This is the second article in a series in which noted US expert Joe Takach talks about the upside and downside of racing and betting. In the first part of the series, Joe posed a series of questions about form analysis, and in this article he answers some of them.

Before offering my answers to the question test, I’m going to again advance a caveat that was offered in Part 1 of this series.

The answers are nothing more than my opinion. I’m not looking to do battle and waste time with anyone over an opinion – theirs or mine. Opinions are confirmed for each and every one of us every single day shortly after we have a bet. These opinions work for me and have for a long time and that is all that really concerns me.

If you can incorporate one or all of these opinions into your overall personal methodology, it is my belief that you will enhance your bottom line. And if you increase your bottom line, my purpose in offering them to you has reached fruition.

FACTOR: New jockey in town.

(1) UPSIDE: If there ever was a time when a jockey is "trying" to win, it is when he makes a move to a new circuit and is attempting to establish credibility. He knows that if he doesn’t start winning early on, his chances of making it on this new circuit are virtually nil.

FACTOR: Winner puts in a huge rating.

(2) UPSIDE: Over the years there have been two factors that have not only kept me solvent when it comes to betting last-start winners to repeat, but have consistently proven profitable. They must be present for me to make a "prime wager" on a last-start winner to repeat in his next outing.

The first is that the last-start winner gained ground at every running call. This demonstrates that the horse had complete control of the race and was clearly best. He didn’t win a "close one" by a head-bob or win because the race favourite had a bad trip. He won because he dominated his field.

To confirm the legitimacy of the ground gain at every call, the "rating" earned in that "big win" must be good enough to beat horses two levels above the level at which he just won. If both conditions are met and the connections only step him up one level instead of two, I know they are quite serious and are going for the throat.

FACTOR: Horse at 2/5, your win strike 34 per cent.

(3) DOWNSIDE: This should be a "no-brainer". While your win percentage is surely enviable at a whopping 34 per cent, to make money betting 2/5 shots requires your win percentage to be nearly twice that. There isn’t a handicapper alive winning at a 60 per cent clip year in and year out.

FACTOR: Two horses at 7/5 and 7/1.

(4) DOWNSIDE: If you like two horses equally the same in any race, you only have two options. You either bet them both if the odds will allow it, or you stay out of the race. The money management guru who advised his readers to bet the longer of the two horses (the 7/1 shot in our example over the 7/5 runner) based his opinion on the premise that if the race was run 100 times, each horse would win 50 of them and the 7/1 would obviously be more profitable.

While that might be true in his "make-believe world" of the same race being run 100 times, we know that no one race is run exactly the same way twice, let alone 100 times! His basic premise of 100 races is wrong, so it follows that his conclusion has to be wrong! When faced with two horses that I can’t separate "on paper", I don’t have to bet them both and neither do you.

FACTOR: Winner pulled up less than 150m after the line.

(5) DOWNSIDE: My daily Southern California Horses To Watch is entering its 12th year of publication and during those years the staff has documented every single premature pull-up (horses coming to a dead stop within 150m past the finish line). Each day in every non-maiden race, we have listed horses that were premature pull-ups in their last outings.

An unbelievable 91 per cent of them fail to visit the winner’s circle in their very next outing. This startling throwout angle is fully documentable regardless of class, distance, surface, sex, trainer, jockey, odds, age or any other handicapping filter you choose to include.

Did I hear someone ask why this throwout angle was so strong? It is very simple. Win or lose on any specific day, the cooling out process begins the moment a horse crosses the finish line. Every horse should be allowed to canter out to the beginning of the back stretch, do a "180", and slowly canter or gallop back to the unsaddling area. That comes to about 800m and equals the minimum required in the pre-race warm-up.

Because just as a horse needs 800m of a light canter before a race to release oxygen delivering red blood cells from the spleen and slowly stretch muscles to their maximum elasticities, the post-race warm-down begins the reverse process of "cooling out" where the muscles begin to return to their normal relaxed state. Horses that are abruptly stopped crossing the finish line are infirm or the jockey is too lazy to properly gallop the horse out.

