In the first article in this series, we had discussed the need to get the Beyer Speed figures right and also the critical role analyzing a horse from a distance perspective played in good handicapping. The next important aspects that you need to look out for are the weather on race day and also track conditions. An analysis of these two is called track bias. Track bias is considered the single largest factor in handicapping. A biased track can change the way a race will turn out and consign perceived potential winners into the background.
Knowing the track conditions is important because horses have their individual preferences, much like people, when it comes to the track they will be running on. Some prefer the dirt race tracks, while others prefer turf race tracks. A horse that prefers the turf may not have much of a chance on a dirt track, and vice versa. A proper analysis of the track and weather conditions is necessary, and any change or bias detected must be taken into account while choosing the horse to wager on. And then there is the weather: what if there is a little rain on race day and the track is a dirt one? Does the horse you are backing have experience racing in mud, which is bound to be there if there is rain? What is his track record on such surfaces? All of this needs to be factored in.
The Importance of Reading Form Correctly
Consistency is the key to long term success, and this applies to horses as well. While handicapping, it is very important to consider the overall form of an animal. A horse may have convincingly won the previous race on a similar race track, but that is not a guarantee that it will succeed on this one as well. There are a lot of factors to be considered here, in terms of form. One thing that you would definitely want to know is its performance in a biased environment; any horse performs well in that kind of an environment would be one to keep an eye on.
When it comes to form, one has to check for consistency, and also temperament. Another major factor is its performance at major horse races. Any horse that shows consistency on the big stage is one worth backing. Also, horses that come from outside for a race would be favorites to an extent, because they come with a reputation, a reputation that their owners would do their best to ensure stays intact, and the best way to do that would be to win.
The Importance of Post Position
One factor that you cannot ignore while handicapping is the horse’s post position. The inside post works for route races, i.e. races that have more than two turns and are over longer distances. For sprint races, i.e. races that have just one turn, the outside post is a very good option. In that scenario, it is important to check your horse’s post position and what kind of race it is going to be.
Good handicapping is not just about checking out for your favorite horse; it is also about keeping options open and checking the competition. There may be other horses that outdo the one you are thinking of backing in some of the criteria. In that case it is about looking out for the horse that has the right mix of most.