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In our last installment we examined several handicapping theories that pertain to winter
racing. In this article I would like to render my opinions as to the value each one has to
improving handicapping during the winter months.

As for theory #1, I agree that added consideration should be given to horses that either
raced on the lead or raced uncovered on the outside in their last race. It should be fairly
obvious that these circumstances provide legitimate excuses for poor performances in
harsh weather conditions and, furthermore, the faster the fractions, the greater the
excuse. Also, any horse that was able to finish well under these conditions deserves
even more credit when assessing past performance.

With regards to theory #2, I don't find any evidence that geldings, by virtue of their lack
of hormones, handle cold weather better than horses or mares. Generally speaking,
geldings tend to be a bit more consistent, regardless of weather. With this in mind, the
advantage that geldings seem to have in cold weather has no more importance than
the advantage they have in any other type of weather because their consistency is
generally uniform under all conditions. In addition, I seriously doubt they are any less
sensitive to extreme cold than are their male and female counterparts.

Theory #3 is another that, on the face, seems to be true but under closer examination
a different reason becomes evident. While a great deal of down-under imports
demonstrate an exceptional ability to race well in cold weather, the reality is that they
enjoy similar success in all weather conditions. They tend to be classy and consistent
performers, as a rule, and no real connection can be made between their winter
success and their bloodlines. The notion that the cold weather success of imports is
due to some sort of "climatic memory" is, frankly, ridiculous. Once acclimated
to our weather, down-under imports react to the conditions the same as their
American counterparts.

The fourth theory deals with the concept that some horses can actually benefit from
cold weather. While I feel certain that this is the case, a problem arises when this
knowledge is attempted to be put to use in handicapping. While a trainer may be able
to tell when a horse benefits from the cold, it is not so easy for a handicapper to
ascertain when this is this case. The best way to make use of this is to keep notes
and try to identify those horses that improved because of the cold.

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