Horse Racing Handicapping With Earnings Per Start As A Factor

Class is perhaps the most difficult of all handicapping factors to quantify. Some people think it is a combination of the level a horse raced at and also how well the horse fared in the race. There are some who feel that speed is the real measure of class and that horses dominate others by simply running faster and running the competition into the ground.

One method of determining class is to divide the total earnings by the number of races run. For instance, Horse A has had ten races and earned $100,000. Horse B has had 15 races and earned $185,000. Which horse has earned more per start? Simply divide $100,000/10 and $185,000/15. Horse A has earned an average of $10,000 in each race while Horse B has earned $12,333 per start. Clearly Horse B has been earning more per start so no matter how difficult the races it faced compared to Horse A’s races, it performed better.

This is a useful way to measure class when the horses are of about the same age and have had similar backgrounds and campaigns. It gets dicey, however, when the horses vary in age and the number of races is significantly different. Usually the purse value is higher for a young horse as it works its way through state bred races with softer fields and juicier purses. Once it hits open company and no longer races in races with purses that are subsidized its earning per start may begin to fade.

Even though said horse is racing at a higher level, the purses are lower and the competition is tougher. Perhaps a better way to gauge class by earnings is to look at each horse’s first ten races. Another possibility, if they’ve raced enough, is to only look at races where they’ve competed in open company. If the information is available you may try using their earnings in their last five races.

It appears that there are two cases where this method may be more accurate. The extremes of horses with many races and horses with very few races seem to fit the bill. Therefore we will probably find it most useful when handicapping older horses and very young horses. Like any other method of measuring class, however, this too will prove to be only an estimate. Horseplayers who handicap enough races sometimes develop a sense of class and can spot a young horse that is going to move up through its conditions and the ranks quite easily while others will slowly move through the non-winner races until they hit the open claiming ranks where they will have a mediocre career.

The Best Bet in Horse Racing Handicapping For Beginners and Novice Horse Players

Other than getting a good tip on a horse from someone in the know, there are some bets that traditionally offer a better chance of winning and making money betting on the horse races, especially if you are a beginner or have limited experience handicapping horse races. Upon entering any race track the horse player is presented with a multitude of opportunities for wagering on almost any race. There are the traditional flat bets like win, place, and show. Then there are exotic bets such as the daily double, exacta, quinella, trifecta, superfecta, pick three, pick four, pick six, place pick nine, and others.

It is nice to have so many choices but that can be a trap for the beginner. Seeing a large payoff on an exotic bet, such as the superfecta in the Kentucky Derby that paid over half a million dollars, can encourage a bettor to wager on the exotic wagers and to forsake the less exciting flat bets.

But there are several pitfalls inherent in the exotics, especially if you have limited knowledge of betting and making money from your bets. if you are just gambling for fun, then by all means, swing for the fences, as they say, and go for the big exotic, but just realize that hitting the truly big payoff is almost as difficult as hitting the lottery. But if you would like the nice warm feeling of leaving the race track with more money than you entered with, the flat bets are a much better deal.

One of the reasons that flat bets are good bets is that you can tell what you are getting and what the bet pays. That means you can make a fair judgment as to the actual value of the bet. Even a person with rudimentary horseplaying skills will sometimes see the odds and think to him or herself, “That horse would be bet down more than that, that’s a good deal!”

When that occurs, it is a golden opportunity to make a profit. Put enough of those situations together and you will be a winning horseplayer, no matter how much experience you’ve had. Another reason that the exotics aren’t as good as the flat bets, is that the takeout, or “vig,” as it is sometimes called, is higher on the exotics in most situations. That means that the track takes more money out of the pool before the winners of the bet are paid, so you are paying more for the privilege of making the bet. Over time a higher vig, even just a few percentage points higher, can really add up and eat into your winnings.

If you find the flat bets too boring and really feel you must play the exotics, I advise you to find a horse that seems to be going off at good odds, compared to its form, and wheel it in one of the exotic pools. if it truly is an overlay, the exotics may pay well and you will not lose because you failed to figure out which horses to use to complete the bet. So the win bet is by far the best bet for a beginner or novice, followed by the wheel bet in the exotics.

What is a Good Profit From Horse Racing Handicapping Or a Reasonable ROI?

Many people ask, “How much money can I make betting on horse races?” While many people struggle to make a profit from horse racing handicapping and betting on horse races, few people have a realistic idea of what can be expected and how much profit can really be achieved. Horse players often talk about R.O.I. or return on investment (ROI). Simply put, it is the percentage of return above your initial investment. So if you spend $100 on a win bet and get back $125 your ROI is 25%.

So how do you know what a good ROI is and what you can expect? First of all, when comparing investments, you must look at competing investments and also take into account the amount of risk and work involved. Handicapping horse races is time consuming and therefore, you must pay yourself for the time you spend handicapping. You can pay a professional such as myself, to do some of the handicapping, which means you’ll have to spend less of your own time, but in the end, you’ll still have to spend some time researching and putting some thought into how you bet.

If you buy stocks or make any other investment, you have to do some research as well. You may have a broker who makes recommendations or a financial planner or analyst, but in the end, just as with the people who pay me to handicap races for them, the ultimate decision will rest with the investor. Many stock investors now consider 10% as a reasonable return on their portfolio.

