Watch for hot jockeys or trainers. A hot jockey sometimes will get the choice of top mounts, and a rider usually will go with the horse most likely to win. Check the standings in the official program.
Notice how jockeys and trainers pair up. Some trainers will invariably use a certain jockey when they have promising runners. Look for the "favorite jockey."
Try to seek out the mismatch. Professional handicappers often will seek out the race in which one runner is far superior to his or her competitors, and they will bet that horse. Speed ratings can be a good guide to the potential mismatch.
Read the comments at the end of the past performance lines. They sometimes will indicate when a horse ran into many problems during the course of a race but nonetheless closed with a flourish.
Figure out how the track is playing. Veteran handicappers will often watch the early races to see if a pattern is developing in the races. In the first races, they may notice that front runners are winning the sprint races and stretch runners are prevailing in the longer races.
Check the workouts. Although too much attention can be given to the workouts, a very fast workout may indicate that a horse is coming to full fitness, and a sluggish workout can be a precursor of trouble. "Bullet" works are the fastest moves at a specific distance on a given day.
Look for equipment changes. Adding blinkers to a horse's equipment can help a horse to focus, although this factor must be evaluated carefully. The trainer may in fact be experimenting in hopes that some change will make the horse perform better.
Barn changes should be considered. A claimer moving from a relatively modest stable to a successful one will be worth consideration. Horses often will respond to the change in surroundings, and other factors - such as a change in feeding or in horse-shoeing - may result in a rapid turnaround.
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