If you’re brushing off your handicapping skills before the Derby, you might have a long way to go. There’s so many horses competing that it can be hard to pin down who you want your top horse to be. Even after the Derby is long gone, there will be great races to follow. That’s why starting to refine your handicapping now can yield big benefits in the future.
So, how do we set the stage? The daily racing form is a great way to look at all of the contenders, but today’s lesson is a bit of general theory. You have younger horses against older horses. Does youth win? Or does experience play a bigger role? Do you want to go with a horse that’s relatively untested, the wildcard, or do you want to go super conservative and pick a horse that’s already won a bunch of allowance stakes?
The choice isn’t easy, because you can go either way. It’s also a bit of a “false choice”, because age alone doesn’t mean much. Sure, a young horse has a bit more life in them, but this “life” is marred by inexperience. Simply put, the horse can be stubborn and not perform nearly the way that you wanted them to perform.
We advise making two groups in your handicapping drafts: the younger horses, along with the older horses. In the young group, you want to refine by looking at the performance of the jockeys, as well as the horse’s performance on different fields. There’s an inherent track bias that you need to keep aware of, and that bias can ruin a horse. Yet it’s not just about the condition of the track, either. (See why this can be complicated?)
You have to think about the horse’s endurance in general. You can look at the races they’ve won and then look at the track. Was it a speed race, or an endurance race? The longer tracks will bring out the horses that can go the distance, while the shorter tracks will reveal your sprinters.
As you begin to filter and refine based on historical data, you’ll realize that you’ll have more than a few horses in the running. It can be a lengthy process to narrow down the horses you want, but it’s worth it. If you are going to make sure that you practice conservative handicapping, you may want to avoid super exotic bets. There’s no need for a supertrifecta or an accumulator bet if you’re going to study the data. Sometimes, the “simple bets” can lead to the most money.