Contender Checklist for Horse Racing Handicapping

One way to find good horse racing bets is to make a list of the contenders in a race and then to assign fair value odds for each of the contenders. There are several ways to go about separating the phonies from the ponies. I recommend good, in-depth, handicapping using all the factors that should be considered before a wager. That can be time consuming, but if you’re going to invest serious money on a horse or horses you should have a strong opinion based on how each runner compares to the field and how the odds stack up.

Fair value odds simply means that the probability of a horse winning means that the amount paid times the projected number of wins would offset the cost of wagers and also return a profit. For instance, if you think a horse has a 30% chance of winning that’s three wins in ten races. A base bet of $2 times ten would be $20. Three wins would have to return your $20 along with a profit. That means that the horse would have to be at 5-2 or better and pay $7 in order to make money.

By developing your own morning line or fair value odds and watching the tote board closely up until the last minute or as late as possible to still get your bet in, you can shop for the best value. Of course, this takes practice and knowing which horses are actual contenders is imperative. Here are some of the things I look for in spotting true contenders. First of all I look at the par time for the race or speed figure and check to see if the horse has managed to come within two points of the speed figure at the distance.

Secondly, I like to see that a horse has won at the distance and the track. I also would like my horse or contender to have raced within the last 40 days. The connections must also know how to win. Low percentage jockeys and trainers will burn up your bankroll faster than any other problem. You can set your own limits but I personally like to see a jockey with 10% and a trainer with %15. Those figures are minimums. These are just ball park figures and the most important thing you must remember about handicapping is that everything is relative.

I like guidelines, but not rules when it comes to evaluating horses. You must compare the horses within the race to each other and develop a hierarchy from the best and most likely to win to the worst and least likely to win. If no horse has come close to the par you must decide if the race should even be played. The same is true of any other guidelines you use.

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