Trainer and Jockey Relationship for Horse Handicapping
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Now that you have selected your horse and have researched the track and the race conditions they final piece of the horseracing handicapping puzzle will be to look at the trainer and jockey as they relate to each other and their mount.
It’s best to view trainers and jockeys in tandem, knowing which jockeys are preferred by which trainers and under what special circumstances. However, before we look at them as a team, let’s take a look at each of their role in putting together a winning combination at the wire.
The JockeyNever underestimate the importance of the jockey. Riders that sit atop the leader board win more often than those that take up residence at in the basement, and a small percentage of jockeys win the majority of races at most tracks. These are trained and talented athletes and it takes a lot of skill, endurance, and courage to ride a horse at over 35 miles per hour, sometimes just inches apart, holding on with just a simple piece of leather clutched tightly in your hands. Therefore, to suggest that all jockeys are created equal is absurd. Not only must a jockey possess great riding technique, strength, intellect, timing, and good judgment. He or she has to have a supernatural gift to communicate with the horse. This is what separates the best from the rest, as some jockey are more gifted than others in this area. Other things to look for in a jockey are switches. These changes should always be evaluated in combination with other significant changes, such as a change of distance or surface, class maneuver, improving form, equipment or medication change. A drop in class and switch to the leading jockey (20 percent wins) has been a successful trainer pattern at racetracks for years. Apprentice Jockeys can win routes as frequently as they win sprints, but not as much on the grass or in stakes. When making a final decision, be sure the horse you select has a suitable rider. When eliminating horses in fields with numerous contenders, you may be able to eliminate a horse because of the jockey alone.
While some veteran gamblers sometimes place too much emphasis on trainers, most newbie bettors don’t take into consideration the trainer’s influence on their particular selection. However, while even the best trainers don’t by themselves guarantee a win, you are probably safe throwing out a horse trained by a low-ranking trainer. A trainer is alike a coach and just like any of their pro sports counterparts, there are the Woodens and Maddens and the Mike Tice’s and Josh McDaniels. Trainers have a huge responsibility and not only must possess natural horsemanship techniques, but must also have excellent organizational skills in order to coordinate the efforts of an entire stable. A variety of statistics point out the top trainers at the track and a handicapper that pays attention to the trainers of every horse in every race will soon have a good working knowledge of which ones are acceptable when making a final decision. If the trainer meets the handicapper's standards, he can move on to the next variable. But an elimination can be made if you feel the competence of the conditioner is in question. Keep in mind that a low-percentage trainer (below 8percent) should be abandoned, unless the horse figures best and is offered at generous odds.
Horse Whisperer or Hollerer?
So how does one interpret a trainer’s patterns and statistics? Well for starters you can check your selections trainer by looking at his or hers winning percentages and winning patterns throughout their careers. Statistics don’t lie and trainers do repeat their patterns, despite the argument that that each horse is an individual and is conditioned differently. In fact, some handicappers bet horses on these patterns alone. I prefer to use them as another variable rather than a sole decision. You can find all of this information for the current year and the prior year, and up to six different trainer pattern statistics in the Daily Racing Form, underneath the workouts at the bottom of the past performances. These stats will also include the number of starts for the particular pattern, the win percentage and the return on investment (ROI) based on a $2 wager. Trainer patterns are only shown for a specific race situation For instance, if a horse is running on dirt, the trainer pattern statistics for turf will not be shown. An example of a trainer pattern might be --Dirt (103 .14 $1.17). This tells you the trainer for your pick has started 103 horses on a dirt surface and has won 14 percent of the time. It also tells you that if you bet $2 on every one of this trainer’s starters on dirt, you would receive a negative ROI of $1.17, or a loss of $.83 for every $2 wagered. Clearly, this is not an attractive investment. You will however, see some positive ROI stats when you look over the various trainer patterns, and when you do find a positive ROI on a trainer in a particular situation, you should give that horse extra consideration in your handicapping.
The Winning Combination of Jockey and Trainer
Once you looked at your selection’s jockey and trainer individually, it’s time to look at how the two have worked together in the past, and what outcomes were produced. Look for consistency when using this angle -- 20 percent win, 50 percent ITM (in the money), and 2.00+ROI with a minimum of 20 starts together are a good indication of a successful and profitable tandem. While it’s hard to find these stats in the regular racing form, they are available for a fee, from local information services. But be careful, as leading trainers and jockeys are constantly being over bet by casual bettors. You can witness this on Kentucky Derby day, with the packing of the tote board on certain horses based on the trainers winning percentage in prior year’s Derbies. Nevertheless, do not be lured into the trap. The horse counts most, not the trainer and jockey, and over bet trainers and jockeys should not be your sole decision maker. However, when combined with a winning Thoroughbred, hot trainers and jockeys are winning twice as frequently as cold trainers and jockeys who are winning less than half as often as they normally do.
There are many more trainer patterns, than what we discussed here. All sharp handicappers use trainer patterns to some degree when deciding which horses are worth a second look – and worth betting on.
Some handicappers may also keep their own records of trainer patterns. This allows them to spot additional trainer patterns that are not listed in the past performances. In addition, compiling your own set of trainer pattern statistics gives you an additional edge on the crowd, and can definitely result in some lucrative scores. And isn’t that what it’s all about?