Handicapping Horse Races
Horse races are the pinnacle of human achievement, but they’re also a brutal and often deadly affair. The horses scream, their backs rub against the track, and the humans perched on their backs whip them to a breakneck speed that would be inhumane at any other time or place in nature, let alone in a close-quartered arena with humans in pursuit. It’s a pity that most people involved in the business don’t understand or care about the natural limitations of these magnificent animals. Then there are the crooks who dangerously drug and otherwise abuse their horses, and those in the industry who know the game is more crooked than it ought to be but fail to do anything about it. Then there are the dupes who labor under the false illusion that horse racing is generally fair and honest.
For those who analyze the form of horse races, there are certain terms that are essential to understanding how to handicap them. Below is a list of the most common ones along with definitions:
Used when a horse makes contact, usually slight, with a rival at the start or soon thereafter. Typically, this occurs in the gate or shortly afterwards and may be initiated by one or both rivals. A snaffle is more severe than a bump or bobble, but less serious than a bite, takedown or bear out.
Generally used during the early stages of a race when a horse shows some early speed, tires, and drops out of contention. Occasionally, the word is used with a winner.
A horse that races well in the midfield or farther back throughout most of a race, but in the final furlong closes determinedly for victory. This can be the result of traffic problems, dueling for command, or simply racing wide for most of the race. Oftentimes the horse that rallies for the win was well placed, had ample opportunity to gain the lead and did not lose ground as he closed, but he needed better racing luck to come away with the victory.
A horse that has good acceleration and a powerful stride, and in the final furlong is gaining on the leaders but will finish evenly or worse. Normally, this occurs when the leader has shown signs of tiring and the horse is able to gain position at a late stage. This term is also referred to as NO FACTOR, NO THREAT and NO OUTRUN.