Apr 11 2013

Handicapping – Your Way

Webster’s Definition of Handicap:

To assess the relative winning chances (of contestants) or the likely winner (of a contest).

Simple enough.  But, as with so many things, the devil is in the details.  In his book, Ainslie’s Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Horse Racing, Tom Ainsle writes the following about handicapping horse races:

“It demands no less mental prowess than bridge, poker, or chess.  The skills of the expert handicapper are, in fact, closely comparable to those of the good bridge, poker, or chess player.  In any such competition, players who depend on instinct, trial-and-error, inexpert advice, superstition or reckless guesses are at a disadvantage.  They cannot hope to hold their own against persons who have acquired an understanding of the game as a whole.”


Over the years I have witnessed so many varieties of handicapping that I can honestly say there is no ONE way; there is only YOUR way.  Your way, built upon your own personal style.  And for me there is glory in those hills filled with challenge and strife.
Basic Elements

So the challenge is how to develop your own way?  I’m going to help you with that.  But first, we will spend some time covering the Basic elements of handicapping.  You’re familiar with the four basic (or classical) elements of the Ancients: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire?  Well in handicapping, my Basic elements are Distance, Class, Form, and Pace.  And, to fill in the Void, I’ll add some additional elements – such as Age, Angles, and Appearance.

Students of philosophy might have picked up on the reference to Void above.  “Void” is considered the 5th element in Japanese philosophy, representing things beyond our everyday experience, especially things composed of pure energy.  For example: creativity, spontaneity, and inventiveness; all elements that are essential in your quest to become a successful handicapper.

So, by now you’ve probably discovered that my way might be a little different than that of others.  But, that’s ok … because it’s my way.  The goal of this website is to help you find your way.

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

One comment on “Handicapping – Your Way

  1. Mr. Benoit, Neal ,
    these articles are gems if i may say so. your writing style is very reassuring. it is so informative,concise and digestable.you know your audience and the obstacles or pitfalls that they may face. the;”getting out of the gate’ title is very fitting. i visited a few times when first discovering this supberb website, but unfortunatley for me wandered around aimlessly adrift in the internets endless information abyss. i am grateful to revisit what i believe to be the best website on the subject of handicapping.

    rich matthias on

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