June 16, 2024


Arts Fanatics

Thoughts on Handicapping the Triple Crown Races and Avoiding the Same Old Mistakes

If you are handicapping horse races you know how difficult it is to pick a winner in all three Triple Crown Races. If you have followed the Triple Crown Races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont, then you have seen plenty of high drama over the years. But in all fairness, if you have been paying attention, you know that some of that high drama is just hype.

How many times must we watch a horse win the first two legs, only to be beaten in the Belmont? There are trainers who will hold a horse back and aim for the Belmont with that horse. Some people claim the trainer is a spoiler and resent his or her strategy, but in all fairness, some of those trainers are just very good trainers and know that the horse isn’t ready to win the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, but it may be mature enough and in good enough condition by the time the Belmont rolls around.

Another factor is the distance. The horse may be well suited for the grueling distance of the Belmont. It takes a real warhorse to win the Belmont while some other flashier types may pull off a score in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. That makes handicapping the Belmont very difficult. My advice is that you should look for that type of breeding and use it as a very weighty factor in your handicapping.

I have sadly watched the favorite, a winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, make a move too early in the race and wind up running out of energy in the stretch only to be passed by a stronger horse. I wish I could talk to the jockey’s of those favorites and remind them not to make their move too early with the horse. It might also be helpful to show them the videos of past Belmonts where horses who had a good shot at winning and looked fantastic in the early stages of the race lost because a cocky jockey thought he had so much horse he could just blow by the leaders going into the final turn.

A little research will show that if you are in the lead in the turn at the Belmont, you probably aren’t going to win the race. Hello, are there any jockey’s out there listening? That is my advice for the jockey’s.

My advice for the handicappers is, try to ignore the hype if you can. Look at the distance stats for sires and a horse’s running style and make good comparisons with some method of evaluation like Ladder Handicapping. Before the race be sure to meditate a half hour or do some other stress relieving activity because nothing can stress you out like seeing your horse moving too early and running out of gas in the stretch. The biggest mistake in handicapping the Triple Crown Races, in my opinion, is placing too much importance on a horse’s performance in the first two legs of the TC. The Belmont is a different venue, or as we say on the backstretch, a different kind of “cat.”