Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ready to Run

Being around horses all my life, I have seen most everything. And I try to use horse sense all the time when visually analyzing a horse and their body language in the few pre race minutes either in the paddock or the post parade. Most of the time I am at the mercy of the video on my computer screen or TV, and the person who is behind the camera.

But there is a handicapping rule I live by. Are you listening? When a horse is full of himself in the paddock, I don’t mean over- the- top-unwound-lost- it, but throwing a good buck here and there, that’s when I RUN to the windows.

This all started when I was lucky enough to be in the Preakness infield saddling area for the brilliant Alysheba. Having placed all my bets on the son of Alydar, we were all ushered over the track surface to the area where the horses would be saddled. Anyone who remembers how he touted himself that day knows what I am talking about. How I so wanted to head back to the windows and bet everything I had in my pockets, but you were not allowed to walk back until the race was over. His race was spectacular and I was happy to be hob-knobbing with racing royalty, but how I wished I could have gotten back to the windows.

That won’t ever happen again, not with phone accounts!!!

But I have used this “handicapping tool” many times and have been rewarded.

While many experts thought that the big red boy was becoming unwound in yesterday’s Preakness, they missed something very important. After Shackleford threw a few good bucks in the paddock, his handlers immediately positioned him by his trusty pony, where for the next 5-10 minutes he was as calm as a pussycat. He even cocked his back leg, (what a horse does when they are “at rest”). This was a HUGE sign to me that this horse was, 1) Very content, 2) very relaxed and, 3) Thinking” I want to run but I will behave.”

Shackleford wasn’t coming unwound, he was excited to run. He was ready to run a big one and he did. If he came unglued, like everyone thought, I don’t have to tell you how he would have finished.  

So I doubled down.

Thank you Shackleford!


  1. Congrats on the nice Preakness score, I'm glad to hear you won big!

    As you certainly know, the more time you spend around this game watching and learning the better handicapper you become. I was Belmont last fall when HAYNESFIELD was bucking like a bronco in the paddock. He even broke a piece of railing in the walking ring when he kicked his back legs. HAYNESFIELD promptly went out and wired the Jockey Club Gold Cup against heavily favored BLAME who never had a chance. I filed that info away.

  2. Steve,
    Thanks for visiting!
    And though my score wasn't life changing, it was a good one for me.
    That's my point. No one was beating Haynesfield that day even the mighty Blame. When a horse is feeling THAT good, they tell you, and it usually pays off at the windows.

  3. Nice Susan. Your April 5th blog post Dial "S" for Shackleford following the Florida Derby was spot on and rather you said "This horse will win some big races"...and he certainly did that on Saturday. Shackleford is a really cool horse to watch as he definitely has a lot of try in him...he digs in and gives it everything he's got no matter the circumstances. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do the rest of the year and wish him and his connections the best of luck going forward. Congrats again.

  4. Tony,
    Thanks for READING! Aren't we all trying to find that Saturday Afternoon Horse ??? He IS gutsy ( and you and I have just agreed with Andy Beyer... that might be a first for me - though he still disses the rest of the 3 year old crop, and I don't)
    Let's hope he stays healthy!

  5. Yeah but the difference is I believe after Beyer picked Shackleford in the Derby two weeks ago he disregarded his chances in the Preakness...glad you didn't.

  6. Great job Susan, it sounds like you were nicely rewarded!
    I do the same exact thing when I see a horse looking full of himself! I wasn't able to watch the Preakness this year but I was following what people were saying on Twitter and all the pre-race chatter was about dropping Shackleford because he was falling apart.
    He ran a great race!