A few lines on a few popular angles
Favorites win 33% of the time, which is perhaps the most obvious indicator that horse racing is not entirely random; handicapping works!
This is a good thing to remember for two reasons:
1) Sometimes the most obvious horse will win a race
2) The favorite loses 66% of the time, meaning that it's often profitable to bet against the favorite.
There are two things to consider when handicapping a race:
1) Which horses have the best chance to win the race?
2) Is the betting public ignoring any of those horses? The only sure thing in horse racing is that there is no sure thing.
Every horse has a chance to win a race, and sometimes the worst looking horse will win that race.
And in situations where you like a particular horse over the favorite and think your horse is a lock to win the race, chances are that both horses have a strong chance to win. You must keep that in mind when handicapping and wagering.
The trick to winning at the races is to find potential winners that the betting public is ignoring.
Example: From all appearances, two horses have an equal chance at winning a race. The public has bet one horse down to 2/1 odds, and the other horse is going off at 10/1 odds.
Which horse do you bet? If it was me and I determined that the 10/1 horse had an equal chance to win the race as the 2/1 horse, I would bet on the 10/1 horse.
Use the favorites in your exotic wagers Betting a Win/Place/Show wager on the favorite is a losing strategy.
They don't pay well enough for you to generate a profit over a long period of time. In fact, you will lose money if you only wager on the favorite.
But that doesn't mean favorites can't be useful. Use them in your exotic wagers that require picking multiple winners in consecutive races (such as the Pick Three, Pick Four, etc.).
If you agree with the morning line odds that a horse deserves to be a favorite in a particular race, don't be afraid to use that horse as a single selection for that race in your exotic wagers.
By doing so, you'll be able to select more horses in your other races where the potential winner is not so obvious.
Layoff horses are difficult to read. Rather than try to ascertain whether or not the trainer is successful with layoff horses, follow these simple rules:
1: First start after a layoff is a negative against a horse. Usually when a horse returns from a layoff, it will need at least one start before returning to previous form.
2: The second and third starts after a horse's layoff are often excellent performances. If a horse is on its 2nd or 3rd start after a layoff, it has the potential to return to its previous peak performance.
To find that peak performance, you may have to go back several races.
The question you must answer: if this horse returns to its prior peak performance, will that performance be strong enough to beat the rest of the horses in the current race?
First time Lasix
Race horses sometimes bleed in their lungs as a result of intense exercise, and the bleeding negatively impacts a horse's ability to perform.
Lasix is a drug that can prevent the bleeding (or drastically reduce it), thereby allowing the horse to breathe properly during a race.
You've no doubt heard the phrase "first time Lasix". That phrase is used to describe a horse that is using Lasix for the first time in its racing career.
Despite what you may have heard from other handicappers, Lasix is not a magic drug.
It will not make a horse suddenly perform better than it has ever raced in its life. However, it can allow a horse to return to its best form; the horse may run equal to a previous peak performance.
Whenever you see a horse racing for the first time on Lasix, you need to look back several races in order to find the horse's true potential.
There is a chance the horse may suddenly return to its peak ability with the addition of Lasix.
In this trainer angle the horse had to have run at least one or more races (all races before today's addition of Lasix) without Lasix ever being administered - less races, the better!
Thoroughbreds race at a variety of distances, anywhere from 5 furlongs all the way up to 12 furlongs (and sometimes further).
One furlong is equal to 1/8 of a mile. Thus, a one-mile race is an 8 furlong race; a 6 furlong race is a 3/4 mile race; the half mile call is always taken 4 furlongs into a race, and so on.
I've noticed that some handicappers get hung up on the distance of a race.
Their burning question is: can this horse win at this distance?
Although I'm sure other professional handicappers will disagree with my input on this matter, I don't feel that race distance is a significant factor.
That being said, there are a few distances when I feel the need to question a horse's ability to go the distance.
When I handicap 5 furlong races and 5.5-6 furlong races, I generally lean towards very quick horses.
They have a tendency to finish well in short sprint races.
When I handicap races at 8 furlongs or longer, I will take the time to dig a little deeper into a horse's racing history to see if it has won at long distance races. Other than those distances, I don't feel it's an important issue to delve into a horse's win/loss ratio at specific distances.
From what I've come to understand about horse racing, the most significant portion of a race is the last couple of furlongs.
Quite often, the jockeys will set a leisurely pace around the track, and then it’s a mad dash for the last quarter mile. As long as a horse has decent sprint ability for at least a few furlongs, I'll consider it a potential winner at any distance.
In my opinion, when it comes to bloodline, there are only two scenarios when pedigree matters:
First time starters - how often does a sire or dam's offspring win their first start? First time on turf - how often does a sire or dam's offspring win their first start on the grass? Once a horse has raced its first race and raced on the grass, I no longer care about pedigree.
And I almost never wager on a horse based on its pedigree alone, but I will definitely use them in exotic wagers if I feel the bloodline is an indicator of a potential surprise winner.
When reviewing the past performances of horses in a race, if you notice there is only one front runner (a horse that is on the lead or close to it until the 1/2 mile fractional call of its last few starts), and the rest of the horses are late closers (remain off the pace until the half mile call and then gain ground), you've found what is commonly referred to as "The Lone Speed Horse".
When a horse is allowed to get loose on the lead, there's a good chance the horse will take the race wire-to-wire, particularly if the jockey can control the pace and keep it slow until the 1/2 mile call.
The great thing about these types of horses is they sometimes win at very big odds.
When reviewing the past performances of horses in a race, if you notice there is only one closer (a horse that gains ground in the later stages of a race) and the rest of the horses are front runners (horses that are on the lead or close to it up until the 1/2 mile of their last few starts), then you've found what is commonly referred to as "The Lone Closer".
When there are multiple speed horses in the race (horses that like to be on the lead), they usually duel against each other during the first 1/2 mile and setup the race perfectly for the one horse that finishes fast.
In this type of race, the speedsters will tucker themselves out and The Lone Closer will close extremely fast during the stretch run and win the race.
Whenever you see a favorable jockey switch, such as going from an apprentice or a low win percentage jockey to one of the top jockeys at a track, this is a favorable sign.
You should know where to find the latest stats on all jockeys and be able to quickly research each jockey's history.
Most trainers have their favorite jockey, their "go to" man when they want their best effort from a particular horse.
Always take note of the Win percentage for the current jockey/trainer combination for every horse in a race.
This isn't a crucial element in the handicapping process, but it's important to be aware of because some jockey/trainer combinations win at a high percentage rate.
Allowance to Open Claimer
These are potential long shots that come from allowance class races. Since horses entered into allowance races are not up for sale (and aren't at risk to being claimed by another trainer), allowance races are safe training races for stakes caliber horses.
Trainers will often place their best horses into allowance races in order to prepare them for an upcoming stakes race.
When any horse that previously raced in an allowance race is entered against open claiming competition, it's often a significant drop in class and the horse may give a very strong performance.
Next time you plan on visiting the race track, glance through the racing form and look for any horse that is moving from an allowance race to an open claiming race. That horse is a potential long shot winner.
You'll need to research the Win/Place/Show horse of that previous allowance race. If any of those three horses are stakes caliber horses, then the allowance race was potentially a stakes caliber race and if the horse that is now facing open claimers finished well in that allowance race, it has a good chance of winning.
Quite often, a loser moving from an allowance race into a claiming race will win at very big odds.
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