Handicapping Maiden Races

portland-meadows_01I love betting on cheap Maiden Claiming Races because the typical bettor will zero-in on any horse they see that, in its previous start, ran in a Maiden Special Weight race, even if that horse finished well out of the money. It seems most bettors were conditioned to believe a horse that has never raced for a ‘tag’ before is somehow superior to a horse that last started in a $10,000 claiming event, even though neither one of them has ever won a race. They do not take into consideration that neither horse will ever visit the winner’s circle; that both of them may end up as stable ponies.

I have seen horses that have contested MSW races at Grade D racetracks such as Portland Meadows entered in $8,000 claiming races at Hollywood Park that were sent to post as the favorite, presumably because they had raced well at the lesser track, and never run for a ‘tag.’ Apparently, the bettors had no idea that purses at these minor league tracks are often dismal; that a MSW race at such a track may have a purse value of $3,000 while an $8,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park may have a purse value of $10,000.

Why this happens, I am sure I will never know, but my bank account has benefited over the years from such errors of judgment by the majority of bettors. The distinction between class levels for horses that have never proven themselves is slim, and it varies from mediocre at best to non-existent. Most horses that run in MSW races never win a race, even as they work their way down the claiming ladder, moving from one track to another in search of a bunch of nags they can beat. Eventually their owner(s) comes to the realization that the horse costs more to feed in a year than it will win in purse money in its entire career, but, hey, they owned a race horse, and with that comes bragging rightsHorse_50x50

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