Horse races are living, breathing entities with too many variables to name. Racing is an inexact science and results sometimes cannot be explained. That’s why it’s important to minimize the struggle to be successful by comprehending every aspect of how races are conducted. Let’s take a look at a few basic handicapping factors that hold true across most races.
- Pace makes the race.
Few statements in horse racing are more golden than this one. Pace refers to the rate, or speed, that horses travel throughout the course of the race. Just like humans, horses have their own unique styles.
- Early speed horses like to step on the pedal from the get-go. When they win, it is often because the others had to exert too much energy in an attempt to catch up and pass the early speed.
- Stalkers prefer to set up shop right behind the early speed horses. Typically, they will attempt to dispose of the early speed horses at the top of the stretch before trying to hold off the others.
- Closers drop behind the early speed and stalkers while conserving all of their energy for one late run. This is the hardest style with which to produce a win. Closers are at the mercy of how fast the early speed horses run and they often must dodge traffic.
Now that we know the three main running styles in horse racing, we can break down two terrific factors that will give you an advantage as you try to find winners.
- All speed is dangerous, but lone speed is deadly.
When only a single early speed horse heads to the front, it greatly increases the chance of that horse to win. A seemingly overmatched horse can make it to the front, set slow fractions, and draw away for the win. It happens every day; lone speed is a great equalizer.
When a horse is able to make it to the lead and relax without being harassed in the early stages of the race, he has reserves of energy for a late punch as well as a swelled up heart ready for a fight to the wire.
- Be wary of “need the lead” horses.
Early speed is a great weapon, but often times a horse is one dimensional and unable to pass foes. When betting a speed horse, handicappers must ask themselves two questions.
- Can this make the lead without so much pressure that he won’t be able to hold on for the win?
- Is this horse able to pass other horses in the event that he doesn’t make the front?
Straight Story is the poster child for this type of runner. He went gate to wire to win the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes last year, but burned money in three consecutive starts where he was taken off the lead. He was even defeated 23 lengths by New York bred company. Then, in his final start of the year, he was taken to the lead in the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes. He held on for a neck victory at massive odds of 38-1.
A horse that can win on or off the pace is said to have tactical speed. Most of the great horses throughout the history of racing had tactical speed.
We hope you learned a thing or two by reading this. Do you have a question? We would be glad to help. Just leave a comment below!