If you spend any time betting horses with an online racebook or making wagers at a live horse racing track you will learn about handicapping. You may come to believe that handicapping and betting horses are the same thing. It is true that the term handicapping has been used to describe making bets, but that isn’t technically correct. Here is a closer look at betting horses vs. handicapping.

The Horse Handicapper and the Horse Bettor

We should begin by establishing definitions for handicapping and for betting. This will help clarify the difference between the two as we move forward:

Handicapping is the art of using horse racing information to choose a specific horse to win a race.

Betting is making a wager on a specific horse or horses to win a race, WITH OR WITHOUT knowledge to support the bet.

A person can become a handicapper without ever making a bet on a horse race. The handicapper is someone who loves the intellectual challenge of picking winners in horse racing. They can pour over information for hours to find the horses most likely to win. They may then choose to bet their choices, but not necessarily. Check out the Betting Gods Review here.

Consider the official race track handicapper that is a part of every race track in the world. The official track handicapper is a paid employee who assigns the morning line, or starting odds, to horses in a race. That person is not likely to make wagers on the track, as this could be considered a conflict. They may or may not make private bets with an online racebook.  

A person that likes to bet horses may never take the time to examine the Daily Racing Form or past performances of a horse race. They may choose to bet based on the number of a horse or the color of a jockey’s racing silks. They may use a service to obtain picks for horse racing bets. Some people just do not like the idea of spending hours pouring over information and calculating figures.

Different Types of Handicapping

We mentioned that one type of handicapping is the work of the track handicapper. It would probably be fair to say that a large number of track handicappers also like to bet. Almost all of them are fans of horse racing in general.


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There are also other types of handicapping. One of these would be handicapping for a betting service. A betting service is one that sells tips and horse racing picks. Horse bettors pay a certain amount of money to receive picks. They they bet the picks at an online racebook. As you might imagine, the person who does this type of job for a living must be pretty good at handicapping. Some of them use software that helps to make the picks, and others stick to picking horses that are apt to be favorites at post time.

The Daily Racing Form employs a number of individuals who also could be considered handicappers. These are the reporters who follow a specific circuit and provide notes on horses, trainers, and jockeys. These individuals are not expected to be as accurate as some other handicappers, but they do have more knowledge than the average bettor. It would be very difficult for a person to immerse themselves in a specific racing circuit and not obtain valuable racing knowledge along the way.

Should You Be a Handicapper or a Bettor in Horse Racing?

Our personal opinion is that it would be somewhat foolish to make bets in horse racing without handicapping skill. Even when you use a betting service to obtain your picks, there is merit in being able to make your own opinions.

Let’s be honest. Horse racing betting is a hard game to beat under any circumstances. Even the best handicappers can only win a small percentage of the bets they make. It would be an even harder challenge if you did not have the skills to handicap a horse race.

With that being said, if you have found a way to bet horses without handicapping there is no one to say you can’t just bet. At the end of the day it all depends upon your personal approach to horse racing betting and how you want to do it. Let’s look at the advantages on either side of the argument.

As a handicapper you will be able to increase your knowledge about horse racing betting. You may be able to use that knowledge to even sell your own picks. The handicapper also has an edge when it comes to contests such as tournaments.

The bettor will spend far less time in choosing winners of horse races. That means more time to just attend the races and enjoy the sport. Bettors can also wager on more races than the person who handicaps. Betting on more races means more opportunity for profit, but it also means that there are more opportunities for loss.

Other Skills of the Horse Racing Bettor

As a horse racing bettor there are other skills that you can develop to help you win horse racing bets. One of these is money management. Knowing how to bet is just as important as knowing which horse to bet on. Beating the game long-term means that the bettor at least understands the concepts of value and bankroll management.

The bettor can also make use of other sources of information that the handicapper does not have access to. This can include inside information that can be gleaned from trainers, jockeys, and other race track employees. Of course, this means making contacts on the race track. One may not have the means to do that, especially if they don’t live near a live race track.

We would like to remind you that both handicappers and bettors can both benefit from betting with an online horse betting websites. If you are ready to begin betting today we suggest that you try out one of our recommended online racebooks. You could receive free money when you make your first deposit, and you can bet horses with a computer, phone, or tablet. Check our Bovada racebook review, Twinspires review or even our Betamerica review. All great choice if you are in the US. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere!

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