Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I Should Know About Handicapping and Betting

[I am being encouraged by friends and new acquaintenaces at my home race track to write some articles for beginners.]

What is horse handicapping and what should I know about betting?

Handicapping a horse race is about determining which horse (or horses) could win the race. Betting is about determining what kind of a bet to place and how to configure it. Let's talk about handicapping first. When you go to a race track you can purchase a newspaper called the Daily Racing Form (DRF). The DRF has long been the means to getting a look at the Past Performances (PP) for all horses in a race. If you have the internet you can use your PC to access the PP's before you ever get to the track. Just go to, pick the track and date. Reading the DRF PP's, if you are new to it may seem quite formitable. If you want to become more serious about handicapping and picking potential winners I suggest you study the form (DRF) and become familiar with the terminology in it. Those who do not use the form may resort to tip sheets. These are put together and sold by individuals who rate horses in a race. I have found that if you are at the track strictly for fun then tip sheets may be an easy way to skip the handicapping, use someone elses picks and have fun.

Placing a bet is determining what kind of a bet you will make and how you will structure it. There are many bets that can be structured. 50 years ago when I first went to Saratoga Race Track, close to where I lived at the time, there were three main bets that you could make; WIN, PLACE, and SHOW. Today there are many more bets that can be made at the track, at a simulcasting location, or over the internet. I'll list a few of them. WIN, PLACE, SHOW, QUINELLA, EXACTA, TRIFECTA, SUPERFECTA, DAILY DOUBLE, PICK 3, PICK 4, PICK 5, PICK 6. Each track across the country has some or many of these bets that can be placed depending on the race.

Doing your homework: A lot of homework can be done ahead of time to prepare for placing the bets you will make. As I mentioned before for those of you, especially starting out, you may prefer not to do any of this homework. You can buy tip sheets at the track and rely on someone else's opinions. You can decide whether you want to become a serious player or go to the track just to have some fun. It's up to you.

I hope this helps out the beginner to get started. Here are some links to past articles in my blog for further reading.