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is a collection of very useful horse betting resources
that will assist you in your day to day horse wagering.
All of the most common terms used in Horse Betting
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ITEMS TO CONSIDER WHEN
WAGERING ON STANDARDBRED RACING
Here are some simple tactics which may be helpful
to a new bettor:
1. The Driver.
Drivers, much as other athletes, possess varying
amounts of ability, and even the good ones have
slumps. Fortunately, race tracks keep records of
how a driver performs. Next to his or her name,
you'll find statistics about their performance at
the given track. For example, you might see something
Jimmy Homeskillet red-gr-blu (112-23-15-11-.313)
Simply stated, driver Homeskillet (who wears red,
green and blue colors) has driven in 112 races,
winning 23 of them, finishing second 15 times, and
finishing third 11 times. His "Universal Driver
Rating" -- a number calculated like a batting
average -- is .313. Any number over .300 is considered
excellent. At most racing locations, the program
will include a listing of the track's leading drivers.
The drivers may be listed by the Universal Driver
Rating (UDR), or by the total number of wins. The
most useful piece of information in the driver statistics
is a driver's winning percentage. The drivers who
can "get 'em home first" at the highest
rate should merit extra handicapping points. A horse
that receives a switch from an unranked driver to
a top-rate pilot should get further handicapping
points. Often, though, the top drivers are bet heavily
by the public, resulting in odds lower than what
the horse's chances might truly warrant. Also, drivers
not listed among the leaders may still qualify as
a possible bet if the horse passes other handicapping
tests, AND the unranked driver has driven the horse
successfully in the past. Top trainers, sometimes
listed in your program, usually have their horses
in peak condition and ready to win. As with drivers,
isolate the trainers who have a high win percentage.
A horse "claimed" in his last start (the
"c" or "z" after the claiming
price shows a claim) and moving into a top trainer's
care may show dramatic improvement for his new stable.
Consistency is perhaps the most outstanding characteristic
of the standardbred horse. Good horses are able
to perform well, week after week. Most racing programs
will show records of these performances. In the
upper left-hand portion of each horse's past performances,
you'll see the fastest winning mile of the year
listed, the number of starts, wins, seconds, thirds,
and money won for the present and past years.
Harness horses tend to race against other horses
of comparable ability, and it's the job of the race
secretary to design races that will bring together
well-matched and competitive fields. Race types
fall into various "classes," such as:
conditioned races (grouping done by the horses'
earnings and other factors); claiming races (grouping
done by the estimated value of the horses); or "feature"
events (Open, Invitation, Stakes, etc.). The best
way to judge whether a horse is moving "up"
or "down" in class is to compare the purse
of the race in question with the present race's
purse. Within a given track's class structure, the
purse is often a useful barometer; however, comparing
purses from one track to another is a less reliable
guide. Horses dropping in class are generally a
good bet -- if they meet other handicapping criteria.
An edge in class is worth one or two handicapping
points, as horses dropping in class are meeting
softer competition tonight. Horses moving up, however,
may still rate consideration if they have been winning
impressively or posting fast times while facing
horses in a lower class. Younger horses who have
made only a few starts also may move in class readily,
as their true class might not yet be established.
4. Post Position.
Generally speaking, the inside post positions (numbers
one through four) are an advantage, especially on
half-mile tracks. Horses who do not have good post
position risk the possibility of being "parked
out" (marked by the "0" symbol in
the program) and losing considerable ground while
racing on the turns. The inside post position bias
is most pronounced on half-mile tracks, where there
is a short distance between the start and first
turn. The bias still exists on five-eighths-mile
and mile tracks, but to a lesser extent. Most programs
list the number of winners coming from each position,
making the job of evaluating post positions easy.
It's also important to check the racing style of
a horse and figure out his likely racing position
throughout the mile. If there are many horses whose
past performance show early speed in a race, they
may wear themselves out fighting among themselves,
and a fast-finishing horse may catch them before
the wire Similarly, a good come-from-behind horse
from a bad post position may find other fast finishers
in a better position than he is when he starts to
make his move. That horse may not be able to make
up enough ground on his rivals to win. Finally,
a horse who raced either spectacularly or poorly
from a bad post position last week may have a better
chance of winning from an inside starting slot tonight.
