Handicapping Tips

Handicapping Tips

The most consistent odds-handicapper in horse racing . . .

Who is that

And – if you had his/her insights every day, do you think you could make a pretty penny with that info?

We’ll give you the answer to that question

. . . along with a step-by-step analysis of a recent race in light of that information – and offer a few tips you might consider worth adapting to your own handicapping . . . 

Who is the most consistent handicapper in racing – day in, and day out?   Easy answer – the public.

ssssshsshsshhs” … I can hear the balloon of expectation deflating.

Yet that truth remains – regardless of the decade, or the track, or the condition of the track, or, or . . . The odds you see on the tote board represent the most consistent judgement of the potential of the horses in that race.  Might not be accurate this race, or that race, and might not be accurate for one or two of the horses, but, in general, over any stretch of races of a few days or more – those odds are the best possible guideline as to the percentage chance each horse has to win its race.

This is a crucial bit of information, but – what can you do with it?

Can a profit be made consistently betting with the ‘public’? – No!

But profits can be had by utilizing that toteboard information in another way.


. . . 95% – could you work with that figure?  If you know the winner will be among your chosen contenders 95% of the time – do you think you can work with that??

What factor will start you offso that you already have the winner in your mix 95% of the time?

Again an easy answer . . .  The low 6 final odds horses – remember the toteboard is uncannily close most of the time. Throw everyone else out – used even as a ” hard rule” – and you will still have a shot in all but 5 races out of 100 that you bet! 

Also – according to what tracks you wager – the morning line will do nearly as good.


Just for a fun drill – 

Below is a thorough ‘picking apart’ of a typical recent race: This race was run on 7/14/18 – the fourth race at Gulfstream – a 7 furlong sprint for 3 yrs. and older – open $6,500 claimers.  There were 9 starters.

Their morning lines and final odds (in parens) were:

1.Over Limit 5-1 (9-1)
2. Mr. Sultana  12-1  (9-1)
3. Jaiden’s Best  4-1  (6-1)
4. The Son of Wind  3-1  (5-2)
5. Strong Composition  20-1  (27-1)
6. Charlie the Greek  9-5  (1-1)
7. Peace Points  10-1  (13-1)
8. Too Wild to Repent  20-1  (73-1)
9. Moonlight Bandit  30-1  (42-1)

The low 6 morning line, and low 6 final odds horses are marked in yellow – and as often happens – they are the same horses. Kicking out the #s 5, 8, and 9 was then – automatic.

We are down to our initial 6:

1.Over Limit 5-1 (9-1)
2. Mr. Sultana  12-1  (9-1)
3. Jaiden’s Best  4-1  (6-1)
4. The Son of Wind  3-1  (5-2)
6. Charlie the Greek  9-5  (1-1)
7. Peace Points  10-1  (13-1)


Let’s think about those 6 with regards to just the odds for a moment.

In day-to-day racing all over the country – the winner will be among the low three odds public horses around 70%+ of the time, and will be among the low 4 around 80% of the time – let’s look there first

If we can eliminate even one of those as not having much of a chance – i.e. the public’s usually accurate estimate is “off” for that horse in this race – then we will have a reason to look further – to look at at the higher odds horses in our initial 6.

In this race, one of the low public three is very low – the favorite at even money, Charlie the Greek.  The second choice, The Son Wind is at 5-2, and the 3rd public choice, Jaiden’s Best, is at 6-1.


Now let’s handicap the race. 

No computers (other than to display the past performance data) – no complex formulas. I’m going to analyze the race looking pretty much just at the fractions of the race – just by visual pace, and fractional times.

I always remember an old saying in horse racing handicapping – “The first fraction belongs to the horse.”

Particularly in sprints (but also in dirt routes) – the approximate first fraction time and the way it is run (free on the lead, challenged for the lead, fighting to hold the lead – etc.) regardless of class levels, track variants, etc. . . .  is kind of locked-in for each individual horse. And so the actual early fraction times that will be put up in today’s race determines to a great extent whether or not each horse has a chance to win.

I don’t know where that old saying came from, but much of the way I look at early pace came to me through Jim Bradshaw – I tip my “Hat” to him, and may he rest in peace.


So – First Handicapping Look –

I want to know who the early speed will be – and if they have a chance to hold that speed to the wire. I suggest you start your handicapping of every race in this way

The only two of our initial 6 that have ever had the lead at the first call in any of their races are; Jaiden’s Best, and Mr. Sultana. (see pp data below)

Of those two, Jaiden’s Best has set 1st quarter fractions of right at 23:4 several times (in both 7f and 8f races), while Mr Sultana has gone out in 23:3 a couple of times. 

So the morning line and public’s third choice, Jaiden’s Best, will be stoutly challenged and likely out-gunned for the lead. Especially when observing the added facts that:

1. The Son Wind – though never leading at the first call of any race – has in fact run a faster 1st quarter than either of the two under consideration – right at 23 flat in a 6.5 furlong race 4 races back (but he then faded to last in that race). And that also Charlie the Greek (who won’t likely want the lead) – has run a faster 1st quarter than either of our “early” two 

This – along with Charlie’s potential 1:10:4 3/4 mile time (see 3/4 time comparisons later in the post) – points to the race very likely not being won by a pace-setter

(2.) JB hasn’t won in last 10 tries while Mr. S has won 3 of last 10 

(3.) JB has a very low % trainer and jockey combination . . .

