But before you wager here are some basic steps to help you pick a winner.
1. Recency; When was the last time a horse was raced. I like horses that are raced every 3-5 weeks. A longer lay-off than that might indicate the particular horse has been sick or unsound and might need a race or two in order to get back to form.
2. Career Record. Check to see a horses lifetime accomplishments. These efforts are broken down into a variety of categories. Such as racing at a certain distance. Turf or dirt, sloppy track. One of my favorite angles at Saratoga is the ‘horses for courses’ play. Looking at a horses past performances he or she may be lackluster but when said animal arrives at The Spa it performs like a champion !
3. Human Connections. The abilities of certain jockeys and trainers are extremely important. Interesting to note that 80% of all races are won by the top 20% of jockeys and trainers at each track. That’s a bit misleading in that the more successful trainers have larger barns of horses, hence more races with a chance to win. But never ignore a successful jockey/trainer angle.
4. Speed figures. Each horse in any race will have its speed figures listed for each of its previous races. Lets say two horses having run on the same surface at the same distance, but one of them has a higher speed figure. The smart money goes with the speed.
These are just a few of the basics. All of the above information can be gleaned from your track program, or Daily Racing Form. There is of course the ever popular method of choosing your winning horse and that is by picking a lucky name or color. But as horse racing scribe Steven Crist once said: “It’s fun to win by accident with a lucky name, number or color, but it’s far more gratifying to win by design.”