Of all the betting pursuits, only horse racing betting doesn't have a season, never takes a day off and offers the bettor the chance to turn $100 into $1,000,000 in a single afternoon. What's more, gamblers don't bet against the house but each other, so winners get their money from losers, meaning that strong, sophisticated, savvy bettors thrive at the expense of those who either lack the talent or diligence to become accomplished bettors.
Oh sure, there's a lot of vigorish in horse racing betting, far more than in baseball betting, basketball betting, football betting or just about any other betting practice (with the exception of Keno) that you can name. But horse racing betting fans don't have to rely on anyone but themselves to make the line and no one ever complains about vigorish when they're winning. Even more importantly, thanks to the option of exotic parlay bets such as the daily double, exactas, trifectas, superfectas and the pick six, a life of leisure never is more than a bet or two away.
Admittedly, plunging into horse racing betting can be daunting and it's in the interest of those folks peddling services or goods to have you believe that splitting the atom is simpler than mastering a basic understanding of horse racing handicapping and betting. Actually, a grasp of three core race elements, speed, track bias and value, will put you on the right path to success. And that goes for any races – not just the big-time Triple Crown ones.
Observe The Speed
Years ago there were no speed figures so bettors handicapped the field largely on the quality of the horses they'd raced and beaten. Some people call this “class.” Those who rely on speed figures—and that's just about everybody nowadays—call it stupid. After all, one thing we know for sure is that the horse who runs fastest wins the race. So speed, and the way it's disseminated to the bettor through speed figures, matters. The key is not to find the horse with the highest speed figure in his last race but the horse that will post the highest speed figure in his next race. Easier said than done, of course, but examining recent form and attempting to discover which horses are improving and which ones are on the decline is a good place to start.
Equally important but far less understandable is track bias. Simply, track bias is the tendency of a racetrack to favor one running style or one position over another. Biases are caused by a series of atmospheric conditions, not the least of which is moisture in the track surface. There are two types of biases, tactical and positional. A tactical bias means that the racetrack is favoring a particular running style, such as on the lead or coming from behind. A positional bias provides an advantage to a horse based on his location on the track, either inside or outside. Often, the two biases work in tandem such as “inside speed” or “rallying wide.”
Biases can change from day to day, even race to race, so identifying a bias quickly is essential. If pacesetters that have a history of faltering are holding on to leads in the stretch, it may be an indication that the track is favoring front-runners. On the other hoof, if horses who have menaced from off the pace only to flatten out in the lane now are able to continue their rallies, that may suggest the track is kinder to closers.
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Horses who have run well against a bias, such as closing ground on a speed-favoring track or persevering on the lead under conditions more favorable to finishers, may be excellent plays when they catch a track bias that suits their running style. Conversely, horses that benefited from a favorable bias in their last start, may be vastly overbet in their next outing, often in conditions far less favorable to success.
Grasping the importance of speed and track bias is meaningless without a fundamental understanding of value. It's this concept, more than all others, that separate professional horse players from unsophisticated bettors. The way to approach a race is not to ask, “Who do you like?” Answering that question will almost always lead you to the favorite. The more appropriate question is “Who should I bet?” Making good bets, ones where the chances of a horse winning are greater than his odds, is far more productive than trying to select the winner of the race.
For horse racing betting fans, speed, track bias and value are the pillars of a successful approach to picking up betting units.