Using History in Horse Racing to Pick Winners

If there is one thing handicappers know it is the importance of history in horse racing. What has happened in the past can be a reliable indicator of what is likely to happen in the future. You can use history in horse racing to pick winners. Here’s a look at how.

The Most Reliable Handicapping Tool

The most reliable handicapping tool is something known as a past performance chart. This chart is published for each horse every time that it is entered in a race. It is listed alongside the past performances of other horses so that the bettor can easily make comparisons. You can obtain past performances from the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, and other services. Some online racebooks will give you them for free.


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If you do choose to purchase past performances from a service, be prepared to pay. These services are not usually cheap.

Past performances are exactly what the name suggests. They are a snapshot of the most recent performances of a given horse. Information that is included on the past performances includes but is not limited to:

  • The horse’s finish position in its most recent 3-5 races (or more)
  • The trainer and trainer stats
  • The jockey and jockey stats
  • Workout information
  • Records of the horse at a specific distance, track, or surface

The information in the past performances also includes a speed figure rating for the most recent races. Everything that you need to make a general evaluation of the horse’s ability and its chances to win is right there in print.

Understanding the Past Performances

It would be a wonderful world if all we had to do was read the past performances and pick a winner in horse racing. Using history in horse racing is a little more complex than that. You need to be able to interpret the information in the past performances in the context of how it relates to today’s contest.

What you generally want to look for are anomalies in the data. For example, if a horse has a poor record on the turf and then suddenly won its last outing on the grass, what changed? You may need to disregard the anomaly and focus on the prior history. You may also be able to attribute the success to a change in trainer.

Understanding the past performances is a process of connecting all the clues. You should be a detective, piecing together the information that you need so that an accurate picture becomes clear. A good guiding principle when doing this is to remember that something which happened before is likely to happen again.

Horses Are Creatures of Habit

The vert best horses that compete today are largely creatures of habit. What they have done in the past is likely something that they will repeat again. Let’s look at some practical examples, beginning with speed.

All races of any kind are essentially about speed. Who is fastest? That is the question that you are trying to answer. While you may not be able to nail down exactly how fast a horse will run today, you can usually determine how fast a horse is capable of running from the past performances.

Speed figures are expressed in a single number. Let’s say that a horse in a race has a top lifetime speed figure of 75. It has never ran a faster figure than that. Another horse in the race has never ran a speed figure lower than 80 in its career. You can see that this is a pretty easy comparison to make. It is unlikely that the horse with the 75 can win today. It just is not fast enough.

The same type of handicapping mentality can be applied to other factors. You can see if a horse has ever won or finished well at a specific distance. Maybe a horse always runs well for a specific jockey. This is the kind of information that you can use to have an edge over other bettors.

Probability and History – Bet With the Trend

Horse racing is a game of history and trends. In many ways it is like the stock market where investors ride the trend until the end. You can also use trends in horse racing betting to make profits betting at an online racebook.

So, what is a trend anyway? It is a type of history carried out over a short or long term. In horse racing there are both short term trends and long term trends. You can make money with both. An example of a short term trend could be a track bias.

There are instances where a certain race track can be favoring speed for a period of time. Sometimes it can favor horses that run from off the pace. Trends like this can last for days or weeks, or they can change during a single race card! The smart bettor that is able to recognize and take action will be able to score wins at nice prices.

Longer term trends can refer to things like the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile jinx. This trend suggests that horses which win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile do not win the Kentucky Derby. It is also a trend that horses which do not race at two-years old do not win the Kentucky Derby. These are long standing trends in horse racing that hold up year after year.

The most famous example of a horse racing trend could be that exploited would be that horse racing favorites only win one out of every three races. This trend has been in existence since the earliest records of horse racing began to be kept.

Did you know that you can start using history in horse racing right now when you sign up with one of our recommended online racebooks. These racebooks will give you free past performances that you can use to identify historical trends. Remember, you may also receive bonus money when you sign up and make your first deposit. 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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