Let’s go back in time to August 11th at Saratoga. Race 1. I had decided the night before that Bootlegger was going to be the play that started off the day for me. But in listening to Gabby Gaudet’s pre-race analysis, I happened to catch her comment that Bootlegger didn’t run particularly well over a non-firm turf course. So I went back and gave another look to his PPs. And I’ll be damned, she was right on the money. And you know what else? It had literally just started raining as Gabby was talking. So I proceeded to pick a different horse. Bootlegger lost, and so did mine. Oh well. I should have caught the angle myself. But I didn’t. And I decided then that turf preference was something simple I needed to look into every time.
So then we fast forward to Monday at Saratoga. Race 8. Bootlegger is in again. This time at morning line odds of 10-1 at the same class level as before, when he was 4-1. And this time, he was getting a firm turf course. I wasn’t able to tune in to Gabby’s analysis of the race, but I would be shocked if she didn’t pick Bootlegger.
Now, I’l admit I was slightly concerned about the 1 for 44 jock. But I wasn’t concerned enough to abandon ship. And Bootlegger won and paid $21.60.
I think that as handicappers, sometimes we get too caught up in things like class, pace, and trip. Those things are critically important. But even a cursory glance at Bootlegger’s PPs shows he definitely runs his best over the firm grass. Or to put it another way, he really doesn’t appear to like any give in the ground. So with that in mind, it becomes easier to forgive the two recent poor efforts heading into yesterday’s win. And anyone who noticed this was rewarded with a nearly 10-1 winner.
The lesson: Check for any possible excuse when trying to understand the occasional poor effort. It may lead you away from a loser one day, and towards a winner the next. Just like with Bootlegger.