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When the Edge is Lost

I believe the ability to evaluate form cycles is the most important skill a handicapper can possess. No other handicapping factor matters if my good thing is not fit enough to take advantage of it.

I start each handicapping session with form evaluation. Before I read the eligibility conditions, label running styles, compute speed points, draw pace pictures, etc., I assess each horse's form cycle. I want to know if the horse is moving up or down the cycle. Many horses are obviously unfit and easily eliminated from further consideration but when a horse that has lost its sharp edge looks good on paper we're fooled into believing the horse passes on form. Well, if you're having trouble with horses that are not clearly cycling downward here's a way that has served me well. It's a good way to determine if favorites are vulnerable.

If an early pace horse (E & E/P) faced a slower pace than it has been successful with in the past and did not take advantage of it then I mark it down as a declining horse regardless of in the money finishes -the sharp edge is gone. Same goes for one-dimensional pressers/stalkers (P). Conversely, off pace runners (P/C & C) that do not take advantage of a fast pace (Fast 3 and beyond) by finishing in the money are marked down as declining as well regardless of class drops and the rest. When a horse loses its "pace ability" it has signaled a downward turn in its form cycle is at hand. Good luck.