Horse Racing Handicapping

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Laws Of Handicapping

If you’re as fortunate as I to live and work in sunny Southern California traveling the major racing circuit of Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, you long ago accepted the fact that you’re most likely going to sit in your car for over an hour a day each way!  That is, if you are having a “good” travel day.  Drivetime can often be unreal and try your soul! 

That’s what you give up to be in the paddock every afternoon reaping the untold wealth it offers to anyone---anyone willing to work a bit more and go the “extra mile”!  

Too steep a price?  Like it or not, it is required from any Southern Californian horse player who chooses to be there “live” and take the game to it’s final  and ultimate level. 

Many Southlanders like myself gladly put up with it and when caught in “traffic” say, “just another shitty day in Paradise”! 

I haven’t been back East one single day since I left nearly 10 years ago-----not a single day!  

I’m afraid that if I leave, they won’t let me back in! 

Fortunately or not depending on how you see it, the Long Island Expressway (the LIE to my fellow New Yorkers), the Queens Midtown Tunnel (I can still smell it!) the New Jersey Turnpike (do they ever stop refining up North?), the Garden State Parkway, 95, 195 and Route 9 (forgot that one did you?) and the Atlantic City Expressway all taught me very well. 

Drivetime is valuable “think time” that belongs only to you.  Since you can’t go any faster, you should use these precious “windows of time” constructively to improve your game.  Think about the just completed day whether good or bad, and learn from it by reinforcing successes and closely reviewing losses.  Or maybe plan your next private research project to unearth yet another “edge” to add to your overall methodology.  

That’s how this writing came about.  

Sitting on our infamous 405 South in the middle of a “sig alert” (Californian for lane closures), I drifted far back in time when I was trying to learn everything that I could about our great game that we all love so dearly.  

The summer was the best of all. 

Just removing oneself from downtown Manhattan in July and August, was like landing on “Take A Chance” and receiving a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card every single day.  Merely hop in your car, drive south, and play a double live card.  

Yeah, I said a double “live” card! 

I sped to Monmouth (the only track I miss) to get clean air, to once again look at “real” people, and to get some time away from obnoxious Manhattanites like myself.  Besides, racing in New York was always weak at that time of the year---I wasn’t missing anything!  

Win or lose at Monmouth, I literally “flew” down the Garden State Parkway to try and make the first race at Atlantic City while enjoying view and sucking in the “pristine” air.  

I couldn’t get enough of it!  

Days never seemed to end and I was learning at a much accelerated pace.  It was at Atlantic City where I learned the “finer points” of night racing that enabled me to eventually “crush” the Meadowlands when they opened for night racing in the fall. 

It was the best of times---I was never happier! 

Which brings us back to here where my “sig alert” had me parked for a good 2 hours! 

My mind continued to drift back to that “early learning curve” that is so essential in becoming who you become in this game. 

In those days (the 60’s) authors, system guru’s and gimmick sellers all had “immutable laws” that we had to learn before becoming successful.  Or did we? 

Let’s take a look at some of them.  Let’s see what they meant to me then and what they mean to me right now after 40 years into the game and thankfully still learning! 


I started off here because today this rule seems the dumbest thing that I heard as a young man.  The hardboots (trainers) couldn’t tell you often enough that “weight could stop a freight train”.  I’m quite sure that it could if the engine was weak or in horse terms, if a runner had little flesh or muscle.  If an engine is fine-tuned and using top octane, “weight will not stop a normal fright train”!  Sure you could put a million cars on it to stop it, but with horses, were adding no more than 2 to 6 pounds to bring the weight package to 122, not a million pounds. 

Let me put you on to something once and for all.  If we consider the average horse to weigh 1100 pounds and we add 6 pounds to his overall weight package, we’re talking about adding no more than ½ of 1%!  Do you really think that the horse actually “feels” this? 

If 122 pounds stops him, he was totally out of racing condition and so far from being “race-ready” that it isn’t funny! 

Get the picture? 

Horses fine-tuned can carry over 130 pounds with no problem if racing sound and well conditioned! Weight has never “brought them all together” and it never will! 


Because current racing condition it the “key” to winning, not a high-weight package!