There are many important factors in horse racing handicapping, but probably the most overlooked is the first one any handicapper faces. No matter whether you are a speed handicapper, use a proprietary program, have developed your own methods, or use a horse racing system, there is one decision that all methods of picking winners has in common.
The most important factor in horse racing is also the first decision each handicapper must make and that is whether or not to play a race or to skip it. While that may sound strange, it is true. How much thought do you give to what kinds of races you play and how easy or hard each race is to handicap?
In some races, the handicapping is too easy and therefore the horse that is most likely to win will pay very little. There are races where one horse is head and shoulders above the rest and the crowd can easily spot this. Those horses pay nickels on the dollar and offer little value.
On the other end of the scale are the races that are so contentious or chaotic that it is impossible to tell which horse has an advantage or to spot any real value in the pools. Those races must be avoided at all costs or it may cost all, all of your bankroll, that is.
So how can you tell which horse races to play and how to pick winners? That depends upon the method you use and how hard you want to work. Some people want a simple and easy betting system and don’t want to evaluate each horse. Other people want to rate the horses then compare each one, according to ability, to its odds and thereby find a good bet.
No one can tell you which horse races to play but a good rule of thumb is, never play a race that you cannot separate a few horses who seem to have an advantage. Once you find a few horses with an advantage then you may be able to find one of them that is offering value in the pools. Another rule of thumb is, never bet on a race that you don’t have a strong opinion about. In other words, a race that makes you think a certain horse or horses will win because they are better than the rest.