The student of EZ Horse Betting can rely on many factors to pick winners and win money from horse racing at an online racebook. Perhaps no other factor is as important as present form. To evaluate the present form or condition of a race horse means to determine if it has the physical ability to compete at a winning level. You must learn to look at many aspects to perfect this handicapping angle. Here are some insights that will help you with betting present form in horse racing.
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What is Horse Racing Form?
A horse’s form is equivalent to its level of physical conditioning. It represents how fit a horse is, how healthy a horse is, and how prepared a horse is to compete. Looking at form gives you a complete picture of a horse’s ability.
Form in horse racing is much more than fitness, but fitness is a huge part of it. You could compare this to a boxer or MMA fighter who is preparing for a tough bout. The boxer needs to train and prepare for ten or more rounds of fighting. If they are not prepared to go the distance, a boxer with more stamina may easily defeat them.
Horses must also keep themselves fit by working out on a regular basis. They must have plenty of gas in the tank, to use a popular phrase. Horses that are not fit cannot run a mile or even shorter distances. Yet, as important as fitness is, it is only a part of the overall equation.
Health is another important aspect of horse racing form. Is the horse suffering from ailments that could compromise its performance? Possibly. Unless you are an employee of a racing stable, learning how to spot health issues can be difficult. Many trainers will go to impressive lengths to conceal injuries and other ailments.
Preparation is also key, especially in major races. It is important for the handicapper to learn how to evaluate the different measures trainers take to prepare their horses to compete. These can include workouts that are specifically designed to sharpen speed, changes in equipment, or the addition of various medications like Lasix.
Evaluating Fitness of a Race Horse
Your best indicator of present form where fitness is concerned is right there for you in the past performances. PPs are critical to the handicapping process and may be found in copies of the Daily Racing Form or at Brisnet.
You want to begin by looking at the most recent three races of a horse. Ideally, you would like for these races to be within the past two or three months. For claiming horses who run much more often, you would like to see then within six to eight weeks. For present form, going back to far is pointless. How well a horse raced a year ago will not tell you much about how well it will run today.
In those three races, where did the horse finish? If it won or placed second or third, your job is pretty easy. A horse that has recent strong finishes on its record is one to respect. Similarly, a horse that has been badly beaten in its last three outs is easy to eliminate today. But often the information is not this cut and dried. What you will frequently encounter are horses that have finished 4, 5, or 6th in recent outings.
Even though these horses have not won, their form may be good. You must start by asking yourself if they ran creditably well under the circumstances. Were they within three lengths of the winner when the race finished? Were they stalking the pace and positioned well during the early stages of the race? Did they make up a lot of ground in the final stages and pass other horses as they approached the finish line?
Assessing form for these horses is subjective. You have to apply a little intuition. Practice at this art will sharpen your skills. Make your assessment and then keep a notebook of how well you judged the form. You can easily do this by seeing how a horse ran in its current race.
Evaluating Health of a Race Horse
Did you know that many tracks will allow spectators to watch the morning workouts of race horses? You can sit in the grandstand with a pair of binoculars and make your own evaluations about how well a horse is feeling.
There are a few ways to look for soreness in a race horse. One of the most valid is a short stride in the rear. When horses walk or run, their back hooves should fall in the place that was just vacated by their front hooves. If the rear hooves are falling short of this mark, soreness could be the reason. If a horse is short striding it may not be physically able to compete.
But what about the general health of a horse? There are a few things to look for. One of the most reliable is a nice, shiny coat. A horse’s coat is a good indicator of its overall health. Healthy horses will have a coat that glistens in the sunlight and looks slick. A horse will a dull coat can be suffering from general health issues. Another great sign involving the coat is dapples. Dapples are small circles which appear on the hind end of a horse in the sun. These little markings can mean a horse is well cared for and feeling good.
Finally, the dreaded kidney sweat is a bad sign for race horses. This appears between the hind legs just below the horse’s private parts. It looks like a sudsy white lather. The presence of lather can often reveal nervousness or other health issues.
You should also look at the workout information that is posted in the past performances. Look for unusual workout patterns or gaps in the training schedule. If the horse suddenly stops working out when it has been doing so regularly for a while, there may be a problem.
Evaluating Preparation of a Race Horse
Your best manner of evaluating how a horse has been prepared is information in the past performances. You need to look at recent workouts and recent races.
For recent workouts, do you note any differences in the normal pattern such as a change in distance? For example, if a trainer has been working out his or her horse regularly at six furlongs and is working out at four furlongs today, what does this mean? It could mean that the trainer is trying to sharpen the horse’s ability to sprint. If the horse then shows up in a sprint race, it could be well-prepared.
Some trainers also like to uses races to prep for more important events. You might see that a horse has just finished second in a high-level race before entering a stakes race today. That prior race may have been designed to prepare the horse for its more important race.
The best thing you can do to evaluate preparation is to spend a little time studying the methods of various trainers. How have they tended to prepare horses in the past? Give this some strong consideration when you handicap.
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