How to Handicap a Harness Race – A Simple System to Pick Winners at the Trots
Whether betting on trotters or pacers, if you want to make the most of your bets at the harness races, it is best to stick with a system, even if it is a simple one. Obviously, the more you learn about harness racing and handicapping, the better you’ll do, but if you want something easy to get you started, here a few good tips about harness racing that you can use in a systematic method to pick harness winners.
First of all, in harness racing, the length of the track is very important because it determines how far each horse has to race and may give a big advantage to some horses. While most dashes, as they are called in North America, are a mile long, the tracks vary in length from a half mile to a mile. Half milers often give a big advantage to horses starting from the inside positions. It is very rare for a horse starting from a post position farther from the rail than the 5 post to have much of a chance on a half mile track.
The horses in outside posts do sometimes win, but that can be for one of several reasons, if they are far superior they have a chance, or if there is trouble in the race, like an accident or horses breaking stride, an outside horse sometimes wins. Otherwise, when handicapping half mile tracks, pay particular attention to post position and biases. Good past performances now supply an index which supplies that information in the form of a percentage. No matter how long the track, it is always a good idea to check the post position statistics. If you have little knowledge of picking winners, sticking with favorable posts is a good place to start.
The next step is the driver and trainer. While some harness drivers joke that they are just a passenger, if you read the statistics on the drivers, you’ll find that some win up to three times as often as others. The same may be said of trainers. That information is usually posted right beside the driver and trainer names. A horse in an inside position with a good driver is starting to look like a good bet, isn’t it?
Harness horses, like all athletes, need to be in top condition to compete. What is the best way to find a harness horse in good form? Look for a horse who finished within two lengths of the winner in its last race or who posted the fastest time of any horse in the current race in one of its last two races. When you put the combination of a good post position together with a competent driver and trainer and a horse who is showing good form, you will have plenty of winners using this simple harness racing system.