Photo by Melissa Bauer-Herzog
Class handicapping can often be a simple process.
On one level, it involves finding a horse that has been competitive in allowance races and then wagering on him when he drops into a claimer.
It’s not always that easy, but when an obvious opportunity presents itself, it’s usually worth hopping on board.
A case in point was the eighth race at Keeneland on April 6.
Party Now came into the race with just three career starts. She was second on Keeneland’s main track in her Oct. 19 debut and a little more than two months later she broke her maiden by 4 ¾ lengths on Jan. 2 in a turf race at Gulfstream Park.
After that, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey entered her in a stakes race. It wasn’t a graded stakes. Yet even a modest $100,000 stakes like the Sweet Chant reflected confidence in a horse who only had a maiden win to her credit.
Party Now then justified that faith by setting the pace and finishing second in the Sweet Chant.
What happened next presented an interesting betting opportunity. A little more than two months later, Party Now was entered in the April 6 allowance race at Keeneland. Off a solid runner-up finish in a stakes, Party Now figured to be a strong favorite off the class drop.
Instead she was listed at 7-2 in the morning line and went off an even more generous 9-2.
That was a highly inviting price for a class handicapper and those that believed Party Now would move forward against weaker company were in a celebratory mood when Party Now drew off in the final furlong to win by two lengths.
THE LESSON: Class matters. When a horse drops from a stakes to allowance race off a solid effort, it deserves attention at the betting windows. It’s that simple.
PARTY NOW'S PAST PERFORMANCES
Past performances by Equibase