Trip Handicapping

Trip handicapping is a specialized form of trying to pick the potential winner from the past performances. The race review is typically done on each contestant in an upcoming race with most of the attention on their last race, but can go back two or three or more races back. Many handicappers look for a horse that had “trouble” in his last race; bumped, steadied, broke in air and stuff like that. The trip handicapper goes much deeper than that, looking for specifics into the running of that last race, and what exactly happened all the way through the race. This would be from the opening bell all the way through the finish line and the gallop out after the race.

You don’t get much of this information from the print past performances, so for this style you need to have seen the race live or on tape (probably more than once) and made your trip notes. You can get some of this info from charts, also. There are a multitude of scenarios that can come out of trip handicapping a race. An example could be that the #1 broke slowly, spotting the field about 4 lengths (at each scenario the handicapper uses a time or length lost measurement). The jockey kept him wide down the backstretch, moved him through traffic on the turn, and then got caught behind 4 horses at the top of the stretch. He swung 3 wide in mid-stretch to finish second by 1.5 lengths. The horse galloped out well for 2 furlongs and returned in sharp shape. Depending on the handicapper’s choice of measurement, he might decide that the horse would improve by 6 lengths, or 1 1/5 seconds at 6 furlongs the next time out. The handicapper would repeat this process for all contenders to come up with a potential winner of today’s race.

I am not a sharp “trip handicapper”, but I do make notations on all races I watch, which I retain for future reference. So, this information might become a part of my handicapping the next time a particular horse runs. Once again, the lesson being that horse racing betting is not all fun and games, but a business that requires serious homework and preparation. Many of the information services have a “horses to watch” list that is extremely useful for this purpose. Just be advised that horses on the watch list are not guaranteed winners, but worth a hard look next time out.


Contributed by Bobby Zen