Trip Handicapping 101
Handicapping horse races is an art form. Most successful handicappers focus on speed figures, class comparisons, race shape, prior race trips or any combination the aforementioned options. In order to determine which attributes they are going to focus on, handicappers have to first decide how much time they can invest towards handicapping a race or race card.
It's important to recognize there is a direct correlation between the time one spends handicapping and the financial rewards derived from such activities. If time allows, trip handicapping has proven time and again to be the most effective way to pick winners that come back at healthy prices.
What is Trip Handicapping?
Very seldom do the results from any particular race tell the whole story about the race itself. Yes, sometimes the best horse does win and when they do, the price usually comes back on the short side because the general public and astute handicappers have realized the obvious and bet the winner accordingly. Sometimes, the best horse simply fails to fire and the race opens up to other possibilities.
There is one more scenario worth considering. Things happen during a race that can have a profound effect on the race itself. Sometimes, horses are put at the mercy of other forces within a race. Trip handicapping is the process of evaluating the trips horses have gotten is preceding races to determine if perhaps the results might have been different had a particular horse's chances not been compromised by these other forces.
In the Daily Racing Form or Form Guide, trip notes are included within the past performances for each horse. These trip notes might indicate a horse had some degree of trouble during the running of a particular race. In some cases, these trip notes might indicate significant trouble while in other cases, the reference might be a little more subtle. Either way, an astute handicapper might have seen the race in question and noted the trouble on their own, or they always have the option to go back and look at the race replays in order to get a better sense how significant the trouble was in reality.
Trips Worth Noting
When a horse has had its chances compromised in a particular race by trip issues, it creates betting value next time they race because the form looks worse than it really is. Here are three "trips" that often lead to horses being overlaid in the betting next time out.
The Lone F --The F stands for frontrunner. In a race where a lone front-runner is allowed to control the pace without pressure, the chances for stalkers and closers will be compromised. If a horse is in good form and closed well into a slow pace without winning, they may have run a winning race compromised by the race flow. That horse could offer betting value in a future race with more speed.
The Setup -- The opposite of the Lone F trip is the Setup. This is a race were there are multiple speed types pressuring each other upfront with a fast pace, setting the race up for closers to come get the money. Any horse that can participate in and endure the speed battle up front and hang on for a piece of the purse could be a bet-back candidate next out in a race with less speed.
The Trouble Line -- When a horse finds itself being block, bumped or forced out at a critical time during a race, it could greatly affect the horse's ability to make a winning move. For instance, a speed type gets bumped hard out of the gate and doesn't get near to the early lead. The horse's chances have been compromised because its running style has been compromised. The past performance line might look bad, but it creates a betting opportunity next out if the horse breaks well and gets the lead as intended.
The difference between a successful horseplayer and the rest of the plodders who call themselves handicappers is the ability to nail winners at an overlaid price when using RaceBets. Time permitting, trip handicapping is the best way to capitalize on an ignorant racing public that doesn't realize that some past performances have extenuating circumstances worth considering.