Harness Racing Handicapping Tips To Help You Pick More Winners

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

January 30th, 2013

First of all, the best tip I can give you is this: Know the tracks that you play. Know whether they're half-mile, five-eighths or a mile. Or in the case of Woodbine in Canada, seven-eighths of a mile. Distance of the track is the biggest factor in handicapping standardbred races.

Next, know the gait of the race. If the race is a trot, you have to give different consideration to post positions. While, on a half-mile track, the inside posts are usually the better ones, not in a trot. A lot of trotters really don't like to be in the 1 post and will balk at the start or go offstride from the 1 post. Look at the results for trots and you'll see what I mean.

Pacers don't seem to go offstride as often as trotters do. So, when you're handicapping a trot, look for the little x in the race lines, that tells you that the horse went offstride. If there are more than one or two, I wouldn't play the horse to win. Whether I'd use it in exotics would depend on its stats for being in the money.

When you look at speed, don't compare apples to oranges. Just because a horse has an impressive speed figure in its last race, doesn't tell the whole story. Look at the class level of the race where the horse has the high speed figure. Was it as high as the race it's in today?

If not, it might have gotten an easy pocket trip or benefitted from another horse going offstride or something. The only speed figure that impresses me is one that is high and was earned in a race with horses that are at or above the class of horses it's running with today.

Also look at the track condition in the race where a horse got a high speed figure. If it was sloppy or anything but Fast, and that figure is much higher than the horses's other speed figures, I get suspicious. If the track is Fast today, is the horse going to be able to repeat that figure?

Be leery of big favorites that are coming back from a layoff, even if they have a good qualifying race. Most harness horses need a couple of races to get back into form. How many times have you seen a good horse come back from a layoff, go off as the big favorite, start off well, and then fade? I've seen it happen hundreds of times.

Most horses coming back need conditioning and it takes at least two or three races to do it. Actually, this can work to the smart bettor's advantage. The crowd goes off a horse when it's the beaten favorite in a couple of races, so you can get better odds on the horse in its third or fourth race back from a rest.

Don't play a driver just because he or she has a good win percentage. But do pay attention when a good driver has a choice of horses and chooses one that is at higher odds than the other one. The drivers know the horses much better than we do. If a good driver has more faith in one horse than he does in another, so do I.

And finally, pay attention to driver/trainer combinations that do much better together than they do when they're paired with other drivers and trainers. Don't just look at their separate stats. Look at what they've done together. And pay particular attention to what they've done recently. Recency is everything when you're handicapping, whether it's dogs, harness horses or thoroughbreds.