all in Tips

At the end of seven months and 35 U.S. prep races, the field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve has finally taken shape.

As usual, it is filled with the cream of the 3-year-old crop. The winners of the seven 100-point prep races will be on hand May 4 as handicappers will face the challenge of deciding what will happen when talented horses from the Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West meet, often for the first time.

Welcome to the end of the road for the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep season.

As April arrives and the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve preps dwindle down to a precious few, handicappers will get their final chances to hone their skills before the all-important final exam on May 4, aka the Kentucky Derby.

There are some types of races that are simple to understand. Stakes races and some claiming races fall into that category. They each have a certain purse value or involve horses that sell for a set price.

Yet some conditions can be quite confusing, such as a starter optional claiming race. In a sense, these are hybrid races. There are the mix of a starter race and a claiming race.

The claiming part is the easy one to understand. It’s the price another owner must pay to buy or claim the horse.

Many handicappers will tell you that one of the best class angles in horse racing is a horse descending from the maiden special weight class into a claimer. There are countless examples of a young horse waking up – sometimes at a very nice price – when they tackle claimers for the first time.

But what happens when the change goes in the opposite direction? Let’s say a horse flops in a maiden special weight race, then rebounds with a solid effort in a claimer and returns to the maiden special weight ranks. Is that horse a solid play?

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