Understanding How a ‘Curious’ Race Can Be Beneficial

Gambling
Fans at Saratoga celebrate a winner during the 2019 meet. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

There are times when a horse seems oddly placed.

And then there are times when all of that makes sense.

To clarify, let’s look at the first race at Saratoga on Sept. 1, a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.

Of the nine starters, Chimney Rock was coming off a curious start.

After pressing the pace from second in his debut for trainer Mike Maker he tired in the stretch and finished third, beaten 5 ¼ lengths in a race moved from the turf to the main track.

So, when Chimney Rock popped up in the entries again, it was not surprising that it was a turf race. But this one was a 1 1/16-mile race around two turns, which seemed curious given the way he tired in a sprint.

And, as it turned out, going long didn’t suit him. He led for the first six furlongs and then tired badly, finishing ninth and last, 17 ¼ lengths behind the winner.

Was it a mistake in judgment?

Perhaps, until Chimney Rock was entered in the Sept. 1 sprint.

While the two-turn race was beyond Chimney Rock’s scope, running hard for six furlongs could have been beneficial in his conditioning, especially when he turned back in distance to a sprint.

As much as Chimney Rock had tired in his first two starts, that “curious” race in his previous race made sense. Not on that day, but for his next start.

The proof came when Chimney Rock waited in the back of the pack in eighth after three furlongs, then launched a strong rally in the stretch and surged past the 8-5 favorite, Summer Sangria, in the final furlong to prevail by 1 ¾ lengths.

The payoff wasn’t huge, but at a little more than 7-2 odds he paid $9.30 to win, and if you used him with the favorite in the exacta you collected $28.

That’s not a bad payoff for being “curious.”

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