Try new handicapping systems for 2018 horse racing
December 26, 2017 3:00 PM
by Steve Davidowitz
As we approach a New Year, it’s seems a good time for players to consider new ways to improve their chances for success in 2018.
Actually, many avid players recently have asked me what I might suggest to help them see what they are doing wrong and if there are ways to come up with new approaches.
My answer tends to be a surprise to all but a few.
I suggest they try out a handicapping system to get a fix on what factors tend to help horses win and why some traditional handicapping notions rarely are worth the time of day. Frankly, I think this same suggestion could help newcomers build a solid game after they first learn how to read Daily Racing Form past performance profiles and DRF’s published official result charts. Any lack of commitment to do that will doom a player to a lifetime of poor picks.
Yet, to follow through on my suggestion on how to improve your game, here are a few “systems” that can be tested by newcomers and veterans at any track in the country.
Previous Win System:
• To assess the impact of a previous top performance, players should give any last race winner 10 points and any horse that finished within a length of a winner, 5 points.
• If a tie, the system selection will be the horse with the most points earned in that most recent performance.
• Should no horse qualify, pass the race; but keep track of the win percentage for all horses seeking a repeat victory throughout the current race meet.
Comment: This system will help players see the value of a relatively recent top performance, as it may apply to today’s race.
Class Drop System:
• To assess the value of some class relief, eliminate all horses in today’s race that did not face higher company in its last start.
• If only one horse is left in the mix, select that horse and watch its performance.
• If more than one horse is dropping in class, the system selection will be the horse that finished within three lengths to the winner at the higher class level.
• If no horse finished within three lengths at the higher level in its last start, there is no play. But tentatively, players would be wise to keep a record of winners and losers that did drop the most in class.
Comment: Players who try out this system will gain important insights into the class-drop angle.
Top Trainer/Jockey System:
• Check DRF or the track program for the top 10 winning jockeys and top 10 winning trainers at the current race meet.
• Give 10 points to any horse with a top 10 trainer and 10 points to any horse with a top 10 jockey.
• Give 10 extra points each to any horse whose top 10 trainer and/or top 10 jockey currently owns their groups’ highest win percentages.
• If one horse qualifies (with the highest total points), that is the selection.
• If two or more horses qualify, the selection will be the horse with the highest morning line odds as printed in the track program.
• If no horse has at least 10 points, pass the race.
Comment: To gain the most benefit, players should mark down how many horses with 20 or more points win and how many do not!
Maiden Race System:
• Eliminate all horses in any maiden race at any class level with 12 or more starts.
• In any maiden claiming race, eliminate all horses with five or more prior starts in maiden claiming company.
• If only one horse is left, that will be the selection, with one exception: If that horse is a first-time-starter, choose it as a selection only if it had two or more workouts during the previous 10 days.
• If there are multiple first-timers in a maiden race, the selection would be the one horse with the longest public workout listed in its PP profile.
Comment: Here, players can learn to avoid horses that have failed too often while gaining insight into how good trainers prepare fit horses for good efforts at first asking. And as I hinted earlier, I suggest trying out these systems to examine the value (or lack of same) of popular handicapping concepts that often dominate the selection process merely because they’ve been around for decades.
Added Notes: Santa Anita Park opened Tuesday, Dec. 26. Last Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Mark Hennig’s first time starter, Strike Power earned a terrific 102 Beyer Speed Figure in a maiden sprint. This was the year’s second best Figure by a 2-year-old to the 103 earned by Bolt d’Oro at Santa Anita, Sept. 30. Also, rumors are circulating that Belmont Park is going to undergo a major reconstruction in 2018-2019 and Aqueduct also may be involved. Check back here for more details as they develop.
In closing, let me sincerely wish all readers a happy and successful 2018!