Seven Tips for Better Handicapping Systems

For novice handicappers, there is often room for improvement in their handicapping as they try to start to track down the dream of making a living playing the races. Many, more seasoned, horseplayers may need a slight nudge to get them back on track. Either way, you can always strive to make your own approach or system better and gain a slight edge versus your competition.

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Down to the Final Derby Preps

The Kentucky Derby picture is starting to get clearer, but the last round of prep races will define the field. These races often offer strong wagering opportunities for both the casual racing fan, as well as those who make a living playing the races.

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Unwritten Rules of the Racetrack

I love going to the track. I especially love sitting out on the grandstand apron at Monmouth Park on a lazy, sunny Friday afternoon in the summer.

We are all there for the same purpose, to make a few bucks and have a good time. Yet there is one thing that can ruin a racegoer’s day faster than a pop-up thunderstorm — someone who doesn’t follow the “Unwritten Rules of the Racetrack”.

So, whether you play $2 show bets or you make a living playing the races, don’t be the guy that ruins the day for everyone else.

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Think Small, Win Big!

We are always told to “think big” or “think of the big picture” in our approaches to most things in life. What if I told you the secret to success is actually thinking small?

When I mentioned this to my youngest son, he was quick to tell me that I was wrong since his teacher tells them to think big all the time. He went on to tell me that she says they can all be astronauts, doctors, lawyers, the next Rail Guy — or whatever they want to be — by thinking big.

I disagree.

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Prepping For The Final Kentucky Derby Prep

This is a fun time of year. The 2019 Kentucky Derby field is starting to take shape, as horses are trying to win enough points to qualify for a spot in the Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May. The races are worth more points and the fields are getting more competitive. Whether you are a casual fan or you make a living playing the races, it is time to catch “Derby Fever”.

Week to week, the field changes. Horses get injured, don’t perform as well as expected, or come out of nowhere to burst into contention. The current Kentucky Derby picture is as clear as mud.

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Making the Case for Year-Round Tracks

The leaves are starting to turn. The hot summer days of relaxing on the apron at Monmouth Park are over. The horses have all shipped elsewhere for the fall and winter.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my home track, Monmouth Park. I put a lot of effort into my own record-keeping and stats that help me make a profit there year after year. Yet, once September rolls around, I have to play something else.

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10 Bad Habits of Horseplayers

Bad habits. We all have them, even those horseplayers that are making a living playing the races. Some are worse than others. The average time it takes for someone to create or break a habit is 66 days, with a range of 18 to 254 days. Some racing meets start and finish in that time!

The good news is that you can break a habit. I have faith that my readers can do it in the 18-day timeframe and not in 254 days, but you need to identify if any of these bad habits apply to you!

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(Photo by Manan Chhabra on Unsplash)

Recalibrating Your Handicapping Can Lead to Success

A recent study found that 80 percent of high school students thought that they are smarter than the average student. In another study, 90 percent of drivers thought they were better than the average driver. In a 1977 study, Patricia C. Cross found that 94 percent of professors thought that they were above average when compared to others in academia.

People overestimate their abilities in most walks of life. Handicapping is no different.

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How 'Via Negativa' Will Change Your Life

Via negativa.

Sounds like one of the fourteen entrants Todd Pletcher will have in the Kentucky Derby this year, right?

Via negativa is a Latin phrase that is often used to explain God by explaining what God is not, as opposed to what God is. Don’t worry, I am not about to bring God into horse racing — although I have heard Rail Guy both pray to God and use the Lord’s name in vain all in the same stretch run at Monmouth Park. What we can do, though, is improve our handicapping process by focusing on what factors don’t work and use that information to eliminate runners from our contenders.

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4 Things That Will Absolutely Destroy Your Bankroll

Are you a good handicapper? Are you a great handicapper?

Maybe you are, but if you can’t manage your bankroll you’ll never make a dime off your picks, let alone make a living playing the races.

It is the downfall of many great handicappers who have winning systems and approaches. Sometimes, you don’t make the smartest decisions.

