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Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

Going Under the Hood to Find a Winner

Turf to dirt, the stretch out, the turn back, positive and negative rider switches, trainer switch off claims, and 1st time Lasix are angles all handicappers look to in the hope of improving a horse’s form enough to help them cash winning wagers.  One change that goes overlooked by many handicappers at tracks throughout the country is first time starters wearing blinkers. Blinkers are an apparatus worn around the head with cups to restrict a horse’s peripheral vision. On average, horses have 330 degrees of vision, so blinkers help keep their attention on racing, which can be difficult for a young horse making their debut with the distractions of the crowd, noises and possibly lights surrounding them. This is a very powerful angle that can lead to big profits, and does not take a lot of time studying racing statistics, it’s as simple as watching the post parade. 

Being located in the Midwest, aside from the New York circuit, I tend to wager on tracks located in Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, and Indiana. In these states, first time starters wearing blinkers goes unmentioned in past performances or during the announcements of late changes made by race callers. In New York, debut runners wearing blinkers is something that is passed on to the public prior to post time. Last week I had the pleasure of sharing a few moments with Louisiana Downs track announcer, Travis Stone and Hawthorne Race Course Assistant General Manager, Jim Miller. I posed both of them with the question-Why isn’t “blinkers on” for first time starters announced to the public in your state? Both Travis and Jim stated that the added equipment is not announced because it does not qualify as a change in equipment since the participant is a first time starter.   

Granted, this is a handicapping angle that is a last minute sort of thing, since it is not something you can prepare for, but being flexible in this game can be very advantageous. Flexibility proved very profitable last Friday at the Fair Grounds, which held 3 maiden races and the angle in question played a role in all outcomes.

11/25/2011 Fair Grounds Race 1
#6 Jukin N Jivin was one of 2 first time starters, and was the only one getting blinkers.  In addition, trainer Bob Young is batting a respectable 15% with his first time starters. Both of these factors made Jukin N Jivin a must include in all wagers, but throw in the fact that he was 9-1, and pot just got a little sweeter.


11/25/2011 Fair Grounds Race 4
#5 Surley did not win, but with his 3rd place finish at 46-1, he turned a $49.40 exacta into a $1,487.20 trifecta (with the 8-5 favorite winning)!

11/25/2011 Fair Grounds Race 6
The 6th race consisted of 10 runners, 7 of whom were making their debut, but #5 Table Three Ten was the only one wearing blinkers. As you can see, he cruised to a 5 ¼ length victory by running 6 furlongs in 1:10 2/5 and paying $11.00.

In today’s simulcasting age it’s difficult to keep track of all the opportunities available at tracks coast to coast, but I would recommend watching the post parades of maiden races that you plan on betting and keeping a list of trainers that succeed with this angle on the circuits you follow to reap the rewards of this hidden gem. 

Please be sure to follow me on Twitter-@Cappercorner and/or friend me on facebook.com to continue the horse racing conversation!

Race Charts provided by the Daily Racing Form


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Older Comments about Going Under the Hood to Find a Winner...

Blinkers On is Always something to look at for young horses. It comapres to first time lazix for the Europeans which are my favorite and most profitable type to bet because they are finally not bleeding internally and suffering like they were when they were in Europe without the medication.
Cashed big on table three ten. I saw a rock sold pedigree and 4 straight quality works. I watched the post parade to see if he looked game also and he did. But I often wonderedmthat same question you asked the pros. I actually figured if they ran with them in workouts it would not be considered blinkers on. Great advice and a quality angle on the babies. If I had that angle it may have been a bigger cash. Either way Table Three Ten could be a quality over night stakes/ grade 3 type horse for next year. he is going to get some more of my money.
No two horses prep the same in a maiden contest. It is far easier to predict a maiden winner by a horse's progressive move with the pace of the race and racing expereince that equipemtn changes. Firsters are ALWAYS at a disadvantage as the inexpience of the sounds, noise and dirt in their faces are all new.
Vic, don't you find it weird those were the only situations that day. I'm not saying go bet every horse that a first time starter that has blinkers. If that's the case, no one would have to handicap any maiden races before they were run. Its just another piece to try to help people solve the puzzle, by adding possible longshots to exotic wagers. You don't find it odd that track commentators mention horses all the time getting blinkers who have already run, but normally goes without mention on first time starters? Isn't that a piece of information most people would like to know? It's cool with me if you don't want to pay attention to this angle, I've been cashing tickets on horses like these for years & know for a fact it has produced results.
One could produce any number of charts showing youngsters did not wear blnkers and blitzed their respective fields. I
correlation does not mean cause and effect. Blinkers are put on very a wide variety of reasons and half the time are simple experiments to see how the INDIVIDAUL horse reacts to them. There is no strict effect by their use..Simplistic thiking at its worst.
And all you have to do is watch the post parade.
I must admit, I've been handicapping nearly my entire life and this is one angle I've never put much thought into. Very interesting, Jasen ... I plan on doing some serious research into this one!

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