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MAIDEN RACES OFFER CHANCE FOR BIG SCORE

Maiden Races Offer Chance For Big Score
by Greg Melikov

There was a time when I skipped maiden races. That ended a long time ago when I learned there was money to be made.

Nowadays I look at all races on the card before passing judgment. First, I like sprints better than routes for first-time runners. That's partly because the public is often confused about where to put its money and has the tendency to over bet some contenders.

Second, I look for horses who show early speed for a half-mile in a race or two and then weaken. That's an example of a speed-and-fade play: The animal displays excellent early speed in his previous outing, cuts back in distance to six furlongs or so and drops a bit in class.

It's especially good if the trainer has an excellent winning percentage in two or three of these categories and the horse is lone speed.

Stay away from first-time starters in sprints starting from the rail out of a chute, especially in full fields, because they often are intimidated. And beware of thoroughbreds with too many workouts from the gate, which signals breaking problems.

Look out for horses who finished off the board as post-time favorites in debuts and return to try the same class level.

Horses with no race experience present very perplexing handicapping challenges. They often are at a disadvantage when going against maidens with a race or
two at the same distance.

But where no experienced horse stands out, note which second-time starter was heavily bet, simply 2-1 or less, but finished out of the money. Sometimes they
are overlooked in their next outing and score at juicier odds than their debut.

Often, the raw talent in the second start can break through, especially if the juvenile has a nifty pedigree, worked out well after the loss and is trained by a trainer who gets results.

Coming back right away implies that no physical complications developed in the debut.

Other good signs: The horse is entered in a maiden race at the same class level and gets betting support again.

Look for equipment changes: Adding blinkers often improves the thoroughbred's focus and intensifies speed. When maidens who exhibited speed stretch out, the price might be right, especially if the same jockey is aboard, blinkers are discarded to allow the horse to relax and the pedigree screams stamina.

Look for medication changes: Adding Lasix indicates the horse bled in his first outing and caused the early speedster to fade.

And remember this: The longer a maiden, the less chance the horse will score at any level except at the bottom of the claiming ranks.


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