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Don't Fall Victim to Silent Evidence

In other words, we know much less than we think — dissecting the attributes of a winning horse after the race does offer some benefits, but only when you also analyze the losers. Otherwise, the factors pointing to the winner would not have been positives at the time you were handicapping the race.

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The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Gamblers

People that make a living gambling have a different mindset about gambling than those that play recreationally. When your bottom line is on the line, you approach your opportunities differently than the casual gambler.

How do they do it?

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5 Ways to Grow Your Bankroll in 2019

Lose weight. Eat healthy. Sleep more. Get a better job. End unhealthy relationships. Learn to speak Latin.

This year is going to be different. You are going to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, and this time you mean it!

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Physicality Handicapping: Don't Sweat It!

 It is the summer. It is hot and humid wherever you go. Call it global warming, call it climate change or just call it the hottest stretch of summer.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Pace - Part 1

Learn to identify different types of early speed horses!

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The Curse is Lifted! 2017 Preakness Analysis

Check out my thoughts on this race!

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Thursday 5/11/17 Penn National Race 7

Check out the pace analysis for this race!

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Figuring The Kentucky Derby Pace

A look at how the 2017 Kentucky Derby might set up — and which horses will benefit.

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Not All Favorites Are Created Equal: Part 1 – Strong and False Favorites

Many horseplayers live by the rule of thumb that favorites win about 33 percent of the time for a 17 percent loss per wager. While not too far off the mark, you need to consider that there are several different kinds of favorites to consider.For the sake of this study, the analysis of favorites excludes maiden races and races for two-year-olds, since I consider them to be among the least predictable. This left 16,065 races for me to analyze, focusing on the morning line favorite. I then divided these horses into three categories: strong favorites, false favorites (no qualifier), and false favorites (with qualifier).

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The Dirty Dozen: 12 Kinds of People You Meet at the Track

Normally, I write about more serious topics on how to improve your handicapping. Recently, I was having a conversation with my good friend and longtime track buddy Walt. We reminisced about the oddball crew we would run into on our weeknight jaunts up to The Meadowlands and weekend excursions down to Monmouth Park.
This discussion got me to thinking that all race tracks are parallel universes. The same regulars exist at each track, off-track betting facility and casino racebook. They may dress different, be different ages, but all exhibit the same characteristics.

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Where Good Horse Racing Systems Come From

I modified the title of Steve Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From” by replacing “Ideas” with “Racing Systems”. Many horseplayers still wonder how to develop their own system or method of handicapping or selecting horses. While there is no magic method, one point that Steve Johnson discusses will help both the novice and seasoned horseplayer.


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4 Keys to Cracking Maiden Optional Claiming Races

Recently I received some great feedback and emails on my articles about how to approach allowance optional claiming races and starter allowances. One email, in particular, had a great question that I decided to answer in today’s article.

“If you can analyze an allowance optional claiming race in part by class, how should you approach a maiden optional claimer since none of the horses have established class yet?”

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Ray's Older Articles at USRacing


Click here to see all of Ray's previously published articles at USRacing. He covers a number of great topics from how to approach different types of races - claiming, allowance optional claimers, and maiden optional claimers; as well as many other fascinating topics!

Using Monty Hall to Handicap

I admit that I was at first a bit skeptical of the Monty Hall Problem. After all, I consider myself a sound handicapper. I know where my strengths and weakness lie. I have been a winning horseplayer for years and, while happy to be turning a profit, I am always looking for a way to increase my potential number of plays and profit. How could this Monty Hall analysis help my wagering?

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Interview with Dave Schwartz of

Dave Schwartz Interviews Ray Wallin: Winning Player, Blogger and Former Public Selector

  • Pace handicapper specializing in multiple pace scenarios.
  • Key to winning is record keeping.
  • Favorite Quote (from BASF): “We don’t make the product. We make it better.”
  • Selecting pacelines
  • Why you sometimes need multiple pacelines per horse.
  • Negative angles

Click here to listen!