As Woodbine closes out its 2022 race season, what can we expect in the final eight days of racing that end Sunday, Dec. 11? Will there be as memorable a moment as last year when, on the final card, a 106-1 bomber, Ethnic Soul – the longest shot of the year– won a maiden $25,000 optional claimer for 2-year-olds?
Ethnic Soul paid $212.10, $81.70 and $24.20, the $1 exactor paid $1,679 and superfecta players who wheeled the favourite and second favourite in the third and fourth position were rewarded with $15,206 for a mere 20 cents.
Just an aberration, right? Not so much. It was the final race card of the season and what’s the “rule” for the final cards at any track? You handicap differently. You don’t handicap for class, you handicap for “gameness.” That’s because trainers empty their barns at the end of a race meet and some of those horses may not be ready to put out a top performance. Class isn’t as important as it normally might be.
And how could players have known the 106-1 longshot was game? Because the trouble line in the program for his previous race, a maiden $15,000 claimer, said he was. It said he tried “gamely in vain,” finishing fifth. So, as it turned out, he elevated his gameness even more in his next race and that effort took him to the winner’s circle. After all, 2-year-olds often keep improving and this gelding had raced only five times.
In fact, in that season-ending race card, half the races on the 14-race card were won by horses with odds of 6-1 or higher, indicating that handicapping for class likely wasn’t as effective as it normally might be.
Nor was it working for the third-last day of racing last year, a Friday. A whopping five of the nine races were won by horses going off at odds of 6-1 or higher, an even higher percentage than on closing day. Interestingly perhaps, the second-last day, a Saturday, saw only three of 12 races being won by horses with odds of 6-1 or higher. But Saturdays feature classier horses and classy horses race more consistently because they’re racing on “heart” as well as fitness and will fight through aches and pains.
So, as the racing season wanes, today’s Bettor’s Edge can be distilled down to a single watchword: gameness. And one other thing: make sure the horse has been showing gameness within the past month. If the horse showed gameness five weeks ago or more, that doesn’t count.
$6 Ticket Takes Down $140K Pick-6 Pool at Woodbine
Incredibly, for a mere $6 (USD) a VIP player with an Elite Turf Club account in the U.S. took down Friday’s entire $139,766 (USD) Power Pick-6 in the last six races at Woodbine. The track reports the player’s 20-cent wheel had three keys (2 x 5 x 1 x 3 x 1 x 1). The horse numbers were 4,9/1,4,5,10,11/3/3,6,7/1/8. The winning horses in each leg paid $7.10, $34.50, $18.60, $41.90, $8.70 and $5.80. Some handicapping! The pool hardly had time to grow when it was won again yesterday (Sunday) for $13,716.