This is a guest post from well-known horse racing handicapper Bill Peterson, used with his permission, of course.
Wading through the pile of horse racing handicapping factors and the information available for each race is a monumental task. That being said, you really need to refine the information you use to form an opinion. It’s not enough to see that the trainer has a 20% win average. You have to ask yourself, where did those wins come from? If the trainer has a 20% win average overall, but a 25% win average with horses entered in dirt sprints, it means little to you if the race you’re handicapping is a turf route.
When researching the trainer of the horse look at the number of races that trainer has entered and see if the conditioner has a preference. There are some trainers who are well known for their prowess as a grass trainer but who struggle with horses racing on dirt. The same is true when it comes to the age of the horse. Some are very good at preparing young horses and bringing youngsters to the races ready to run, but those same trainers struggle to win with older horses.
While it matters whether there seems to be a pattern you must also consider how many opportunities the conditioner has with each kind of race. If the venues where the trainer keeps horses have a lot of grass races then he may seek horses that race well on turf and owners who have such horses. If the trainer races in the North during the colder months it’s obvious that there won’t be many opportunities to race on the grass.
Fillies are perhaps the most difficult race horses to manage because their mental and emotional state is changeable. They easily become discouraged in a race and will sometimes go from running well in one race to sulking in the next. That’s the reason some trainers are better than others with young female horses.
It takes a special trainer to keep a peaceful and settled atmosphere in the barn and during training in order to instill calmness and a sense of purpose in young female horses. Check the stats on wins with two year olds and three year olds and also ascertain how well the trainer does with fillies and mares. When you handicap take nothing for granted and don’t accept trainer or jockey stats unless they relate specifically to the gender and age of the horses in the race as well as the distance and surface of the race.