Handicapping Reminders

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 10, 2008 in General Discussion, Handicapping | No Comments >>

The Class. Horses can seem to sort themselves into competitive levels. A horse’s class is difficult to define, but it is unmistakable at the racetrack.

The Pace. Horses on the front will most always tire out and this will help the runners that are closing ground. Heard of the saying “Pace makes the race”? A horse generally can’t have it both ways, meaning run extremely fast early, and still have enough left in reserve to run fast late in the race.

When wagering, it might be a good idea to consider a horse that likes to rally in the stretch. Meanwhile, a slow pace will help the horses near the front because they should have something left for the end of the race.

Trainers and jockeys. It’s important to take notice of the horse’s jockey and trainer. While some jockeys seem to ride better on the front end, others are better known for their come-from-behind style. Some trainers do well with 2-year-olds, while others are particularly adept with 3-year-olds and those who can race long distances. Check the standings to find out which horse has a leading trainer and jockey on its team.

Changes in equipment. Mud calks are used for off tracks while calks, pointed extensions or cleats on a horseshoe, are designed to prevent a horse from slipping. Blinkers are used to limit the horse’s vision and to prevent them from swerving due to objects or other horses. It’s worth noting a horse wearing them for the first time or racing without them for the first time. Certain equipment worn by the horses is noted in the past performances.

The Trip. If the horse squeezed back at the start, or carried wide on the turn, or blocked at the quarter pole, the trouble will be shown in the past performance lines.  A bettor must watch his horse during the the race and again on the replays after the race to observe what kind of trip he had

The Weight. There is a theory saying that weight plays a bigger role in long races, but another line of reason is that weight is every bit as important in sprints. It’s especially important to notice when horses are carrying considerably more weight than they did in their last start. If your horse has gained considerable weight, this could affect his performance.

Breed. Though breeding is an inexact science, a careful study of pedigrees can enhance your chances at the races. Some horses are bred for speed, others have inherited stamina from their sires and dams and are able to run long distances, and certain horses are bred for grass racing.

Condition. The dates of the horse’s most recent workouts and races, and the probable effects of this activity on his current condition, are highly important. Condition is defined as the fitness of a thoroughbred – how prepared he is to run in a particular race. If a horse is racing for the first time in a month or so, a steady pattern of workouts is a good indication of fitness.

Medication. Some believe that these medications can enhance the horse’s performance, so handicappers pay close attention to a horse racing on Lasix or Bute for the first time. Lasix and Butazolidin are medications administered to racehorses. Lasix is a diuretic used to control bleeding.  Bute is an anti-inflammatory medication.