Betting Lightly Raced Runners

There are many profitable strategies that can be used in horse racing betting. One such angle is betting lightly raced runners. These horses can often be the source of exceptional value. Many of them are offered at generous odds. You can score big when you bet on a horse that has limited racing experience compared to its rivals.

Here is a guide for betting lightly raced runners in horse racing. Let’s unlock some of the secrets that can help you crush your preferred online racebook.

What Are Lightly Raced Horses?

All thoroughbred race horses have a universal birth date of January 1 for the purposes of horse racing. This makes it easier to classify races in terms of age. Some races are restricted by age. An example of these would be the Kentucky Derby and other races in the Triple Crown series.

The great majority of race horses begin competing in their second year. They may not be quite two years old when making a debut. For example, a horse born in September would turn one year old when it was just four months old. It would be considered two at 16 months. This is important to know because it can affect how often a horse may have raced.


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The two-year-old that is born late in the year may be held back until the latter months of its two-year-old year before it makes a debut. By the time it turns three, the horse’s record may show that it has fewer starts than some other three-year-old horses.

This is just one example of a lightly raced horse. Another would be a horse that is given a patient approach in its development. It’s trainer may decide that the horse needs more time to prepare, and that its physical abilities are best served by patience. Indeed, there are some trainers that race a horse once at two years old and then give the horse six months off or more before bringing them back into training.

The simple definition of a lightly raced horse is one that competes infrequently as compared with other horses. You will have to make a decision as a handicapper to determine which animals belong in this class.

What Makes These Horses Special?

Is there a big advantage when it comes to being lightly raced? There can be. Horses are fragile creatures at the best of times. They have small bones in their legs that are subjected to incredible pressure. Every time a horse races it is risking injury. Horses that have had a lighter racing schedule may be less susceptible to injury.

Then again, a horse may show limited racing experience because it has had some health problems in the past. Again, it is your job as a handicapper to make the call and decide the reason a horse has fewer starts than its rivals.

Many handicappers will tell you that a lightly raced horse is usually fresher. Meaning that it has more energy or ability. There is some merit to this. Horses that have been run often can become fatigued. They may even become sour on the entire racing experience. When a horse begins to dislike racing, it generally performs poorly.

When To Bet Against Experience

There is something to be said in horse racing for experience. Horses are creatures of habit. Those who have learned how to win tend to win a lot. They can only get that feeling of winning by competing often.

We are not saying that lightly raced runners should always be preferred against horses that have an extensive racing record. Take that approach and you will soon be headed to the poorhouse. As a handicapper you have to be able to spot opportunities to bet against experience, because sometimes experienced horses are vulnerable.

Horses are just like human athletes in many ways. They become tired. They need a break. The smartest trainers know when a horse needs to be freshened up. Think about professional baseball pitchers. They do not pitch every day in a game. Most of them are in a rotation of 3-4 starting pitchers. Each pitcher is given the rest needed to remain effective. Horses are often treated the same.

How do you spot flaws in an experienced race horse? You begin by looking for an overall decline in performance. A horse that is overworked will begin to finish poorly. They may also appear listless in the paddock before the race.

This is a skill that requires time to develop. That’s why handicapping is such an artform. You will need to hone your skills at recognizing when to bet against experience.

Why Are Some Horses Raced Less Often?

To answer this question would require you to dive into the mind of every trainer on every horse racing circuit. You just wouldn’t have enough time to do that. Every trainer has their own reasons for giving a horse limited starts. Here are some of the most common.

Health is always a factor that can cause a horse to be lightly raced. Many horses are just not built for the rigors of horse racing. One only need look at the tragic career of Ruffian to see what an aggressive competition schedule might do to a horse. Ruffian broke down in a race against the male champion, Foolish Pleasure. Some said the race pitting a filly against a colt was unnecessary and should never have happened.

Before you get ready to fire off an email, we are not saying that fatigue or pressure caused Ruffian to break down. We are only saying the rigors of racing may have taken a toll. The same can be said for many horses.

Setbacks in training is another common reason that some horses are raced less often. Over time you will begin to spot some patterns that will key you in to lightly-raced runners.

Spotting the Lightly Raced Runners

We have always said that the best way to spot trends and patterns is to focus on a specific circuit in horse racing. There are too many circuits to try and track all of them. What you will find is that many of the patterns you observe on your local racing circuit will repeat in other circuits.

If we had to draw an arbitrary line, we would say that any horse which competes less than once every two months is lightly raced. For exceptionally talented horses, this can be less than once every three months. It depends on the horse, its trainer, and its owner.

What you must remember is that lightly raced is a comparative designation. You are comparing the starts of one horse with another. A horse that races every six weeks would be lightly raced when compared to a horse that races twice per month. Check our Bovada racebook review, busr review, BetUS, or even All great choice if you are in the US. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere!

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