Lightly raced four-year olds
Any discussion regarding the Unknown Handicapping Factors (Entelechy) and thoroughbred race horses which, for whatever reason may not have their full capability on display within the handicapper's view; must include the lightly raced four year old race horse.
A thoroughbred race horse will reach the peak of its physical development, around the age of four-and-a-half years old
When analyzing the past performances of a race horse, handicappers want to know how fast the horse has run, the class of horses it has defeated, the level of pace it can comfortably sustain; and which part of its form cycle the horse is in currently.
In more specific handicapping terms, when examining the past performances of a four year old running in a $32,000 Claimer, with 15 races under its belt; perhaps boasting recent wins at the $40,000 and $50,000 Claiming levels, while having posted a string of consecutive losses at the N1X Allowance level. Chances are this horse has found its friends.
However, the situation changes when a four year old, having run just three races, shows up in an N1X Allowance race, after winning against straight Maidens on the third attempt last year.
In the case of such a horse that continues to develop, having yet to express its Potential Existence; careful review of its past performances will merely reveal answers to the fundamental handicapping questions, in terms of its accomplishments as a three year old.
When this occurs it can be a signal that significant improvement may be forthcoming and Potential Existence for the next race would therefore improve accordingly.
Moreover, since the trainers of mature thoroughbred race horses frequently maneuver them up, down and around the class ladder; entering horses in races which they do not intend to try and win, or in which they cannot win.
Often will be the case, when the lightly raced four year old thoroughbred offers the attractive upside of a horse ready to fulfill its Potential Existence.