Becoming a successful horseplayer can be difficult, and can take a long time. But these tips should help you get a leg up and escape some costly mistakes.
10. Avoid betting horses returning off long layoffs
When a horse misses an extended period of time, say six months or more, it is often because they were injured and needed time to recuperate. And like with any professional athlete, injuries can be detrimental to a horse’s future performance.
9. Don’t bet a horse at a short price with a bad rider
This tip sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many times the public supports a favorite with a bad rider. Jockeys can only do so much on a horse, but if I see a favorable rider matchup on a horse that’s only slightly inferior on paper to the favorite while offering a much better price, I’ll take my chances.
8. Horses are usually sharper when cutting back in distance
One of my favorite angles is betting horses turning back from a route (one mile or longer) to a sprint when they’ve done well going short in the past. If the horse is a frontrunner, he’ll be in peak form stamina-wise and will run better late. If the horse is a closer, his late kick will be more powerful
7. If there’s a different jockey on a horse, find out why
Sometimes jockeys will be out of town and can’t ride a horse they usually ride on a given day, but if a jockey jumps off one horse to ride another in the same race, it is generally because the rider chose to do so. Always be mindful of jockey decisions when handicapping
6. Avoid first-time starters with excessive gate works
The majority of first-time starters will work one or two times from the gate while building up a worktab. If you see three or more gate works within a few months, it’s probably because the horse has issues breaking from the gate, and a bad break in a race can be very costly.
5. Beware of horses taking a “suspicious” drop in class
If a recent stakes runner runs a bad race then suddenly appears in a claiming event, the trainer may be looking to get rid of this horse from his or her stable because the horse can no longer run effectively. These horses are generally “boom or bust” propositions, and are not worth betting at low odds
4. Take post positions into consideration
Post positions are a very important part of horse racing, and can dictate the trip of every horse in the race. Wide posts can occasionally be overcome, but they often have low winning percentages
3. Don’t take a short price on a horse doing something for the first time
This maxim comes from handicapping legend Harvey Pack, and it still holds true today. For example, a horse that runs fast in a sprint then stretches out to a route may be a bad bet if heavily favored, as it’s highly speculative as to whether or not the horse can handle the distance.
2. Avoid betting horses with “hanging” tendencies
Horses that have career records like 24-1-5-3 (number of races-wins-places-shows) are tough to trust because they’ve shown an unwillingness to win in the past. But because they tend to run well in defeat they are often bet back at short prices in all of their starts. They are usually a bad bet.
1. Don’t take a short price on a horse going up in class
Class is one of the most important factors in handicapping. When a horse steps up from an allowance to a Grade I stakes or from a maiden race to a race involving winners, the horse can have a much harder time getting the job done. Always use caution with horses going up in class.
Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking