Do you know what the most important factor in horse racing handicapping is? Many people would say speed is the single most important factor. While speed is still relevant even though it is over bet, because it is so heavily favored by the public, you just can’t make money if you weigh it too heavily.
Class is another one of those basic factors in horse racing that is used to the maximum. It is a little more difficult to quantify at times, but the information is still available and therefore the crowd is all over it. There is some logic in this of course. The winner is almost always a horse dropping in class or racing at the same level. It is difficult for a horse to move up in class and win.
The third factor is the jockey. Many people just bet a horse based on the rider. As far as they re concerned, the jockey and his or her agent is a better judge of horse flesh than he or she is and therefore, why not just bet on anything they pick as a possible winner? Once again, there is some logic in this. It is also true that some riders show a flat bet profit on their mounts for some meets.
While putting all these basics together is important to rate the horses and find fair value in the pools, the most important thing is often the one thing you can’t foresee. I call it the X Factor. It isn’t just found in horse racing either. While some things work out very well on paper, if you’ve been trying to win money on the races or involved in almost any other endeavor that involved money, you know that just because things work on paper, it doesn’t mean they will work in real life.
In horse racing, about 80% of the races are logical. After the race is over, one of the logical contenders has won. In the other 20% a horse won who seemed to have little chance of winning. Why it won may be a mystery. Perhaps it was racing luck or something the trainer did that wasn’t apparent on paper. The important thing to remember about this is that you have to add this into your equation when you are looking for fair value in the pools.
Many people make a morning line based on the pool minus the takeout and breakage. So if the takeout and breakage amount to 20% they subtract that from 100% and wind up with 80%. Then they assign what they deem fair odds by disbursing that among the runners. So if a horse has a one in four chance of winning, or 25% chance, then 25%x80%=20%. Therefore, that horse becomes profitable at 4-1.
But what about the unknown? You must also account for that other 20%. Do you therefore subtract another 20%? No. You subtract 20% of 80% or 16%. The final result is a pool of 66%. If you stick with a pool of 66%, disburse it fairly based on each horse’s probability, you have a chance to be profitable. It is still only a chance and definitely not easy to make a profit, but it is a chance. If you don’t factor that other 20% in, you will keep losing and wondering why.