Sometimes the best way to describe what we do when we handicap a race is to say that we weed out the legitimate contenders from the phonies or horses that have no chance of winning. To be accurate, any runner in a race does have some chance, but the actual possibility may be so small that it isn’t worth considering, that is, unless the odds are right.
As you handicap a horse race you try to put the horses in order from most likely winner to least likely winner. Then, if you really want to make a profit betting on horses, you wait and watch the odds and decide which runner offers the best value. Horse players must not only be good judges of horses, but they must also be good at picking the best bets.
In most races the top 4 horses in the odds, whether it be morning line odds or the odds you see on the tote board at five minutes to post, will include the winner of the race. If you want to save time you’ll simply evaluate the top four or five morning line horses and set your own odds then bet them according to what the tote board tells you. Of course, there is always a price to be paid for convenience and speed. You may miss a good long shot bet among the other runners.
Therefore, I recommend that you go the extra distance and look closely at every horse in the race. If you don’t have time to handicap all the races, then pick the most promising ones, according to how well you do in different types of races and handicap them first. When you handicap, here is what to look for when throwing out those horses who don’t really stand a chance.
Par times are the actual times that horses average when winning at the distance and class. Par speeds are the same. Having a list of par times and speeds will help you to spot horses that have run at the par or higher before. Any horse that has done that should be considered. Any horse that hasn’t is on the suspect list. In maiden races or races for horses who are working their way up through non-winner conditions, it is possible that the horse will improve and set a new lifetime par.
In races for older horses, however, those who have never done what is being asked today will probably not be able to win and may be put on the elimination list. Of those who may succeed by improving because they are young and growing, an upward trend in speed and ability should be present, otherwise, eliminate the horse. This is just one of several ways to eliminate horses from your list of contenders.