Is Hedging Bets on Horse Races a Good Idea Or a Losing Strategy

Some handicappers think the only reasonable bet to place on a horse is a win bet. Other people point out that breakage eats up flat win bet profits while exotics, that use multiple races but only payout once, are a way around the insidious damage done to the bankroll by breakage.

I am a big fan of win betting, but also allow that there are times when a wise handicapper can use good math skills to find other bets that make economical sense. The whole point of betting on horses is to make a profit, right? Therefore, I think a good motto for a would be pro handicapper should be, “whatever works.”

That means finding the right situation based on statistic inconsistency in how the crowd apportions wagers to risk. In other words, if the chances of winning outweigh the risk of losing. If you can make a profit over the long run, any bet is good.

Making a win bet and seeing your horse get nipped at the wire can be frustrating. I have had runs of bad luck when my horses kept getting beaten at the wire. After a while you start looking at those place payoffs and asking yourself if there isn’t some wisdom in backing your bets up by placing a place wager along with that win bet.

I can almost guarantee that you will no sooner start doing that and your horses will start winning and the measly place payoffs will seem pretty small compared to what you would have earned with straight win bets. Once again, I speak from experience.

The answer to this dilemma is to keep good records and to know if the difference in consistency is worth the trade off for a drop in revenue. If you know how many more times you would have cashed a place ticket and how much profit you would have made on place bets, then you can accurately gauge the value of hedging your bets. There are some people who do as well with place bets as they do with win bets.

The most consistent horse racing systems have to have the basics and a handicapper must understand the basics. I have been around horse racing for 50 years including as an owner. Without the basics the rest is not going to do any good. If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to and get the truth.

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Handicapping Horse Races Effectively Using Par Times

Par times are a useful tool when used properly, but like many horse racing handicapping factors, they should be used cautiously and with knowledge of when they are relevant.  Most past performance suppliers now include some form of speed figure to indicate what the average winner posts in certain races.  They are just a simple number to show how fast the average winner ran.

If you look at the horses in a race you may be able to determine which ones are capable of running fast enough to win.  But like all single digit factors in horse racing, you really have to know what you’re doing in order to use them effectively.  For instance, what about young horses who are improving and will likely register a better speed figure today than in a past race?

One example is races for three year olds.  As the year progresses, the horses who qualify as three year olds are maturing.  By December, they are nearly four year olds according to the rules of the jockey club.  When you look at the par times that are supplied by your information provider, are they adjusted according to the time of year?  They may just be an average that was calculated using races as far back as January.  What effect does that have on the average and how might it be skewed?

Another example may be a horse who has an equipment change.  Though we usually think of equipment changes as something that happens mostly to young horses as trainers figure them out, sometimes an older horse will have a change in equipment that will dramatically affect its performance.

An example of this might be a tongue tie or blinkers.  Not all older horses have had these kinds of experimental equipment changes or if they did, it may have been a long time ago and not show up in the past performances.  A change in trainers can also result in a new lifetime speed figure for a runner as well.  Therefore, though the par times are useful here is a caveat to apply to their use.

Look at each runner in the race and see if he or she has some reason to change or improve and then consider how that will affect the expected speed figure from that horse.  Now admittedly, we don’t expect a nine year old horse to suddenly start posting lifetime high speed figures, but a four year old or three year old certainly can.

If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to and get the truth. Bill Peterson is a former horse race owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill’s horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill’s handicapping store.

Win Money at the Horse Races Betting Trifectas for Profit

The purpose of this article is to show that you can win money at the horse races betting trifectas for profit if you are willing to take a chance. The trifecta is still one of the most popular exotic bets in horse races and if played correctly can show a profit.  The biggest obstacle to winning trifectas is the cost to play all the horses that can slip into the trifecta.  Many people are good at seeing who the top two or three contenders are in the race.  The problem is, the top three contenders are rarely the three horses who complete the trifecta.

If the top three contenders were the tri it wouldn’t pay much anyway.  The fact that some rather long priced horses always seem to get into the tri is what makes it appealing.  So what is the answer?  
Should you wheel a contender on top and hope that two longs shots come in second and third?  Sometimes that is a valid play, but can be risky and expensive.

For instance, if you wheel one horse on top in an eight horse race, the cost for a $ 1 tri wheel is $ 42.  You are gambling that the other two horses that make the trifecta will be long priced to justify the expense of $ 42.  If two other short priced horses come in, you may not even recoup your bet back, never mind even trying to show a profit from your trifecta wheel.  If you eliminate a few horses you reduce the cost of your bet significantly, but those two unlikely looking horses are the very ones that will make a good pay off if they do manage to get into the tri.  That is the dilemma you face.

The best way I have found to play a trifecta bet is to find a race that I can isolate two horses in that I feel really are likely to hit the tri.  That does require the skill of knowing the basics of handicapping, including spotting insider play. The goal is to find two horses that you think will finish in the money and then play them with the other horses in a two horse tri wheel.  If you wheel one horse on top in a 8 horse field it is a $ 42 bet.  But putting two horses on top and in second place reduces the bet to just $ 12!  It means that either of your horses has to be first and second. I wheel both horses like this…

12/12/all and then 12/all/12 for a cost of $ 12 for each combination or $ 24 to make the total bet.
Taking it one step farther, you could also wheel your two key horses for second and third like this…
all/12/12 for another $ 12 and a long shot could win the race and make an even better trifecta payoff and profit for you.

That means that one of my picks has to win and the other, either one, can be second or third and I still hit the tri.  Of course the best case scenario is if a longshot gets in there for second and my two horses complete the tri.  If you are good enough to consistently pick two horses that will finish in the money, then you should be able to make a profit on trifectas.  Limiting the amount of your bets and only playing races where you can spot horses that really do have a good chance of winning is the way to make money on trifectas.

If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to and get the truth. Bill Peterson is a former horse race owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill’s horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill’s handicapping store.