No one knows everything, you can get lucky some of the time, but in horse racing it is all about information, it is about knowledge, and knowledge is power.
You get a million opinions on social media and most of them are garbage, and that garbage can easily rot the fundamentals of information and the mind of a horseplayer.
There are many characters on social media that attack, just to attack and demean, anything and everything that goes against their narrative. Social media is all about ego and pride.
A good handicapper has a balanced, objective mind.
I applaud any horseplayer that takes the steps to make themselves more informed and educated in THE racehorse.
I was asked recently 'what would be the one thing I would recommend to a novice handicapper.
Horses win because of their current state of form, not from last month or when they raced last, it is how they approach each and every race. They give you clues, horses are extremely emotional animals that can tout you on themselves or make you think twice about following.
Case and Point
I heard all Derby week about how great Honor A.P. was doing.
I wasn't on that bandwagon.
First off all was the average effort put forth in the Shared Belief, his last prep for the Derby.
In the Shared Belief he was bumped extremely hard and knocked into his neighbor's post position by Cezanne, he traveled wide, but what I didn't like was that, on the head-on of the race, he was trying to get out late.
He was lugging out drifting at least two lanes in last 16th of a mile.
When a horse drifts, its a physical thing, they are lacking the balance on all four limbs, thus like your car having one bald tire, it would pull drastically, and you would feel it in your steering wheel. What was it that made Honor A P drift? Did he have a bald tire....and where.
First of all, most horseplayers do not ever watch a head on of a race. Ever.
Studying movement and understanding what it takes for a horse to go from point A to point B can be a rewarding experience as it can answer questions of why certain events takes place and the head on reveals much more if you apply yourself.
I am predominantly obsessed with how horses push off from behind, and believe that the rear end is the cause of most major issues up front in horses.
You have to take care of the hind end, the push from behind is critical to a horses stride. No push or short of a push from behind creates a shorter stride and eventual problems due to the stress put on the front assembly of an equine athlete.
I pour over how horses travel from hind to front, how they jog, and gallop and whether they use their hind end proficiently.
I felt Honor A P did NOT.
This is his work on August 22nd at Del Mar, courtesy of XBTV, who does a fantastic job bringing you videos of workouts, at XBTV.com , see how he stretches out, switches leads front and back, but, see the slight hitch in his right hind shortly after turning for home
The hitch suggests he will have to take a few strides to regain his balance behind and create a full push to extend stride up front. If so, it highlights that his push from behind, maybe on the right is a bit compromised and it will take him longer to accelerate and stretch out that amazing stride.
I recognized it during a Zoom Class we were conducting, everything about the work was good, but then I noticed it.
Watched it over and over with our group.
This was our final report on Honor A P for the Derby Workout Report. I had to reassess his works after noticing the hitch on August 22nd. He did stretch out well after re engaging his hind end, but that took time, and pulled up well once doing so, but felt his last work on August 29 we didn't feel he had the bounce and push from behind.
Honor A P was bumped soundly again out of the gate in the Kentucky Derby, as we have said multiple times he breaks well enough to get pinched. He raced wide and finished a non-threatening 4th.
Honor A P is not alone, just like us humans, we have our natural faults, of how we are built and move through our knees, hips, and more. Horses have to maintain stride integrity, instinctually.
It's simple survival, if they can't run and put their hooves in the right spot, even for a limited time they are subject to be food for predators.
Issues with horses start with how they are built, and using my eyes and understanding of how horses travel, it becomes my everyday part of assessing an animal by his efficiency and ability to handle its handicap or faults.
Great and good horses come in all shapes and sizes.
Some are so talented to can overcome their inadequacies but at a cost. Some have all the tools but can't get out of their own way, the lack athleticism or simply the desire.
Following the works and morning activity, not only gives the player an insight to what is happening behind the scenes but also to how the horseman see in they equine prospects.
It is like going to batting practice before a baseball game.
I try to follow along with the tendencies of the trainer, and exercise riders, their level of competence on a horse is of the utmost importance. The exercise rider is the teacher.
See this work from July 26th at Saratoga, courtesy of XBTV.com, from Lease, a two-year-old trained by Bill Mott.
You can see the exercise rider having trouble with the reins and cleanly removing his whip, almost falling off.
The young horse amazingly handled himself in a poise and mature manner, never lost integrity of his stride and stayed cool. There was a lot going on on his back.
Horses can overcome rider, riders can't overcome bad horses.
Does it surprise you to know this horse walked out of the gate a week later in his debut ?
He had learned very little from his morning experiences, and the video proves it.
Bill Mott does a tremendous job, but this year at Saratoga it was very hard finding quality exercise riders in the morning.
The pandemic and COVID19 restricted the movement and migration of Kentucky based riders who would provide excellent lessons for young horses. The lack of competent and experienced exercise riders can be troublesome in the development of a young racehorse and lead to bad habits, as we saw in Lease.
Trainers like Bill Mott, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher among many others with large stables, constantly seek to hire competent quality individuals and when that skillset is in high demand.
Analyzing works and understanding the progress of young horses goes hand in hand. If you can understand horse, as an individual, its mannerisms and movement, you can analytically make sound decisions on what you are seeing. Only then make sound editorial opinions for the reader.
Which lends to another problem, some just look at ratings, not what it is written.
Sometimes I wonder if Americans or the world has forgotten how to read.
As far as Lease is concerned you can see his lack of education in the morning.
His inability to break from the gate can be contributed to lack of education.
We felt he handled the dirt just fine and the turf is a big question mark in his first two starts.
Lease, has we editorialized from the July 26 is a work in progress.
There are, however, more cut, clear and dry versions of a workout report on a horse that can clearly lead to winners.
Travel column raced on September 4, 2020, at Churchill Downs on Oaks day and won paying $11.20. I think the report was straight forward and useful to the horseplayer.
The bright red FQLLQW should have been plenty of a warning to pay attention to this runner.
On the same day in a earlier race, Amusing Antics, served ample warning in Race 2, and at 9/2 just missed off strong works.
Amusing Antics, August 17 gate work good enough to draw 4 stars and make her a horse to watch
Essential Quality was another, on Derby day.
Only paid $5 plus, but overcame trouble to win impressively.
Attention to detail and experience are the most important things in a workout report.
Seeing horses do what they do and recognizing positive and negatives comes from experience, and understanding the variables and intangibles.
There are those that know everything, but master very little, but love to watch the world burn, meanwhile the successful people, the good players, the smart individual with a quest for knowledge inform themselves and use their knowledge has power.