Overemphasized Factors In Horse Racing

Forego_1There are numerous factors that affect the outcome of a horse race, many of which have far more emphasis placed upon them than they deserve. Handicappers have been known to take into consideration track condition, surface, depth of track, distance raced off the rail, weight carried, wind speed and its direction, etc., none of which in my experience has a profound effect on the outcome of a race. Every horse entered in an event must contest the race under the same conditions, so how can one possibly determine that one horse has an advantage over the others based on any of those factors.

One of the most overemphasized factors in horse racing is weight. Most jockeys ride in what is commonly referred to as a “monkey crouch,” and have been doing so since the late 1800s. This makes it highly unlikely that an additional four or five pounds added to its saddle pads will have any effect on a horse that weighs 1,000 pounds or more. This was confirmed in a 1986 study published by Ruth N. Bolton and Randall G. Chapman in Management Science, Vol. 32, No. 8, August 1986. Titled, “Searching for Positive Returns at the Track: A Multinomial Logit Model for Handicapping Horse Races” They wrote, “Weight does not seem to be an important determinant of finishing position, given the presence of other variables in the model.”

Another factor that gets far more attention than it deserves is track condition. How can we ever really know how much effect the track surface had on the outcome of a race? If you examine the past performance records for a horse that has had 18 career starts, the last 10 of which were all on fast tracks, but the horse shows six off-track races, three of which he won and three of which he was out of the money, how can you possibly know why he won those three races? Did he win those three races because of the track surface? Or, did he win them because of the match up of horses, and he would have won them even if the races had been contested on a fast tracks?

Too many handicappers have been conditioned to incorporate unproven factors into their handicapping without any evidence that the factors have any relative merit. Please! Do not be one of them. Think before you blindly follow horse racing myths.Horse_50x50

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