Horse racing has changed rapidly over the years and old dogma is being challenged virtually each year. No longer are the hard and fast Derby rules being clung to, by bettors or trainers, and it seems almost every year one of the rules falls by the wayside.
One theory that permeated the landscape of handicapping for decades has been the "bounce". As you all know the theory prescribes that an all out effort might take something out of the horse and when he/she races next, this might cause it to throw-in a clunker of some sort. It especially can affect horses with gaps in their schedule, or those who come off a layoff, because a taxing race after only workouts (or in harness racing, schoolers) can exacerbate any tweaks.
I guess this is not really theory, it is more common sense. If you or I are not fit enough (for me this is not an "if") and we do something strenuous, we feel it the next day, or sometime the next week. It's the same for horses.
Derby winner Animal Kingdom might test that theory in two weeks.
Barry Irwin on the radio said:
"This will be the freshest horse in the history of racing that won the Derby and went into the Preakness"
That is probably true; he certainly is fresh. But how many horses have had a 10f slugfest off six weeks, and come back to run just as big in two weeks? Did the Derby tweak him at all with that off time? Will he bounce?
It is an interesting question as a handicapper.
What Animal Kingdom does have going for him, is modern vet care. With the medications of today, it's not your grandfathers racing. Immediately after a race a horse can get massaged, some bute, an adequan regimen, a hyperbaric chamber and maybe a little salt water action in a nice warm pool. Good training can and does stop a bounce. Still, every i can not be dotted and every t crossed. Horses can't speak.
What will Animal Kingdom do in two weeks? Be a fresh horse with a will to win again, or be a horse who has a little too much taken out of him with only one huge race in six weeks time?
It's part of what makes the art of handicapping the greatest game in the world.