Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Go back in time 40 years and it was hardly unusual for horses to run every two weeks.
These days, three or four weeks is a typical period of rest between races, and in some cases, especially after a draining effort, a six-week break could be optimal.
Longer breaks, though, can raise a red flag about the reason for the gap between races. Was there a minor illness or injury? Perhaps the trainer could not get a race to fill?
In most cases, the answer cannot be found in past performances, but clues are sometimes out there.
Untethered came into the fourth race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 1 off a 10-week rest since his last race on Oct. 21 at Parx. He was a four-length winner that day in a $7,500 claimer. His comeback race was in a $6,500 claimer, which was a curious drop given his decisive victory in Pennsylvania.
Add in the 10-week spacing between races and there were certainly a few valid reasons to steer clear of him.
Yet if there were indeed causes for concern, there was also evidence that Untethered was primed for another top effort. The newly turned 5-year-old gelding sported a series of solid workouts at Calder since his last race at Parx, capped by two bullet works. While there was not a lot of activity on the days he worked, drills of 1:01 and 59.20 seconds for five furlongs and 35.40 seconds for three furlongs indicated Untethered was staying quite active during his break and was probably poised for another solid effort.
Admittedly, backing Untethered wasn’t that difficult. He was bet down to a 3-5 favorite in a field of seven. But the important lesson involved in this odds-on, length and a half winner at Gulfstream was the ability to sniff out a potential problem and then find a logical answer to make it disappear.
In this case, the sharp works dispelled the notion that something was amiss because of a layoff or that Untethered would need a start to return to peak form.
Once again, the clues pointed out the way to the winner’s circle.
THE LESSON: Finding something in past performances to steer you away from betting a horse is not unusual. Finding reasons to dispel those concerns can help you cash a winning ticket.
UNTETHERED'S PAST PERFORMANCES
Information courtesy of Equibase