How To Handicap An Off Track And Find Live Horses

Because horse racing is a sport that takes place out doors, it is subject to the weather and all the variations of weather we get here in the US.  It may be torrential rains in the South or Blizzards in the North or any combination of weather in between.  This presents a real challenge to horse racing handicappers who have to figure out how to handicap a race on an off track.

The advice you used to get from the handicapping experts was to stay home and work on your stamp collection when the weather is nasty and the track is listed as good, muddy, sloppy, or even wet-fast.  That may have worked for some people, but many just didn’t want to sit out every day that the surface was less than fast.  A few wise horse players even figured out the track bias, whereby the track played a certain way so that part of it was better to run on and directly benefited horses running there.

If you are handicapping and trying to make some money for your efforts, it is very important to keep accurate notes.  If you are going to play off tracks then you should have notes about how  the track plays when it is off.  For instance, when it is sloppy, you should know how well early speed holds up (usually quite well on most sloppy tracks) and what part of the track is best.  For instance, does it favor horses running in the one path, near the rail, or farther out?

It takes time to make notes about the running styles of winners on off tracks, but since few people take the time to do it, it will give you an advantage over the other players and that is what you are looking for.  One thing that is certain, a trainer has to have a reason for running his or her horse on an off track.  You’ll see plenty of scratches when the track is muddy, which tells you those trainers didn’t want to risk having their horse fall or they thought it wouldn’t run well on the wet surface.

Probably the best bet of all, when the going gets nasty, is the horse who has been entered in a turf race but has the MTO designation beside its name in the program.  This means the horse is entered for the “main track only.”  It means that if the race is taken off the grass due to the weather, this horse gets to run in the race.  It also tells you the trainer knows his or her horse is well suited for off going.

While many of the grass runners will scratch out of the race, these MTO horses will run and usually wind up in the winners circle or at least in the money.  When the weather is nasty, if you must bet, check out the MTO horses first and proceed cautiously.  Just remember, handicap like a cowboy and bet like a banker.

If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to and get the truth. Bill Peterson is a former horse race owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill’s horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill’s handicapping store.

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