Weights in Horse Racing

A fact of horse racing is that each horse carries weight in a race. There is the weight of the jockey, the weight of the jockey’s tack, and sometimes the use of lead pads. As a student of EZ Horse Betting you should be familiar with the weight a horse carries and how it impacts the ability of a horse to compete.

Jockeys—Racing’s Tiny Powerhouses

The most significant weight a horse carries in a race is the weight of a jockey. The average weight of a jockey in the United States and abroad is 112 pounds with their racing attire, and 108 pounds stripped. This is the typical weight a jockey must maintain in order to keep their job. If a jockey exceeds the permitted weight on a daily basis, the likely result is that trainers will offer them fewer horses to ride. Some jockeys like Pat Valenzuela have struggled with weight issues throughout their entire career.

On the other side of the spectrum, being underweight is also bad. Vincent Cline, a jockey on the Louisiana horse racing circuit, regularly topped the scales at 100 pounds or less. While Cline was very talented with a horse, his low weight would necessitate the use of lead pads. This move is something that trainers hate.


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Lead Pads

If a jockey cannot make the required weight on a horse, this requires the use of lead pads which are inserted into the jockey’s saddle. Trainers hate the use of lead pads because they are dead weight. The weight of a jockey is fluid and moves in tandem with the horse. Lead pads do not move and are regarded as more difficult to carry.

All horses in a race are assigned a weight to carry. In some races, all horses carry the same weight. In others, horses are permitted allowances and receive weight deductions based on certain conditions. An apprentice jockey is allowed a five pound weight deduction to compensate for their inexperience. If a jockey is overweight, this is permitted and announced to race bettors before the race begins. If a jockey is underweight then the required amount of weight must be added in the form of lead pads.

The Jockey’s Tack

A jockey’s tack consists of a racing saddle and irons. The total weight of this tack is typically four pounds. So, if a jockey weighs 112 pounds and the tack is four pounds, the total weight carried by the horse is 116 pounds. This is the weight considered against the permitted allowance dictated by the race.

A jockey’s saddle is incredibly small. It has a very small seat for a very good reason. The jockey’s rear rarely comes into contact with the saddle. Jockeys maintain an upright position for the entirety of a race. The irons on the jockey’s tack account for the greater part of the weight. These are the stirrups into which the jockey places their feet during a race.

The Impact of Weight in a Horse Race

How weight affects a horse during a race has long been debated by horse racing enthusiasts and handicappers. Some contend that it is a factor that should be given serious consideration. Others believe that a horse’s weight is negligible and has little impact at all.

There are some things that can be stated with absolute certainty. First and foremost, weight has a far greater impact when horses run a route or race which is 7 furlongs in distance or longer. It does not have as much an impact when horses run short distances like 5 or 6 furlongs.

So, how much does horse racing weight matter? The answer to this is very complex. To thoroughly understand how weight affects the running ability of horses, one would have to study literally thousands of races to arrive at a legitimate statistic. For the purposes of EZ Horse Betting, it is recommended that the handicapper focus on more basic elements when picking winners.

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