• RanchWest
    As promised in the thread on past performances, here we can discuss handicapping with minimal to no use of past performances.

    Of course, you will need software that offers data compiled from the past performance lines or other sources.

    This is how I quick handicap non-maiden races with minimal to no use of past performances. I use numbers such that I do not need to refer to the past performances for quick handicapping (typically no more than 5-7 minutes). Maiden races can be done this way, but there's a lot of unknowns in maiden races that make them more risky unless you have a lot of experience navigating them (or a good coach).

    1) Check the odds line. If your software does not have its own odds line, use the track morning line. A lot of winners will usually come from the top three horses. So, I keep those in mind.

    2) Find the "best horses". My opinion -- the best horses have the best speed ratings. I prefer composite speed ratings, derived from more than one race. I have the highest confidence when I am looking at a lot of different views of speed. Again, many races will be won by the top three horses, so I keep those in mind. I think this is where a lot of people stop, but many races are won by other than the best horse. This is where I get going.

    3) Form cycle. This is not really a quick handicapping technique, but if I find something disturbing about the form cycle or the days away from racing, I may take a fast look outside my normal steps to see workouts and possibly other factors.

    4) Chaos or pace bias. Next, I look at the race as a whole. How fast should it go and can the field carry the pace that they are likely to start with? Not many races go to chaos, but when they do, the front pace falls apart and I have to look for closers. Some of the closers will pay really big, really big. Chaos usually requires more than 6 horses to set up the fast pace. Keep in mind that horses that are deep closers often do not have good speed ratings, so in chaos races I don't shy away from horses that have recently shown a closing tendency even if their speed ratings are not top notch.

    5) Pace. This is very important for me. Which horses conform to the overall pace scenario found in step 4? Normally, to win a horse needs to be either very good on the front end or very good as a closer. Mediocre horses seldom win. As with speed, I like to look at pace from as many perspectives as I can. I generally prefer a horse that can be near the front end but can keep running, but it depends on what I found in step 4.

    6) Look for vulnerable low odds horses. This is the MOST important step. If I can toss a low odds horse, then my chances of picking a decent priced winner go up dramatically.

    7) Decision time. This is the art of handicapping. I have to recognize the over-riding factors. When I have too much doubt, I have to go back to the "best horses" and the odds line favorites for influence. It really takes experience to get it down to a limited number of horses with a high level of confidence. I don't pay much attention to odds. If I think the odds may be really low, I look for an exotic play. But this process seems to work best with win selections.

    I have tried to keep these explanations as generic as possible. Most software packages that do a lot of calculations should be at least somewhat successful using steps similar to mine.

    I watched Dave handicap in his Derby video... he does things differently from me, but he uses data from HSH to quick handicap and he did quite well while I was watching. I'd guesstimate that it was taking him about 3 to 5 minutes a race. It took a little longer for him to add comments for the viewers.

    Dave recently helped me to see the need for a standard process. Before, I was just jumping in SOMEWHERE and jumping out SOMEWHERE and trying to decide SOMETHING. Since I've gone to this process, my selections have been much better. And, it seems to do just fine on the smaller tracks such as TDN and FL. Because I don't have access to an ADW in Texas, I don't wager very often. So, I don't have much in the way of hard wagering numbers YET, so no need to ask.

    Feel free to ask questions.
  • William Zayonce
    Sounds like you have a comprehensive handicapping strategy with a generous portion of thoughtful flexibility to account for the exceptions. Hope it continues to yield success for you!
  • Handiman

    In your post you glossed over one of the most important thing a handicapper can do... And that is find vulnerable favorites. This is something I have never been able to decipher. Ho do you spot one? What info leads you to that conclusion? If you don't mind.
  • RanchWest

    I was trying to stay high level.

    Dave talks about vulnerable favorites in the Kentucky Derby video.

    My favorite angle is a little rare. If you maintain a profile on %Median of winners, horses that fall outside the winning range are very vulnerable. Rather than maintain a profile, I calculate the median for the field and then set a range based on that median. Horses that are outside the range 4 times in past races are vulnerable. While it is rare, I recently found a 7-horse race where the favorite and three other horses qualified for this elimination and none of them won. I think %M is one of the most under-utilized tools available. It discloses a lot. You can read about another use I have for %M in the Chaos thread.

    If you are familiar with Dave's strength par, horses that haven't achieved that speed rating are usually vulnerable. If they're below 7/2, they're a Bet Against.

    I am sure there are a lot of other approaches.
  • RanchWest
    Race 3 at Pimlico (5/19) was a chaos race. The speed nearly held on, but the closer got up by a nose to pay $47.20, longest shot on the board.
  • Tony Kofalt

    Hope you got some of that Ranch. Good work!!!
  • RanchWest
    Not betting today. I can only watch on YouTube (I'm in Texas). The only thing I found at the time was a Spanish language broadcast of Pimlico and Gulfstream. I tuned in when the results of this race were showing, so I researched it. They don't always pan out, but when they do, it is worth the play.

    I just watched one with potential at Gulfstream, but it was on the AW with two closers and one of those was a fairly solid horse who ended up second. The speed held. The other closer came 4th. I don't like to consider a race a chaos potential when there is a solid horse, especially one that closes. I don't watch enough all-weather races to know much about the chaos threshold. It may be akin to turf, where there is no chaos in the same sense as on the dirt. Nearly all of the horses on turf have a low %Median... they expend their energy late.

    Switching to Belmont.

    Off the turf is also not a good situation to look for chaos by my dirt method. Again, most of the horses have a low %Median.
  • Tony Kofalt
    Off the turf races in NY today ran to form. Extremely low payouts.
  • RanchWest

    Yes, in my odds line top 3.
  • Handiman
    Thanks Ranch very much.
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