Handicapping Tips # 7 – Consider the Favorite

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

The wagering public’s choice has been victorious at tracks across the nation  at a fairly consistent 32% win rate over the years. However, over the past decade or so I noticed that this rate continued to creep up. Smaller fields and a more informed public have certainly played a significant role in this increase. The bottom line is that the widely used 32% win rate for favorites is inaccurate by as much as 10% (35 vs 32 percent).

Below are the average win rates for the betting favorite, on average, at racetracks all over the country:

  • Favorites Win 35% of the time
  • Favorites Place (run 1st or 2nd) 55% of the time
  • Favorites Show (run 1st, 2nd or 3rd) 69% of the time

Consider these numbers the next time you play the races.   For example, if you are playing a trifecta wager, (selecting the top 3 finishers in order), is it a wise idea to just toss the favorite with no regard to the percentages? Considering that the typical favorite hits the board (show) nearly 70% of the time, the answer in most cases would be a resounding “No!”  You need to have a solid reason to toss the favorite.

The public choice, in most horse races, stands an excellent chance of finishing in the money. For that reason, I will often “use” the public choice in my wagers – somewhere – even if I am betting against him. It’s not just an insurance play. It’s playing the percentages.  If you throw out the favorite from a trifecta for no good reason, as in our example here, you’ll be wrong nearly 70 percent of the time.

Handicapping Tip #7

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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