How to Handicapping a Horse Race
The sport of horse racing — where a jockey and his mount compete for prize money by running around a track — is often derided by animal activists as cruel. And a recent video released by PETA, showing what it alleges is the cruel treatment of racehorses at two well-known training centers, has rocked the racing world.
But the sport is far from dead, even if some of its most high-profile participants are caught up in an ugly corruption scandal. And while the exploitation of horses will never be completely eliminated, new rules to address track safety and animal welfare are expected to finally put some distance between the industry and its crooks.
A horse race is a timed competition between a number of competing horses and riders. Each horse must run a predetermined course, jumping any hurdles that may be present. A horse that crosses the finish line first wins the race and the prize money. There are three common ways to bet on a race: bet to win, bet to place and bet to show. The amount of prize money paid to a winner is determined by the total amount of money bet on the horse. A horse that receives the most bets is deemed the favorite and its odds are lower than those of other horses.
When handicapping a race, you should familiarize yourself with a horse’s performance history before placing your bets. You will usually find a row of numbers that displays the horse’s career statistics. This data includes total career starts, first-, second- and third-place finishes, career earnings and best Beyer Speed. You should also note the horse’s current weight and any medications it is taking.
Next you should review the fractional times of a horse’s past races. A Beyer speed figure is listed and these figures are used by odds makers when determining the odds of a horse. Studying a horse’s performance under different weather conditions is also important. This can be especially important when betting on an overlay.
The most important piece of information to consider is a horse’s pace. A fast tempo will help horses starting near the front of the pack, while a slow pace will help those starting in the back. You should also consider a horse’s jockey and trainer. A good trainer can take a horse with a poor record and improve the horse’s performance.
A horse’s ability to win can be influenced by its weight, sex, jockey and trainer. A horse with a lot of weight to carry is likely to struggle to run a fast race, and will have an especially hard time beating the field. Likewise, a light-weighted jockey is more capable of keeping up with the faster horses. The trainer can also affect a horse’s chances to win by putting the horse in the best position to compete and by encouraging him to run with heart and effort. A horse that runs with heart is a serious contender for victory.