Handicap Quicker & More Efficiently with The One Minute Handicapper

The One Minute Handicapper introduces the ground breaking “BETTING SITUATION” concept and makes it quick and easy for any handicapper to apply the proven concepts to an entire card.

This innovative and unique concept is easily understood and profitable. First, let’s begin by stating that the “BETTING SITUATION” concept is NOT a system – instead it is the heart and soul of a book written by lifelong handicapper Frank DiTondo. It does not re-invent the wheel. But it is a time-tested, proven method, using the same readily available past performances, tote board and official entry information as the Pro’s. Most importantly, The One Minute Handicapper (OHM) will teach you how to consistently pick winners! The OMH book was turned into a powerful handicapping software package that uses the $1 BRIS PP data files.

The One Minute Handicapper book and software

The Complete Handicapping Value Software Package

Includes Everything Listed Below:

  • Betting Situation Worksheet Software
  • Betting Situation Worksheet Software User Manual
  • 384 Page One Minute Handicapper E-Book – purchase it today for only $14.97 (FREE s/h) Instant download.
  • OMH Reusable, Damp Erase Workbook with Damp Wipe Marker
  • 180 Custom Designed, Pre-printed and Notebook Ready OMH Worksheets
  • 20 Custom Designed, Pre-printed and Notebook Ready OMH Tally Sheets
  • 5 Pack of OMH Damp Erase Markers!
  • Shipped with Delivery Confirmation

Everything You Need to Begin Picking Winners like never before! The powerful OMH Software uses the $1 BRIS data files, so handicapping an entire card is also very affordable!

Featuring the Betting Situation Worksheet Software
Scrupulously designed and programmed, this uniquely innovative OMH Worksheet Software Program is to the best of our knowledge the only handicapping program of its kind and a technological masterpiece.

Automating the completion of the invaluable OMH Worksheet, this truly user friendly program was carefully designed to eliminate overlooking any valuable OMH Betting Situations and save time by acting like a handicapping GPS to create a “Betting Situation” Worksheet road map to profitable wagering, with the TOUCH of a key.

TWENTY-TWO Betting Situations!

The OMH identifies 22 easy to spot “BETTING SITUATIONS.” It makes the past performances less intimidating and easy to read. The concept is actually very simple! The more Situations you learn to identify, the “Bettor” your chances of picking the winner! You will be introduced to an innovative, one of a kind, user friendly, BETTING SITUATION WORKSHEET, showing you how to create an easy to follow road map to simplify the handicapping process and make profitable betting decisions. When you use the Worksheet, the winner will virtually “jump off the page.”

“Frank DiTondo has created a fabulous software program that takes the concepts of his book and makes it easy to analyze an entire card effectively in minutes. Any level of horseplayer can benefit from the One Minute Handicapper.”

— Rich Nilsen, publisher, 10-time NHC qualifier, and former captain of the profitable Players’ Pool syndicate.

Spot Exotic and Long Shot Wagers!

The One Minute Handicapper will show you how to spot exotic and long shot wagers with double and triple digit payoffs. You will learn how to identify a true Overlay and see how longshots like BLUESPEEDWHITELIGHT jumped off the Worksheet and pointed to a $119.80 winner. How Overlay led the author to winner MAGIC ALPHABET and a $532.50 exacta.

You will learn about the powerful, under the radar, rarely if ever talked about, long shot BETTING SITUATION gems, First Flash, First Time Lasix-1st Start and Reclaim.  How First Flash pointed the author to live longshot COO COLD BIRD, a $49.60 winner and to 12 other winning wagers, including 5 exotic bets. The OMH shows how the author was able to single out PERILOUS PURSUIT, a $35.40 winner, from 10 first time starters with 6 on lasix and how Reclaim led to LAROVERINA, paying $44.40 and CHEDDAR, paying $43.60.

