Handicapping has an unfair place of importance in modern horse racing. There was a time in the last century when it was the only way of picking winners, but this is no longer the case. We can blame book makers for underscoring handicapping in horse racing with such a bold pencil, because it is integral to their business model! Handicapping separates professionals from amateurs in horse racing, because while one set uses it blindly, the others consider it as just one cog in their decision-making wheels.
The most stable way of making money from horse racing in the long term, is to look for long odds which you know are likely to pay off. Examples of this are when a horse which is not highly rated comes back to its favorite course, or when a thoroughbred has undergone an entirely new training regimen, the effects of which you have taken the trouble to watch. Obvious performance measures are much touted in the horse racing world, but the most meaningful developments are scarcely mentioned in even the closest of circles. Horse racing betting works on information differentials, and there is no free lunch in the business! You have to assemble the jigsaw pieces on your own, and there are no points for showing others the way!
Top horse racing events have become so intensely competitive these days that there is little to choose between contestants on the basis of past performance. Even if the statistics point one way, they could lead you way off the mark by a sudden development of which you are not aware. It is common knowledge that geldings change personality completely from their colt days, but even small changes in medication and diet, which no one notices, can make all the difference between success and failure on the track on a certain day. These subtle differences come even more in to play when punters on distant video screens have to compete with others unrestricted by camera angles.
Handicapping is really fodder for the gullible public. The cunning wait for long odds on their known favorites, and make large though not everyday gains.