taking a gamble.

In this case, there were 22 of them, namely Too Charming’s 22-1 odds on the tote board.

A 3-1 or 4-1, the risk would outweigh the reward and you could overlook her. Yet at 22-1, there was sufficient cause to gamble on Too Charming benefitting from a layoff and rebounding on a turf course that had some give in it and was labeled “good” but was definitely better than a “yielding” course.

Whatever the reason, Too Charming definitely turned in a much better effort and registered a three-quarters-of-a-length victory, paying $47.80 to win.

Once again, a bad effort gave way to a winning effort. It was just a matter of coming up with a reason or two why it would happen.

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