Handicapping Lessons: Which Runners Have Room to Improve?  

Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing Handicapping Lessons

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues Saturday with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. That 1 mile race for 3-year-olds does not require much handicapping as McKinzie is the heavy 3-5 morning line favorite and should be a single in your pick 3, pick 4 or pick 6 wagers.

But as you handicap and analyze other races whether young or older horses, you want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which runners have room to improve?
  • Which runners or trainers are trying something new which can produce better results?

Over the course of the Kentucky Derby trail, we’re going to see many young horses making significant strides and improving during training and on the race track. Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming didn’t break his maiden until late January in his third start, and his next race was in allowance company in early March when he was still being offered near 50-1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby in the future wager pool! Trainer Todd Pletcher was bringing along his prized Bodemeister colt slowly, and when he finally ran his first stakes race and won the Florida Derby impressively on April 1, the betting public took notice.

Anticipating improvement and looking for signs in training and by the trainer, horse racing analysts, handicappers, insiders and pedigree analysts can help you in identifying horses on the improve and value at the race track in all types of races.

The Derby prep Sham Stakes (G3) is Race 5 at Santa Anita Saturday, and Race 7 is the San Gabriel (G2) on the turf.

But Race 1 offers some handicapping lessons from an insightful handicapper and contributor. The opener is a 12,500 non winners of two lifetime event at a mile on the TURF, the lowest level at the Meet, which basically equates to MULTIPLE LOSERS. So as you ask yourself those questions above, here is some insight on a longshot to consider, #3 Hotsy Dotsy (12-1). She’s only 1 for 15 off the maiden win last time out, but what we need to point out is the fact she’s​ ​run​ ​her​ ​best​ ​races​ ​when​ ​routing​ ​on​ ​the​ ​main​ ​track​ ​since​ ​being claimed​ ​by​ ​Palma​. Last time out, she starting looking around, and despite being a couple lengths clear, Roman really went to work, pushing her hard, going to the whip, keeping her focused, and she responded, striding out nicely under the wire. Okay, we’re spending a lot of time here, but the following WCHR Handicapping Angle applies well here

Consistent hard working sorts are usually the best type of runners to back with regard to these cheap N2L type of races, as there’s no reason to believe this guy is all of sudden going to regress against multiple losers, the most appropriate way to view these N2L races, as the mentality of many handicappers with regard to these cheap non winners of two events is just so backwards, here’s what we mean – Horses coming off a maiden win are often given less credence than multiple losers at this level, who’ve already been defeated at this N2L level, many on multiple occasions. Think about that for a second – why should a horse coming off a possible career catalyst maiden win where confidence was finally gained finishing down the lane in front of the others, be looked at in a more negative light than horse’s who already won their maiden event, and since, have shown nothing against other multiple losers since that maiden score? Remember, nobody has won a race outside of their maiden score. Let’s look for a good effort here today.

The WCHR – westcoasthorseracing.com contributed to this report.

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