Thinking Ahead in Horse Racing Handicapping

They say that pace makes the race and while that is true, using it to your advantage means you have to know what the pace will be and who will set it. If horses always ran the same way it wouldn’t be too hard to figure the pace scenario. But horse racing handicapping isn’t an exact science, more of an art form, really, and the reason is that trainers try different things and horses aren’t machines.

Have you ever bet on a race and expected a horse to be a pace setter and yet the jockey strangles it back and won’t let it go to the front? Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience of expecting a horse to lay way back off the pace and yet the rider hustles the slow starter to the front?

When that happens the jockey is usually following instructions from the trainer and they are trying to teach the horse a new skill or to break a bad habit. If a horse keeps charging to the lead and fading in the later stages of the race, the trainer may tell the jockey to hold the horse back so it will have more in the tank. It may take a few races like that before the horse gets the idea, if it ever learns.

When you see a horse run an uncharacteristic race, you can bet the trainer had something to do with it, or the horse, being an unpredictable animal, decided to try something new.

Your job as a handicapper is to look ahead when you handicap a race and ask yourself what you would do with a young horse that needed schooling. If you see a situation like the above mentioned, or some other case where a horse needs schooling, ask yourself, is this the race where the trainer will try something new? The addition of blinkers or taking them off or a rider switch, are often signs of a new tactic as well.

While the addition or taking off of blinkers does affect a horse’s performance, what many people do not realize is that the rider is also told to ride the horse differently. Think like a trainer and think ahead and you will be ahead of the rest of the crowd. You won’t be right every time, but when you are, you will cash some nice win tickets.

The most consistent horse racing systems have to have the basics and a handicapper must understand the basics. I have been around horse racing for 50 years including as an owner. Without the basics the rest is not going to do any good. If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to and get the truth.

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