Handicapping is more than just picking winners

Jul 5, 2014 | Handicapping

317-crystal-ballby Rob

The process of wagering on a horse race in the modern era of gambling is much more complicated than “which horse do I like?” In outdated systems all you had to do was pick a horse. Now it takes a firm understanding of not only picking winners, but also on selecting the best type of wager, looking for value, and money management. Let’s toss aside money management for another week.

Wagering menus are vast and can offer up to a dozen wagers on a single race. A horse that is a major win contender may not be a good horse to use in an Exactor or Triactor wager. This is often true of horses that have lots of early speed. In many cases they will either get loose and draw off and win, or get hooked in a duel before fading completely out of the money.

The approach of picking solely a winner is important in Daily Double, Pick-3 and Pick-4 wagering, but in many races there are no standouts. In wide open races I prefer to use horses that are trying new things, such as a horse stretching out in distance or getting blinkers for the first time, over a horse that has had many chances at the class level, finishing close without winning.

The latter type of horse takes a lot of money, but in my mind he is a less likely winner than horses who will be much bigger prices. On the other hand, if I was trying to have a horse hit the board for a Triactor or Superfecta, than such a horse could very easily be the choice.

The 15% takeout Pick-4 at ASD requires you to pick four winners in a row, and the key to making it pay is finding and beating vulnerable and obvious favorites. Determining whether a favourite is vulnerable requires an analysis of running styles and predicted pace scenario, track biases and trip handicapping. How will the race set up? Will the favourite be at a disadvantage?

Some attention to video replay is needed to find horses who have had perfect trips, bad trips etc. in their previous races. A horse that gets a perfect trip and barely wins may be worth betting against in its next start. The ability to look at a race and find horses that will take more money than they should is very important. You’re looking for value on the tote board.

Take a close look at the horses you are wagering on and make sure you are not over-betting short-priced horses or spending too much on marginal win-or-finish-last types to round out your Triactor and Superfecta wagers.

A quick value check on the horses you are wagering on with regards to how you are wagering on them, can go a long way towards making more efficient tickets.