- Been meaning to post about a column that Jay Cronley wrote on ESPN.com last week. A recurring theme in Cronley's column is that he likes to bet on cheap horses in cheap races, and after recounting the futility in handicapping the Woodward (It was as though the facts and figures led up to a big equals sign, and beyond that, a question mark), he asks: Why bet a tough stakes race instead of a cheap claiming race?
It's as though winning handicappers have to pay a low-rent tax after hitting a 10-1 shot in a $5,000 claiming race. It's [as] though hitting a stakes race makes you sleep better.Personally, I get a kick out of hitting cheap races out of town, but unlike Cronley, who says Twenty-to-one shots are easier to find, I always seem to come up with the favorites when I look at those races. I grew up strictly on a NYRA diet, getting accustomed to the racing here before simulcasting came along. I guess it made me spoiled.
Many people think cheap claiming races are run roughshod over unruly surfaces, featuring pot-bellied trainers and old horses.
But while I wouldn't say that hitting a stakes race makes me sleep better, I think it definitely carries a premium. Strictly from a financial standpoint, Cronley is probably right. Stakes races can be impossible to bet. I'm sure there are a hundred $5,000 claimers every week that are far easier to figure than the Breeders Cup Turf. The Breeders Cup Turf? That race is whack, man! Besides being run at an unnatural distance, you have all those European horses with the sparse running lines. I can't make heads or tails of that race.
But we're racing fans, and the big stakes races are what the sport is all about, and of course I want to have some action on it. I don't have to bet them, and I've passed on many a Breeders Cup race (though never the Derby), and to be sure, I don't think it's a great idea to tap out the bankroll on these races. But if you have some opinions on some very good horses at great prices in contentious stakes races, being right can be well-rewarded. Not only financially, but for the all-important ego boost as well. The bragging is better when the races are bigger.
Nonetheless, always having an open mind, I found a nice $5,000 claimer - for non-winners of two for that matter - going as the 10th at Turfway tonight. So I'm going to tackle this one; I'll let you know what I come up with. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.