December is upon us. The leaves are falling, winter is just around the corner and the poor horses that draw the No. 10 post at Cal Expo are now given the opportunity to leave from the second tier.
“It’s better than leaving from the 8, 9 or certainly the 10 post, especially when the rainy season arrives,” related driver Scott Cisco. “The only time it would be a disadvantage would be when you have a horse who is a need the lead type, but that’s going to be rare.”
While it may look easy from the grandstand for the driver in the second tier to leave right behind the one-horse and get a nice spot, it’s easier said than done.
“It can be a little tricky, because you can’t always get right up behind the horse you’re following,” Cisco noted. “But it’s a lot easier on a mile track like Cal Expo than a half-miler, where you come up on that first turn real quick and can really get shuffled in a hurry.”
Scott also pointed out that when it’s a driving rain and the track is sloppy, that’s a tough combination for any horse, especially one starting behind the rest.
“When the visibility isn’t good, you really have to play it safe back there, but that’s the same issue when you’re in the back of the pack after the start under those conditions.”
Do horses sometimes have trouble when they’re asked to start behind the gate with a second-tier takeoff?
“In most cases, we’re talking about seasoned pros in these races, and the only exception I can think of would be a young, green horse who might have some trouble with starting from there.”
Cisco feels a driver has to look at a second-tier start the same way they would any other race and map out a strategy accordingly.
“The key is to know your horse, and to know as much as you can about the other horses in the race. That applies for all races, over all kinds of tracks from wherever you’re starting.”