Using Jockey, Trainer and Workout Information in Your Racing Form
The racing form guide can contain a wealth of information to help you figure out the best odds and place winning bets. While it’s nice to check out the competitors at the paddock or watch Youtube videos of their morning workouts, the beauty of using the form as your primary bet making resource is that you can place bets from anywhere, and you don’t have to wait until race day.
Once you’ve looked at other vital data in a horse’s past performances, like track conditions, Tomlinson Ratings and Beyer Speed Figures, it’s time to turn your eye towards the jockey, trainer and workout sections of the form guide for even more information. You want to use all the data at your disposal to paint a complete picture of every horse and give you the best possible chance at winning.
The selection of the jockey for any given race can mean the difference between winning by many lengths and coming in dead last. While many jockeys can do well when paired with almost any horse, even the top riders have special racing styles they’re best at. Calvin Borel, for example, earned the nickname “Calvin Bo-rail,” because he likes to get his mounts inside on the rail early and stay there in the lead. Rafael Bejarano, on the other hand, is a skilled closer. He can get a horse to hang back early in the race, then take it around the outside or through the field to gain ground in the final furlongs.
The jockey’s past history information in the Daily Racing Form can be found in the center block of numbers in the eighth column. Look down the rows at all the horse’s past races. Has the jockey who’s riding the horse in your race ridden it before? Usually a long history together indicates a successful pairing, and you can confirm that by looking at the horse’s finishes with that rider.
Has the jockey been switched recently? It could be because the trainer’s regular rider wasn’t available, but it could also be due to a record of poor performances. Sometimes trainers will switch jockeys in hopes of bringing out a better run with a horse they believe is capable of running faster. The trainer might be looking for a jockey who can close the lead (look at race positions in columns three through six), break faster out of the starting gate (advantageous with a bad post position–column two) or handle a horse who tends to run out towards the far rail, for example (see the comment line on the far right).
Eventually, you will get to know more about different trainers’ styles and victories by watching races and reading the news and race narratives in the form.
You can learn a lot about a trainer’s overall success rate from the form statistics, however. Next to the trainer’s name for every horse is a set of parentheses with that trainer’s current record for the meet: number of starts, number of wins, number of second place finishes, number of third place finishes and percentage of wins. The year’s statistics can be found just after that.
You want to find a trainer that has a relatively high percentage of wins and good history of strong finishes. A high winning percentage, along with a horse that has a good race history and a successful pairing with one jockey will give you the best outcome.
Another way the form can help improve your racing stats is by studying the workouts for the horses you’re thinking of backing. The workout data is located in the bottom right portion of the form, below the past performances for each previous race. Both professional exercise riders and the jockeys themselves, as well as a few trainers, work the horses every morning from about 4:30 until 10:00.
The six most recent workouts are listed for horses with previous racing histories, and 12 workouts are usually given for novices. The workout data includes the date, the track location, the distance worked, the track conditions, the time clocked, a comment about how the horse was worked (“B” means breezing, and “H” means handily) and the ranking of that horse with all other horses that worked the same distance at the track that day. If the horse was breezed, it was run as fast as it naturally wants to run, while if it was worked handily, it was urged as if under racing conditions. The letter “g” indicates if the horse was practicing from the starting gate, and a “d” means it was held to the outside by “dogs” (cones) to keep the inside lanes free for faster or more experienced horses.
Ideally, you want to see good workouts that show the horse can handle the distance being raced and was often clocked ahead of its stable mates. A horse that has had good workouts in wet conditions may also prove itself a solid competitor under similar conditions on race day. Check out the form and any other horse publications you can read to see if you can find out more about recent workouts, such as if the jockey was in the irons (usually a good sign) or if it was a particularly stellar session.
Reading the racing form takes time when it’s new, but if you make a regular practice of it, you’ll be a handicapping pro in no time. Meanwhile, play around with the information and place some bets to make it exciting. When you start racking up a few good wins, you’ll never leave betting up to arbitrary criteria again.