A smart handicapper must always be aware of equipment changes. When a horse adds or removes equipment such as blinkers or bandages, this can have significant meaning. Knowing what this change means can give you a significant edge and improve your chances to win money at EZ Horse Betting.
What are blinkers in horseracing?
Blinkers are a piece of equipment that are used to restrict a horse’s field of vision. They are composed of a cloth hood and cups which sit behind the horse’s eyes. The cups can come in a variety of sizes. There are quarter cups, half cups, and full cups. The cloth to which the cups are attached is often adorned with the colors of the racing stable to which the horse belongs.
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The eyes of a horse are situated on either side of the animal’s head. This gives them a large field of vision. Each horse, however, has a few blind spots. One of these is directly behind the horse’s rear. Another is just a few inches below the nose. When objects such as other horses or humans suddenly appear from one of these blind spots, a horse can become spooked. Their flight animal instincts begin to take over.
Contrary to common belief, all thoroughbred racehorses are not high strung and tense. Many of the most successful racing horses are very calm and trusting of their handlers. Sometimes, however, it can become necessary to use blinkers in order to improve the concentration and focus of the horse so that it can better focus on the task of performing well in a race.
Why do thoroughbred trainers add or remove blinkers?
One of the most common reasons a thoroughbred trainer will add blinkers to a horse is to sharpen early speed. If a horse has been lagging behind in the early stages of a race or breaking slowly from the gate, blinkers can often help to focus the horse’s attention and help them to be more competitive.
The early stages of a race are very important in horseracing. Horses that fall far behind and trail the field most often do not win their fair share of races. It is a rare horse who becomes what is known as a deep closer. On the other hand, horses who are able to stalk the leaders of a race within a competitive distance such as two or three lengths often do very well. Blinkers many help these horses to produce more early speed and establish a better starting position.
When a trainer removes blinkers, the intention can often be to help the horse relax more during the early stages of a race and use less early speed. Some horses want to immediately burst to the lead. They use too much energy too fast and are unable to finish the race in contention for a win. Sometimes, trainers will remove the blinkers when a horse is “stretching out” or trying a longer distance for the first time. Sprints are races contested at 7 furlongs or less. Routes are longer than 7 furlongs and most often a mile or more in distance. It is important that horses and jockeys in these races are skilled in the assessment of pace.
It is also true that some trainers have their own reasons for adding or removing blinkers. Many times the move can simply be grasping at straws. You should always be aware of the trainer’s stats when making this equipment change. If the trainer wins frequently when adding or removing blinkers, this is a good sign that the horseman knows what he/she is doing.
How to know if blinkers are being added or removed
The best friend of the handicapper are past performance charts. These charts are often referred to as PPs. They are available in the Daily Racing Form and from other services such as Equibase for a modest fee. The PP gives information about the career of a racehorse in a snapshot. Those who like EZ Horse Betting can then compare the performances of all the horses in a race.
There are many key components in a past performance chart. One of these is a speed figure which is meant to establish a benchmark of how fast a horse has ran in the past. There are listings of recent workouts. Finally, there are notations of equipment changes. If a horse is adding blinkers, you will see the words BLINKERS ON in the PP. If blinkers are being removed, you will see BLINKERS OFF. This information is often located next to the horse’s name and is often in bold type.
Another facet of this information that you may see in some PPs is how well a trainer has performed when making this change of equipment. There will often be a small area which states the winning percentage of the trainer. In general, any winning percentage over 20% merits a certain amount of respect.
Betting blinkers on or off
First of all, you should determine if the horse has added or removed blinkers in the past. The past performances will provide this information. You can often see how the horse has responded before when a change was made to its equipment. If a horse has won in the past when adding blinkers, they may improve when adding them today. Similarly, if a horse has a history of performing better without blinkers, it may be wise to bet the horse today if the blinkers are coming off.
If a horse has been struggling to remain in contention early, adding blinkers may help the animal establish a better position today. If the horse has ran well in the past but simply been too far back to make a good run, the addition of blinkers could help the horse stay closer to the pace.
A horse that has been using too much energy in the early stages of a race could do a better job of conserving energy today if the blinkers are being removed. Sensing the presence of other horses might help him to relax and settle into a good pace.
Finally, you should assess the intentions of the trainer. This is done by observing their winning percentage with this move. If the trainer wins less than 15% of the time when adding or removing blinkers, it probably isn’t worth considering today. This trainer may be just trying different solutions to fix a horse’s problems.
If the trainer wins 20% or more of races in which blinkers have been added or removed, you should factor this into your handicapping. Such a high percentage reveals that the trainer is acting with intent. He is not guessing or trying to solve a puzzle. He knows that the horse will benefit from the change. You should give the trainer’s intentions respect.
Did you know that you can receive free past performances when you create an account and make a wagering deposit with one of our racebook affiliate partners? You can also access free replays of races. A smart handicapper uses all of the information available to them in order to make a good betting decision.