how to handicap thoroughbred horse racing

Handicapping thoroughbred horse racing involves predicting the most likely winner of a race using a combination of factors. These factors include the horse’s past performance, the jockey’s record, the trainer’s success rate, the track conditions, and the race distance. Handicappers analyze these factors and assign a numerical value to each horse, known as a “power rating.” The higher the power rating, the more likely the horse is to win. Handicappers also consider the “pace” of the race, which refers to the speed at which the horses are running. Horses that are able to set a fast pace and maintain it have a better chance of winning.

Handicapping Factors

Horse racing can be a thrilling sport, but it can also be a bit confusing for beginners. If you’re new to the game, you may not know how to handicap a horse race. Handicapping is the process of evaluating the horses in a race and trying to predict which one will win. It’s not an exact science, but there are certain factors you can consider to help you make informed decisions.

One of the most important factors to consider is the horse’s past performances. You can usually find this information online or in the racing program. Look for horses that have been running well lately and that have a good record at the track and distance of the race you’re betting on.

Another important factor to consider is the jockey. A good jockey can make a big difference in a race. Look for jockeys who have a good winning percentage and who are familiar with the track and distance.

Finally, you should also consider the trainer. A good trainer can help a horse reach its full potential. Look for trainers who have a good record of success and who are known for developing top racehorses.

In addition to these factors, there are a number of other things you can consider when handicapping a race. These include the weather, the track conditions, and the post position. The more factors you consider, the better your chances of making a winning bet.

Additional Factors to Consider:

  • The weather
  • The track conditions
  • The post position
  • The trainer’s record
  • The jockey’s record
  • The horse’s pedigree
  • The horse’s recent workouts
  • The horse’s equipment
  • The horse’s health
  • The horse’s owner
Past performancesHigh
Track conditionsLow
Post positionLow

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis plays a significant role in handicapping thoroughbred horse racing. It allows you to identify patterns and trends that can give you an edge when making your picks.

Here are some key statistics to consider:

  • Win percentage: This indicates the percentage of races a horse has won.
  • Place percentage: This is the percentage of races a horse has finished in the top two positions.
  • Show percentage: This is the percentage of races a horse has finished in the top three positions.
  • Average finish position: This is the average position in which a horse has finished in its races.
  • Earnings per start: This is the average amount of money a horse has earned per race.

In addition to these basic statistics, you can also consider more advanced metrics, such as Beyers Speed Figures and Timeform ratings. These ratings take into account a horse’s performance on different tracks and surfaces, and they can provide valuable insights into a horse’s true ability.

Win percentagePercentage of races a horse has won
Place percentagePercentage of races a horse has finished in the top two positions
Show percentagePercentage of races a horse has finished in the top three positions
Average finish positionAverage position in which a horse has finished in its races
Earnings per startAverage amount of money a horse has earned per race

By analyzing these statistics, you can get a better understanding of a horse’s overall performance and identify horses that may be undervalued by the betting public.

Pedigree and Bloodlines

The pedigree of a Thoroughbred racehorse is a detailed record of its ancestors, typically extending back for several generations. Bloodlines refer to the specific families or lines of horses that have been bred together over time to create a particular type of racehorse.

When handicapping a Thoroughbred race, it’s important to consider both the pedigree and bloodlines of the horses involved. Here’s a closer look at each:


  • Examines the ancestors of a horse to identify any notable sires or dams (parents).
  • Can provide insights into a horse’s potential for speed, endurance, and other traits.
  • Certain pedigrees may have a reputation for producing successful racehorses.


  • Focuses on the specific lines or families of horses that a horse belongs to.
  • Certain bloodlines are known for producing horses with particular characteristics, such as speed, stamina, or versatility.
  • Handicappers may look for horses from specific bloodlines that have performed well on similar tracks or under similar conditions.
Northern DancerSpeed, versatility, stamina
Mr. ProspectorSpeed, precocity (early maturity)
SecretariatExceptional athleticism, speed, stamina

Remember that pedigree and bloodlines are just one aspect of handicapping a Thoroughbred race. Other factors, such as form, track conditions, and jockey skill, also play a role in determining a horse’s chances of success.

Race-Day Considerations

When it comes to handicapping horse races on race day, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Weather: Track conditions can have a significant impact on race results. Rain can make the track sloppy, which can favor horses with experience on wet tracks. A dry track, on the other hand, is generally faster and can benefit horses with speed.
  2. Jockey: The jockey is a vital part of any racehorse. A good jockey can make up for a horse’s limitations, while a bad jockey can ruin a horse’s chances of winning.
  3. Equipment: Some horses need special equipment, such as blinkers or a tongue tie, to perform their best. Be sure to pay attention to any equipment changes that may have been made since the horse’s last race.

In addition to these factors, you should also consider the following when handicapping races on race day:

  • Morning line odds: The morning line odds are the odds that are released by the track before the race. These odds can give you a general idea of how the public is betting the race, but they should not be taken as gospel.
  • Recent races: Pay attention to how the horse has performed in its recent races. This can give you a good idea of the horse’s current form and fitness.
  • Race comments: The race comments are short notes that are published in the racing program. These comments can provide valuable information about the horse’s recent workouts and performances.
Track ConditionsMedium
Morning Line OddsLow
Recent RacesHigh
Race CommentsMedium