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Types of Horse Races

By: John Timmons

Horse Races come in several types, namely, stakes, handicap, allowance, claiming or maiden races. Each one of these have important differences in terms of the types of horses entered into the race, as well as how horse owners and trainers will decide to run their horse in the race.

Stakes races are those which occur annually, offer very large purses, and attract very high quality horses. Examples of stakes races include the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

Handicap races are such that the weights of the various jockeys are equalized through the use of lead weights. Many consider the weight that a horse is carrying to be one of the critical factors in handicapping races. Older, stronger horses are typically allowed to carry more weight than younger horses, and these differences are one of the many factors savvy handicappers take into account when choosing their winners.

Claiming races are far and away the most common type of race. In a claiming race, each horse is entered at a specific price, and may be purchased, or “claimed” by another owner. Claiming is one way in which competition between horses can be equalized. For example, an excellent horse which is valued at $20,000 will not run in a claiming race where the claiming price is $5,000 or less. Conversely, a horse with a low value (e.g., due to poor past performance) is unlikely to run in a race with a high claiming price, simply because it will be outclassed. In fact, it is unlikely that track officials would even allow such discrepancies to take place.

Allowance races are essentially non-claiming races, usually designed for horses which race infrequently.

Lastly, Maiden races are for those horses who have never won. Other conditions may be applied to maiden races as well, such as “Non winners in last 3 races.” Maiden races are sometimes difficult to handicap because the entire field may consist of horses with minimal past performance histories. However, careful handicappers will spot maiden races which have a horse or two which has some history of winning relative to others in the race.

When one is placing a bet on a horse, the better is actually betting on the skills of the horse, the jockey, and the trainer. In the hands of skilled trainers and jockeys, horses with poor past performances can have their careers rejuvenated, oftentimes by making changes such as race distances, conditioning regimens, and so forth. Similarly, jockeys with excellent records can improve the potential of even the most mediocre of horses, under the right conditions. This is part of the reason why professional handicappers tend to stick to a limited number of tracks for their wagering. As they bet at particular tracks, they become increasingly familiar with the trainers and jockeys who work at that track, and this knowledge is taken into account as they pick their winners.

About The Author

John Timmons is a horse racing player who lives in Florida. His website helps people handicap horse races effectively. If your a horse racing enthusiast be sure to visit and sign up for his monthly Racing eZine.

This article was posted on January 28, 2006

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