“I understand and like the approach to The One Minute Handicapper. It’s a novel but great idea. I believe it can be a great tool in trying to make sense of the plethora of information in the DRF…”

— Donna Barton Brothers, Former Jockey, NBC Sports Thoroughbred Racing  Commentator & Horse Player Magazine Columnist

Separate Pretenders from Contenders

BETTING SITUATIONS take the guess work out of picking winning exotics. Classic examples of winning wagers are LIGHTNING POWER/PINCH THE CLOWN and a $141.40 exacta and POWERSCOURT/KITTENS JOY for a $281.40 trifecta. There was no magic and there were no secrets, its all in The OMH and BETTING SITUATIONSLIGHTNING POWER was 2-1 and KITTENS JOY 6-5. Both were favorites. The author cashed tickets on both.

The OMH will show you how to sort out the tidal wave of DRF and BRIS information, how to stop overlooking what counts and to separate pretenders from contenders. BETTING SITUATIONS will put an end to the too often heard, “I shoulda’ had it!” rationalized by, “There’s just too much to look at, too much to remember and not enough time.”

“Author Frank DiTondo’s One Minute Handicapper teaches new handicappers the proper thought processes to identify prime betting situations and reinforces those key handicapping tools to the long-time horse player in such a way it becomes second nature to cover all the bases before heading to the windows.”

— Jon Lindo, Throughbred L.A. Radio Show and Syndicated handicapper for: The San Diego Union-Tribune & North County Times

Save $20 today off the retail price when you order this powerful and unique handicapping software package today by visiting this page.


If you would first like to read the e-book, then please download the PDF version of The One Minute Handicapper right here for only $14.97. Instant download. Please note the Print version of this best selling handicapping book is completely sold out!

Purchase "The One Minute Handicapper" ebook for only $14.97

5 Point Checklist for Winners

by Rich Nilsen, AGameofSkill.com

Experienced handicappers know that the fine art of handicapping is not a science. It is more than a numbers game because humans and animals are involved. Horses are flesh and blood. They feel good on some days, not so good on others. Jockeys and trainers are humans and they make a variety of wise decisions and equally poor mistakes.

However, all too often, we fall into the trap of looking for the “magical” number or method to produce winners. There is no such thing. Playing the horse with the fastest speed figure last race will not work. Playing a certain post position will not work. Wagering on your favorite jockey will not work.

What works is having a proper procedure for handicapping the races. What I present here is a suggested five-point checklist.



One of the most underrated, yet one of the most relevant factors with horses is the distance of the race. Just like Olympic runners, horses have their own preferred distances. One of the biggest traps that handicappers fall into involves subtle differences in distance, e.g. 5 1/2 furlongs versus 6 furlongs.

Theses “small” changes in distance can be extremely important. The Kentucky Derby (G1) highlights this fact every year. Horses who win going away at nine furlongs are sometimes found huffing-and-puffing at the Derby’s ten furlongs.

The surface of the race can be just as important, be it on the turf or an “off” track. How a horse will perform at six furlongs on a fast track may be quite contrary to how he will run at eight furlongs (one mile) on an “off” track. This may be obvious to the veteran players, but one of the first questions a handicapper should ask is, “Is this horse suited to the distance and surface of this race?” If not, we are probably looking at a vulnerable runner or at least a horse you don’t want your hard-earned money.



The handicapper has more questions to ask. Is this horse capable of winning this race? Has he already been defeated numerous times under the same conditions? For example, if this is an allowance race for “non-winners of two races other than,” check to see how often the horse has lost this at this level. In my opinion, if a horse has lost this type of race five or more times, chances are he will not win today. It would take some type of serious change, for example a trainer switch or equipment change, for me to consider a horse who is a proven loser at the level. In general, proven losers are bad bets.

On the same thought, we must ask, “Is this horse fast enough?” The BRIS Speed Ratings, which are my preferred figures of choice, are very useful for identifying contenders and pretenders. Remember to keep in mind the distance and surface when analyzing speed figures. So what if the horse ran a 45 in that 9 furlong turf race last time out? Today, he is going six furlongs on the dirt. What was the figure the last time the horse ran under similar circumstances?

Improving form is another essential factor. A horse may be a few points slower than other rivals, but if the horse has undergone a positive change (e.g. returned sharper since a layoff), he may be fast enough to win today if he appears to be “on the improve” or has a good reason to improve.



