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RACING Q & A

Question: “Why do some tracks permit a patron to cancel a wager after leaving the window while others do not?”

Answer: “I can only speak for New York Racing Assn.,” says Clem Imparato, vice president in charge of pari-mutuel operations. “Our policy is designed for the protection of the public interest. We do not permit cancellation of a wager after the patron leaves the window because it has been our experience that a few individuals will take advantage of such permission. They might, for example, attempt to influence the wagering on a race by betting $10,000 on a horse, and after the shift in odds is reflected, cancel the wager. In order to avoid these situations and protect our fans, we simply close the loophole. There are some situations of an unusual nature that would prompt us to examine these cases on an individual basis and perhaps permit a cancellation of a wager for good reason, but they are few and far between.”

Q: “In a race over an off track, which factor should weigh most heavily in one’s handicapping: proven ability on an off track or superior class?”

A: A good question, and to answer it we invited the comment of trainer Woody Stephens, who says: “To some extent, it depends on the type of off track. If you have a track with a good bottom and just a layer of slop over it, the footing can be quite good and class will come into serious play. On the other hand, if track conditions are really bad, then ability on an off track supersedes other considerations, in my opinion. Mud and slop conditions vary so much from track to track that it is difficult to make generalizations.”

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Q: “Is it significant if a horse does not warm up before a race?”

A: “A horse who is extremely nervous or high-strung might not warm up,” says veteran horseman Jimmy Croll, who saddled Bet Twice to win the 1987 Belmont Stakes. “He is already keyed up for the race and the horse’s connections might not want him to expend any more energy than is necessary, prior to running. A horse who is sore might not warm up for obvious reasons. I’ve had horses walk to the gate without warming up, largely because of nervousness. Some grew out of that condition with seasoning. I would estimate, however, that 90% of the horses do warm up and I would be a little suspicious in my handicapping of any horse who does not warm up.”

Q: “Occasionally you read that this jockey or that jockey is underrated. Why are they underrated? Why don’t they get the credit they deserve, or do they really deserve credit in the first place?”

A: “I think the term ‘underrated’ is overrated,” says Jorge Velasquez, who has ridden more than 6,000 winners. “Some riders are inclined to be a little heavy. They are good riders but their weight prevents them from accepting a number of lightly weighted mounts. The fact they can’t do ‘light’ means they will miss some live mounts and their average isn’t as good as it could have been. So, when they can make the weight and win an important race, someone writes that these jockeys are underrated. In another example, a rider gets off to a particularly good start at the beginning of a meeting and dominates the good mounts. Some of the others riding there are fine jockeys but their average may suffer at the moment. When they ride a good winner, they are referred to as ‘underrated.’ The term should be used with more care.”

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