Harness Racing – Handicapping the Standardbred Form Cycle For Best Bets

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Standardbreds are trained differently than thoroughbreds and therefore handicapping their races is a little different. While the typical thoroughbred is rounding into form on its third race back from a layoff, a Standardbred may take a little longer.

When conditioning Standardbred pacers and trotters, the idea is to put many miles of training into them in order to develop a lot of bottom, stamina. While I used to train each one of my horses in harness, jogging many miles over months to get them into the proper condition for racing, other trainers started galloping them and some even trained more than one horse, pulling them along behind a vehicle with a training gate behind.

Each of these methods was fine as long as the muscles and mind of the horse were conditioned and when race day came around, the animal had the stamina and ability to pace or trot a competitive mile. But even after all the training was complete, it still took some real races before they had what it took to win.

Only a horse entered below its true class level could usually win a first race back from a layoff. Of course, as in all cases, there were a few exceptions, but they were just that, exceptions. Even into the third race, Standardbreds are often not ready to compete at their top level. However, one thing I did notice was that there was a time somewhere between the fourth and sixth race, when the horse usually would take a great leap ahead in its ability.

While usually pretty consistent and predictable, you can usually look for a big improvement in a pacer or trotter in one of the three races after its third race. The exception to the predictability and consistency rule, of course, is when a horse is coming back from an injury or has a significant equipment change, even a correction in shoeing.

So beware when handicapping harness races and always give a little extra room for improvement to a horse on the fourth through sixth race back after the layoff. You will be glad you did and find some surprisingly good payoffs on your winning tickets.

Source by Bill Peterson

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