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My (simple) horseracing wagering system

Updated: May 1, 2022

Let me start by stating that there is no guaranteed system when it comes to wagering on horse racing.

Betting on horse racing can be nerve-wracking, extremely complex, and very expensive.

Begin with the premise that any horse in a race can win.

The “odds”, determined by the amounts bet by the public, most of them unqualified to handicap anything, only point to the likelihood of favorites succeeding. But the horses don’t know that. And just like humans, they have good and bad days.

Now you can study for a long time to master the pace records (i.e. front runner, stalker, presser, closer), early speeds, bloodlines, finishing speeds, and the like and still find yourself losing plenty of dough.

But the adage ” You can’t see the trees from the forest” will kick in quite rapidly.

No amount of AI, computer betting systems, the plethora of “professional” handicappers, who are more than often wrong, can be 100% on the money.

Horses are animals, mostly high-strung with their own characters and quirks.

Riders are human and make mistakes, which is easy at the speed they’re going, up to some 44 mph, on a 1,000-pound animal.

Track conditions and weather vary, sometimes between races on the same daily card.

So it’s impossible to take the risk out of it.

I use and believe in logical fundamentals that are faster to apply and have provided me with healthy returns over some 25,000 bets in the last twenty years of wagering on US, Canadian and Australian tracks.

When I handicap a race, I focus on the following attributes:

  1. Does the horse consistently finish in the top four positions, especially in the last ten races

  2. Is the horse dropping in class, simply put racing for less of a purse than usual, hopefully against lesser horses?

  3. Is there actual race performance data on the horses, over and above workout times? Often, two-year-olds have never run a race before. I don’t bet on those races because it’s a pure crapshoot.

  4. Are the jockey and trainer well rated? That means a win percentage for both of 10% or better for each if possible.

  5. I rarely include in my wager, a horse that hasn’t run in the last four to six months. Workouts aren’t the same as fighting it out in a pack of other thoroughbreds.

  6. Quickly review the horse’s success at the distance of the race you’re betting on. Some horses do well at a variety of distances, others don’t. Some are distance specialists in fact, within a 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 furlong range. My general rule is going down in distance is usually better than the opposite.

  7. A wet or heavy track surface, especially when racing on dirt, can affect results and often allows lesser horses to do well.

This simple system allows me more time to get it right and avoid “overthinking” any given race. Having “I knew it, I had that horse in my notes” but not betting on it pays nothing.

I only wager using exactas and trifectas or what are called “exotics”. The risk is higher, of course, but they are the only bet formats that I’ve found return enough when you do win to cover the losses when you don’t.

The way I bet works by averaging my ROI over many wagers which requires a certain discipline.

I suspect many professional handicappers will read this piece and say I’m simplifying the process too much.

That must be taken with a grain of salt, since most of them struggle like everyone else.

And of course, absolutely refrain from placing side bets that drain your stake.

Finally, and this goes without saying, NEVER bet what you can’t afford to lose.

It isn’t referred to as gambling for nothing... although likely safer than investing in crypto currency.

The End



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