Learn how to handicap horse racing

For most fans, a day at the races is a way to get out and let loose, brag about their winnings, and just enjoy themselves.

The job of the racetrack is to put on a show that lets the fans have a great time, and part of that is keeping them informed. Spectators and bettors alike need to be able to identify the players and evaluate the horses and then bet on the winners.

We have therefore created this section of the site to make it easy for you to find the information you need, no matter your level of understanding.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #1

The easiest way for beginner, novice and expert online horse racing bettors to handicap horse racing is to follow the horse betting odds on the tote board. Find the horse in the race that has mid to high odds and is bet down substantially before the horse race starts. If you bet this horse to show you are likely still going to see good odds for your ROI and are likely going to be betting on a horse who has been bet down by people who are sharp and know far more than most people.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #2

Identify the Pace Matchup for each and every field.

One of the most important and yet least understood and utilized techniques in handicapping is identifying the running style for each horse in the field. Every horse in every race has one of 4 distinct running styles.

  1. Early (E) speed type that wants and needs the lead.
  2. Early presser (EP) that can either go on top or sit 1 to 3 lengths off the pace.
  3. Presser (P) that doesn't want the lead, but stays in contact with the field, usually running 4 to 6 lengths.
  4. Sustained (S) run closer that likes to run way off the pace and make a late rally.

It is of critical importance to matchup those running styles in every race to see which horse or horses have the right running style to succeed today!

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #3

Understand which running styles are best suited for which kinds of horse races.

Sprint races without a doubt favor early speed. Most winners of sprint races are within 2 to 3 lengths of the lead at one or both of the first two call points. Therefore, stone-cold closers desperately need enough early speed in the race to create the right pace for them to successfully make their late charge. And of course, if you have a matchup in which there is a lone early speed horse, even if it has not held up lately that horse has a better than even chance to go all the way on top, often at a good price.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #4

To make money with online horse betting, you need to know when to pass.

The primary reason why people lose money at this game is that they play too many races. In order to succeed, you have to be ultra-selective and play the waiting game. You must wait out the right matchups that will give you the best chances of making money. As surely as the sun will rise each day, there will be prime opportunities that will come along just as regularly.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #5

To make money betting horses online, you need to know how to wager.

As simple as it sounds, this is a major stumbling block for most players. They simply don't know how to construct the best wagers for the situation at hand. You should know when to make win wagers and when and how to make the right exotic wagers.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #6

You need to make only value plays.

The way to stay ahead and maintain a positive ROI (return on investment) is to demand value regardless of the play, be it win or exotic wagering. No matter how much you like a horse, it should be played only if it presents value. Value, simply put, is a payoff of greater odds than your morning line odds. I said your morning line odds, not the track handicapper's. And that can include playing a horse at a short price that you love on top in an exacta with one or more contenders... if the probable exacta wager payoff(s) shows enough value.

How To Handicap Horse Racing: #7

You need an approach to handicapping horse races that is consistent and proven to work.

The only way you are going to succeed at this game is to have an understanding of "what makes horses win races" and an exact handicapping process that produces results that you can duplicate each and every time you find a race that appears playable. You can add to these requirements self-control, which is necessary when you need to pass a race when the matchup does not present enough value to justify the risk you take by placing a wager.

General Horse Racing Handicapping

Calculate if a race is playable or if you should "pass.". There are certain "signposts" and "signals" that are posted conspicuously in every race that tell us when to play and when to pass.

Figure out if there is enough value in any race to warrant a wager

  • Understand the relationship among morning line odds, projected odds and post time odds and you will understand how to instantly spot a value play, which is the only situation you should risk your money on.
  • Examine the running styles of every horse in a given race and know which have the advantage in any given situation.
  • You should label each horse with its particular running style to correctly matchup the field.
  • Calculate what the pace shape is of any race.
  • You should label the pace shape of each race to project how the race will be run. How many of each running style are there in this matchup?
  • Figure out what the race shape is of any race.
  • There are 4 race shapes: fast, lone early, honest, and slow. You should see how the 4 running styles match up against one another in each.
  • Determine which running styles will have the advantage in any matchup.
  • Examine the running styles, pace shape and race shape of any race and you will see which horses have a pace advantage and which are at a distinct disadvantage.
  • Be aware of what the main reason is for favorites losing 67% of the time.
  • The main reason favorites lose 2 out of every 3 races is not because of class hikes or inferior speed figures or because they bounce.

More Horse Racing Handicapping

  • Examine which horses are the true contenders.
  • You have to be able to "whittle" down every field to a maximum of 3 or 4 contenders or it's an immediate no-play situation. A short series of techniques will tell you quickly if you should continue the handicapping process.
  • Determine which horses are the pretenders of any matchup.
  • It's a pretty easy and quick process to eliminate "dead wood" from any field. You just need to know which key elements to look for, and you will quickly separate the contenders from the pretenders or also-rans.
  • Know how to determine actual class for any horse.
  • There is a simple numeric number that can be quickly calculated for every horse in the field that will give you a complete picture of real class comparison. A simple calculator and the 60-20-10 method will give you a close look at the true class of each horse in the field.
  • Know how to maintain a healthy ROI even if at times you connect on only one of every 4 or 5 races you play.
  • The only way to maintain a healthy ROI is to know which races to play and which races to pass. A short list of things to look for will tell you when to do either.
  • Know when a horse is properly conditioned to run his best race today.
  • There are simple tipoffs that reveal if a horse has been properly conditioned to run his best race today.
  • Know how to properly use the Beyer speed figures located in the Daily Racing Form.
  • Those numbers to the immediate left of each horse's running lines in the Daily Racing Form are great tools...if you know how to use them. Are they the "be all and end all" to the handicapping process? Of course not, no one factor is, but I'll tell you this, correct utilization of them can be extremely rewarding. Can you find situations in which underlay Beyer speed figures are at an advantage? Yes with a capital Y.
  • Be one of a tiny fraction of players who know how to use the "invisible" Beyer speed figures.
  • This is an amazing, needs-to-be-seen technique that is completely unused by 99% of all players that points out a regular stream of winning overlay plays that are visible to only those in the know.