Both the trainer and jockey are important, although the trainer, in my opinion, has a much stronger influence on the outcome. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the conditioners at the track is of extreme importance to serious handicappers. When runners change barns, via a claim or just a trainer switch, they will usually either improve or decline in form. Predicting this beforehand can give the handicapper a tremendous advantage.

Trainers specialize with certain maneuvers. Take the case of Southern California trainer Ron Ellis. This trainer is a very respectable 12% winner with first time starters. But Ellis is a sensational 30% winner at a flat bet profit with second time starters! His runners are not pushed hard in their debuts, but they are ready to fire big time in their second starts. Knowing situations like the one with Ellis are essential to horseplayer looking to turn a profit.

Jockeys are very important when it comes to rider switches and running styles. Certain jockeys tend to perform well when riding horses with a particular running style. Make it a point to notice how the jockeys on your circuit are winning. Are most of the wire-to-wire winners ridden by only a handful of jockeys? This is important to know when analyzing rider switches. Some of the best longshot winners have been a result of a positive switch to a jockey who utilized the horse’s running style.


Pace and Track Bias

The pace scenario of the race in question, as well as the prevailing track bias, go hand in hand. Handicappers should be in tune to the general bias at the track from their own notes and observations or from reliable sources that offer online reports. In other words, what type of running style and post position is preferred for this race? Does the runner fit this profile?

Serious handicappers will compare this knowledge to the recent track bias. If anything has changed during the course of the week, they will compensate for this change. For example, the inside posts may be ideal at this track, but if a sudden change in track bias has occurred (due to weather or other circumstances) then the astute handicapper will be the first one prepared to adjust…and consequently, profit.

Horseplayers should analyze each horse’s running style in respect to the track bias and the expected pace scenario. Is there a lone speed horse on this speed-biased racetrack? If closers are winning, then who has the best finishing kick? There are numerous scenarios, but the point is clear: Compare the horses in the race to what is winning on this racetrack.



Finally, demand value at the windows and don’t opt for a horse just because he is lower odds. A fellow horseplayer recently told me that he found an outstanding longshot based on solid trainer stats, but he only used the horse underneath in the exactas. Who did you think he use on top? He used the favorite who was ridden by the leading “big name” rider, because he felt that this horse would probably win. Of course, the longshot rolled to victory and the favorite finished second. The disgusted handicapper failed to cash on the race, even though he had pinpointed an excellent longshot. Sounds ridiculous, but haven’t we committed similar mistakes?

In summary, a handicapper’s best bet will pass the following checklist:

1 – The horse is suited to the DISTANCE and SURFACE.

2 – The horse is shows the ABILITY to win today’s race.

3 –  The horse has positive connections, especially in regards to the TRAINER.

4 – The horse fits the PACE scenario and TRACK BIAS.

5 – The horse offers VALUE on the tote board.

The ideal wager does not come along in every race or every day, but a horse worthy of “best bet” status should meet the above criteria. Best of luck!

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Rebel Without a Clue

Jude Feld, handicapper and bloggerby Jude Feld (reprinted with permission our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network)

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days at Oaklawn Park and broadcast the Rebel Stakes (G2). It is a beautiful little track, dotted with Bradford pear trees and redbuds and blessed with some of the nicest customer service people on the planet.

The Arkansas fans are loyal to Oaklawn and loyal to their hometown trainers and jockeys. They really enjoy the game and will talk your ear off about it if given the chance. Many of them know one another personally, as almost everyone has, “been comin’ to Oaklawn for years.”

Despite all this charm, I have never bet Oaklawn on a regular basis. My last trip there was in 1983, when I went to saddle Pewter Grey for the Razorback Stakes. Most of my life I have lived on the West Coast and the rest in the Eastern time zone. Central time zone tracks never seem to fit into my busy schedule.

I’m always careful when I go to a track I don’t follow. I love handicapping and I love horseplaying, but it is best when you are at a strange track to temper your enthusiasm for wagering, or at least your wagers, until you get a feel for the place.

