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Blog - GAMBLING

Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Few factors can be as meaningful in handicapping a horse race as a jockey switch.

While even the best of jockeys lose two out of three races, when one of a circuit’s top riders hops aboard a horse it’s a reason to take a careful look at that runner.

When you can deduce a valid reason for the change, it’s time to head to the betting windows.

On Feb. 22, Chart Topper ran in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on the turf. He was ridden by Abdiel Jaen, who is currently winning at about a 9 percent clip at the Florida track.

In his previous start, Chart Topper was a front-running winner of a 5-furlong maiden race, winning by eight lengths. Then, in the Feb. 22 race, in his first start against winners and first race with Jaen in the saddle, he was stretched out to a two-turn 7 ½-furlong distance.

After such a big win in a sprint, Chart Topper figured to be the pacesetter in a longer race with much more moderate fractions. Instead he was second in the early stages and then forged to a 3-length lead in mid-stretch before tiring and finishing fourth.

A little more than a month later, Chart Topper returned to the races in the ninth race on March 30 following a sharp, confidence-building 1:00 4/5 blowout.

Once again it was a 7 ½-furlong optional claimer, but this time Joel Rosario was named to ride him for the first time.

Did Jaen do something wrong? Maybe yes, maybe no. But clearly the move to one of the game’s top riders in Rosario – who is fourth in wins at the meet (a 15 percent win mark) and won last year’s Kentucky Derby - had to be interpreted as a sign that his connections were pulling out all the stops to get a victory.

True to that notion, Chart Topper went right to the front and never looked back in winning by nearly two lengths. The return was relatively meager - $3.60 for $2 – but the lesson contained in that victory was quite rich indeed.

THE LESSON: A positive jockey switch is one of the more powerful angles for handicappers, especially when it involves the sudden appearance in the saddle of the sport’s top riders.

Chart Topper Inside

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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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