What is a Class Dropper?

Maiden Special Weights to Maiden Claim is a class drop however, that drop does not indicate if the horse will win. This is the easiest class drop to spot as a play.

Class is the level of competition this horse has run in. Is dropping in class a viable approach to bet a horse or is class a secondary factor?  I bet only trainer statistics on layoffs, claims and debuts and jockey-trainer statistic as a primary factor. That’s sort of the Swiss army knife of handicapping For me class is a secondary factor.

Although in 1989 when Kent Desormeaux raced at Laurel and Pimlico and set the record for most wins in a year, 598. I am sure I bet a boat load of Desormeaux’s droppers during that year. He was in every exacta or trifecta I placed a bet on.

A horse will run at higher class levels at the beginning of a horses’ career as a 2, 3 or 4 year old. A horse moving up in class can be much easier to find and bet than a class dropper. Class droppers are always talked about or pointed out by horse players and they are over bet because of the personal publicity.

Age and injuries have to be acknowledged on a class drop. Betting on a class dropper has to be from experience if you don’t have a statistic like a trainer’s percentage of his horses dropping from stakes to Optional claim. Then that bet is a guess. Keep in mind that for me this type of bet is a horse that I am adding in to fill out an exotic wager and not a bet as a key horse for the exacta. This add in horse can be easy to include with my key bet and impossible for me to bet as a key horse.  About the only thing I look at in a dropping horse is the difference in purse size from race to race.

I consider that 10% of all races are random. There are many races that nobody knows why a horse wins, about 10% of them. The speed players hit races I can not and I hit races they do not see.

I had trainer statistics on up one class level and down one class level and could not find a key horse to bet.  I also had statistics on up two class levels and down two class levels and found out these statistics were a non-factor as a primary reason to bet. A horse dropping in class or going up in class had no impact on the random 10%. This is the way that I compare the ability a trainer stat has too random. With a 10% win rate for droppers it can not overcome the problem that random offers because random is without rules or methods and you cannot have an advantage if I am betting random dropping horses whose trainer can not get above 10%.

This is from a grinder. The long term problem betting dropping horses is the loss rate of 90 losers to 10 winners from 100 bets, about a months worth of plays.  The number of run outs per hundred bets will stop you from betting. Every 100 races there will be 20 to 30 losers in a row. Every week there is a 10 to 15 race losing streak. Averaging 1 winner every 10 races sounds easy to accept as a play however, the problem is because you lost 9 in a row does not mean the next race he will win. Any player trying to cash on 10% as a living will get the horse dropping knocked out of them.

In the long run the grind will get you however; horses dropping in class can be a good secondary factor long shot play to include with my key horse in an exotic wager.

The layoff is the best way to bet a horse dropping in class because it is a decision the trainer is making when they lay the horse off then when to return the horse from a layoff and the trainer decided what class level to drop that horse into. The same applies to a horse that is claimed and dropping in class. Like the layoff, this is a trainer move and each of these moves is an odds play. The layoff horse has higher odds to bet than a claimed horse because most handicappers view layoffs as a negative.

Generally the way most handicappers bet is if a horse has a lot of races class becomes a factor. When the horse is now dropping in class they guess can he run back to that race he ran eight races ago? This horse has won at a higher class levels and today the horse is in a lower claiming race. The drop may be big but is it a class move or is the drop needed for this horse to be competitive at this class level.

Eight races ago may have been as long as ten months ago in actual time and today he is in a race that says maybe the drop is a negative instead of a reason to bet.

The tote board can be handicapped for a class dropper. I look at the morning line to the actual odds and then how the odds move up or down. I look for patterns.  A dropper is never a reason for me to place a bet. I bet one key horse with 3 filler horses in an exacta, a total of 4 horses for the exacta.

My filler selections can come down to the fourth versus the fifth favorite. It could be the 15/1 dropper with a small start trainer and he has his go-to jockey riding today. This is a good add in horse. Maybe he can hit one of those ten winners in a hundred races.

Trying to connect a race year ago to today’s race and believe the horse can repeat that effort makes me a skeptic. Even if it was 5 races back, for me it is a no bet. The horse can’t keep up at $12,500 claimer and now is in a $8,500 claimer. The same question is there.  Can the horse win on the drop? Is he a class play?  I am inclined to doubt all accepted opinions.


Ed Bain author of new Horse Racing Novel
Libraries, Yellow Cheese Sandwiches and 38,880 Running Lines

Bain has been betting professionally on thoroughbred horse racing since 1994 using the statistics that he has compiled.

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