Take less money. Remember, you are out of your element. If you were at your home track, you wouldn’t plunk down lots of cash on a first-time starter from an obscure barn, being ridden by a jock you’ve never heard of. If you don’t regularly play the track you are visiting, every bet is just like that. If you bet $200 a day at home, take $100 and be most careful on the first day of your trip.

Watch a few races. My Uncle Earl was not the racing aficionado that my father was, but he would often accompany my dad to the track. An engineer for IBM and very analytical by nature, he never made a bet until at least the fourth race. He liked to see how the track was playing, how the jocks were riding and just get an overall view of what was going on before he ventured to the windows. This is good advice on a racing vacation.

If you must bet, keep the wagers small and analyze the results of your handicapping. Most importantly, check for a track bias. The three days I was at Oaklawn proved to me that closers are at a distinct disadvantage and horses that make the lead into the stretch get home on top most of the time, especially in races using the first finish line.

Read the “Standings” page in your program. The leading trainers at the meeting have barns of quality and their horses have obviously been running well. The leading jocks have the best agents who have their pick of mounts. Let them guide you a bit. It doesn’t mean you have to turn things into a chalk fest, but be aware of the top players. During my recent Oaklawn visit, the leading trainer, Allen Milligan, popped with a first-time starter at a $132.80 mutuel!

Gravitate to the best races. Any horseplayer worth their salt knows that a Grade 2 stakes is much more predictable than a conditioned Arkansas-bred $7,500 claiming race. It is good to adopt an elitist attitude as far as handicapping on a racing vacation. The best races at almost every track, every day, are late in the card. Go easy on the early races and save your prime bets for the allowance and stakes races later on.

See the sights. Use every race that you pass as an opportunity to check out the facilities and talk to the fans. Go to the gift shop and get a t-shirt to remember your trip. Visit with the locals and get some insight. Take a trip to the paddock. Watch a race from the rail. Eat the track’s signature dish. (At Oaklawn it is the corned beef sandwiches.) Drink it all in.

Hay, I am all in favor of making a major wager when the opportunity presents itself, so if you fancy an overlayed steed at a track you don’t usually follow, “be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” The rest of the time, keep these concepts in mind. It is o.k. to lose your luggage, but don’t lose your bankroll.

Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy featured on Spiral Stakes Day

The Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy, a division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, is among the two official named charities of the 2012 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park on March 24. Last year Animal Kingdom won the Vinery Spiral Stakes in his final prep before upsetting the Kentucky Derby.

The KRTC oversees chaplaincy programs at Turfway, Ellis Park, and Churchill Downs, and employs five full-time chaplains.

As an official named charity, KRTC will have a race named in its honor, and will receive matching gifts in the winner’s circle from Vinery and Turfway Park, in support of the Turfway chaplaincy. It will also be receiving cash donations, and auctioning a selection of premium artwork and electronics.

“What a great opportunity to showcase a wonderful ministry,” said KRTC president Pam Sears. Turfway’s chaplaincy has operated a successful food pantry and clothes closet for many years, as well as worship services and pastoral counseling for workers on the backside.

Turfway’s chaplain, Tom Farley, had a long and distinguished career before his recent retirement, his successor to be named in the coming months, according to RTCA director Paul Ransdell.

The other named charity of the Spiral Stakes is the Blue Grass Farms Charities.

For more information about the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy or to support this wonderful cause, go to www.kychaplaincy.org or contact RTCA’s National Service Center at (859) 410-7822.

Racing Education for Newcomers

by Dave Markant

Everywhere I turn, I find that commercial entities are blanketing their marketplaces with FREE training for existing and potential new customers, whether their businesses are brick and mortar, or on-line.

Just in our local papers in the Rochester, NY area, I’ve seen free classes in various vertical markets, on topics such as the ones below, held or sponsored on a regular basis, usually directly on-site where their businesses are conducted, or on-line, or both:

  • Food chains on how to cook.
  • Fabric and crafts chains on how to sew.
  • Financial services firms on how to invest.
  • Auto insurance firms on how to drive safely.
  • Health care providers on how to stay well.
  • Funeral directors on how to plan for death.
  • Spas on how to relax.
  • Software developers on how to use their programs.
  • Travel agencies on where to go.
  • Universities/colleges on how to choose one.
  • Camera shops on how to take pictures and videos.
  • Home improvement chains on how to “build it yourself.”

