Recovery pattern I - 11-09-04
I thought that Proper Card, entered last Sunday in the 6th at Pim, was a good example of two questions relating to playing layoff patterns. In his previous race I though he was a strong layoff pattern play. He had been inching forward from a 9" to a 9+ to a 9 (reading through the the bounce on short rest off the 9+) and had nice timing into the race particularly for a horse who had often run well on similar timing. While his top was a very isolated number and not a particularly good "target", his form this year was better than any of his prior year efforts except for that isolated top and more important to me his recent efforts were four points from his top which gave him the possibility of going forward without having to actually match that one time top effort.
After running that 7", PC was 10-1 on the ML in a race where his 5 top would make him a strong contender, but I didn't think he was a good play. Several of the pluses from laying him in his previous start no longer applied. He had only three weeks rest and his effort was only two and a half point from his top and there was no room for him to go forward except to his isolated top effort. While his pattern was still a pretty strong recovery line, Sunday was not the best time to play him to run well. With an off effort on Sunday and four to five weeks rest I would certainly play him to run the 7" again and if the odds were generous I would give him a shot to run the 5, but I think it is important to pass when the timing is too short and the recovery effort is too close to the horse's top effort.
Recovery patterns II, III - 11-09-04
I thought two horses on Sat at Haw were recovery pattern plays. Winkey's Image in the 4th race was fourth time out after a short layoff and had a pattern I like to play. A four year old who after a layoff runs an effort two points off its top is a very live horse to me. I'm looking to play such a horse ~six weeks after such an effort to get back to its 3yo top. WI was a particularly strong example of such a pattern as the reactiom to the "2" was a small one with a major excuse (high wind). The timing was a little short (five weeks), but I liked that all three races after the layoff were as good or better than anything he had run other than his top effort, indicating to me that he was possibly in his best form ever.
Bold Caller in race 1 had an almost perfect recovery pattern in my opinion. His peaks this year went from 16- to 15- to 13" with very little in the way of off efforts in between. He reacted only slightly on short rest to the 13" and then ran what to me was an irrelevant off effort on the grass (which he hadn't preferred in the past) with a big trouble mark. He had two months since his last 1 1/4 point move and looked solid to me to run between 12" and 10".