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Harness Horse Bet Tips

Anyone can make a profit at harness horse betting, but it's not as easy as it seems. The very first challenge is to understand the different skills needed to be a successful harness horse bettor.

Many harness horse bettors think that handicapping is the most important skill. Surely, handicapping is important because without the ability to analyze the races, you will certainly fail.

Dedicated harness horse bettors gain enough experience and smarts to critically analyze races and determine which runners are most likely to win and which are outsiders.

There is a tremendous amount of information available to help you sort through the field and narrow your choices.

Handicapping is just the foundation to success. Here are some harness horse bet tips:

Harness Horse Bet Tip #1
Find Value

Know which horses are overlays, offering favorable odds, and which are underlays, offering too little reward for the risks at hand. Finding value plays is crucial to success.

Harness Horse Bet Tip #2
Finding winners is not enough

Handicapping is not the same as betting, anymore than reading is the same as writing. Finding winners and then knowing how to bet them are vastly different skills. Many harness horse bettors can handicap well, but still go home each night as losers. Find winners and place intelligent bets.

Harness Horse Bet Tip #3
Know when to pass or play

Let's face it, no one can make money at harness horse betting by placing a bet on every race. If you are an occasional gambler who sees going to the races as a day or night of entertainment, then betting all 10 or 11 races is fine. However, if you want to succeed over the long haul, however, betting every race is bankroll suicide. You just can't find value or find winners in each and every race every night. Smart bettors know when to pass and when to play.

The following are some harness horse betting angles which you can explore before placing a bet:

  1. Betting on Low Percentage Drivers
    In harness racing, the driver is one of the most important variables in handicapping and turning a profit. Many bettors ask about the challenge of betting on low priced horses driven by drivers who win infrequently. The solution is simple -- always bet against low percentage drivers (winning percentage under 10% is a good rule of thumb) when they drive low priced horses -- favorite or second choice. The problem with low percentage drivers is that they often find ways to get a horse in trouble -- by being too aggressive or not aggressive enough. Most of the time, these drivers lose, so why compound the challenge by accepting a short price that does not reward the risk. Sure you may find an exception when they manage to eke out a victory on a 3 to 5 shot, but more often they will have you tearing up your ticket... and tearing up your guts. Better to avoid these races or back up your bets if playing multi-winner exotics such as Pick Threes or Pick Fours.

  2. Horses Dropping In Class
    One of the most obvious angles for handicappers is picking horses who are dropping in class. The theory of class is simple -- some horses are better athletes than others and when they face inferior athletes (lower class horses) they should be able to win. The challenge, of course, is to determine whether a horse still retains his or her class edge or like a professional baseball or football player that is on the downturn, have they lost the skills that made them a classier athlete. Often, horses dropping in class that lack form suddenly wake up against easier company.

    There are differences among pacers and trotters when it comes to playing horses dropping in class. For some reason, pacers dropping in class often wake up and win at first asking. However, trotters often need a race at the lower class before they wake up and win. I often find that the trotter with less class but superior current form is a much better play than a classy horse dropping down with poor recent form.

    Bet on a pacer or trotter on the second race off a drop down. I often find class droppers to be overbet in the first outing at the lower class. Should they fail to run well in that initial appearance at the lower level, bettors often overlook them in the next race, providing an excellent value play.

    Select horses that have won recently (last 6 races) at the current class and are now dropping back to the level of that win. The ability to win at this level in the recent past shows me the horse can compete and probably is back to the right level. If a horse has not shown improved form after three races at the current class level, then you might reasonably conclude his or her skills have faded and that there is no class edge advantage.

To help you in your wagering, it is important to know the classifications of the tracks you play. Be aware of the class scale, especially the bottom rungs. It will help you assess shifts from claimers to other classified levels and can be useful in spotting value plays. After all, finding value is the name of the game in harness racing.