Need I go on?

By contrast, what is being done by the thoroughbred racing industry that approximates what’s being done in other marketplaces?

The short answer is increasingly more, but nowhere near enough.  Why not?

How to InvestIn my opinion, because learning how to make a soufflé or building a deck is fairly simple vs. learning how to handicap, which is more akin to learning how to make a full formal banquet (vs. just a soufflé) or building your own house (vs. just a deck). Learning to such extents is through semester-long courses at some vo-tech schools or junior colleges. Certificates are provided to those who complete curricula to demonstrate competencies for customers who might need such services.

In casinos, racing’s formidable competitor, even if you don’t win on your first visit, every few minutes there’s enough ding-ding-dings within earshot and enough strobe lights flashing within eyesight to reinforce you (consciously or unconsciously) and whet your appetite for a return visit. Sure, a newbie to the racetrack might see huge payoffs on the tote board, on occasion, but there’s little audibility or visibility of anyone actually collecting. In fact, it’s likely that no one on track actually collected on the big payoff.

The short attention spans of the prime generations needing to be attracted NOW clearly don’t mesh with the degree of learning required to be reinforced positively enough to stimulate their desire to learn more and play more.

Much of this is due to the vastness and complexity of the information presented and the need to learn a second language (the language of racing). It just requires too much time those younger generations are unwilling to spend. I cringe when I hear on-air racing personalities say things like “this race is for non-winners of 2 other than…”  A more understandable alternative would be “this race is for horses who have not ever won two races, excluding races where none of the horses had ever won a race- (maidens), or races in which the horse was available for sale (claiming), or special races for horses which had been available for sale at specific $$ amounts, but were not available for sale in those races (starters)”. Yes, it takes that many words to translate the conditions lingo we old-timers take for granted into English. Even with the translation, an explanation would still be needed for most new players. Adding “b” elements to the race conditions makes the translation incomprehensible for some old-timers as well.

Some newbies to racing who hit a good-priced winner or exotic more out of pure luck will be motivated to try again, perhaps after learning a little more about the game. Most others will be lost to other forms of entertainment and betting where the learning curve is not so daunting. The lucky newbies will be lost as well when their luck runs out, unless they get positive reinforcement from what little bit more they learned since their first experience.

Most current racing industry commentators agree that education is part of the answer to the future vitality of the industry. Some are actually trying to provide more of it. But, I would hypothesize here that racing education without racing simplification is a non-starter. It can’t require a semester-long curriculum to get newcomers to the point of stimulating enough positive pari-mutuel reinforcement to hold their interest. Early classes in any such curriculum should focus less on the esoteric and arcane language of racing and more on the use of simpler tools to make initial wagering decisions. There are plenty of them out there. Call them public handicappers, or touts, or selection services, or purveyors of simple handicapping guides or whatever; some of them are good enough to get newcomers to the payout window early in their education.

The industry would do well to segregate the wheat from the chaff in the crop of such services through a performance-based certification program. Then, newbies could be guided toward proven professionals and away from shysters and con artists as a strategy to facilitate newbies’ successes early in their racing experiences.

Once the newcomers have been positively reinforced by the initial racing experiences, the motivational foundation has been laid upon which further education can be constructed.

In casinos, racing’s formidable competitor, even if you don’t win on your first visit, every few minutes there’s enough ding-ding-dings within earshot and enough strobe lights flashing within eyesight to reinforce you (consciously or unconsciously) and whet your appetite for a return visit.

To achieve the overall objective of restoring the racing fan base through simplification and education, I’ve drafted a proposed job description for Racing Simplification and Education Coordinator positions. This job description can be found at this link.

