Horse Racing

A Sure Bet: One-Minute Handicapping

February 8, 2010

Everyone has time for one-minute handicapping at the horse races.

horse race program

Increase your odds of picking the winner in just one minute.

By C. Reid McLellan

When planning to go to the horse races, do you plan time to evaluate the race card?

Many fans think nothing of spending $4.50 every work day on a cup of coffee at a coffee house, but will not spend $3 for a racing program that contains information about the runners in a race. While it is possible to get lucky and pick a longshot winner simply by picking a name you like or betting on the color of the silks a jockey is wearing, fans who spend some time evaluating a racecard to make wagering decisions have a more consistent profit potential.

Some fans think that looking at past performances will take more time than they can allot, so they don’t spend any time evaluating races before they wager. Most people know they have small amounts of time, say 10 to 15 minutes while waiting in a doctor’s office for example, but don’t see that as enough time to handicap. Ten to 15 minutes is enough time for one-minute handicapping.

So, what handicapping information can you get if one minute is all the time you have?

Learn more about handicapping. Download AQHA’s FREE Horse Handicapping 101 report today!

One-Minute Handicapping

If you allow one minute per race for race evaluation, you can get the following information that can help you pick a winner.

One-minute preparation time:

  1. Find the page in the race program that has lists of leading trainers, owners and jockeys.
  2. Write down the top-three in each category on an index card.
  3. Identify the location of the jockey, trainer and owner names in the race program.

One-minute race evaluation of each race:

  1. Circle all of the names in each race that are on your top-three lists.
  2. All runners that have at least two circles are win candidates.
  3. All runners with one circle may be considered exotic players.
  4. Add the number of circles to the morning line odds.
  5. Rank the horses based on those totals.

That’s it for the handicapping. Watch the horses when they come on the track for the post parade, and any horse with a point total of five or more and looks like a winner, bet that horse to win. This method will select more favorites, but will also consistently cash tickets. When one of the top-three jockeys is riding a long shot (10-1 or more), that is a long shot worth considering for an across-the-board wager. Obviously, this method works better once a meeting is three or four weeks old. If you are going to the races opening weekend, consider the final standings from last year’s meeting, and wager more prudently.

A one-minute handicapper might not be as successful as a one-minute manager, but the minute you spend evaluating a race might improve your profit potential and help you have the time of your life at the races.

Stay tuned to Reid’s posts! The next installments cover two-minute and three-minute handicapping.

Trainers Elite 301, a trainers’ exam prep class, takes places March 31-April 2 at Lone Star Park immediately following the 2-year-old in training sale on March 30. Sign up today!

As executive director of The Elite Program, C. Reid McLellan organizes and teaches Groom, Owner and Trainer Elite classes around the country. Find out about the next available class here!

As owner and agent of Purple Power Equine Services, Reid helps people buy and sell race and show prospects and provides guidance and assistance with training, breeding and other equine services.