By Jude “Pontiff of the Pick Four” Feld
“Signs point to yes.”
This is one of the 20 possible answers if you ask the “Magic Eight Ball” whether the horse you pick will win or lose. The method of questioning a plastic sphere when to wager or not will undoubtedly supply a few winners, but there is a better way to predict the future.
Sometimes there are so many “signs” in a horse’s chart that it makes them the most probable winner and if the price is right, a magnificent bet.
The last race at Gulfstream Park on April Fools Day of 2012 is a prime example.
Master Achievement drew the rail in a full field of 12 runners going a flat mile on the turf. In most grass races, run on firm turf, the inside posts are advantageous, as saving ground is of extreme importance.
He had run twice before, both maiden allowance races at Saratoga, one at six furlongs in the slop and the next going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Today’s race was $35,000 maiden claiming event at one mile on the sod. The drop in class from maiden allowance to maiden claiming is the biggest in racing and usually a harbinger of good race.
His trainer, David Fawkes, had dropped 21 maidens in class like this in the past year and 19% of them hit the winners’ circle – obviously an excellent move for him, as he is winning at a 12% clip overall.
In his turf start, Master Achievement had run against Daddy Nose Best, back-to-back winner of the recent El Camino Real Derby (G3) and Sunland Derby (G3) and was only beaten five lengths by the Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful.
A $15,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale bargain, even though Master Achievement was dropping in class, he was running well above his purchase price.
Fawkes gave the riding assignment to Juan Leyva, a jockey he has had a 21% success rate with in 2011-2012.
What do you need, an engraved invitation to bet?
The 12-1 morning line price was too much to ask for, but it certainly would make Master Achievement, “ice cream,” as trainer and top gambler Julio Canani would say.
As always happens in handicapping articles, our hero exerted his class and went wire-to-wire, returning an $18.00 mutuel to his backers.
If you asked the Magic Eight Ball if you will make more money looking at the signs in a horse’s past performance chart or consulting the black orb itself, the answer is likely to be:
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