In order to provide the necessary funds to support the Racing Simplification and Education initiatives, I propose that the Coordinator positions be created under the authority of each state that has jurisdiction over racing, wagering, and pari-mutuel “takeout” mechanisms for their state. The full power of each state’s authority will also be needed to compel the fundamental changes in how racing information is presented, in order to accomplish the educational goals I have described for newcomers to racing. Don’t expect those who have reaped rewards from perpetuation of the status quo to consent voluntarily to simplification when their rewards have historically been based on complexity, inaccuracy, and obfuscation of racing information.

Yes, the old timers will squeal about any increase in takeout; however, their view may be ameliorated by the fact that this increase is intended to help insure the survival of the industry they love.

Additional contributions for financial support should be solicited from other industry organizations with a stake in the industry’s survival.  The Association of Racing Commissioners should provide executive board oversight of the program.

Further commentary here is welcomed.

FREE Online Tournament to follow Championship Event

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that it will host a free, online handicapping contest at ntra.com that will allow fans to follow along with the action at next week’s $1.6 million Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) at Treasure Island Las Vegas. In its 13th year, the National Handicapping Championship is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers.

The one-day “Play Along With the Pros” contest will offer a $1,000 prize pool to the top five finishers plus free 2012 NHC Tour memberships to the top 20 finishers. There is a limit of one entry per person. “Play Along With the Pros” will take place on Saturday, January 28, which is the second and final day of the NHC. Contestants must make mythical $2 win and place wagers on eight designated mandatory races. The eight races selected will be same as those chosen for mandatory play on Day 2 at the NHC. For more information, visit http://games.ntra.com.

Prize Structure for “Play Along With the Pros” contest:

$1,000 pool

1st: $500


3rd: $150

4th: $100

5th: $50

“’Play Along With the Pros’ is designed to expose the NHC to players who may not be familiar with the excitement of tournament play,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of the NTRA. “It also gives fans the chance to see how they stack up with some of the outstanding handicappers battling for the $1 million grand prize at Treasure Island.”

The NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. Tour members receive NHC Tour points for top finishes in NHC qualifying events held during the year. Registration for the 2012 NHC Tour will begin shortly.

Finishing 10th on the 2011 NHC Tour Leaderboard

Rich Nilsen, founder of AGameofSkill.com, finished the year in 10th place overall on the NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour leaderboard, based on 9,075 points. Designed to create added interest in handicapping tournaments throughout the year, the Tour is based on players’ best five finishes in contests. Tour membership costs $45/year from the NTRA, and this also gives players access to some free online tournaments during the course of the year.

Paul Shurman, an attorney from New York, accumulated over 13,000 points which earned him the title of the NHC Tour Champion. For his win Shurman earned the $75,000 grand prize. He is now eligible for a $2 million bonus as the Tour champ if he goes on to win the NHC at the end of the month.

“Winning the NHC Tour is certainly the highlight of my handicapping career,” said Shurman. “Many of the most respected handicappers in North America are Tour members and compete for the Tour championship.  It is very gratifying to know I can be competitive with some of the best and that on this occasion, I was fortunate enough to come out on top. Playing in handicapping tournaments and on the Tour has not only helped me hone my handicapping skills, but most importantly, has led to many friendships that I believe will last a lifetime.”

In past years Shurman and Nilsen were part of a 3-player expert panel that managed the Players’ Pool syndicate, a group wagering fund that would go after large Pick-6 carryovers.



First Things First – Part II

Understanding Race Conditions

by Rich Nilsen

As we discussed briefly last week, the first thing a handicapper should do when looking at a race is to analyze the “conditions” at the top of the past performances or program page. The understanding of race conditions and their importance is a basic handicapping principle that is overlooked by many horseplayers every day. What follows may be too basic for the experienced handicapper, but if reading the conditions of the race is not your first step before handicapping, then you will be well advised to read on.

There are two types of races for horses which have never won: maiden special weight races and maiden claimers. In maiden special weight races (MDSPWT) the runners are not eligible to be claimed, whereas in maiden claimers the horse is “for sale” at the listed claiming price. Not much buying goes on in maiden claiming races, since most horses are not usually worth the asking price. In other words, the horses are usually running at inflated prices. Generally speaking, the winner of a maiden claiming event, i.e. Mdcl $20,000 usually ends up competing at half that price in “open claimers”, $10,000 for example.

