The Most Predictive Factor in Horse Racing

Horse racing is a sport that requires bettors to consider a lot of different factors. It is a dynamic betting event because it involves both animals and humans. Of all the things to consider, what is the most predictive factor in horse racing?

Betting on horses requires speculation. You are called upon to pick one horse or several from a group with the expectation that your choice will succeed. Prediction comes into play with every bet that you make. Some bettors seem to have almost otherworldly skills when it comes to making selections. Are they psychic, or do they simply know which factors in horse racing carry the most weight.

The Four Primary Predictive Factors in Horse Racing

A handicapper may employ numerous angles when it comes to picking the winner of a horse race. At the heart of these angles there are four primary factors. These are:

  • Form
  • Class
  • Pace
  • Speed

You can develop your own horse racing betting angles by combining any or all of these predictive factors. Angles may change, but the main considerations do not.


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Form refers to a horse’s physical condition. Is the horse healthy and in good shape? Class indicates the level of competition which best suits the horse’s documented ability. Pace considers the running styles of horses in an event, and whether the projected scenario will flatter or compromise some horses. Finally, speed is the assessment of how fast a horse can run.

Let’s be clear about this: races can rarely be handicapped based on a single factor. A horse needs to get high marks in multiple categories to merit a bet in most cases. There is, however, one factor which can be an exception to the rule. Some handicappers have done very well by relying on this single element.

All Races Are Contests of Speed

When we are speaking of a contest in which two or more athletes attempt to outrun each other to a finish line, we are talking about a race. A race, whether it be between two humans or two horses, is ultimately about which athlete is fastest. In some cases, that distinction can be crystal clear.

Are you a good runner? Could you beat Usain Bolt in a race of 100 meters? Probably not, given that Bolt is the world record holder at that distance. What about Carl Lewis? Or maybe any one of hundreds of runners that compete in the Boston Marathon each year? You could be a decent runner, or even a good one, and still lose because of one single factor. You are not as fast as your competitors.

The first thing we need to recognize when trying to determine the most predictive factor in horse racing is that races are first and foremost a contest of speed. Does that mean that the fastest horse will win every time? No. But it does mean that the fastest horse is sometimes easy to spot. That gives you an edge.

Horse Racing Speed Figures as Predictive Factors

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a single number that you could look at when handicapping a horse race. That number would then tell you which horse is better. The higher the number, the better the horse. Believe it or not, there is such a number in horse racing. It is called a speed figure.

Speed figures were originally developed by Andrew Beyer, the famous horse racing journalist and handicapper. These figures were so effective that for a time Beyer had a massive advantage over other bettors. He eventually sold his speed figures to the Daily Racing Form where they are still published today.

Oh, if using speed figures were the only way to pick winners. What a simple game horse racing would be. But remember that we mentioned horse racing is a game of human and animal interaction. There is always room for error. This is why picking the winner of a horse race can be so very challenging.

The Other Factors Complement Speed

We can begin to see that the other horse racing factors of pace, form, and class are all those which can complement speed. In fact, some of these factors can negate the advantage of speed altogether.

Let’s take class as an example. Remember our earlier example about running against Usain Bolt or in the Boston Marathon. Perhaps you are a fast runner but your skill level is what prevents you from competing in these situations. However, in an event in your hometown against other local runners you might be very competitive.

Horse racing has the same kind of structure in place to make sure races are kept competitive. This is referred to as class. Horses are generally entered in races according to their class, or talent, level. We say generally because in some cases a trainer can enter a horse wherever they choose. This is where the human factor comes in. Horses that are of less talent are unlikely to win no matter how fast they appear to be.

Likewise, it can be hard for a horse with speed to overcome the pace in a race. Maybe the horse that you like is a stalker who runs slower early and fast late. A very fast horse on the lead can cause your horse to expend more energy in the early stages, leaving little for the end of the event. The fast horse that you like may also be suffering from ailments that affect its present form. There are multiple examples we could give.

The Challenge of Picking Winning Horses

What it all boils down to is that horse racing betting is an intellectual exercise like no other. You have to use the most predictive factor in horse racing at your discretion. Maybe you believe the most important factor is class. For others it can be form.

Deciding on which approach you will take is what makes horse racing betting such an exciting sport. It is also what makes the sport profitable for those who get it right.

Check our Bovada racebook review, BUSR, MyBookie, BetUS, 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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