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Best Horse Racing Handicapping Methods and Wagers

Best Horse Racing Handicapping Methods and Wagers

While teaching how to handicap horse races I’m often asked which method of handicapping is the best and also which wagers are the best. This is a very complicated question, but I’ll try to tell you how you can win more and lose less by focusing on a few simple and easy angles and bets. Before we get into the specifics of picking winners and winning bets, however, let’s be very clear on one thing. Betting on horse races is always risky and you should never risk more than you can afford to lose.

Based on your bankroll, you have to decide how much to wager on each race that you’ll play and also how much you’ll risk in a day. For many casual race goers, the amount of money available is whatever is left at the end of the week after paying the bills. Therefore, there is no set bankroll to be spread over many days of a handicapping campaign. You should, however, at least plan on how many races you’ll play on that day and or weekend and then divide the money among the races.

How you handicap will depend on your available time and enthusiasm. For instance, one of the best ways to handicap and wager for value is to look at the major handicapping factors of speed, class, form, and connections and then to set your own morning line for the race. Once you’ve looked at the scratches and jockey changes for the day you can then make final adjustments to that line. With the odds set for each runner in the race you then wait until post time and checking the odds find the best value bet.

Sounds easy but of course, like many things in life, it isn’t as simple as it appears. For one thing, the odds will almost certainly change after the race starts and you’ve already put your bet down. Then, you have to live with whatever the odds may be. Playing the larger tracks with bigger pools will help you to avoid wild swings in the odds, especially if you play on weekends when the handle is bigger.

I recommend straight bets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play an exacta. Just bet it straight. Why only straight wagers and no boxing or keying? Simple mathematics will answer that question. You halve your profits when you box two horses in an exacta. You may play many races without a hit if you play one straight exacta, but in the long run it will cost you less to make that hit which means your chances of actually coming out ahead on the deal are greatly increased.

Stick with straight bets and shop for value based on as many factors as you can comfortably assess without overloading your mind and finding yourself totally confused. It really is true that sometimes less is more. For casual players it’s okay to stick with top jockeys and horses that show they’ve won at the distance and have a good race in the last 35 days.