Regardless of reasoning, premature pull-ups invite muscle soreness that often carries forward into a horse’s next race. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anybody who shows an annual profit by betting muscle-sore horses! Enough said.

FACTOR: Huge winner against bias, now up in class.

(6) DOWNSIDE: Whenever I bet a horse to repeat, I have a very demanding checklist that must be answered in the positive. One thing that I insist upon is that the last-start winner ran with the bias and not against it! While running against the bias and winning at the same time shows an extra lick of class, it does nothing for a horse’s stored or reserve energy. Horses don’t necessarily "empty their tanks" every time that they race, but some do.
Consider these extremes of the energy spectrum.

We’ve all seen races where a horse jumps to the front, wires his field with ease in a hand ride while never so much as seeing his rider’s whip and returns to the winner’s circle looking like he never ran at all.

He isn’t blowing hard with his sides rapidly heaving. He doesn’t have that totally "exhausted" look on his face as if his groom could let go of his reins and he wouldn’t move. The "easy winner" is still quite full of himself in the post race and looks ready to do it again as he dances out of the winner’s circle en route to the wash bay – he’s still a "handful" and very obviously not out of gas!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a horse win against the bias and look "fresh" and ready to do it again in the post race as does the "easy" winner. The "against the bias" winner nearly always returns to the winner’s circle with head low and bobbing and his sides heaving like the pistons in your car.

His tank is clearly on "empty" and any reserve energy that he had before the start of his race was used up on the track fighting the bias for the win. Keep in mind that it is extremely hard to beat a running bias and I’m certainly not knocking the horse – he’s special! But beating a bias usually throws a horse "off" for not only his next start, but possibly two or three more races. He needs time to rebuild his strength and energy.

FACTOR: Wide barrier winner, up in class.

(7) DOWNSIDE: Much like the above scenario, it is a very tall order to win from the 12 gate or wider. It matters not what the surface or distance might be. It takes a special animal to break from the outside fence and get the job done. Why? If he’s to get a positive running position necessary to win, he must use up a lot of energy at the start of the race. Keep in mind that 11 other horses are also trying to get position.

Even if he is the superior horse on "paper", he’ll have to fight early on for that positive running position and, again, that uses up part of what is in his tank. This is why you see so many outside horses fading like cheap wallpaper in the final 200m of any race – they are simply out of gas. I’ll certainly agree with anyone who says that it is easier to win from the outside going short rather than long around two turns, but betting the far outside in any race for any reason at any distance is nothing but downside risk in my book. I don’t have to "push" a bet when I don’t feel I have it going all my way. There’s another race in 30 minutes!

FACTOR: Talented jockey in a slump.

(8) DOWNSIDE: Once a talented jockey gets into a bad slump, no matter what the cause, it is anyone’s guess when he’ll snap out of it. It matters not how talented the horse under him might be in any given race. When good jockeys go bad, they become just ordinary riders who do little more than steer their mounts – they "ride" very few of them. And face facts, isn’t that what separates a great jockey from a mediocre one.

Every good jockey and even the great riders of our game sooner or later fall into this slump category. I’m not talking about a single bad hair day or one where their hamster was off his wheel for 24 hours. I’m talking about a long slump.

FACTOR: Re-handicapping an unplayable race.

(9) DOWNSIDE: I don’t know about you, but after wagering on horses close to 50 years, there isn’t a single iota of doubt in my mind that my first impression of a horse is the right one for me. Every time that I re-examine a race that I didn’t like the first time, I rip up tickets and rip them up repeatedly.

I’m not any better the second time around. If I can’t get a feel for the race right away, why push a bet? Any fool can stand there and talk himself into a horse in an unplayable race! I know, I used to be one of those fools!

FACTOR: Betting after losing a protest.

(10) DOWNSIDE: Nobody enjoys losing, at least nobody in their right mind. I hate to lose and that’s surely the reason why I work so hard at winning.

However, in Southern California whenever I’m taken down by the stewards responsible for fairness to all, I simply shut down mentally and stop betting for that day. I continue taking my copious paddock notes, etc., until day’s end, but the Banko de Takach closes.

You can read more of Joe's articles at

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Joe Takach