In a mile race for 2-year-olds on Nov. 11 during Oak Tree at Santa Anita, Effusive Bounty, carrying 112 pounds, started out seventh in a 10-horse field. The horse quickly moved to third and entered the stretch running second. In the stretch, Effusive Bounty passed the fading Due to the King and won going away by 1 3/4 lengths. The payoff was a sweet $75.20 for $2.
On Oct. 5, 1988, the first day of last year's Oak Tree season, Petronack, carrying 115 pounds, in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden claiming race, started out last in an 11-horse field. Petronack rallied early, moved into fifth by the stretch and ended up winning by one length over Singularly Shady. Petronack paid a lofty $133.20 for $2.
These two long shots were carrying the lowest weights in their fields. During the 1989 Oak Tree season at Santa Anita, at least one lightweight won on 21 days out of the 32-day season. And the year before, the Oak Tree season saw at least one lightweight win on 18 days out of 27.
Not only do the lightweights win often enough, but whenever they put their noses across the finish line first, they pay good prices.
For example, in 1989, Oak Tree winners included More Than Green, $21.40; Justo Brown, $21.60; Prime Concord, $24.40 and $42.60; I Live the Dream, $22.80; Sanger Chief, $28.20; Lots of Gas, $34.20; Pass Another Tab, $23; Puppet Show, $34.60, and Our Brave, $24.
In 1988, longshots that won at Oak Tree included John's Lady Luck, $28; Speaking Part, $31.80; Magic Leader, $22.60; Bolchina, $32.40; Reasonable Raj, $29.60; Advancing Ways, $27.20; Wait Till Monday, $48.20; Frisk Me Not, $20.40, and King of Lemhi, $20.
Along with these huge payoffs, however, comes lots of action for professional and novice alike, total enjoyment, many visits to the cashier's window and generally an exciting run for your money.
The system is easy to work. All you need are the day's entries and the final weights of all the horses in each race.
Then simply bet to win the horse with the lightest weight. If two horses are tied with the lightest weight, then bet the two. However, when more than two are tied for the lightest weight, skip the race.
Sometimes four races qualify during the day, sometimes nine or 10. Most of the time you will only bet seven or eight races.
Experts like to point out, however, there is only one winner per race, except in the case of a dead heat, and bettors are wasting their money when they bet two horses to win. Disregard such nonsense, no matter how convincing the experts may seem, because the high payoffs will enable you to lose one bet on one horse and win the other without putting a dent in your bankroll.
Play the two horses. I discovered it doesn't pay to guess between them. It just doesn't work. Backing two horses in the same race may be considered deadly when playing other systems and individual races, but with these kinds of nags and payoffs, it's entirely different.
Since at least one lightweight horse wins most days of the season, some handicappers combine the system with money management, either doubling up on bets to a certain point or using some other simple progression. I like to bet it straight up, however, and take my chances.
Many of the low weights result when a five-pound weight allowance is given to apprentice jockeys. Therefore, inexperience in the saddle more than likely will account for some of the losers. However, when these "bug" jocks do win, the price generally makes up for their losing rides.
Here's how a day with the lightweights would have worked. Consider Nov. 9 at Oak Tree. In the first race, Rip Cut, a 12-1 long shot, was the lowest weight in the field. It ran fourth and you were out $2.
In the second race, No Story, carrying low weight of 116 pounds, made its move in the stretch and won by a half-length. The horse paid $17.40. Since you had bet $4 so far, your profit after two races was $13.40.
The third race, with six horses entered, came up with two horses that qualified, both carrying 116 pounds. Kiss 'Em Again and Popping Champagne.
Kiss 'Em Again, running second most of the race, pulled ahead in the stretch and won by 1 3/4 lengths, paying $4.60. Popping Champagne, which led until the stretch, faded to fourth. Winnings for the race were 60 cents, which, added to the $13.40, would have put your profit at $14.
Then you would have lost $2 on the fifth race and another $2 on the sixth, cutting your winnings to $10.
But the seventh was the one to make your day. Flint, carrying 114 pounds in a 1 1/8-mile race, went to the lead just after the start of the race. It then made its move, took the lead, and went wire to wire to win by a length.
Flint rewarded its backers by paying $25.60. Since two horses in the race were tied at 114 pounds, you would have bet both, and your profit for the race would have been $21.60. Added to the $10, you then would have had winnings of $31.60 for the day.
And, as it turned out, no horse qualified for the eighth and ninth races. Thus, you would have gone home a $31.60 winner.
Another good example was Oct. 9, 1988, when three lightweight horses won out of 10 betting races. However, no system horses won until the seventh and losses until that race would have been $14 for the six races.
Reasonable Raj, carrying 110 pounds in a six-furlong sprint, was the bet in the seventh. Reasonable Raj forced the early going in second, pushing Christmas Help, which finally faded at the half-mile post. Reasonable Raj then took the lead and won by a head after being pressed by Cresting Water in the stretch.
The horse paid $29.60 to win, for a profit of $27.60. After deducting the $14 lost on the first six races, winnings amounted to a neat $13.60.
Nasr El Arab, another system horse with 121 pounds up, won the eighth, a 1 1/2-mile route, by two lengths. Nasr El Arab paid backers $10.40, pushing the day's winnings, after deducting the $2 bet, to $22. In the ninth race, the system horse, Lickety Splitter, ran second at odds of almost 10-1, and cut the profit to $20.
In the tenth, betting was on Aqua Russo, which carried 109 pounds. Going off the favorite in a 1 1/16 race, Aqua Russo took the lead on the far turn and won easily by five lengths. It paid $6.40 to win for a $4.40 profit. Total winnings for the day came to $24.40.
Why do lightweight horses win?
One expert claims: "Weight, as the saying goes, will stop a freight train." It not only will do that, but it will bring a field of horses so close together that the longest shot in the field--and it usually is the one with the lightest weight--is often the winner.
Obviously, it's easier for a horse to run with less weight on its back, compared to the horse that picks up weight. It's the track's "secretary" who assigns the weights, and all he's interested in is getting all the noses to the finish line at the same time.
As long as many of the stiffs can't be elevated to where they are equal to the "class" horses, then the "class" horses are weighted down to bring them down to the level of the stiffs.
The strange thing about horse racing is that theories can be knocked flatter than a pancake. What holds true in one race may not in the next. It's apparent that a light steed matched against a heavier one has a good chance to win--and does it big on many occasions!