The Conditions of the Race

July 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Since there is no racing today, I thought I would write about some of the things this racing newbie is picking up from some new friends at Del Mar.

To begin, please remember that while I have been around horses for years and am an avid rider, that has nothing to do with horse racing.  By that, I mean the meeting and handicapping and everything that goes along with it.  I've been going to Del Mar since I moved to San Diego, and betting, and mostly losing, and now I understand why.  If this is too basic and your knowledge goes beyond this, please visit again after a race day for a daily diary and photos.

The conditions of the race - this is the paragraph below the number and name of the race that describes who can enter the race.  For years this has been perplexing to me.  I didn't understand why they were sometimes straight forward and sometimes convoluted.  A friend who is a handicapper explained this to me on Saturday, when he mentioned that the first two weeks of the meeting are harder to handicap.  

The conditions book is published every two weeks by the office of the Racing Secretary for the track that is hosting the meeting.  This basically spells out who can enter a race - record, sex, age, and even color can be determining factors.  During the first two weeks of the meet the conditions are generally pretty broad and are meant to draw as many horses to the track as possible.  The Racing Secretary's job is to fill 8-10 races each day and to ensure a level field.

But after the first two weeks, the Racing Secretary is generally looking at who is actually there for the meet - who is stabling at the track - and this will affect how they write the conditions for the race.  If a lot of maiden or claiming horses are in the stables, you'll see a lot of those types of races.  The additional conditions are meant to keep the field as level as possible.  In a claiming race, it's the claiming price that does this.  In an allowance race, it's the horse's racing record.  Here's a handy reference that I found

So, as the meet progresses, skilled handicappers who track workouts and know trainers and jockeys and the track itself will have a better sense than most people about which horse has an advantage in any given race.  Very interesting, and pretty cool.

I'll let you know how my betting changes as the meet progresses, and more importantly, if I'm winning more.



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