Trip handicapping - what to watch for in past race analysis

Pick Pony |March 31, 2024, 8:20 p.m.

What is Trip Handicapping

Trip handicapping is the process of identifying horses that face difficulties during a race, affecting their final position. These incidents may not be reflected in the Past Performance statistics and can only be identified by watching the race.

The most valuable insights are often the least obvious. Clear trip issues typically happen during the home stretch, while hidden problems can occur at the starting gate, running down the backside, or in traffic around the far turn.

Trip handicappers usually watch live races and note any horse that encounters unusual trouble, adding it to a watch list for future races. Tools like Equibase (Virtual Stable) or Daily Racing Form (Watches) can provide alerts for workouts and upcoming races for these horses. Here is what to watch for:

Start of the Race

Observe any horses that stumble or contact each other at the beginning. Be alert for unusual incidents.

Straight Path before a Turn

Straight paths before turns are crucial. Here, jockeys position their horses strategically for the turns. Watch for horses that face obstacles, or get steadied by other horses. Sometimes, a jockey may even adjust his position to prevent his horse from tripping over the horse in front.

Activity in the Stretch

Troubles in the stretch are typically noticeable to all, so spotting them gives no real advantage. Any issues here will likely affect the winning odds in the horse’s next race.