. . . I’m very skeptical of JB’s chances, and in fact threw him out completely.  What does that do? 

It has eliminated the public’s 3rd choice and therefore the 14% of the win pool that is bet on Jaiden’s Best – is in error – and can now be added back into their estimation of our other contender’s odds (think that over for a minute).

pps for those four runners below :






Let’s continue on with these early pace considerations . . .

If either of the potentially fastest early horses in the race (The Son Wind, or Charlie the Greek) – decide to go for, or closely pressure the lead – then Mr. Sultana will be negatively impacted as well. 

He is a horse that – though trying – hasn’t actually got to the lead since his Maiden Claiming win 9 races back – and he was 16-1 in last race at this level – and he has a 6% jock and a 6% trainer. Throw him out – and gain another 10% of the pool that is in error – to again add back into our eventual final contenders odds.

We have 4 now:

1.Over Limit 5-1 (9-1)
4. The Son of Wind  3-1  (5-2)
6. Charlie the Greek  9-5  (1-1)
7. Peace Points  10-1  (13-1)


We’ve finished analyzing the early pace (and this analysis was only visually from the data – no computers crunching numbers required here). 

Let’s now look at the 3/4 mile times.  You might look at final times in other instances, but since some of these horses are coming out of  7f and some out of 8f races – the 6f time is our ‘common denominator’ here.   

We’ll use that (and a couple of other common handicapping factors) to make some judgments on our remaining 4 . . .

Over Limit has no wins showing, and has failed 7 times at this same claiming level already this year!  The fastest 3/4 mile time in any race where he had some success – was 1:11:3 (I’ll quote in ‘old school’ fifths of a second, but be aware that the pps you are seeing are quoted in 10ths of a second).

He’s out – and we gain another 10% of public error on this 9-1 shot – for our other remaining contenders.



We are down to 3:

4. The Son Wind  3-1  (5-2)
6. Charlie the Greek  9-5  (1-1)
7. Peace Points  10-1  (13-1)

Peace Points is the only one we haven’t considered – and was the longest odds of our initial 6.  He has two wins showing – both at higher levels – both on the grass.  He has though – the highest Average Purse Value of any horse in the race (with Charlie a close second, and The Son Wind as actually the lowest/worst among our initial 6).

The race that stands out on this guy was that 3rd race back, on the dirt, 47 days ago at double today’s claiming level. That was an 8.5 furlong race, where his position at around the 3/4 mile marker gave him a running time of approx 1:11:2.

If you look back at The Son Wind above – you’ll see he also went in 1:11:2 – but in a restricted (non-winners in 6 months) 6500 race that was with lesser than today’s race.



Alright – conclusions . . . It’s obvious that Charlie the Greek is potentially the best horse in the race – is a deserving favorite, and dangerous. But for me it was a two-contender race: Charlie and Peace Points, with a very slight chance that The Son Wind could steal the race.

Even if you considered all three of the horses that made it through our analysis – remember the 35%+ error in win pool distribution that needs to be figured back into our remaining contenders “true odds” – only Peace Points was being overlooked by the public. 

While Charlie was off at a slightly over-bet 1-1, and The Son Wind was off at a questionable and over-bet 5-2 . . . Peace Points was offering 13-1 on what should have been a 5-1 horse. 





I would suggest three points of importance in the above post:

  • Use fractional time comparisons in sprints and dirt routes to establish the early runners and project how they will do today from that.
  • Always start with a respect for both the morning line, and the publics opinionthen see if you can punch any holes in them.
  • If you can find errors there, consider what you’ve gained:  A more accurate betting line, and a truer evaluation of what a fair price to be paid for your choices should be.


Best of fortune to you.


  1. Thanks for the great article.

    Definitely enjoying the Sniper method. Working on a tweak to increase my number of winning races. Good method for anyone to have. If you do not have time to handicap or do not have a play in a race with your handicapping, it definitely pays to see if a Sniper play is available.

    With respect to incorporating morning line odds, many handicappers dismiss it totally. Note this paragraph in the Bloomberg article about William Benter:

    “A breakthrough came when Benter hit on the idea of incorporating a data set hiding in plain sight: the Jockey Club’s publicly available betting odds. Building his own set of odds from scratch had been profitable, but he found that using the public odds as a starting point and refining them with his proprietary algorithm was dramatically more profitable. He considered the move his single most important innovation, and in the 1990-91 season, he said, he won about $3 million.”

    Thanks again for the excellent article.


    • Mark – Thank you for the comment. I had read that Benter article – fascinating to say the least! – Gary

  2. Ron Wolfe

    You not only take the horse to the well, but you get him to drink as well.
    Enjoyed the drill and I think one of the more important points you made were about the Top 6 ML and what tracks do better than others when it comes to comparing ML vs Final Odds. Every percentage point we get, helps us get one step closer.
    Thanks for sharing like you do. Great reading!

  3. shhhhhhhhhhhhhh,

    Gary……..you’re giving away too much…..and for FREE!

    excellent article!

    • Joe – Thanks for the comment. Of course a lot of what I know and use came from others – not always free, but some of the best of what I’ve learned was freely given, and so the cycle continues. Best of fortune to you. – Gary

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