Horse racing handicapping should include analyzing the human element, especially in claiming races when a horse makes his first start for a new trainer. It’s quite common among novices simply glance at a horse’s speed indexes and final times when making their selections, but wise handicappers compare the records of the current and previous trainer. The several questions may arise: when is the right time to wager on a horse in a new barn, why does a horse suddenly improve or regress for a new trainer, what rules should we understand about a newly claimed horse?
We must first analyze the record of the former conditioner before we judge whether a trainer can improve his recently claimed horse, for instance, if high-percentage trainer claims a horse from a trainer with a poor winning percentage, we can assume the horse will improve in his new surroundings, and if a low-percentage trainer claims a horse from the track’s leading trainer, we can conclude the animal won’t improve – more than likely, he will regress.
Quite often, we are able to eliminate from consideration a betting underlay when the horse goes from a high- to a low-percentage barn. Indexes of a high recent speed horse for a leading trainer often has declining figures for a new outfit. This may result in betting overlay when a horse with dismal recent form for a low-percentage trainer hooks up with leading trainer in wins.
On the one hand, a claimed horse returned at or below its last claimed price used to be considered a negative but with higher purses nationally, a claimed horse can earn a sizable pot even if he is returned at the level he was purchased. More trainers are willing to risk possibly losing their newly claimed horse for the same or even a slightly lesser price because they would still earn a profit from the purse winnings.
It’s easy to understand why some trainers are willing to run their newly claimed horses at or below their claimed price – they place their horses where they are most likely to win, and even if another trainer claims one of their horses, they will show a return on their investment if the horse wins or hits the board.
Always consider jockey and equipment changes – a horse claimed from a low percentage stable is likely to have a top rider for his new barn, and a leading jockey on a newly claimed horse would be a big improvement over his previous riders who might have a low win percentage.
For a successful analysis of a newly claimed horse, we must know as much about the new trainer as we do the horse. Remember, handicapping the horse and trainer separates the novice from the veteran.