Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Every racing circuit has its share of morning glories. They’re horses who show brilliance in morning workouts but only ineptitude in their afternoon races.
They’re horses like Contrapuntal.
In his first six races, Contrapuntal never finished better than fifth and beat only nine horses in those races. In the most recent of those starts, Contrapuntal was sent off at 89-1 odds and was vanned off in a $10,000 maiden claimer at Churchill Downs. In his two starts before that at Turfway Park, he was beaten by a combined 65 ¾ lengths.
Yet five days before that June 2 race at the home of the Kentucky Derby, he turned in a surprisingly quick 47 2/5 seconds workout from the starting gate.
Following yet another dismal start, Contrapuntal was given another brisk workout by trainer Danielle Obert. This time he blazed three furlongs in 34 3/5 seconds, the fastest of 14 works at the distance on the June 18 work tab at Keeneland.
Four days later, Contrapuntal was once again entered in the same $10,000 maiden claimer. He was priced at 30-1 in the morning line, odds that seemed low considering his races.
But his works? Another quick work gave off a hint that Contrapuntal had some ability that might one day surface in a race.
It was surely risky to back Contrapuntal, but his final odds of 36-1 helped inject some sanity into taking a gamble on him. Had he been 5-1 it would have been prudent to steer clear, but at 36-1 the risk/reward ratio was reasonable as a small wager could be handsomely rewarded if the morning glory actually blossomed in the afternoon.
This time there were no ifs as Contrapuntal finally lived up to his sharp works, winning by seven lengths and paying $74.60 to win. Those who used him in the exacta with the 5-2 second choice received $406 for believing there would finally be some afternoon delight for Contrapuntal.
THE LESSON: Fast workouts can sometimes be misleading. But when a slow horse keeps showing speed in his workouts and the odds are right, it could be worthwhile to take a gamble on his chances of finally displaying that speed in a race.