When I first started going to the races, the harness races, I had this crazy idea. It went like this.
I noticed that most of the horses that won on the first few nights I went had the fastest last quarter on the program page. When I say most that won, I mean most that won that I bet to win. I was locked onto that, and I made the leap that this was the most important angle. So, when I would get the program for the next card, I circled who had the fastest last quarter, and who had the slowest ones. Whoever had the fastest one, that is who I bet. And if they had the fastest overall mile time, I might bet that one too.
As Dr Phil says. How's that workin for ya?
Well, as you can guess, it didn't work. It took me a year at least until I figured out there was more to a race than just the fastest horse, or the fastest closer. In the meantime, I lost races I would surely win today with what I know.
What is it I know? The fastest horse doesn't always win the race, there are many reasons it can lose and others can win. Its a factor to consider. Speed wins races. That only makes sense. But, fast cars only go fast if they aren't in a traffic jam, or, have a flat tire, or run out of gas while the slower car saved some gas for the entire journey. Again, that is just common sense. Speed wins races, it doesn't win every race.
Similarly, good jockeys win races. Many races. But, they don't win every race, and they don't always win when you think they should. Sometimes they don't have the best horse, other times they ride a poor race, and other times, any number of things can happen to get that horse beat.
Do jockeys matter? Of course they matter. They control the horse from the time they mount them in the walking ring to the time they pull them up after the race, and every moment in between. Every decision they make contributes to victory or defeat. To say otherwise indicates a lack of understanding of racing horses.But you know what else indicates that? Saying they are the most important factor. They are not. You know why?