The Jail Move: by Steven Schwartz

“Handicapping Angles: The Jail Move”

When I was 8 years old I excelled at baseball. It was my love. It was my passion. I also happened to be better than most in my age group. Because of this, the league approached my parents about “moving me up in class”. I have to admit that I did not like the idea. I liked the idea of dominating my division but everyone else had confidence that I could compete at that level. So, I went……and still competed well. I use this analogy now when handicapping my new favorite sport…….my new passion.

I have been asked a lot recently what some of my favorite handicapping angles are and number one on that list is the “Jail Move”. When a horse gets claimed, they are placed into a “jail period”. This jail period means that a horse can’t race in the same condition or lower for a 30 day period. The horse is allowed, however, to race above the price he/she was claimed for. For instance, if a horse was claimed for 20k, he has to wait 30 days to race at 20k or below. The “jail move” is when a trainer waits the 30 days and STILL enters the horse for more than it’s claiming price. So why do I love this angle and why has it been so profitable? Here are a few reasons:

  1. If a trainer races the horse for more than he has to, that screams confidence in the horse.
  2. The fact that the trainer has entered him at a higher level after the “jail period” means that the trainer has taken time with the horse to prepare for this jump up in class
  3. A jump in class usually means higher odds
  4. It has worked consistently

This angle has been discussed in several well known handicapping books. I have taken this angle and actually have broken it down into different levels. It is these levels of jail move that determine how heavy I will bet the horse. Here are the levels:

Level 1 – A horse is claimed for a tag and is entered on the same surface for a higher claiming price at least 30 days later. A great example and recent example of this was the 2nd race on January 16th.  Real Estate Rich and Castaway were both claimed for 12.5k and entered for 16k more than 30 days after being claimed. Real Estate Rich won easily at odds of 3-1 while Castaway had a wide trip and still manage to come in 3rd at 6-1. The lone speed, Attractive Ride came in 2nd at 4-1. The triple paid $160. Another recent example was the 4th race on January 9th where Madame Maybry was claimed for 25k and entered for 40k and won easy at 2-1 (was 12/1 ML) (Max Bet)

Level 2– A horse is claimed for a tag and entered on the same surface for a higher claiming price at least 30 days later off of a win.

Level 3– A horse is claimed for a tag and entered on the same surface in a restricted race (NW1, Starter Allowance, etc). (Half Max Bet)

Level 4– A horse is claimed for a tag and switches surfaces (Dirt to Turf) for a higher level of race. (Quarter Bet)

My favorite example of the Jail Move was on a well known horse named Cease.  Back on August 6th, Cease was claimed from trainer David Jacobson for 25k after a disappointing 5th place finish. The new trainer, Jason Servis, entered Cease first time off the claim on September 18th (after the jail period) for $62,500 (or almost 3x the price he was claimed for). Cease went off as the longest shot on the board at 44-1 and just got beat out by a 4/5 overwhelming favorite. The exact paid $80 that day. I had it 50 times. Why would the trainer send out a horse at that level when he got convincingly beat at the 25k level. The reason is because he could compete…….just like a certain 9 year old on a baseball field many years ago.

Follow Steven on twitter: @albundypolkhigh

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