The process of handicapping a harness race, or any horse race for that matter can be as complicated or simple as you make it. Naturally, the more handicapping factors that you take into consideration and effectively weigh, the better your chances of understanding what each horse’s probability of winning may be. That is the true goal of handicapping a horse race, by the way, it is all about probability. The following explanation is not meant to make you a great handicapper, just to get you started with a few simple guidelines.
So when you are trying to pick a winner at the harness races, you are really deciding what each horse’s chances of winning may be. At half mile and five eighths mile tracks, there is a great advantage to some post positions. While certain posts at the mile tracks do have an advantage, it isn’t as pronounced as the shorter ovals. Almost all harness races in the United States are one mile dashes. So distance doesn’t really matter as much as it does in thoroughbred racing.
The Standardbred horse is a hardy breed that usually handles the one mile distance quite well. In fact, years ago, harness horses often raced more than once in a single day. Though a lot of races in a short time will take its toll on horses, the harness breed can handle a lot of races, so you usually don’t have to worry about fatigue. Once they are in good condition, barring lameness or injury, they usually stay in good form for quite a while.
Therefore, start by looking at the post position of each horse and the track’s statistics. If you see that a particular post or posts are advantageous, mark it beside the horse’s name. The next thing to look at is the driver’s UDR. The UDR is the universal driver rating. It means the proficiency of the driver at coming in first, second, third and it is very important. Obviously, the better the driver the better the chances the horse will win. You can circle the top three scores in the race, though anything over.275 is very good.
The next step is to see how the horse’s themselves have been racing. Look for horses who have finished in the money (1,2,3) in their last two races. Circle any horse that finished well and look at the post position it raced from in that race. If it is moving to amore advantageous post position, it may do even better today. Circle the horses who have finished well. You should now have enough horses and drivers and posts circled to get an idea of which horses will have the best chance of winning.
There are many people who can handicap a harness race quite well, so a look at the toteboard odds will probably confirm that you have indeed found the best horses in the race. Now look to find the best odds (highest odds) on one of your top two or three horses. The simplest bet is a win bet so you may bet the horse to win. Obviously, this simple method of deciding which horses have the best chance to win is not meant to be a great money maker, but it will help you to understand why the horse is favored and also is a way to start understanding betting on harness races.