Maiden Horse Races and Speed Handicapping

Many horse racing handicappers know that speed is the most important factor in maiden horse races. However, as is often the case, a little knowledge may be a dangerous, or in the case of betting on horses, expensive thing. The problem is that handicapping horse races is an intellectual sport that involves many variables such as recent form, breeding, luck, and trainer moves.

Each of those variables is important and sometimes cannot be quantified or evaluated, in fact, as in the case of luck, some factors can’t even be known until after the race. To the more conservative investors, betting on horse races, especially non-winner races, may seem too risky. The best advice for anyone thinking of putting a flutter on a race is, “Take a dip, but don’t plunge.”

The first place to start with baby races, as maiden races are often called, is to check to make sure each runner has had at least one race. Two races are preferred but that is rarely the case in maiden races. You will usually find at least horse that has only one race. You may also encounter runners who’ve warwick racecourse events  never raced in their short lives and they are called first time starters (FTS). FTS horses should be looked at with great skepticism because you just can’t tell what they might do and how fast they might run. Therefore, I advise skipping baby races with more than one FTS.

On the other hand, in maiden races for horses who’ve all raced before you will have some indication of how fast each one can run. Maidens usually lack finesse and will run as fast and as far as they can. Most will improve a little from race to race unless a trainer manages to intervene with an equipment or medication change. In maiden races these changes can amount to a big difference, so as in the case of the races with FTS, I recommend you don’t bet on any race that has more than one equipment or medication change.

The more changes and variables the harder it is to handicap. On the other hand, if there aren’t many changes, the wonderful thing about maiden horse race handicapping is that it usually comes down to a matter of speed. Look for the biggest change or improvement in horses who’ve had only one race. They often improve a lot in their next race. There can be two reasons for this, first of all many trainers instruct the jockey to just get the horse around the track in its first race and the race is considered a training event and nothing more. Secondly, because they’ve had a race and now know what is expected of them, they can actually race harder and improve over their green efforts.

Among the rest of the field look for steady though slower improvement. Therefore, give each horse a projected speed figure based on the above information and their last effort. Then look at the odds and decide which one gives the best value based on ability. Don’t just focus on the horse you think will run the fastest based on your projections. Remember luck as a factor: Many things can happen in a race.


Scroll to Top