The old adage about “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” should resonate with handicappers searching for a longshot.
It’s not unusual to search the past performances of a winner at big odds and find a change which may have sparked the improved effort that catapulted the longshot into the winner’s circle.
The keys to this process are spotting those changes and getting the right price.
As an example, let’s look at the second race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 10. Lil Bay Corvette came into the race off four career starts, finishing fourth, fifth, third, and fifth, each time at the same $12,500 maiden claiming level.
Her best performance was a third in a 6 ½-furlong sprint in her second start as she rallied from eighth. After that, trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. tried something new by stretching out the 3-year-old filly to a mile in hopes the added ground would help her late-running style.
It didn’t as she finished fifth.
Then Azpurua tried again, and Lil Bay Corvette finished fourth, again at a mile.
Next Azpurua tried one more time. Lil Bay Corvette was closer to the pace in her two races at a mile, and for the Feb. 10 race, he cut Lil Bay Corvette back to a 6 ½-furlong sprint, hoping she developed some speed and stamina in longer races.
It was a risky proposition, but what made it worthwhile was Lil Bay Corvette’s 12-1 morning-line price. At 3-1 there would have been much better horses to find at those odds on the card. Yet at double-digit odds in a weak field, perhaps trying, trying again, and trying one more time had Lil Bay Corvette primed for a winning effort.
Those who backed her at her final odds of 10-1 were rewarded as the turnback brought out the speed in Lil Bay Corvette, who stayed closer to the lead than her previous sprints and closed nicely to win by two lengths and pay $23.40 for a $2 win bet.
Yes, there are indeed times when the philosophy of try, try again can lead a handicapper to big payoff.