July 22, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

Wind As a Horse Racing Handicapping Factor

Wind As a Horse Racing Handicapping Factor

Because horses race outdoors the elements play an important part in racing and which horses are good bets and which ones are at a disadvantage. Most people who handicap horse races know about rain and muddy tracks. There are some horses who race better when the surface is muddy, sloppy, yielding, or good. There are also tracks that have a bias when the weather is bad. It may be because the inside of the track collects water due to the slope of the grade or for some other reason.

Wise handicappers familiarize themselves with the bias at their favorite venues and use it to evaluate each runner’s chances. But how many people know how to use the wind as a factor or realize the important part it plays? It is important in thoroughbred racing and especially important in harness racing.

Fortunately for handicappers, most race tracks fly flags in the infield of the track so the direction and speed of the wind are apparent. Cross winds and head winds play differently. A cross wind is one that blows across the stretches at approximately a 90 degree angle. It will therefore be blowing into the faces of the runners on the turn or will be blowing at their backs.

In the case of a headwind, the breeze is blowing in the same direction as the stretches and will be in the faces or blowing on the rumps of the runners. In races where the margin is sometimes only a nose or a head, this can make a huge difference. Imagine a 20 or 30 mile wind blowing against a horse that is running in front in the stretch. Any horse behind it has the advantage of cover, but the front runner will encounter the wind head-on at some time, whether it is running down the back stretch or in the homestretch.

On days when there is a strong wind blowing head-on, look for more closers to win. They don’t necessarily have to come from far off the pace but they will be a horse that sat behind another and benefited from that. If you handicap using track models and running styles, take into account the effect of the wind and adjust your play accordingly. On windy days, particularly if it is blowing into their faces, only play a front runner that is very strong. Such a horse will probably be over bet anyway, since most people don’t use the wind as a factor, so you may want to look at any horse that will run close to that one, but benefit from cover.