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Can Weight Stop a Train?

Posted by on 8/12/2014 7:57:59 PM

At one time weight was considered the great equalizer in racing with the theory being that distributed properly, all the horses would come together at the finish line at the same time in a perfect world. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and many in the industry including astute handicappers will tell you that weight is not as important as once perceived.

Another old saying in the game is that weight will stop a train, which is nonsense, but in some cases, it can stop horses.

That being said, it still plays a major part in the big races in America. In handicap races, the racing secretary assigns weights to the horse based on accomplishments with the best horse given the top impost.

Sharp trainers can also take advantage of weight allowance by putting a horse in for a lesser claiming price than most or by trying fillies against colts.

The logic against putting too much emphasis on the weight issue comes down to common sense. Really now, can 2 or 3 pounds make a difference to winning a race when a horse weights in some cases over 1,000 pounds? There are also varying schools of thought among those that still consider weight a major issue in determining outcome.

Most feel that the longer a race is, more important is the weight issue. But a contrarian would say the shorter the race, the more important the impost since if a horse is sprinting and is stopped or forced to alter course under a heavy weight assignment, it’s harder to get into gear quickly before the wire comes up.

The best way to handle the weight issue on a daily basis probably is to only pay strict attention when the difference in weight between horses is really substantial.

In a handicap if the highweight totes 124 and another runner totes 111, it’s because the lightweight has not proven anything yet but if you have an up and coming runner who has speed and has super form and upside to him, he may be able to pull an upset as a lightweight more to the fact to his ability, rather than to the weight itself.

Personally, weights play very little into my day-to-day handicapping. I rarely ever compare weights or even notice what the highweight may be toting in a normal claiming affair or minor allowance race.

With handicaps, it’s a little different since the racing secretary has already handicapped the race for you by assigning weights and a highweight is the right spot to start with as far as the quality of the field.

In this day and age of lucrative added money events around the country and around the world, the racing secretary has to be very careful not to weight a quality horse out of his track’s race, out of town to another venue, and thereby weakening a marquee event. Horsemen want every advantage, especially early in the year and if their runner is burden with a high impost early in the season and wins, he could be taxed in the weight department unfairly the rest of the season.

Bottom line is if you over hear a fan saying he likes this horse in a $16,000 claimer because he only carries 114 and the logical runner is carrying 117 and has never been proven a winner under that impost, then this is a true case of over simplelization.

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