Karma Moves and Race Factors

At Progressive Handicapping, we think the "trainer angle" is the most important part of the handicapping pie. All trainers have strengths and weaknesses. Even the great Bill Mott has a weakness. Know what it is? BZZZZZZZ! If you said "Maiden First Time Starters," you win a cookie. The beauty of our trainer stats is that they help you identify these strengths and weaknesses.

The best approach is to first identify (1) the race conditions; and, for each horse, (2) any karma changes. Let’s digress and explain these two concepts as they are very important. Race conditions encompass several categories including race class, surface, distance, and age restrictions. Karma changes have nothing to do with Zen karma or muttering a personalized mantra as you walk around the track. What we are talking about is a change in circumstances for a particular horse since its last race.

For example, if Horse A was ridden by Eibar Coa in its last race but now has Jerry Bailey aboard, then it’s showing a karma change (rider switch). Karma changes come in many shapes and sizes and include the following:

1. Distance moves (sprint to route and back).
2. Surface changes (dirt to turf and back)
3. New medication.
4. Trainer change (off a claim or private switch).
5. Rider switch.
6. Class moves up and down.
7. Equipment changes.
8. Layoff of 31 days or more.

We have analyzed hundreds of races at the last two Gulfstream meets and other race meets around the country and have noted that 90% of the winning horses show one or more "karma" changes from their previous race. The important thing to remember is that, in many instances, these karma changes act as a catalyst to "wake up" the horse. Each of our 125 profiled trainers has his or her own strengths and weaknesses with race condition and karma change categories.

Here's a closer look at some key karma changes:

First Time Starter: a horse making its career debut. Also known as a "firster" or "mdn firster."

< 15 Days: a horse returning to the races on less than 15 days’ rest. Less than 7 days rest is even better.

Layoffs: a horse which hasn’t raced in the last 30 days. Short layoffs=31-90 days. Long layoffs > 90 days. We also talk about a horse making its second and third starts off the layoff.

Down and Up: a horse moving up or down in class. In claiming races, the move must be at least 20% of the previous claiming race. A move from a stakes race to an alwn3x is a move down.

Distance Moves: a horse switching distances. We define a switch as one furlong or longer. A horse running a longer distance is called a stretch out. Those running shorter are turn backs.

Surface Moves: a horse switching surfaces from grass to dirt or vice-versa.

First Start of Meet: a horse making its first start of the meet.

Jockey Switch: A new jockey rides today.

Lasix: a horse which has been recently treated with Lasix.

Off Claim: a horse that was recently claimed. We also talk about a horse making its second and third starts off the claim. Note: also be on the prowl for horses experiencing a trainer change via a private transaction such as a sale. These change of trainer notes are usually found in Daily Racing Form.

All material © 2004 Progressive Handicapping, Inc.