When horses "owe" you, why not bet them again?

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 24th, 2015

It's an angle not espoused in any of the great handicapping books ever written because there is no intellectual underpinning or logic behind it. It can be dangerous to your bankroll if you take it too far, but it can also be very rewarding when you happen to be right about a horse's qualities in the long term but not in the short term.

The best bettors in the game play with their heads and not their emotions, but it's hard to escape the latter all the time. That is one reason why I employ a certain betting angle from time to time, more often in major stakes than in bread-and-butter fare.

When I hit the occasional juicy price in a big race, the first words I often find myself uttering to colleagues is, "He/She owed me."

When I see a horse who's previously disappointed me reappear in the entries, unless it looks totally overmatched or the conditions look completely unsuitable, I make a mental note to set aside a few dollars or more to back it again. More often than not, it will be my top selection until he/she makes amends to my satisfaction or the reality of their deficiencies sets in, whichever comes first (that in itself is a highly subjective determination).

This style of handicapping and money management is open to justifiable criticism, but it's worked out for me in on a number of occasions.

There are a few horses running on Saturday that "owe" me and thus will be given some serious consideration again.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth: The great weight-for-age event at Ascot (scheduled for 10:50 a.m. EDT) has as its favorite Derby (G1) and Eclipse (G1) winner Golden Horn, who gets a massive weight advantage facing older horses. However, a lot of rain fell on the course on Friday and more is expected before post time Saturday.

The course conditions have Golden Horn's connections concerned. If the brilliant colt is vulnerable at all this year, it might be in this race. Eagle Top, also from the John Gosden yard, disappointed when I backed him first out this season in the Brigadier Gerard (G3), and last time in the Hardwicke (G2) he did not enjoy the best of trips when trapped in a pocket at a crucial point.

Golden Horn is clearly the one to beat regardless of conditions, but Gosden has publicly stated that the best from Eagle Top has not yet been seen.

Diana: Lady Lara was shuffled back to last behind a slow pace in the Just a Game (G1) last time, and did about as well as she could have from there to finish fourth as returning rival Tepin stalked-and-pounced her way to a second consecutive graded victory. I frankly expected more from Lady Lara at 12-1.

A two-time stakes winner, including a Grade 2, since her importation from England, Lady Lara could really use an honest pace for once. Perhaps she'll get one here, and the stretch out to nine furlongs can't hurt.

San Diego Handicap: He doesn't appear to match up well from a class perspective, but conditions should be more suitable for Nowalking compared to his stakes debut in late May at Penn National.

Coming off a sharp allowance win at Santa Anita, the Hard Spun colt caught a Penn track that was technically fast (sealed) but looked more muddy and was very much speed-friendly. Coming from well off the pace, he couldn't get closer than eight lengths to multiple Grade 3 scorer Golden Lad.

This field is obviously much better, but the main contenders all have questions surrounding them. Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern has not beaten one horse in two starts this year and is no guarantee to get a comfortable lead. Hoppertunity has not made much progress from three to four, and Catch a Flight regressed in the Gold Cup (G1) last time off peak performances in the Californian (G2) and Precisionist (G3).

I'm hoping for better things from this trio. If they don't pan out, to the victors go the pari-mutuel spoils.

(Lady Lara photo: NYRA./Adam Coglianese Photography)