Apprentice Riders Can Offer Good Value


When I first started betting the horses I would often overlook apprentice jockeys. Thinking that they were young and inexperienced. How could they beat the likes of superstar jockeys Mike Smith, Pat Day, Gary Stevens or Jerry Bailey in a race.

To my dismay, I soon learned that they could win. 

My thinking now is that if the conditions are right. They are often times a much better bet.

Apprentice riders (or bug boys) as they are sometimes referred to as, are allowed a weight break in races. The thinking is that these riders are less experienced than so-called journeyman riders and need a sort of handicap to make them competitive. They start out with a 10 pound advantage and after a certain amount of wins the are allowed only a 5 pound claim.

These riders aren't usually very dangerous in stakes races as most owners/trainers opt for the more experienced riders in those events. But in claiming events they are one of my favorite plays. Some trainers make a living with these apprentice riders. Often times overlooked in the betting a good apprentice rider can be an exceptional bet.

Remember these riders are out to prove themselves, often working hard in a $15,000 claimer. Often times outworking a so-called big money rider. Certain trainers love to use apprentices as they allow them to get that weight advantage which is most sought after. There are a few trainers in New York who's M.O. is to switch to a hot apprentice when they are looking for the win.

So be sure to pay close attention to young riders on your circuit. There are usually at least one or two of these jockeys to keep an eye on. These kind of riders are particularly dangerous on front running type horses. Often times a horse will be a little braver on the front end under a light weight and I think its a little easier for most young riders when they are in front.

If you are looking for big payoffs keep on an eye on apprentice jockeys. These young riders are often times the ones who can light up the board.

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by Kerry Zangara