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ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/14/2010 12:11:47 PM

Pro football players covet the guarded playbook. NBA hoopers have 15 to 25 core plays that have to be executed while baseball players have a series of intricate signals and deceptions that will allow the game to flow the way the manager wants it to go.

Horseplayers have to start with the condition book to understand the rules and guidelines of any given race.

With the Triple Crown picture still focusing and Derby fever much at a standstill after the last 2 major preps were run last week, let’s take a step back and look at the everyday landscape of the racing game through the condition of the races.

Racing secretaries throughout the country write races for the horses that are on their grounds and for the traditional races that are on their agenda throughout a particular season. The better fans and bettors understand what goes into the way the races are written, the better chance they have to take advantage of a soft spot.

The races are written with conditions and as a horse goes through his conditions, class is defined.

The distance, purse value and age requirements are obvious parts of the conditions..

To properly understand what kind of horses are eligible for a particular race, handicappers must be aware of the conditions of the race, so let’s try to explain the conditions as a horse would evolve through his racing career.

Most horses start off in a maiden race, a race for horses that have never won a race. There are two kinds of maiden events, maiden special weight races and maiden claiming races.

Horses in maiden claiming races are eligible to be claimed. In Southern California the lowest maiden claiming level is $25,000. In the Racing Form, the race would be abbreviated like this, Md 25000.

The well-bred and potentially better horses usually start their careers in maiden special weight (Md Sp Wt) races.

Claiming races make up the majority of racing cards in this country. If a horse was in a $50,000 open claiming race, it would appear in the Form likes this; Clm 50000. Claiming races can be restricted. An event restricted to $25,000 claimers, but non-winners of 2 races lifetime, would look like this in the Form, Clm 25000N2L.

Claiming races have other conditions. They can be restricted to non-winners of 1 race (or more) in a specific time period. Conditions of a $25,000 claimer in this category would look like this: Clm 25000N1Y. Restrict this race further with a distance rule, usually a mile, and the condition would read Clm 250001mY.

Restricted claiming conditions are very important on the minor circuits. A horse can be entered in an optional claimer (O clm 25000) in which he is eligible to be claimed or a race in which he is not (O clm 25000N).

Another group of races is for starter horses. Starter allowance races are for horses that meet conditions about starting for a minimum-claiming price in a specific time frame (Alw 10000s). Offshoots are for starter handicap horses (Hcp 10000s) and claiming handicap horses (Hcp 10000).

The more talented horses try to go through their conditions in allowance races. A typical entry level allowance race in Southern California would read, For a certain aged horse, which have never won either $3,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter or which have never won two races (Alw 50000 N1x).

Restricted status would follow the same rules as the claimers as far as lifetime wins and wins in a time frame or in a distance and time frame situation. Classified allowance races, ones in which the races are for non-winners of a specific amount of money, are some of the most competitive carded.

As horses move through their allowance conditions, they may attempt a stakes race. Stakes are usually named. The Seabiscuit Handicap would be designated with a purse value attached and looks like this- SeabiscuitH100k.

All handicap races are stakes but not all stakes are handicap races. In a handicap race, the horses are assigned weights with the idea that theoretically they will finish together at the wire. A stakes race has conditions that refer to eligibility depending on performance and weights are assigned justly.

The most prestigious races are graded into Grade 1, 2 and 3 categories. Class and condition are intertwined. As a horse moves up the claiming ladder or through his allowance conditions, class is developed and identified. Generally, the harder the conditions of a race, the classier horse it takes to win it.

Bettors need to understand the conditions thoroughly. By figuring out exactly who is eligible perfectly for a particular race, a handicapper can narrow the field and make it easier to identify the winner.

The intricacies of reading conditions point to winners every single day with some study and some hard work. Sometimes, a price jump in claimers is actually a drop in class. For instance, if a runner had been competing in $12,000 N2L claimers and then shows up in an open $8,000 claimer, that is not a drop, but a step up in class since that runner is now facing performers that could have won more than 2 races.

Bottom line is to not take a short cut and go right to the past performances, but take an extra few minutes to understand the conditions of each and every race. It will pay dividends in the end.

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