May 26, 2024

Handicapper’s Library: Helpful hints for using Insider Picks & Power Plays

Woodbine Racing (Michael Burns Photography)

by Les Instone

Sophisticated and disciplined handicappers know there is no short-cut to good handicapping. There is no single handicapping factor that you can look at and say, “this is the winner right here.” Instead, there are many factors to consider when handicapping, and it’s the ones you don’t use or don’t know how to use that can beat you.

“Insider Picks and Power Plays” from Brisnet provides many handicapping factors that the general public doesn’t have access to. Using these factors effectively will give the user an advantage over other bettors.

The factors or angles in Inside Picks and Power Plays are:

  • Blue Chip Trainer Plays
  • Sharp and Ready Runners Hot Trainers
  • Hot Jockeys
  • Hot Trainer/Jockey Combos Exiting a Key Race
  • Ship-In Trainer
  • Clocker Specials
  • Horses for Courses
  • Distance Specialists

Look down the right side of the page under the caption “Power Play Angles” and you will see the angles for the horses in each race. Let’s look at the angles and what they mean and how to use them effectively.

“Blue Chip Trainer Plays” means this trainer is very strong at a handicapping angle which is detailed in the next section of the Insider Picks and Power Plays. These point out the fact this trainer wins a high percentage under certain conditions with their runners. These may include Debut in Maiden Special Weights, 2nd career start, 31-90 days away (layoff), 90+ days away, route to sprint, dirt to turf, 1st at route, beaten favorite, down one class, winner last race, shippers, etc. Recognizing and knowing the specific strengths and weaknesses of trainers can make quite a bit of difference. Some trainers may win 17% of their overall starts but may be 3% with horses going a route for the first time. Another trainer may be below average overall winning only 7% of his total starts but may hit with 23% debut runners.

“Sharp and Ready” horses in today highlight any horse that has a significant Brisnet Speed and Class advantage over the others in this field. These horses should stand out, but at times can offer good value when overlooked by the public doesn’t have this information.

“Hot Trainers” points out trainers who have been doing very well during the last 14 days while “Hot Jockeys” highlights hot riders in the last seven days (jockeys have more mounts than trainers have horses entered). “Hot Trainer/Jockey Combos” also looks at the last 14 days. This particular stat is crucial because some trainers will use certain jockeys when they have a better shot at winning. Some will give riders the mount as a favor or payback for exercising horses in the morning or some other reason. But when a horse is well-intended to win, you’ll see a high percentage for the trainer/jockey combo (10-12% would be just average).

“Exiting a Key Race” lets you know that two or more horses from this runner’s previous race have already come back to win their next start. A “possible” key race indicates only one other runner from that previous race has come back to win so far. When several horses come back to win, that is a clear indicator that the previous race was very tough. A horse that finished fifth in a key race may actually be better than a horse that was second in a race where no other horses have come out of that race to win their next start. Check the Brisnet Race Ratings on the Ultimate Past Performances to see whether this horse was above or near the Race Ratings of other horses in today’s race.

“Ship-In Trainer” highlights trainers that have already won at this meet with a ship-in horse and have a similar shipper entered in today’s race. Some trainers do better than others when shipping in to a particular track. Watch for trainers that ship in to run against lesser competition.

“Clocker Specials” lists the fastest workouts in the last seven days for horses running today. One stat not available anywhere else ranks the horses within their age group for this distance over the last seven days. A three-year-old may have had the third fastest work at four furlongs on a given day but that work could have been the fastest by any three-year-old in the last seven days. How else would you know this information?

“Horses for Courses” points out horses that have done especially well over this track and surface. Some horses just run better at certain tracks or over certain turf courses. It’s important to recognize that, especially if it has been a long time since the last meet at this track. If this horse has not been doing well at another track, he could be rejuvenated when he steps foot over this surface.

“Distance Specialists” are horses that have run especially well at this distance. Just as some horses like certain tracks, some horses love certain distances. Some horses can do great at seven furlongs but can’t win going six furlongs or a mile. If you see a horse that is a “Horse for the Course” and a “Distance Specialist,” you have found a very strong contender in this race.

Let’s go back and look at the selections at the top of each race. The “Top 3” choices are computer-generated based on many factors including the Insider Picks and Power Plays angles. These comprehensive selections are the top three horses to look at when you are handicapping today’s race. The “Speed” selections ranks the top three based on recent Brisnet speed figures. The Brisnet Class rating determines the top three “Class” selections. And the top three “Pace” selections reflect runners with the fastest Brisnet early pace ratings. These Brisnet pace, speed and class ratings can be found in the Ultimate Past Performances.

The “Detailed” version of the Insider Picks and Power Plays is just that. For instance, on the “Shipper Stats,” it will detail a short list of trainers and their record with ship-ins and where they shipped from. Also, see if the additional details for “Hot Trainers” and “Blue Chip Plays” will help you in uncovering that extra information that will help you do better at the track.