Horse Racing Handicapping Guide, Betting Tips, and FREE PLAYS

by Spooky Express | November 6, 2021 |

November 6, 2021

Stewart Manor Stakes
Turnback the Alarm Handicap
Chelsey Flower Stakes
Bet On Sunshine Stakes
Breeders' Cup Classic (Longines) (G1)
Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Big Ass Fans) (G1)
Breeders' Cup Distaff (Longines) (G1)
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Maker's Mark) (G1T)
Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF (FanDuel) (G1T)
Breeders' Cup Sprint (Qatar Racing) (G1)
Breeders' Cup Turf (Longines) (G1T)
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T)
Goldikova Stakes (G2T)
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2)

Handicapping Articles for This Week

Another week ahead of us at the track, where we hope to cash some tickets and make some money. As far as the stakes races we will be breaking down, the following is what we are looking at:

Horse Racing Handicapping Guide

Types of Wagers

Win Bet – This is a bet that you can place on a horse to win a race. This is probably the most popular bet that horse players make and is one of the wagers that we strongly recommend when betting on the ponies. The amount of your return is based on the odds of each individual horse.  In order to win this bet, your horse must come in 1st place/win the race.

Place Bet – This is a bet that you can place on a horse to finish 2nd in a race. The amount of your return is again based on the odds of each individual horse.  In order to win this bet, your horse must come in 1st or second place in the race.

Show Bet – This is a bet that you can place on a horse to finish 3rd in a race. This is probably the least recommended wager that we tell our clients, as the return on your investment is very small. The amount of your return is based on the odds of each individual horse.  In order to win this bet, your horse must come in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in the race.

Exacta – With an exacta, you bet on two or more horses to finish in 1st and 2nd place.  Two of the horses must cross the finish line 1st and 2nd in the order you choose to win the wager.

Trifecta – With a trifecta, you bet on three or more horses to finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. All 3 of the horses must cross the finish line 1st, 2nd and third in the order you choose to win the wager.

Superfecta – With a Superfecta, you bet on four or more horses to finish in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. All 4 of the horses must cross the finish line in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in the order you choose to win the wager. 

Quinella – The quinella is very similar to the exacta, where you will pick the first and second-place finishers in the race.  So now, you may be scratching your head and wondering, why would anyone bet an exacta, when they can bet a quinella, which is the same wager, only cheaper? Well, in some points you would be correct, but the payout is different. Exacta is basically double that of a quinella. Where the 7-2 quinella pays $24.20, the exacta of the 7-2 will pay $48.40.

Daily Double – Daily Double wagers allow you to select the winners of the first and second races of the day, as well as many tracks now have a late daily double.  In order to win this wager, you must place your bet before the start of the first race and you must select the winner of the first and second race or other selected races.

Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6 Wager – With these types of wagers, you must pick the winners of three, four, five, or six consecutive races.  Granted, these wagers are very difficult to cash however the payout is much larger.

Win/Place/Show Parlays – One of my favorite ways of betting in 2019 is to pick a few horses and play them in a Win, Place, Show Parlay. These are a great way to pick a favorite or a horse that has really low odds and combine it with another horse to increase your payout. 

The Behind The Scenes Tips

It doesn’t matter if you are a world-class handicapper, a trainer looking for the ideal conditions for a 3-year old gelding or if you are a jockey sitting in the jocks room trying to find the best route to a win, it always pays to just be simple and use some common sense when breaking down the ponies.  

Far too often, we see people at the horse racing tracks who are breaking down workouts by quarter poles, finding which jockey is best on dirt vs. grass, and everyone is looking for the added edge to get that winner but truth be told, most times that edge you are looking for is right in front of you but we confuse the situation with convoluted stats and numbers. 

In this section, we will cover some strong pointers to consider when handicapping horses on your own without giving yourself a headache over stats and numbers.  We strongly urge you to utilize the information we provide here at Spooky Express as we will have information that isn’t readily available in the Daily Racing Form and that is word of mouth on the backstretch and first hand from jockey’s exercise riders, trainers, hot walkers, owners and grooms from the stable area.  

Spend 5 minutes in the stable area at a local horse racing track and you will see people talking in the corner stalls about horses that are running that day and “hot tips” that they’ve heard about.  We get that type of information coming out of many of the East Coast tracks that we have associates at and those types of horses will be placed inside Earl’s Horse Racing plays each day when available.  

Race Conditions and Class

First-hand info coming from a trainer at Laurel Park, the single most important thing to them is the conditions of the race and is the horse placed appropriately.  Many times, especially around this time of year, we will see a horse that has 2 wins fresh and running in a much lower race because the trainers can’t find a race that fits the horse's criteria. 

Many people don’t take this into consideration when betting on horses.  If you see a horse that has been running at the claiming ranks and not winning, yet makes a major jump in class to allowance, the connections may simply be using that race as a buffer race because there is nothing else available for the horse.  

This happens often for owners of horses that have families headed to the track on a specific day and simply want to have a horse running.  They don’t care if the horse wins or loses, they just want to be there and see their horses run. By process of elimination, you can pretty much scratch that horse off your form as chances are it isn’t gonna win that race.  

Track Conditions

One of the major issues that we run into on a daily basis for handicapping horses is track conditions.  Keep in mind that these horses are entered far in advance and some just don’t like running on off tracks.  Some horses do well on sloppy tracks, where others don’t like mud being spit up on their faces and will just stop running.  

Always take this into consideration when playing the ponies as you can usually tell by simply looking at the horse when they step on the track.  If you see that the horse is raising their legs real high and sort of not wanting to put their feet down, mark that horse off your list because chances are, that horse is not winning that race…..might not even finish the race. 

Different horses run differently on varying track conditions.  Be sure to check this each and every time you bet the horses to put the added edge in your corner.  

Breeding and Genetics

A horse's pedigree is very important, especially for 2-year olds that have not had a chance to show what they are capable of.  There are world renowned handicappers that make a living betting 2-3 horses a day, mainly 2-year olds, simply based on the genetics of the horse.  

Often times we will see horses bred from top sires like American Pharoah, Animal Kingdom, Into Mischief, Tapit, Quality Road, Curlin, Kitten’s Joy, Speightstown, Candy Ride, Hard Spun, and Medaglia D’Oro and they will be racing against the much lesser caliber of talent and genetics and as a 2-year old, sometimes that can be the difference in pulling the trigger on a horse and betting him or her and not betting them.  

Jockey & Trainer Connection

Something else to be aware of outside the numbers is the jockey and trainer combo.  Certain trainers routinely will ONLY use the top jockeys for their horses and will only give the stronger riders the stronger horses. This is because you don’t want to waste a race from a horse with a jockey that isn’t strong enough to get the horse home for the win.  

Trainers spend a lot of money just getting the horse ready to race and more than money, they spend a lot of time so that can’t be recouped. Therefore, trainers want to make sure they get the right jockey in the irons to get the job done.  

Additionally, if you see something that looks out of the ordinary, pay attention.  For example, if you see Maryland’s Leading Jockey Trevor McCarthy for example. If you notice that McCarthy has been riding for Trainer Jamie Ness routinely but an out of town trainer comes in with a horse that looks decent, and you notice that McCarthy jumps off his normal mount with Ness to ride another horse, you might want to pay attention as there is a reason why that is happening.  

Maybe that reason is the normal trainer knows the horse isn’t ready to win yet or maybe the jockey has ridden the horse in the mornings and knows it needs work, but if there is a change like that, then you should absolutely pay attention to stuff like that. 

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