Deep Closers: Are they worth the risk?

As a horse racing fan, there may not be anything more exciting then a horse passing all others in the stretch to win the race at the wire. In recent times, Zenyatta thrilled us all with her stretch rallies and even her lone loss in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic was exciting and memorable. Of course, back in the day there was the legendary Silky Sullivan.  (click his name below for a video)

Silky Sullivan

As a horseplayer, deep closers are often bad bets especially in main track races (dirt or synthetics).  The pace of the race, jockey error and clear sailing through traffic are all obstacles these runners have to overcome.  As we observed in this year’s first two legs of the Triple Crown, Orb looked great winning the Kentucky Derby, but looked rather ordinary in the Preakness Stakes.

After watching a replay of the Kentucky Derby, Orb reminded me of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.  Both winners circled the field around the far turn and both had very fast paces to set up their rallies.  The six furlong split in 2001 was 1:09.25 while this year’s six furlong split was 1:09.80.

The pace was much different for both in the Preakness as the six furlong split in 2001 was 1:11.86 and Monarchos finished 6th at 2/1.  This year’s six furlong split was 1:13.26 and Orb finished 4th at 3/5.  This is just one example as it was under the spotlight, but these type of situations happen day in and day out at tracks across the country.


Perhaps the best example of deep closers to bet against are for Maiden second-time starters.  Horses that are slow into stride and rally strongly to finish 2nd or 3rd are usually well-played at the windows second time out.  You hear the handicappers on TV or the track feed say “that is a horse you should watch for next time”.  That flashy turn of foot is easy to remember and the betting public tends to jump all over these types.

However, these second-timers often show better early speed and come up short.  Below are a few examples of these type of second-timers.

Second-timer 1

Coconut Cream Pie was off a bit slow, was 6th early and rallied to finish 2nd in her debut Feb 10.  In her next start March 21, she was 4th early and finished 5th at 9/5.



Izy Power was 6th early and finished 2nd in her debut at 36/1 April 21.  In start #2 May 10, she was 2nd early and finished 5th at 7/2.



Top Marc In Class was 9th early and finished 2nd in his debut at 46/1 Aug 11.  For his second start Sept 9, he rallied for 2nd again at 5/2.


Now, we are not saying that these type never win because they do.  Our point is that they are usually well-bet or overbet at the windows and long term they are not good plays.  While we wait for the next Zenyatta or Silky Sullivan to arrive, playing against deep closers can be a way to help you find more winners and fatten your wallet.