The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of American life. In the grand scheme of things, pursuing entertainment by wagering on horse racing certainly takes a backseat to the essential tasks we all face right now to keep ourselves and our families safe and help our neighbors as much as possible.
Some of us however, still have time for leisure, but are now faced with fewer options. Nothing else matches the excitement of gathering at the track with friends, enjoying a perfect-weather day, partaking in local/regional food and drink, while witnessing up close the beauty and intensity of racehorses competing. Fingers crossed, those times will soon return.
But for now, there are other ways to enjoy the sport, especially the complex and captivating practice of handicapping and wagering on horse races. Over the past 15 years, Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) companies have established a permanent, and growing, foothold in the industry, constantly rolling out new technologies and promotions that have expanded the ways people can bet.
Several racetracks around North America are still running during the COVID-19 pandemic, with fans absent and other non-essential personnel also forbidden from entering the racing premises. Right now, horse racing is the only game in town … and you can only bet it (legally) on-line.
Most of the basic principles of handicapping horse racing are just as valid when using an ADW account as they are at the track, but there are other aspects that are unique. Missing out on watching Thoroughbreds in the paddock and warming up before a race in person is a definite minus. On the other hand, having your laptop at the ready means a wealth of information is at your fingertips that can give you a big advantage.
Here then are some tips that will help you sharpen that particular set of skills, and dive right into the world of on-line horse racing, and make this hiatus from the world we know and love it less harsh, and hopefully profitable.
Bet to Win
It’s tempting to make across-the-board bets, especially when you land on a long-shot, and when you have all of the entries pulled up right in front of you on your laptop, it’s easy to spot more than one overlay that you like. There is something to be said for being rewarded when a bomb clunks up or hangs on for a minor spot, but in general you are better off playing straight Win bets if you’re not trying to crack a Pick 4 or Pick 5. If you make three substantial Win bets on horses at a solid value, you only need one Winner to make a profit. If two-thirds of that money is tied up in Place and Show bets, you might need all three to run well.
This is difficult because most gamblers like the action of having a few bucks riding on the event they are watching, and most ADW accounts allow you to pull up more than one live feed of a track at a time. It takes discipline to pass on a race, but if you like quite a few runners on a particular race card, but love two or three, you should bet the majority (or all) of your bankroll on the horses you feel most strongly about.
Use The Tools at Your Fingertips
Most wagering sites will not only offer rebates for past performances (which basically allows you to access past performances of horse for free) but most will also offer predictive data that can often be useful. On TVG, for example, you can find Power Ratings for each horse, as well as speed and class figures that you can factor into making your picks.
Those Tools Include Replays!
All legal US wagering sites also allow you unlimited access to race replays, which are extremely important in identifying horses who might be positioned to improve or regress off of the trips they received in previous races. The ultimate goal is to find a potential overlay (a horse who’s odds are higher than they should be, AKA Value) who had an excuse for running poorly in a previous race which you would’ve only spotted had you watched the replay.
Stay Disciplined – Focus on Your Favorite Tracks
ADW accounts provide even more options than your local racetrack’s simulcast feed, offering practically every North American track holding a card that particular day, and many international tracks. Don’t be tempted: stay honed in on the racing circuits you know the most about and would bet on during a normal day at the track.
We at the Daily Racing Blog hope you found these tips helpful, so if/when you begin to dabble in on-line race wagering you can do so confidentially. And remember to be smart and safe out there in the world, we’re making the final turn for home, now is not the time to throw a shoe.