Harness Handicapping With Inside Information

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

April 3rd, 2013

Harness racing is famous for small payoffs. Favorites win a lot and pay peanuts, especially on half mile tracks where post position is everything. But on almost every program, there are winners that pay double digits, sometimes triple digits, and someone makes a lot of money on these horses.

I wish I could tell you how to spot them every time, but I can't. I can, however, give you some situations where I've seen horses that I've picked win at big prices. You can look for these situations and, perhaps, cash in on a longshot or two if Lady Luck is on your side on that particular day.

When I handicap a harness program, I have a system that I use and it's become so much of a habit that I almost don't have to think about it. But while I'm doing that, part of my mind is on the lookout for possible longshots with a better chance of coming in than the oddsmaker gave them.

One way I do that is by keeping up with the stats for trainers. If you know where to look, you can find out much more than you'll find on the program that everyone uses to handicap with. I'm not going to reveal my sources, but anyone with a desire to know and a few hours on the internet can find the same sources I found.

When I handicap, I look at trainer stats for the year, the last 30 days and for the gait of the race I'm handicapping. At Monticello on April 2nd, there was a trot where one of the trainers has 22% for wins for the year. That's what will show up on most programs that the betting public uses to handicap.

But I happen to know that this trainer has a 5% for wins for the last 30 days and 9% for trots. Maybe her horse will win today, but maybe not, so I'll pass and look for a trainer who is better at trots and who has been doing better recently.

Most handicappers know that it takes a special talent to develop and train good trotters. Some trainers are better at it than others, so get to know the good trainers at each track. At Monticello, Gary Messenger's trotters are winning at a 22% clip over the last 30 days and are in the money over half the time. So he's definitely a trainer you have to consider in trots.

At Rideau Carleton, a Canadian track I play, there's a trainer named Copley who has an amazing 39% for wins with horses moving down. And that's out of 115 races, not just a few. His horses moving down are in the money two- thirds of the time, so you'd better have them in your exotics.

At Saratoga, when Jose Godnez claims a horse, give it a close look before you walk up to the betting window. He has 35% for wins and 70% for In The Money off claims there. Pair him with Bruce Aldrich and you have a pretty good bet.

You don't have to look for inside information, you can develop your own list by writing down which trainers win at high prices with horses moving up or down or off the claim. I used to do that and I did pretty well, but I'm getting lazy in my old age and would rather have someone else do it for me. The more you know, the more you win, in the handicapping game. So, find out as much as you can and use that information to find some good horses that the other bettors are overlooking.