Archive for the Handicapping Category

Apr 16 2015

Panning For Gold in the Keeneland Handicapping Database

Keeneland Starting Gate3

Keeneland is a beautiful race course, set in the bucolic hills of Lexington, Kentucky.  Each time we visit there we find something new.  Unfortunately, we were unable to return there in the Spring of 2015, so the search for something new was limited to the internet … and sure enough, it was found.  The Keeneland Handicapping Database.

Free to anyone with a computer and link to the internet, a database of 2,665 races run at Keeneland, from 2006 through the present.  With one click, the information can be downloaded to a spreadsheet … and then sorted, sliced, and diced to your heart’s desire.  And if you’ve been following this website for any length of time, you know that I can’t resist a little “Panning for Gold.”  Below is a list of some of the data that’s available:


Apr 12 2015

Conditional Claiming Races: Require a Closer Look

In a prior article we introduced Claiming races. Click here for a review of that article. The type of races described in that article are open to any horse where the owner is willing to offer the horse for the claiming price of the race. But, there are other types of Claiming races where a horse can be entered only if they meet certain “conditions.” It is these type of races that we will focus on in this article. We’ll start with the simple, and work our way up to the more complex. Read More >>

Apr 5 2015

Needs The Lead: Causes Troubles Indeed

Battle for the Lead

When handicapping, I will sometimes make the notation, “Needs The Lead” at the top of a horse’s Past Performances (PPs). Meaning they do their best (and sometimes only) running when they are happily cruising on an uncontested lead at the front of the pack.

Now, if the horse is running in a race on a speed favoring surface, or happens to be the “only” speed in the race, I will color code my comment in Blue (for a good thing). But, more times than not I don’t view this trait as a “good thing.” Especially if there are other “Needs The Lead” horses in the same race or if the horse in question doesn’t seem to have superior speed to establish an easy lead.


Mar 20 2015

How Did They Do It? A Visual Handicapping Lesson

Gary Stevens and Beholder

Beholder and Gary Stevens. Photo by Alicia Hamm

Continuing on the theme of a prior article on “Visual Handicapping” we’re going to get into more details on questions raised there.  Click here to review the visual handicapping article, and learn more about the differences between visual handicapping and trip handicapping.

With visual handicapping, it’s always important to look beyond the raw numbers (i.e. Beyer Speed Figures, Pace Figures, Running Lines) in the Daily Racing Form and ask the question, “How did they do it?”

We raised some of these questions before, but we’ll ask them again:


Feb 27 2015

B2b … finally! (A Positive Sign of Racing Form)

In the introductory article on the topic of Form, we explained the challenges and potential rewards for mastering the art of evaluating a horse’s current racing Form (aka Fitness, Condition, Sharpness, Readiness).  Click here for a review of that article.  Unlike Distance and Class, there is no singular column of data in the Racing Form or Program that identifies “Form.”  But, possibly the most useful column is the Race Date column. Read More >>

Feb 1 2015

More On Result Charts: Beyer Figures, Time, and Extended Comments

Continuing with the example from a prior article, “There’s Gold In Them Thar Result Charts,” we are going to review the additional information that can be gleaned from these detailed charts. Click here for a review of that article. We looked at a standard result chart and the “Next Race” version that shows you the very next race for all of the horses following the race chart being viewed. That allows you to see exactly how well each horse did after the race. But, how were they doing before, or leading up to the race being reviewed? For that, there is an option to view the “Beyer Figures” (Click here to learn about the fundamentals of Beyer Figures) for up to ten preceding races. The following result chart view was generated from the same July 19 race as in the prior article: Read More >>

Jan 26 2015

There’s Gold In Them Thar Result Charts

In a prior article we described the standard information available to a handicapper through result charts.  And, how these once coveted pieces of paper are now available to everyone at the click of a mouse.  Well, almost everyone.  If you are using the printed copy of the Daily Racing Form, a racing program at the track, or any service that simply prints out the Past Performances (PPs) for each horse in an upcoming race, then you probably don’t have access to the Result Charts.  Click here to read the prior article on the standard result charts available through DRF Formulator.  In this article (and another to follow) we will  describe the many great things above and beyond the standard result chart that are available though the Formulator software. Read More >>

Dec 16 2014

A Christmas Wish List For The TimeformUS Elves

TimeformUS Xmas

Back in August we introduced readers to TimeformUS with the article, “There’s A New Racing Form In Town.”  Since that time we followed up with articles explaining their Trainer Ratings, Speed Figures, and Perspective Comments.

Over the course of the past few months we have been using TimeformUS on a regular basis, enough so that we now feel compelled to submit our Christmas Wish List to TimeformUS.  However, unlike other requests this time of year, we’re not looking for our wishes to be fulfilled by December 25.  If your little programming elves can see their way to making these enhancements during the coming year, we’d be very happy little horseplayers.


Dec 10 2014

Know Your Trainers – Peter Miller vs. John Sadler

A frequent question asked by new fans trying to learn more about horse racing is, “Where do I begin?” My immediate response is generally, “Get to know your trainers.” While learning about topics like distance, class, and pace are important … in my opinion, none are as important as learning about the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of trainers. With that thought in mind, we continue our series of articles called “Know Your Trainers.”

In this series we will dig into the statistics of some head trainers and try to make sense of the numbers we find. We thought it might be fun to present the numbers in a “competitive” manner by pairing trainers. With that said, we are not trying to judge the trainers or claim that one is better than another. Our intention is to pair trainers who have statistics in comparable categories and present some plausible reasons why they might differ.

The two trainers in this article, Peter Miller and John Sadler, both work on the Southern California racing circuit.

Dec 4 2014

Racing Into Form – How To Recognize A Public Workout

In the introductory article on Racing Form, we listed a subtopic called “Racing Into Form.”  Click here for a review of the introduction on Form.  Nearly every trainer at one time or another has been called into the racing secretary’s office and asked the following question: “We need to fill the fifth race on Sunday. Can you do me a favor and enter your horse in there?” The trainer knows that favors are a 2-way street when it comes to dealing with the racing secretary.  So, more times than not, he/she obliges (presuming of course that his horse is sound).

However, being sound does not necessarily mean that his horse is perfectly fit.  His verbal reply to the racing secretary might be, “Yea, sure … glad to help you out.”  While he’s thinking to himself, I was hoping to get a couple more workouts into him before his next race, but if he wants me to enter my horse on Sunday and work him out in public … so be it.