EZ Horse Betting strives to bring you the most accurate horse racing information. Access to good information is the key to becoming a great handicapper and cashing winning tickets. We also think it is important to dispel some of the common misconceptions about horseracing. Here are the top ten horse racing myths.
No. 10—Bet the Gray on a Rainy Day
You’ve probably heard this one quoted lots of times at the racetrack. Some people believe that gray horses perform better when it rains and the track is muddy. There is, in fact, no evidence to suggest that a horse’s color affects whether or not it can handle a wet track. Many gray racehorses hate the mud and do not do well in wet conditions. It can be fun to make bets on a premise like this, but if you want to win the big money you must stick to the tried and true handicapping angles.
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No. 9—Secretariat Saved The Family Farm
The popular movie Secretariat starring John Malkovich, Diane Lane, and jockey Otto Thorwarth was an entertaining film that does a pretty good job of telling Big Red’s story. Secretariat is regarded by many as the GOAT, or Greatest of All Time, but there is one thing the film is wrong about. Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, is portrayed as a somewhat unwilling owner who assumed the duties of running the family farm after her father’s illness. According to the movie, Chenery retained trainer Lucien Lauren specifically to train Secretariat and save her farm. The truth is that Chenery and Lauren were no strangers to the Winner’s Circle. Just one year prior to Secretariat’s achievement, the duo had captured two legs of the Triple Crown with Riva Ridge. The horse won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes but lost the Preakness.
No. 8—All Jockeys are Short
While many jockeys stand around 5′ tall, there is no restriction on how tall a jockey can be. Only a jockey’s weight is subject to restriction. Ronald Ardoin, one of the most successful jockeys of all time, tops out at around 5’9”. Of course, it can be harder for taller jockeys to make weight since the frame of their body is larger.
No. 7—War Admiral Was a Villain
This is another misconception that is derived from a motion picture. In the film Seabiscuit, War Admiral and his owner are both portrayed as ill-tempered. While War Admiral could be hard to handle and high strung, neither he nor owner Samuel Riddle were the villains portrayed in the film. War Admiral was simply competing against another horse as horses do. Riddle was a highly respected owner who contributed much to the game of horseracing.
No. 6—Zenyatta Danced for the Crowd
The legendary mare Zenyatta received comparisons with Ruffian for her success on the track. She was a fan favorite who attracted throngs of supporters whenever and wherever she raced. A habit of Zenyatta was to prance lightly on her feet with her neck bowed as she was led past race fans on her way to the track. Some asserted that this dancing movement was done to please her admirers. The truth is that prancing and moving sideways while heading to the racetrack can often signal anxiety or nervousness. In Zenyatta’s case, she was probably excited by the prospect of a race against her foes.
No. 5—All Thoroughbreds are High Strung
This myth is one of the most prominent on the racetrack. For whatever reason, thoroughbreds have a reputation for being difficult to handle. There have certainly been some horses known for their ill temper. John Henry is one that comes to mind. Most trainers would disagree with this generalization. Some would even go so far as to say that horses which are calm and focused achieve greater success. Perhaps the best example of this is American Pharoah, the most recent Triple Crown winner. In the days following his historic achievement, American Pharoah was taken out to meet members of the media who were allowed to pet him and take pictures. The horse enjoyed his time with these adoring fans and stood calmly while hands reached toward him and the cameras whizzed and clicked.
No. 4—Favorites are a Good Bet
The favorite of a horse race is the horse who receives the most bets to win. It is the betting public who determine the favorite of a race. Unfortunately, the betting public only gets it right one out of three times. One of the most reliable stats in horseracing is that favorites win 33% of the time. This means that if you only bet favorites you will lose two out of every three races in the long run. That makes many favorites a bad bet. Smart handicappers look for value, not short-priced favorites.
No. 3—Any Horse Can Race
Thoroughbred horseracing is restricted to thoroughbreds. A thoroughbred is a horse that can trace its lineage to one of three original stallions. The ancestry of a horse is what qualifies it to compete as a racehorse. Thoroughbred horses also have the distinction of being the only creature in existence that can run a 1 ¼ miles in approximately two minutes, and they do it while carrying about 120 pounds of jockey muscle.
No. 2—Horseracing is Controlled by the Mafia
Regardless of what you may have seen in The Godfather, horseracing is not controlled by the Mafia. The truth is that each state has a racing commission which oversees racing in its state. Each racetrack also employs a team of stewards which are tasked with making sure races are conducted fairly.
No. 1—Horseracing is Fixed
While there have certainly been examples of fixed races in racing history, this is a rare occurrence today. All owners, trainers, and jockeys are trying their best to win in most cases. The reason? Money. The winner of a race makes the majority of the money. Jockeys receive a mere 10% of the horse’s winnings. If they finish worse than 5th, their pay can be a token sum called a “Jock Mount” which is often less than $100.