How to Spot a Burn Out in Race Horses

Thoroughbred racehorses are athletes. They train and they compete. They are susceptible to injuries from competition. One of the other things they are also prone to suffer is burn out. A horse can become fatigued from racing too often. When this happens, this horse is unlikely to win even though their recent record shows that they have a strong chance. The fan of EZ Horse Betting can put money in their pocket when they learn how to spot burn out in race horses.

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Signs of Tiredness in Race Horses

There are ways to tell if a horse is too fatigued to compete. You can obtain this information from looking at a horse’s record, but you can also spot signs of tiredness by looking at a horse in the paddock before they race.

A horse that is tired may appear listless and walk in the paddock with their head down. These horses tend to show a general lack of energy. A well-rested horse will appear to be “on its toes.” This means that the horse has its head up and is walking spryly. Another giveaway is the ears of a horse. A horse with its ears laid back against its head is evidencing its discontent or unhappiness. Pinned ears can mean that the horse is in pain, but they can also reveal fatigue.

The coat of a horse is another sign. A horse that is in good health and good spirits will tend to have a shiny and bright coat. There may even be small spots that look like water drops which appear on the hind of the horse when it is in the sun. These are called dapples and they indicate good health. A horse that is dappled out is feeling good and ready to race.

In contrast, a horse that has no dapples and has a dull coat is not at its best. The horse may be suffering from an ailment or it may just be tired. You should pay attention to these things when you observe horses in the paddock before a race begins.

Observing Horses Online

Many of our readers do not attend live racing but choose to be at an online racebook. These individuals do not have the opportunity to watch horses in the paddock like those people at the track, but they can still observe thanks to the live simulcast feed from the track which is streamed on the racebook website. All you have to do is pull up the track you want to observe once your are logged into the racebook. You will see live video of the horses as they prepare to race.

You might not be able to get as good a view of the coat as those who are at the track, but you can observe the way the horse walks in the paddock and you can also be alert for any signs that the horse is being uncooperative. Also pay attention to how the horse stands when being saddled. You don’t want to see the horse refusing the saddle or misbehaving.

Bad Behavior Can Indicate Burn Out

Horses do not have the ability to express their feelings in words. They cannot say, “I am tired.” Actually, they can say that in other ways. One of the ways a horse may indicate it is burned out on racing can be to act out in a manner that is uncharacteristic of its usual behavior.

Contrary to popular opinion, the great majority of race horses are not poorly behaved. They are actually quite disciplined. Of course, there is the rare example of the horse which doesn’t like people and is ill-tempered. But this is the exception, not the rule. A horse that acts up can be trying to communicate that it is tired and does not want to race.

What are examples of bad behavior? A horse may give its handlers problems in the paddock. It may rear and strike out at those who are trying to saddle it. The horse may attempt to unseat its jockey before a race. Finally, it may balk at entering the starting gate when the time comes. If you know the horse and have seen it race before, you will probably be able to recognize when it is behaving badly. Take this observation seriously, especially if the horse is one of your selections for the day.

Using the Past Performances to Determine Burn Out

Another way you can determine burn out is by looking at the past performances to analyze a horse’s recent record. The first thing you want to look for is how often the horse has raced. There was a time when it was common for a horse to race more than once per week. This is not the accepted practice today. Trainers are loathe to enter their horses more often than every few weeks. Higher quality horses may go a month or more between races.

If you see a horse has been racing very often, there is a chance that the horse can become tired. This is one of the reasons the Triple Crown is so hard to win. The horses in the even must race at three different distances and three different tracks in a little over a month. The schedule can take its toll on even the strongest horses.

Cheap claiming horses will naturally run more often than stakes horses. This is because the claiming horse must pay its way by winning purses for its owner. Claiming horses are the blue collar stars of the race track. The majority of racing events on any given day feature these horses. Sometimes, a trainer will need to earn purse money to pay his or her employees and buy feed for their horses. This can push the trainer into running the horse too many times in a short span. It is not uncommon today for track stewards to intervene and prevent this from happening. They must look after the welfare of the horses.

As a general rule, you do not want to see claiming horses run more than once every two weeks. Allowance and stakes horse should be competing once a month on average. More frequent races than this can indicate that the horse may be getting tired.

Using Speed Figures to Determine Burn Out

Since Andrew Beyer introduced his famous speed figures, handicappers have been analyzing them for patterns. One of the most prominent patterns that can be observed in speed figures is a pattern called three-and-out. This pattern lends itself to a theory that a horse cannot improve its speed figure four times in a row.

Here’s an example of what a three and out pattern would look like for Horse A. These are the dates and speed figures it has ran in its most recent four races:

  • April 1—67
  • April 10—69
  • April 30—72
  • May 13—51

There are a few things we can determine from looking at this pattern of speed figures. The first thing we see is that the horse raced three times in April. Even for a claiming horse this is extreme. Nevertheless, the horse improved its speed rating throughout April. It was running well and finishing good. Then, in May, the horse dropped its speed figure to a 51 and was beaten with ease. What happened?

The three-and-out theory says that a horse cannot improve its speed figure four times in a row. The fourth outing will likely result in a “bounce.” A bounce is a handicapper term for a poor performance. There can be many reasons for a bounce, but the three-and-out theory leans toward fatigue as the reason. If a horse improved its speed figure three times in a row, it was likely giving its best effort and pushing itself to a high degree. The horse may have expended its resources and need a break.

There is a reason why major league pitchers do not play every night. Managers know that they can only start their pitchers every few days. During the course of a long baseball season—more than 160 games in MLB—players will occasionally be given a few days rest. The same can be said for basketball players. This is also necessary for race horses.

How to Win Bets by Spotting Burn Out

You are probably saying that learning how to spot fatigue is great, but how can you make money with at the online racebook. The idea here is to eliminate tired horses as betting selections, and therein is one of the golden rules of handicapping:

EZ Horse Betting Handicapping Tip

Winning money at horse racing is not always about picking winners. It is often about eliminating losers.

If the average race has eight horses in it, seven of them are losers. The more losers you can identify before the race starts, the less horses you have to pick the winner from. Narrowing down the field to identify the true contenders in a race will improve your chances of winning.

You should start by removing horses that have displayed burn out in the way they look or the way they have recently performed. If a horse behaves badly, eliminate it. If a horse is listless, eliminate it. If a horse has improved its speed figures three times in a row, eliminate it. You will then narrow down the field and have a better chance of finding the winner.

This method of handicapping can produce some nice longshot winners. Longshots are what you need to make a profit at the track. If the betting public has made a favorite of a horse that is burned out, the other horses in the race will have longer odds. This can produce a big winner.

Why not check out one of our recommended racebooks right now? You can apply this method of handicapping when you create an account. It takes only a few minutes to sign up and you will receive a nice welcome bonus in addition to free handicapping tools.

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