An important handicapping concept to understand
is that the final time posted by a horse is not
as important as his individual quarter-mile times.
For example, "Able Almahurst" may race
in a trailing position in a fast-paced race and
merely finish in average time, but record a fast
victory due to the fast early pace. "Baker
Hanover," meanwhile, may trail far behind a
slow pace and finish very rapidly, but not gain
much ground during a fast final quarter. Yet ...
"Baker" may well be sharper than "Able!"
A horse that "does work" (races on the
lead or outside in a challenging position, or close
strongly) in a fast quarter should get extra points
in handicapping. Although fractional times are more
important than final time, it is a fact that some
horses are just faster than others. It is important
to check how fast horses have been clocked in recent
races, although the swiftest ones, and ones who
are merely "sucked along" (stayed behind
other horses in the pack), are often overbet by
the public. Times posted at other tracks may be
adjusted, when handicapping, by checking the "Comparative
Speed Ratings" in the program. Take the difference
between the ratings and add or subtract the result
to the time posted at the other track. It will show
what the time might have been if the race had been
at the track where the horse is on the present night.
Like any other athlete, a harness horse's performances
cross peaks and valleys, but most every race winner
has shown that he's been racing at or near top "form."
In the most recent races listed for each horse in
the racing program, the running positions (where
the horse was in a race: 1st, 6th, etc.) are the
indicators of form. Horses tend to fall into two
broad categories: those that race on or near the
lead, and those that race farther back and come
on strongly at the finish. Front-running horses
displaying good form show that they can hold the
lead all the way, while the latter type horses show
come-from-behind rushes to either win or just miss.
Changes in form can be spotted by comparing race
lines week to week. Once a front-runner's past performance
lines start to show he can't hold the lead all the
way, he's going "off form." But when each
line shows he's getting closer to going "wire-to-wire,"
he's coming back into form...and is worth a bet.
Sometimes, though, what appears to be a downward
swing in form may not be that at all. A dull-appearing
performance may be the result of an "off"
track (sloppy, muddy, etc.), interference, show
fractional times, or simply of having raced against
horses of superior class. Horses must also race
frequently to keep their form, and they compete
on an average of every six to ten days. Long layoffs
are almost always a bad sign.
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS
Age - Every horse shares a "birthday"
of January first. A horse becomes one year old on
the first of January after he or she is born, and
turns two one year later -- regardless the actual
date of his or her birth.
Break - When a horse gallops, instead of trotting
or pacing, it's on a break. The driver must get
the horse out of the way of the others, must not
improve their position, and must attempt to get
the horse back on its proper gait. A horse is not
automatically disqualified by making a break.
Colt - A male horse, age three or under.
Filly - A female horse, age three or under.
First-Over - A horse racing on the outside without
another horse directly in front of him or her. A
foreshortening of of the phrase "first overland."
Foal - A newly-born horse. (verb) The act of giving
Gelding - A desexed horse of any age.
Green Horse - A horse that has not raced, or has
raced only a few times.
Horse - A male horse, age four and up.
Maiden - A horse (male or female) who has never
won a racing purse.
Mare - A female horse, age four and up.
Parked-out - A horse racing on the outside with
at least one horse between him and the inside rail
Purse - The cash prize won by the owner. The purse
is usually paid to the first five finishers; 50%
is paid to the winner, 25% for place, 12% for third,
8% for fourth, and 5% for fifth.
Purse - Prize money earned for winning a race.
Qualifying Race - A race without a purse or betting
used to determine a horse's ability and manners.
Horses who have made repeated breaks in stride or
have been away from the races for a long period
of time must race in a qualifying race before being
allowed to race in a betting race.
Scratch - A horse who is withdrawn before the race
Sire - The male parent of a horse.
Trainer - The person responsible for keeping a
horse in top racing condition. In harness racing
the trainer is often the driver.
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