Many racetracks have rules and regulations with regard to workouts. First-time starters and horses returning to racing after a long layoff are often required to have a set number of timed works before they are allowed to race. In addition, trainers may ask their charge to perform a relatively fast workout in the morning in order to prepare it for an upcoming afternoon showdown. These workouts, while not typically performed at full racing speed, are none-the-less faster than regular daily exercise such as jogging and galloping.
The past performance record of a horse will provide insight into the relative ability it may have compared to the other horses entered in a race, but it will not tell you if the horse is fit and ready to run to its potential. To help determine that, it is prudent to look at recent workouts. When choosing between two horses with similar past ability, it is often the horse with the best current form that prevails, and while workouts are an important tool in determining the current condition of a horse, interpreting them can be as daunting as predicting what Lady Gaga will have for lunch today.
Whatever the reason behind a workout, they have their place in the arsenal of a good handicapper. In understanding workouts, it is important to realize that both times and frequency can be indicators of an impending good race, but it is also important to realize that the intention of the trainer is often just a guessing game. That said, many trainers follow the same precise workout patterns when prepping horses for upcoming events, and if you feel compelled to spend the time required to compile such patterns for the trainers who enter horses at the track where you wager, you can sometimes spot a potential winner most bettors would never consider placing a wager on.