I tend to shy away from horses that are returning to the races after long layoffs. Mainly I am skeptical that they may not be fully recovered from whatever has kept them away, or that the trainer may not have them in top racing condition. However when a horse has previously earned a solidly superior Number compared to today’s competition, especially when he is a longshot, I will usually be at least interested.
Our case in point is the Santa Anita race 8 Jan-2 , a 1 1/8 Mile Allowance event on the Turf. In this race, 19-1 Gustnado was making his first start after being sidelined for over 6 months. As mentioned, this is not one of my favorite scenarios. However, on the plus side, the 5.8 Best that Gustnado earned in that gutsy come-from-behind score was a hefty 2.7 points faster than any other horse in the race had ever run. That is a substantial advantage!
Usually horses with that large of a Numbers edge are low-priced favorites; however Gustnado was dismissed at 19-1. So, here you were getting extreme value to compensate for the layoff. As the race turned out, Gustnado made a bold move along the rail to score by a nostril in a real thriller, and return a very generous $41.40 to his backers; a real bargain for clearly the fastest horse in the race.
To cap things off, the horse with the second fastest Number, Curlin Rules, was also overlooked by the betting public, going off at 9-1. He teamed with Gustnado for a whopping $208.10 exacta.
Although they do not always win, at least pay attention to the fastest horse in the race, especially when the edge is substantial!