4 Critical Factors in Horse Handicapping Every Beginner Should Know

You can talk to any horse racing professionals, and you will be likely to be met with different answers in terms of factors in handicapping a horse. That is only natural since we all have different opinions.

Some people will say the most crucial factor is the recency of the previous race the horse participated in or how a particular horse runs in a specific race track. However, all professionals agree that you should consider the horse’s ability in terms of distance and track record.

It isn’t apparent to be honest if you ask different people since they have different opinions. However, if you are looking for a different insight, you’re at the right place. Here’s our take on the five key factors you should take into consideration when horse handicapping.

Finishing Place from the Previous Race

It all comes down into the form of the horse. The performance of the horse depends on its form. If you think the horse has a good form, it might be best to place a bet on that particular horse. But you have to remember that the form is just one of the plethora of handicapping factors you should take note of.

If you think that your bet on the Kentucky Derby, for example, have a good form, take a look at its previous finishing place. If the horse is consistent with its finishing places from its previous races, it might be wise to bet on it. The keyword here is the pattern. However, every race is different, and you have to take a look at the current conditions of the race to make sure.

Always remember that every horse has a specific kind of track that it does well on. Track materials, such as turn, synthetic, and dirt, play a massive role in how a horse performs. A horse might have had excellent finishing places in its previous races, but it might not do well on the current track material.

Hot Jockeys

No, we’re not talking about the looks and appeal of the jockeys. If you are an experienced bettor, you might have encountered the term “hot jockey.” A hot jockey is a jockey that is currently in his prime or a winning streak. They are confident riders, especially if they are paired with a horse they have good chemistry with.

To see the pair’s chemistry, you have to look at them from their parade to their starting positions. If the horse looks agitated or irritable, the chances are that the jockey and the horse do not go well together, or the horse is not in condition. You have to avoid betting on those horses. Also, a jockey will lose his touch sooner or later, so it would be handy if you know how to spot those jockeys that lose their touch.


The pedigree of a horse plays a considerable role in the horse’s performance. This is especially true on horses that are first-timers in being starters. A horse’s pedigree will tell you a lot about their speed, stamina, and how they do well on a particular track material. The most important thing you should see in a pedigree is how quickly the horse reaches its peak.

If that’s not enough, you can take a look at the horse’s breeding, especially with the maidens. Looking at a horse’s maiden will give you a lot of clues, both short term and long term, in how a horse will do on the field.


Like any player in every sport, the fitness of the horse also plays a massive factor in how it performs in a particular event. Like mentioned before, you can look at a horse’s performance to predict how it will do on the current race during its parade on the starting position.

If the horse looks calm and ready, it might do more than well during the start of the race. However, if you deem the horse not ready for the race, or the horse is irritable, it might do poorly on the race track.

You can also predict a horse’s performance by determining how long the horse has set foot on the race track. The longer the horse didn’t participate in any race, the more questionable it will be in its performance. You can adapt the 21-day rule, where if the horse hasn’t raced in the last 21 days, it can affect its performance negatively.


Handicapping a horse is no easy job as there are a lot of factors you have to take into consideration. Accurately predicting how a horse will do on the race track will yield great results. However, every race is different, and you have to remember that no one will know for sure who will win. With the right research and your trusted intuition, you might make a lot of money on the event.