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How to pick winners in Horse Racing, Horse Handicapping 101
Picking winners in horse racing is known as handicapping. It is the art of selecting winners, using all the information and statistics available. It is more of an art or skill as opposed to a science.

This tutorial should help you become a better handicapper or race picker. Here we highlight some important factors to use when selecting winners and hopefully help you become more successful in picking winners!!
Factor #1 Track/Course, Post Position & Distance Factors

Has he/she run well previously at today's distance?
is the horse proven at the distance or is he/she untested, a decent winning percentage at today's distance is a major plus

Does he/she handle this track/racing surface?
does the horse like this racetrack, does the horse handle turf, dirt, synthetic etc.

what is my horse's post position like?
sprint races around one turn usually favor outside posts, while route races (2 turn races) at longer distances often favor inside post positions

Is the horse shipping in to run today?
horses shipping in to run (coming from other tracks) are usually trying harder to win as there is an added expense to ship a horse to a race

Is the horse changing distances today?
many good price winners are changing distances, pay attention to changes in distance. front runners that are shortening up in distance and closers that are stretching out are factors to pay attention to

Factor #2 Starts & Layoff Factors

How long has the horse been off (time between races)?
a 30-60 day break for a racehorse is about right between races. horses that have been off for more than 90 days may need a race to tighten up (get to peak fitness). horses that have been off for more than 180 days (6 months) rarely perform well. if a horse has been off for more than 45 days and runs well, he/she may be tightened up perfectly for the next run.

How many starts has the horse had this year? last 2 years?
horses that are over raced rarely win. look for horses with a combined total of less than 13 starts over the last 2 years. most horses can only handle so many starts. again i prefer lightly raced horses that could be peaking, as opposed to ones that have been beaten up in many races.
Factor #3 Odds Factors

what are the morning line odds?
most horses that win are less than 20-1 morning line. horses with high morning line odds rarely win. surprisingly many good priced winners go off as overlays, meaning they go off at higher than posted morning line odds.

was this horse a beaten favorite in last 3 starts?
horses that were in the betting recently and did not win, often times come back and perform well in their next few races. pay attention to horses that were recent beaten favorites.

is this horse constantly over bet?
some horses are constantly favored, look elsewhere for value as you know this one won't be any value

was the horse between 2-1 & 6-1 odds in last start?
horses in this range show that they took money in their last start and possibly should have performed better. many winners go off in this betting range.

is the favorite beatable?
if you can find reasons not to like the favorite then this may be a worthwhile betting race

has the horse won at high odds in the past?
horses that win at high odds, tend to be repeat winners at high odds. so pay attention to horses that have won previously at a price.

Factor #4 Speed & Workouts Factors

has the horse shown early speed in recent races?
horses that show early speed in recent races can be a sign that they are close to winning, horses up close to the pace often win or finish in the money

did the horse show early speed and fail in last, now cuts back in distance?
a horse that shows good early speed and weakens late, could have a better chance next time out. especially if he/she now cuts back in distance

did the horse come out of an extremely fast race?
horse that run well in an extremely fast time, often perform well in their next run

does the horse have fast workouts?
workouts can often times be a sign of fitness, look for a bullet work before a race to show that the horse is ready

did the horse close from very far back to win last time?
horses that close from far back and win are rarely able to duplicate this effort in their next start. it is exceedingly difficult for a horse to keep closing from far back and win again

How To Pick Winners Part 2 this tutorial continued