Every horseplayer has a unique way of dissecting a race field and pinpointing a winner. From pedigree to trainer win percentages, previous race form, or the “look” of a horse during the post parade, there are a multitude of factors you can examine to decide which horse is the right one to bet.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handicapping, there are a few strategies I employ regardless of the type of race I’m analyzing, whether it’s a turf sprint, a two-turn dirt mile, an allowance optional claimer, or a graded stakes.
Below are three of my favorite tips for betting horse racing, and, in particular, while using Brisnet.com past performances.
Brisnet.com past performances look fairly similar to a traditional racing program, but they are packed with a ton of additional information. Two pieces of helpful data that can be found inside Brisnet PPs are a horse’s Race Rating and Class Rating for each start.
Labeled with “RR” in front of the “Racetype” (i.e. a $24,000 maiden special weight or $100,000 stakes race), the Race Rating measures the quality of competition that participated in a particular race.
In contrast, the Class Rating (labeled as “CR”) is listed after the “Racetype” and indicates how well a particular horse performed against the competition in the race in question.
For example: Let’s say the Brad Cox-trained Verifying recorded a 119 Class Rating when running an $80,000 allowance optional claimer that earned a 115 Race Rating. The data indicates that Verifying outran his competition, which, in fact, happened, as Verifying won by 5 1/4 lengths against a field of six in the allowance optional claimer. Thus, he recorded a Class Rating (119) that was significantly better than the Race Rating (115) of the field.
You can compare and contrast each horse’s Class Ratings in their previous start, then look to see what type of competition they faced with each Race Rating. You may find a horse posted a much higher Class Rating in their most recent race compared to the rest of the field. If that horse ran in a stakes with a high Race Rating, you may have just found a winner.
Now, let’s say the same horse posted a 118 Class Rating but faced a field that earned a 110 Race Rating. However, one of today’s race rivals recorded a 117 Class Rating against a 116 Race Rating in their previous race. You may want to side with the latter because he outran tougher competition in his prior start.
Another quick way to look for a win contender with Brisnet Past Performances is by using Brisnet Prime Power Rankings.
Prime Power is a proprietary rating that utilizes dozens of handicapping factors (such as speed, class, pace, and distance) from a horse’s recent performances and gives each horse a single composite rating. The higher the Prime Power number, the better.
Every horse in a race is assigned a rating (if sufficient data is available) and ranked from first to last among the field. The top three horses are listed in the “Prime Power” box at the top of each race page.
lengthy studies conducted by Brisnet, the following success rates were
determined using Prime Power with races on dirt:
Top Prime Power horses by three full points (3.0+) or better score 39% of the time.
Top Prime Power horses by six full points (6.0+) or better score 46% of the time.
Top Prime Power horses by 10 full points (10.0+) or better score 55% of the time.
For example: In the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1), Fusaichi Pegasus’ Prime Power was 11 points better than the next horse in the 19-horse field. Based on Brisnet’s Prime Power research, the Mr. Prospector colt had a 55% chance of winning the Derby, and the 2.30-1 favorite did in fact cross the finish line first.
The following year, Prime Power proved a powerful tool again, as it identified Monarchos, a 10.50-1 choice, as the top horse in the field.
Prime Power can often lead you to a top horse, but it’s not the only factor you should look at when picking a winner.
It’s important to note what type of race you’re handicapping when using Prime Power. A horse may have the top Prime Power rating in an upcoming turf race but has won on dirt in their last three starts. Thus, their Prime Power figure may be highest among the field, but the horse may not be proven on the surface on which they’re about to run.
In that case, you’ll want to dig deeper into trainer and jockey stats on turf, as well as the horse’s pedigree, and any past history when running on the grass.
One other important piece of information that can help you locate a winner with Brisnet Past Performances is track bias. At the end of each race page, you will find these stats listed with runstyle, post bias, and impact values of each. While you may like a closer (marked with an "S" in Brisnet Past Performances) in an upcoming race, the track bias stats may show that early pacesetter (E) types are winning at a much higher percentage compared to late-running types.
Likewise, horses running from the rail post may be winning at a higher percentage than those breaking from the outside.
This data isn’t the only information you should look at to determine a winner, but it can help you figure out if you’re leaning in the right direction.
For example: A horse you like has drawn Post 9, but horses breaking from Post 8 and beyond have won at a 5% rate this meet. Therefore, your top pick may have a more difficult time reaching the winner’s circle in this instance.
Or, you may find an E/P (early/presser) type you like listed at 10-1, and E/P types are winning at a 19% rate this meet. Thus, you have all the more reason to back the longshot in their upcoming race.
RELATED: Learn more in our free Training to Win education series by TwinSpires racing experts