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Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

As much as there’s a wealth of important information contained in past performances, one thing you won’t find in them is the reason why a horse has not raced for a prolonged period of time.

News stories might fill in the blanks about a Grade 1 winner’s absence, but for most other horses, it’s just a guessing game.

Workouts and a trainer’s track record with horses coming off a layoff can be helpful but are not completely reliable.

A horse’s second start off a layoff, however, comes with much more evidence. Analyzing a horse’s comeback race and his subsequent workouts can often give off important clues about its chances of improving in its next start or two.

For example:

Mt Tronador’s career started rather inauspiciously. Sent off at 48-1 odds, he finished 11th in a field of 12, beaten 10 ¾ lengths, in his career debut on April 20 at Keeneland.

After that, Mt Tronador was sidelined until Sept. 25 when he ran a good fourth in a maiden race on the turf at Kentucky Downs. After losing by double-digit lengths in his debut, he lost by only 1 ¾ lengths after a six-month layoff and rallied strongly in the stretch despite a very wide trip.

While a solid comeback effort can sometimes be draining, a quick workout after the Sept. 25 race gave off indications that Mt Tronador was poised to move forward off his return to the races. A little more than two weeks after that second career start, Mt Tronador worked five furlongs in a brisk 1:00 3/5. That work was a full second faster than a work he registered a month earlier, which supported the notion that Mt Tronador had gained some much needed conditioning in his comeback start. With an improved effort in that race dispelling thoughts that he had gone backwards during the layoff, Mt Tronador seemed poised to take another step forward in his next race.

That next race came on Oct. 19, when Mt Tronador returned to Keeneland for another maiden race on the turf. Unlike the odds in his debut, Mt Tronador was listed at 6-1 in the morning line and was sent off at 9-2 odds.

Putting that first start far behind him, Mt Tronador followed up his promising comeback start with an even better showing as he rallied in the stretch to post a half-length victory that was worth $11.80 to his backers who wagered $2 on him.

THE LESSON: Layoffs are always a reason for concern, but a promising comeback race mixed with a solid work can bode well for a good effort in a subsequent start.

MT TRONADOR'S PAST PERFORMANCES

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Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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