Here’s Why More People Aren’t Winning at the Racetrack

Horse Racing Racetrack - Man Losing Money

Horse racing is one of the most thrilling gambling activities on the planet. Rarely will you see such a large crowd cheering and yelling with the conviction of a warrior on the battlefield followed by groans of defeat.

One thing I love about horse racing is how often and how quickly those groans turn to laughter and smiles. It’s hard to stay in a terrible mood when you’re outdoor at the racetrack.

It’s a breath of fresh air to watch gamblers get knocked downtime after time and then head straight for the betting window undeterred. It’s like the saying goes, you’ve got to get right back up on that horse.

Horse racing can be tricky to handicap for the newbie racing fan, but you can cut the curve by avoiding some common mistakes. Here’s why more people aren’t winning at the racetrack.

They Fail to Account for the Competition

Novice horse racing bettors have a lot of information to process when they get to the racetrack. This task can be overwhelming for many of the newbie bettors as they juggle their desire to have an enjoyable experience with their more profound desire to cash in on the ponies.

Luckily, the racetrack is there to help. For only a couple of dollars, you can get your hands on a race brochure; sometimes, the track will include the handy program with the price of admittance.

This program includes the breakdown of each of the races and gives a detailed account of every horses’ previous race results. This information will consist of race conditions, distance, and finishing position.

However, it won’t tell you much about the horse’s competition. Much like human athletes, some horses will merely play to their competition.

So, you may get a horse that finished first in a weak field just by trotting along. This can be dangerous because the horse may lose races it should win and win races you think it should fail.

The best horses are those that run well no matter what, assuming that they are winning races. Discovering the best horse to bet on will require you to research the races and the horses before you ever get to the racetrack.

Obviously, you’ll have more time to do this if you’re betting online.

They Don’t See the Value in Small Bets

The vast payouts that come with the horse racing parlay wagers draw in the novice bettor like flies to honey. They see an opportunity to make a couple of thousand off a relatively small stake and think it’s easy money.

Unfortunately, they are most often wrong. The large trifecta wagers and even the smaller win/place/show bets can end up costing most racing enthusiasts more than they need to be losing.

Instead, focus on making small safe wagers and grow from there. By making small individual bets on horses to win, place, or show gives you several ways to slide into a nice routine.

By diminishing your exposure, you can significantly improve your total towards learning to correctly handicap races.

Even successful bettors that have shown a long-term ability to make a profit will focus on small bets. This will allow them to uncover the best values and ultimately make the most considerable profits.

Keep it simple, and you’ll leave the racetrack with more money in your pocket. 

Most Race Fans Have No Idea How to Evaluate Jockeys

Many gamblers fail to account for the role the jockey plays in horse racing. They assume that the horse is doing all of the work and the jockey merely is along for the ride.

While it’s true that the horse is doing much of the heavy lifting, the jockey plays a vital role in the results.

Imagine an automobile race like Nascar. The cars are relatively evenly matched up, but the teams work tirelessly to gain the slightest edge on the other teams.

Gaining that edge is why doping is such a high priority in horse racing.

If you put the best NASCAR driver in the worst car, you’ll quickly see that the driver’s results begin to fade. Conversely, suppose you put me into the best car on the planet, I’d get beat by 499 laps in a 500 lap race.

So, any notion that the jockey is inconsequential needs to be vanquished. Still, the horse is your primary focus.
Jockeys are there to get the most out of the horse, and finding the ones that are best at that will yield you better results.

Starting Position Matters

One tactic that I regularly hear from seasoned horse racing aficionados is the horse’s time into corner one. That will provide you a good indicator of how the horse will do, but it’s only a tiny piece of the equation.

The starting position is vital for determining how the horse might fare in a particular race. If you’re only looking at how the horse does from the start to the first corner, you may be blindsided by how the results may vary.

Churchill Downs Horse Racing

This component is critical when looking at how the horse may do overall. Especially if you have a strong finisher that starts exceptionally well based on where they are beginning for a particular race.

Anytime you have a horse that can avoid being lost in the pack and is a traditionally strong finisher, you have the potential to make money. This is the exact type of advanced strategy that separates the weekend gambler from the professionals.

You don’t need to quit your day job to bet like a pro; you just need to pay attention.

They Give Zero Consideration to Track Conditions

Let’s face it most people at the races are more concerned with the horses’ names than they are with the track conditions.

A majority of people at the track will only know the conditions play a role because of the excellent Seinfeld episode where Kramer has a sure thing. His father was a mudder, his mother was a mudder.

All iconic 90’s sitcoms aside, track conditions play an essential role.

Some horses perform much better on turf, while others prefer the soft ground of the dirt track. This is information you need to be accounting for every race you bet on at the track.

When you find a horse that runs well on both, you need to further consider the conditions. Heat, cold, rain, and mud are all vital areas of the conditions that need to be addressed.

If more people would cease trying to find the most clever name and focus on factors that impact the race, like track conditions, we’d see more winners at the cashier.

The Place Too Much Importance on Speed

It stands to reason that speed be a heavy consideration when handicapping a race of any kind. After all, the fastest contestant in any given race will be the winner.

However, it’s important to not let speed be your only deciding factor. For example, horse A may have run a faster time in their previous race than horse B.

That statement paints an immensely small picture of the race and may have zero impacts on how well either horse runs in the current race.

Horse B may have gotten tangled up in the starting gate or had another horse trip and tumble going into the first turn.
You can’t gather enough information on speed alone. Still, a horse that has shown time and again that it’s among the fastest on the track should get your attention.

Yes, speed is the most critical factor in racing, but don’t avoid every other aspect if you want to gain an edge.

Conclusion

So, here’s why more people aren’t winning at the racetrack. Don’t be scared away by the extreme amount of data and variables to consider when handicapping a race.

Keep it small and keep it simple until things begin to click. Then you’ll start to see the big picture, and things will become much more manageable.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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