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OTHER ITA SITES:
A Day At The Races
The allure and the excitement of the race track....
I wanted to find out once and for all what separates the winners from the losers at the race track?
When asking avid horse betters, “What does it take to pick a winner here at the track?” most answered “skill.” When asking, “What finally makes you lay your money down?” most answer, “guts.”
If you go to the track on any given day, you will see hordes of people enjoying a day at the races; making bets and yelling their hearts out in hopes that their “pick” will be the first to the finish line.
If one looks closer you will see another kind of better; a handicapper. A handicapper stands out in the track crowd. The handicapper has come to the track prepared to win. Between races, you won’t see them getting up for food or drink. Their faces are buried deep into the horse better’s bible; "The Daily Racing Form". A true horse handicapper derives much of their skill for picking winners from studying "The Daily Racing Form".
The Daily Racing Form is the only daily publication that is strictly geared to the horse racer. The Daily Racing Form has been around since 1894. Its headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois. The first publication printed on November 17,1894 was only four pages long. It was and remains today the number one "America's Turf Authority” publication. Over 112 years later, the Daily Racing Form has evolved into a complex newspaper which publishes all the needed statistics for handicap races across the United States, along with insightful editorials on the world of racing. The paper publishes daily with the exception of Christmas day.
When polling several handicappers on what kind of race they prefer to bet on, all agreed: "a stakes race."
Stakes races occur annually, like the Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes. These races carry large purses, so they ultimately attract the cream of the crop in horses, jockeys, and trainers. As one handicapper told me, "There are fewer surprises…the talent is there…ripe for the picking."
Other forms of races include claiming races. Claiming races are the most common types of races at the local track. In a claiming race, every horse on the field is up for sale. A price is pre-established by the owner(s) before the race begins. A horse may be claimed for its entered price by any other licensed horse owner. This transaction is done through a racing secretary. Once the race is over and a horse has been “claimed”, the ownership of the horse is then transferred to its new owners. A claiming race evens the running field, as an owner would not enter a horse that is worth a greater value where the horse could be claimed at low value.
When handicapping a claiming race, I was told it is important to review past performance, jockey, and track condition. Does the horse prefer a dry track verses wet? Has the jockey been doing well with the horse?
Another type of race is the maiden race. This is the handicappers least favorite. A maiden race is made up of horses that have never before won a race.
Last but not least is the allowance race. The allowance race is where the Track Handicapped (Track Secretary) sets the conditions and the type of horses that can be entered into the race.
The handicappers I had the pleasure of spending the day with strongly advise: "Collect information, rely heavily on the performance of a horse, get to know the better jocks and trainers, and always refer to the Daily Racing Form. Oh yeah, and have the guts to put your money on the nose."
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