How to Find a Horse For Course

How to Find a Horse For Course

Among the most basic, but critical elements of picking winners is whether or not the horse has shown an affinity for a given racing surface. Simply put, the “horse for course” angle should always be taken into consideration – in spite of, or in addition to – all other handicapping angles.

Handicapping Horses Based on the Track

The Daily Racing Form and many other handicapping publications contain detailed information about a horse’s record – usually in the top right corner of the past performance box. In this concise set of data, the numbers show how many starts a horse has made along with how many wins, second-place finishes and third-place efforts each horse has recorded. So, 11-3-2-1 would mean the horse has made 11 career starts with three wins, two seconds and one third. The Daily Racing Form, for example, also shows the number of starts each horse has made on dirt and turf at the track where the current race is being run, as well as at the distance of the current race. Therefore, a horse with the same overall record of 11-3-2-1 might warrant much more consideration if he also happened to be 3-3-0-0 at the track where today’s race is being run. In this case, the horse would have shown a clear affinity for today’s racing surface where he has earned all of this career wins – a perfect 3 for 3.

Horses Past Performance Results 

This information would be appear like this in the career record box if the race were being run at Churchill Downs (CD) for example:

Life: 11-3-2-1

CD:   3-3-0-0

Horses and Hometrack Advantage

The horse for course angle can often account for why a horse of seemingly inferior quality is able to jump up with an outlier effort and defeat better rivals. Such horses make excellent bets if their competition has not shown the same level of competence over the racing surface where today’s event is being held. Just like home court advantage matters in football and basketball, a horse for course holds a similar advantage in racing.


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