One of the biggest challenges for the handicapper that likes EZ Horse Betting is betting layoffs and cycles in horseracing. Over the course of its career, a thoroughbred racehorse will go through many cycles. The horse will most often take frequent breaks in which it is allowed to rest and will also demonstrate certain form cycles. When you can recognize these, a great advantage at the racetrack becomes yours.
What is a Layoff in Horseracing?
In horseracing, a layoff is a period of time in which a horse does not compete in a race. Most trainers give their horses a layoff from time to time to let the horse rest. You can think of it like the offseason for a professional football or basketball player. During this period of time the horse engages in limited activity and is allowed to simply be a horse. They are sometimes allowed to run freely in large paddocks and graze on grass.
Sometimes, a layoff can be attributed to an injury. If a horse sustains a minor injury when racing, its trainer may decide to give it a layoff or “turnout” to allow the horse time to recuperate and heal. In this case, the activities of the horse may be monitored more closely than they are during a regular layoff. A horse may engage in therapeutic activities such as swimming or massages to its legs and other body parts.
Thoroughbred racehorses are professional athletes. When racing, a claiming horse may compete more than one time each month. This grind of competition and training can create fatigue and exhaustion. If a horse that normally performs well in races is suddenly listless and shows no interest in racing, the reason may be that the horse is in need of a break.
What is a Cycle in Horseracing?
A cycle in horseracing is simply a pattern which often repeats during the horse’s career. Sometimes, bettors refer to a cycle as a form cycle. This type of pattern can often be used to assess a horse’s fitness level.
One of the most familiar form cycles was discovered thanks to Andrew Beyer and his Beyer Speed Figures. Beyer Speed Figures changed the way handicappers assess the speed of horses in a race and how horses match up against one another. Some astute handicappers noticed that horses who had improved their speed figures in three consecutive races would then decline in the fourth race. This phenomenon came to be known as a bounce.
Beyer himself has stated on occasion that he does not put much confidence in the theory of the bounce, but there are some horses which definitely fit the pattern. A logical explanation is that after three strong efforts the horse is tired and performs poorly on the fourth.
Another cycle some have observed is that horses perform better in their second or third efforts following a layoff. This makes a certain amount of sense. When the horse returns from a layoff, it is just coming back to competition after a break. It may not be in top shape. After one or two races, the horse may again approach the form which has defined its career.
In your own handicapping you may identify cycles and patterns that are specific to each individual horse. It is a good idea to keep a handicappers notebook in which you can record observations about the horses on your local betting circuit.
Betting Layoffs and Cycles
The basic key to betting layoffs and cycles is simply to recognize any patterns the horse may have established in the past. Your best resource for doing this is a copy of the Daily Racing Form which includes past performances.
Past performances feature running lines from the horse’s most recent efforts. In some cases, you will be able to get a snapshot of how the horse has done over the past few years. By examining these past performances you may be able to observe how the horse performed in the past after a layoff or three successive improvements of its speed figure.
Look back through the past performances to see if you can find a period of time when the horse was given a layoff. For the purposes of many racehorses, any break longer than six weeks would be considered a layoff. Cheap horses may be given longer layoffs while more high quality animals require less time to recover.
As an example, let’s say the horse you want to be today is returning to the races after a two-month absence. You look back through his past performances and find a period of time a year ago when he was given a similar two-month rest. On his first race back at that time, the horse could only manage a third-place finish. In his second race back, the animal finished second. In the third race back, the horse won by a considerable distance.
You could therefore make a strong case that the horse will repeat that form cycle this time around. If it does, a third-place finish might be a reasonable expectation today. You would want to give this horse serious consideration in the exotic bets like the trifecta and superfecta. You would also want to make a note in your notebook to keep an eye on the horse going forward in its next two starts. By doing this you might find yourself on the winning end of three different races.
By the same token, you should look through the past performances for evidence of a bounce. If you can find one or more of these in the prior record, pay special attention to how that might come into play today. If a horse has a history of posting two good races followed by a bad one, you can reasonably assume that it might repeat the pattern today.
A Final Word About Horseracing Layoffs and Cycles
There is no definitive way to understand or explain cycles and layoffs. A horse may defy a pattern today that it has established on many occasions in the past. Such is the nature of horseracing. There is no information you can gather or angle you can use that will be effective 100% of the time. But you don’t need to be right anywhere close to that to make a profit at horseracing. If you only bet horses that are valued at 3-1 or better, you only need to be right 33% of the time.
At the racetrack, information and knowledge is powerful. Having insights that your fellow bettors do not have is what will make you a winner. If you can learn how to evaluate layoffs and cycles and how they affect a horse, you will have a great edge that can be used to cash more tickets.
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