Our guy Brian Healy (@BHealy19) reviews six handicapping tips when wagering on the ponies!
What is going on #EliteMafia. We are back today to continue our knowledge of Horse Racing wagering. Today, in particular, I’m going to break down a few key handicapping tips.
When evaluating the various horses in a race, most people solely review past performance (PP) while ignoring all other factors. While PP is a very critical factor in handicapping, it essentially gives you the horse’s basic ability. Workouts come into play to give insight into a horse’s current form. In several races, there are a few options with similar ability, but it is more often than not the horse in better form will prevail.
2. Track Type
It is very rare you find a horse that runs their best on various track types; they typically run well on one of Dirt or Turf. Breeding plays a major factor as to which type they will likely thrive on. You frequently see a horse struggle on a few starts on Dirt but excel when moving to the grass, and vice versa. For first time starters on a particular surface, I also review a horse’s pedigree as part of my analysis. Another way to determine if a horse will like the turf is to review PP on a wet/sloppy dirt track. Those conditions are more similar to the turf and lend a lean one way or the other.
3. Track Conditions
As I touched on under track type, the condition of a track is another critical factor that is often overlooked by the common bettor. It is very apparent when digging through results; horses have a preferred track condition. Running on a dry/fast track is vastly different than running on a wet/sloppy one. This analysis is especially helpful when a race is moved off the turf to the main track, typically due to the condition of the turf course.
In my opinion, it is always helpful to watch races at the track you’re betting to get a feel for how the track is running in that day’s conditions. For example, if the track is sloppy and the lanes on the rail are much softer, it could lead to a disadvantage starting in a particular post.
4. Change in Class
A drop in class can be for various reasons, but any significant drop in class immediately makes a horse a threat and merits additional review. Examples of class drops to target are Graded Stakes to Allowance, Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claiming (cheaper the claim) and Allowance to Claiming.
Always look for any horses that are using Lasix for the first time, as they will almost always improve from previous results.
Significant time in between races (> 45 days) typically leads to a horse coming out flat or underperforming in their first race back. It typically takes 2-3 races to get back into form, as they improve each time out of their layoff. This is something I consider more at the major tracks (i.e. Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Church Hill, etc.) vs. a lesser-known track with less talented horses (i.e. Will Rogers Downs).