Handicapping Tip of the Day #36 – Mud vs. Slop

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Art Parker

Many players get caught up in the “off” track versus a “fast track.” That is a mistake. There is only one type of fast, but there are multiple versions of “off.” It is important to know the differences with the most important difference being a “sloppy” track as opposed to a “muddy” track. A sloppy track may have puddles of water on the top of the surface but the track is such that horses can have excellent footing. In fact, you will sometime see times for a sloppy track be as good, or better, than a fast track. A muddy track is a different story. Once the water mixes well with the packed sand, a muddy track is created and can be like ‘goo,’ or even soft-but-thick peanut butter. Normally the times on a muddy track are noticeably slower than fast or sloppy.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #35 – Start at the Start

by Art Parker

Saratoga starting gate

Good horseplayers investigate troubled trips when trying to determine the truth about a horse’s past. The best way to do this is by watching video tape replays. The best place to start watching and begin your analysis of a troubled trip is the start of a race. The first three seconds of a race can mean everything. A horse may be prohibited from his usual running style. A slight squeeze at the start can cost three-four lengths. Trouble can be found at any point in a race, but more trouble occurs at the start than anywhere else. And, when you view the start of a race try to get a view from every angle possible.

Related Article:

Racing’s Most Important Moment is When the Gate Opens – great insight on this topic

Handicapping Tip of the Day #26 – Recency & Claimers

Recency

by Art Parker, author of Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

When I was first learning to play the horses many decades ago, I was taught by a good friend to always consider recency. Something that is generally true with claiming horses, more so than allowance or stakes runners, is the need to have a recent race. My friend used a cut off of 45 DSLR (days since last race) for a claiming horse. Oddly enough, that eventually turned out to be the generally accepted time for a horse to be unraced and, hence, considered a “first time layoff” runner.

I pass on these types of claiming horses, who lack recent action, unless the runner goes for a trainer with a scorching hot first layoff record, which is another reason to keep good trainer records. To be successful at betting claimers it is important to distinguish between who “needs a race” and who is fit.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #18 – From Where are They Running?

by Art Parker

Break from Gate Editorial_659x378

Before you handicap a race do you ever ask yourself where they will run the race at that specific track? If you play the same track all of the time then you know where a six furlong race starts and finishes. And you probably know the configuration of all races at your home track. But in the days of simulcasting and playing on computers many players have failed to familiarize themselves with the configurations of all races at all the tracks they play. Some players may bet a horse that starts on the far outside, and that is not necessarily bad. But when that race starts extremely close to the first turn it is a big problem for those on the far outside.

Great historical races have funny nuances. The Arlington Million at Arlington and The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont both start on the turn. Some turf races at Santa Anita actually cross the main dirt track just before the stretch. The more tracks you play the more local knowledge is required. Take the time to know where they will run it before you bet it.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #16 – Favorites to Play Against

4 Times to Play Against the Favorite

by Glen S.

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Everyone loves to pick a longshot or tout a big price, but when is the time to actually bet on the longshot? I would base a longshot on the price of the horse that it will pay when he wins. A longshot is not a horse with a morning line of 10-1 that goes off at 2-1. Clearly the line maker made an error and I wouldn’t consider that a longshot.

Finding a longshot can start with the expected favorite in the race. We know the favorites win around 35% of the time and sometimes you look at the favorite and need to realize there is very little chance he gets beat.

Here are a few times to try and beat the public choice

  • The horse is trying something different, such as stretching out in distance, moving to the turf, trying an off track, etc.
    The runner is coming off a month or longer with no activity, e.g. workout.
    The favorite is dropping in class off a good effort, for example, a second place finish in a higher class maiden race.
    The race shape is against him, for example, a-need-the-lead horse with lots of other speed in the race.