Reading a Program
1 The Post Position Factor
Post positions are usually drawn randomly, and horses starting from the inside posts simply have less distance to travel. Pay attention to horses in posts 1 through 5, and pay special attention to the horses with inside post positions who had been in higher post positions in their last few starts; they may be due for an improved performance.
2 The Driver Factor
Drivers, like other athletes, possess varying amounts of ability. The top drivers are easy to spot by looking at the stats next to their name (Total Races-Wins-Seconds-Thirds-Universal Driver Rating System, which is a driver’s “batting average”). The drivers with the highest UDR know how to best plan out a race, and know how and when to get their horse to give his all
3 The Class Factor
In order to keep the races competitive, horses are divided into stakes, conditioned and claiming races. A horse moving up in class will be facing tougher competition. A horse moving down in class may find this crowd a bit easier to beat. The simplest way to determine class—at the same racetrack—is to look at the purse amount for each race.
4 The Trainer Factor
While the driver handles the horse in the race, the trainer is responsible for the horse’s care the rest of the time. Trainers have statistics just like drivers, so look for the highest Universal Trainer Rating, or UTR, to find the most successful at that track.
5 The Time Factor
Almost all harness races are one mile in length, so looking at the last few times that the horse posted is an important factor. They are listed in fifths of a second, so 1543 above means a mile time of 1 minute, 54 seconds and 3 fifths of a second. Some handicappers also pick a horse based on its final quarter- mile time..
6 The Performance Factor
Good horses are able to perform well week after week. In the upper right-hand portion of each horse’s past performances is the track where he won his fastest mile of the year and the size of the track on which he raced. Also listed is the time of the fastest winning mile of the year, number of starts, wins, seconds, thirds, and money won for this year and last.