It is this reason that a maiden graduate at $20,000 will rarely repeat in its next start for a claiming price of $20,000. In addition, many experienced handicappers will not play a first time starter in a maiden claimer since it indicates a lack of confidence from the owner and trainer. One of the lowest percentage wagers in all of racing is a debut runner in a maiden claiming event.

Some maiden claiming winners and almost all maiden special weight winners will move on to the next condition – the allowance race for “non-winners of two races lifetime” (NW2). In allowance races the horse can not be claimed.

Race conditions header horse racing

The other entry-level allowance race is for “non-winners of one race other than” maiden, claiming, optional, or starter (NW1X). There is a big difference between these two allowance conditions, and many people overlook the significance. When a runner drops from a NW1X race to a NW2 allowance affair, take notice. This runner will likely be meeting easier competition because of the way the conditions are written. For example, a claimer with 15 lifetime wins, all in claiming races, is eligible to run in a NW1X allowance race but not a NW2 race. Inexperience is a big factor in any sporting event, so a horse with only one lifetime win is at a disadvantage against horses that have visited the winner’s circle many times, even if those wins came against claimers.

After a horse wins the first allowance condition, they must run in a race for “non-winners of two races other than” maiden, claiming, optional, or starter (NW2X). Some racetracks write races for non-winners of three races lifetime (NW3L), so this would be the easiest step up for the winner of a NW2 race. If a runner is able to succeed at either of these two levels, then non-winners of three races other than (NW3X) is the next step, or a non-winners of four races lifetime at some tracks (NW4L). A very small percentage of the racehorse population makes it to this level due to the difficulty of the competition.

The final step before stakes competition is either “open allowance” races with no conditions, or allowance races limited to earners of a certain amount of money since a particular date (NW$). Some tracks also write races for “non-winners of two races other than…in 2012” (NW2Y). There are various ways that these races can be written, but it is important to note that they are the most difficult races to win, with the exception of stakes.

Non-winners of two races lifetime is not only written for allowance races, but also for claimers at many tracks. This is also important to understand, because there is a big difference between a $15,000 claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime and a $15,000 open claimer. A hardknocking horse in the latter race will have little trouble beating a horse running at the conditioned level. As with maiden claiming victors, winners of conditioned claimers (NW2) often have to compete for roughly half the claiming level to succeed against open claimers.

With any of these race conditions, it can be helpful to note the number of attempts a runner has made at a certain level. If a horse has tried a certain type of race more than five times, he will likely need a drop to a lower level in order to win. For example, a runner who has faced NW2 allowance competition six or seven times without winning will need a drop to claiming competition limited to NW2 in order to win. A proven loser at a certain level is a poor bet and must be avoided by both the professional bettor and the casual racegoer.

Analyzing the race conditions should be the first thing that all horseplayers do when they first handicap a race. The race conditions dictate which runners are best suited to the type of race. Horse racing is a big money game and race conditions drive the decisions of track officials, jockey agents, and racehorse trainers. If you overlook the importance of the race conditions, one thing is for sure, you will be left at the gate come post time.


Mass. Track Suffolk Downs working hard for Casino License

Little Suffolk Downs in Boston, MA is making strides towards turning the racetrack into a much larger complex that includes a full-scale casino.

“We would hope that the strength of having 76 years as a responsible participant in the gambling business would be a factor in our favor,’’ said Chip Tuttle, COO of Suffolk Downs.

Tuttle conceded that even with modest improvements, racing is still fighting for survival, not only in New England, but nationally.

Read the latest update here.

Breeders’ Cup Wagering Manager Ken Kirchner

This is an insightful interview with my friend Ken Kirchner, who has managed the wagering and simulcast schedule for the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships for as long as I can remember.

“In 2000, the Breeders’ Cup was the first to add the pick four to the menu, and that’s now the most popular exotic bet in the country. We’ve experimented with head-to-head betting, future bets, jockey bets. We moved to reduce bet minimums, thereby giving more players the ability to cash in on the monster payouts offered every year at the Championships.”