How much you can make on horses will vary from week to week, but your yearly average may be better than the stock return, but also much riskier. When it comes to horse handicappers, even the pros have their ups and downs and you have to look at the long haul to get an accurate idea of what is reasonable. For instance, the weekend of June 11th (I work in three day weekend blocks and send a newsletter with the information for each three day block) my key horses made a profit of over 80% ROI. That is very high, but the next week the profit on the same kinds of bets was way down.

In the most recent weekend, June 25th 2010 to June 27th, 2010, my top picks made a flat bet profit on win bets for thoroughbred bettors of 22% ROI, while bettors who played my top picks in harness races on half mile and 5/8’s mile tracks received 11% ROI. There are no guarantees in betting on horse races and it would be reckless of me to guarantee a profit or to try to predict how much profit to expect because of the volatility of the market.

Overall, however, it is safe to say that at times horse racing bettors may see a higher rate of return than bettors in other markets, but they pay for that possibility with a much higher risk.

The Safest Bet in Horse Racing Handicapping

Do you know what the safest bet in horse racing is? Maybe I should clarify what I mean by safe. When I write the safest bet, I mean a bet that has the highest expectancy of winning and the least of expectancy of diminishing your bankroll.

One doesn’t necessarily equal the other and you will understand what I mean if you’ve been betting on horse races for a while. Just because you hit a winner quite frequently with a bet, it doesn’t mean it won’t diminish your bankroll and just because you have a bet that won’t quickly diminish your bankroll doesn’t mean you will cash on that bet frequently.

Some people may choose the show bet as the safest bet. The show bet, particularly on the favorite, is a bet with a pretty high rate of coming in, but there are all kinds of favorites. There are luke warm favorites at fairly high odds, like 5-2 or even 3-1. Those types hit the show payoff much less frequently than the 2-5 favorites.

Horses at extremely low odds, like 4-5 or less, often pay to show, but the payoff is often rock bottom because there is a negative pool. If you earn a nickel on a dollar with these types, you are lucky and then factor in the occasion horse that disappoints and you will soon be asking, “Where is the profit?”

Using Dr. Z’s formulas, you may make a small profit on these types of high percentage bets, but you will have to risk a lot to get a little. I’m not knocking Dr. Z or his bets, he already proved they work, I’m just saying that you will have to make very large bets and risk a lot of money for a small return.

One of the problems with show betting is that breakage takes a piece of you three times. That’s a heck of a price to pay. In the long run, taking a shot at win bets on those 2-5 runners may be the way to go, but statistically, you will still be a loser in the long run.

So where is a safe bet? There is no truly “safe” bet because placing wagers on horses is risky and that is why they call it gambling, however, there are safer bets. My favorite bet is to find a horse that has done what is being asked of it and is the only horse in the race who gets a check mark in each of the following criteria…

1. won at the distance before

2. won at this class level before

3. raced within 30 days and was within 2 lengths of the winner at the finish

4. won at this level and distance with this jockey and trainer

5. is racing against 3 year olds and up

This is an absolute gold mine of a bet. Doesn’t come along that often, but when it does it is amazing how often the horse isn’t a favorite.

For my money, it is the safest bet in horse racing and with all the tracks available through simulcasting, you should be able to find enough bets to make your days profitable.

What Are Paper Bets and How Can They Improve Horse Racing Handicapping Betting?

Betting on horses is a skill and therefore requires practice, lot of practice. Handicapping horse races is sometimes called an intellectual sport, like chess. I couldn’t agree more. You might also compare it to golf, in that it is very frustrating and can ruin a perfectly beautiful day outdoors, okay that was tongue in cheek, however, I think you understand what I mean. Handicapping horse races requires practice in order to develop the skill necessary to make a profit from your wagers.

But how do you practice making bets on horses? Paper bets are on method of handicapping and then deciding what your bets would be and making the bets by writing them down on paper. While actually making bets with real money can be thrilling, it can also be expensive. Think you’ve got the horse racing game beaten? Ready to go to the track and clean up? How about testing your theory on paper first?

If you think you are a good handicapper and bettor, try handicapping the races and making 50 paper bets first. Be honest with yourself and write them down and do not change them, once they are on paper. Consider it the same as if you actually handed your money to a teller and you are unable to change the bet.

To put a little more pressure on yourself, and to make it more realistic by being stressful, which real gambling is, by the way, make a commitment that you will not make a real bet until you can show on paper that you made 50 bets and they showed a clear cut profit, no ifs, ands or buts about it. With the possibility of not being able to go to the track or make any bets until your paper bets show a profit, you will quickly learn to weed out those “iffy,” bets and start betting like a true professional.

With that said, however, let me caution you about something else. In horse racing handicapping, as in life, things seldom work out in real life as they do on paper. Therefore, just because your paper bets seem to make a profit, don’t mortgage the house and put it all on your latest system. Slow steady and moderate is the way to make money by using any horse racing system or ability that you may have. When you are betting with real money you will find that you think differently and bet differently.

The whole idea of making the commitment that you wouldn’t go to the track and bet real money unless your bets paid off on paper was to put some real pressure on yourself. There will be real pressure on you when you bet with real money, so getting used to that pressure and seeing how it will affect your betting is very important. The most important lesson to be learned from paper bets, is not only whether your handicapping skills are good, but whether you can take some pressure and still make money betting on horses and the only way to do that is to have something to lose if your paper bets fail to show a profit.

if you don’t want to make the commitment about going to the track, make the commitment about something else that you really enjoy in life and don’t want to give up. Tell yourself that you will give it up until your paper bets make money and then stick to it. Like I said, you will soon learn just how tough it is to make money betting on horses and how you handle that kind of pressure.