The Most Important Lesson You'll Ever Learn in Handicapping

By: Richard Reese

I remember the first time I went to the races. I was around eighteen years old and like a little child getting his haircut for the first time with an unfamiliar barber, toting a sharp pair of scissors.

I was scared entering the gates of my home race track because I didn't know a thing about horse racing, and the unknown can feel awful scary.

At that stage in my life I was armed with more innocent thoughts and still wet behind the ears, but experience is a great teacher.

The most important lesson you'll ever learn in handicapping is this: NOT EVERY HORSE IN A RACE IS IN FOR A TRY

When I first started handicapping the races I thought, if a horse is in a race, then of course it wants to win. Unfortunately, that is not how horse racing works.

In any given race you'll have horses that are outclassed, in for a workout by getting conditioned for speed or stamina, the horse is being raced in a certain way by the jockey to set it up for the upcoming race, wanting to be sold by the connections, or just in a race because the racing secretary needed more bodies to fill the card.

And those factors make it difficult to profit from the races because how do you know what horses are in it to win it and what horses are not going to even try?

You have to become a detective in a sense and look at the past performance lines of a horse and measure that against what the trainer is trying to do with his charge.

When you shift your focus of a horse being in a race to why a trainer put a horse in a race, then you'll start to see connections of who just might be there at the end and who is just window dressing.