Good Handicapping in Horse Racing
Acquiring solid Handicapping skills is the first ingredient to consistent, long-term profits. But what exactly does “Good Handicapping” mean? It requires the ability to pick a high percentage of winners. Contrary to what some so-called experts preach, this is a must.
With the heart of the horse racing season, the Triple Crown, less than 2 months away, you need to know how to be a good handicapper if you want a realistic shot of winning money on your bets. The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in March. Kentucky Derby betting is the Super Bowl of the horse racing season. This is when all the hype for a new Triple Crown winner takes place.
In order to be able to pick a high percentage of winners, you must
a) be able to handicap by race types.
b) know how to apply the different handicapping factors, depending on the distance category.
Basically, there are 3 broad race types:
1) Maiden races.
2) Dirt races for winners of at least one race; i.e., Claiming, Allowance, Stake.
3) Turf races (all types).
There are 2 Distance Categories:
1)Sprint races. All races under one mile distance.
2)Route races. All races at a distance of one mile and over.
(There are sub-categories in all the above. Handicappers who isolate them further are the most successful. But that isn’t essential.)
Races are like cross-word puzzles that need individual solutions. What works for one Race Type does not work well for another. Let’s give some very simple examples with 2 races:
One is a Claiming race at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The other is a Maiden race at 5 furlongs.
Class is a major factor in Claiming races for Winners. Relatively small movements in Class bear strongly on the ability of horses to be competitive.
But Class is not a big factor in Maiden races. Relatively small movements in class don’t have much bearing on the outcome of Maiden races.
If one applies and weights Class equally in both of these examples above, it would be a big mistake. Using this kind of simplistic handicapping method, results will inevitably suffer. The handicapper will conclude incorrectly, that the only way to profit from racing is with Overlays.
On the other hand, a player who has the knowledge and statistics to do his handicapping by RACE TYPE can use a spot-play method that generates between 45-50% winners.
The ROI of a good high win % spot-play method is significantly more than ANY type of “Overlay” system.
Having stated the fact about Class in Maiden races, there is one important exception. Maidens that drop from MSW to Claiming. This type of drop is rightly considered by all experts as the biggest Class drop in racing. This steep drop does affect the outcome of Maiden races.
Another typical example of RACE TYPE:
Turf racing vs dirt racing. The difference is like football vs basketball; two different types of games. In order to be successful, you have to know how to handicap each – the correct way. Knowledgeable Pros are keenly aware that the largest percentage of profits lie in Turf races.
Surprisingly, many handicappers – including some well-known ones – use identical factors to handicap all race types.
But this is a major – and very costly – mistake!
They can be successful to a degree, but this type of handicapping confines them to playing only high-priced selections (Longshots); it is impossible to generate profits from lower priced selections with this simplistic approach.
The inevitable result is; they have to accept Win percentages in the 12-17% range, with the automatic large losing streaks that come with this handicapping approach.
Also, they must have a much larger bankroll to work with, to tide them over these – often horrific, highly stressful – losing streaks.
And worst of all, unlike high Win percentage Pros, they are forced to use only a tiny fraction of their capital per wager, to avoid the danger of using up their bankroll in a 40 or 50 race losing streak. All-in-all, this handicapping approach is definitely not the ideal way.
In the discussion above about turf racing, we mentioned that they are the most profitable type of races. However, if using the “one-shoe-fits-all” handicapping approach, it’s impossible to handicap turf races correctly. These people miss out on these lucrative profit opportunities.
The next step of handicapping – the right way is being able to determine how many horses are true contenders. By definition, high percentage plays come from races that have only one or two logical contenders. You have to be able to narrow the field down to 1 or 2 SOLID contender(s). If there are more than 2 in ANY race, it’s an immediate no-play situation.
The only ones who would play those highly competitive types of races are people who are into Longshot-Overlay handicapping. As discussed above, that is not how YOU want to play.
Prime opportunities for high percentage wagers come along frequently. If you wait for these opportunities to develop, you will:
1) end up cashing much more tickets, and
2) more importantly, you will be on your way to long-term success in horse racing.
It goes without saying, that you must have accurate raw data in order to handicap effectively. We highly recommend DRF.com.