Harness Bettors v. Thoroughbred Punters

How do we differentiate ourselves from thoroughbred bettors? What are the pros and cons of being a harness bettor?

In a recent article at R2 about "positioning racing", it was surmised that betting racing is akin to a game. I think most readers, since we are bettors and take the game kind of seriously, feel that way. But I wonder, since the article is of a broad nature - what makes us harness bettors, and what can make other bettors harness bettors?

I think some of the differences in betting harness versus thoroughbreds are the following.

- Favorite win percentage: We can churn more in harness, so if you are someone who likes to cash, pick winners and grind your way that way, it is a good sport for you to play. A 14 horse field of maidens in the thoroughbreds is a head-scratcher.

- Week to week form: In thoroughbreds horses may race six or seven times a year. For a hard-hitting claimer or conditioned horse in harness racing that number may be 35 or 40. You can follow a horse, get to know him, and use that knowledge to make some money.

- Warm ups, driver/trainer intent: There is, and always has been a solid edge for on-track players in harness. I was at the track not long ago and watched a horse warm up lame. He scored out lame, too .......... and he was 4-5 on the board. You might bet him, or use him in horizontals if you were at home. At the track he was an auto-pitch.

- Using numbers: Talk to a harness player about speed figs, or pace figs and 99% of them will look at you like you are from Mars. Pen and paper handicapping in harness rules. In thoroughbreds it is common-place. There is an edge for those who broaden their mind and use numbers.

- Post position and trip/pace handicapping: Picking a paceline in thoroughbred racing I think is akin to having a crystal ball. In harness racing if you see three speed horses, two have a decent leaving post, one driver scores out, and one of them is taking no money, you have a paceline scenario that will probably be accurate. Speed wins harness races. A 6-1 shot who has the pocket, or the lead in soft fractions is not a 6-1 shot anymore; he is more likely 5-2 or lower. Sharp handicappers who can figure this out will be extremely successful.

There are many, many others I am sure, and that is where you come in. I would like to write an article/study on the typical 2010 harness bettor, and use that to look at new markets (those who have never played harness before who might).

If you are a harness bettor what attracts you to the game? If you are a thoroughbred punter, what keeps you from playing harness? If you could think of one thing only which differentiates us from the thoroughbred bettor, what would it be?

I'd love to hear some answers and opinions, so accept my thanks in advance if you offer to comment!


Anonymous said...

Replays: If I see a horse off a perfect trip lose, she is back in 7 days and is 3-2 I am confident in betting against her. Replays in runners I half the time mess up completely. Who knows if the horse is going to be the same or similar off 59 days off?


Rich said...

I do not like betting thoroughbreds, but since I am more than a ten buck bettor......... I have to. Pool size, pool size, pool size. If 20 tracks closed or they did not schedule races on top of races maybe I would bet more on harness racing.
If betfair somehow gets approved it would be a good thing. with tight markets I would bet harness there (as long as there was a market).


Stacky said...

I have my 2 crazy systems based on fav's winning or fav's placing. Its been pretty successful so far but I do have to make a lot of bets for small but consistent daily returns.
I prefer harness racing as a spectacle and as a kid my parents used to take the family to Alexander Park every Friday when there was racing on so that has an impact on my preference too. I cant put my finger on exactly what it is but harness just seems more exciting to me.
Trouble is with respect to betting and how my mad system works harness racing dividends are too low for my system compared to what the gallops do. I have stopped using my fav/win system completely with harness racing because of this and only run the place version.
I dont know why the dividends down here are lower than the gallops. Is it the same in the northern hemisphere, do gallops pay more more and if so why?


That Blog Guy said...

I bet the trotters because they are easier to handicap and as you alluded to, they stay to form because they race week in and week out. Haven't raced in a while, you qualify; not workout 3, 4, or 5 furlongs when you next race in a mile and 70 yard race on the turf.

Also, I was first introduced to harness racing when I was a youngster. I truly believe you favor the racing you were first introduced to.

Just Jigging said...

First off if you work Monday to Fridays days .Harness with a 7.30 post time gives you to get home have dinner and handicap this 3 to 5 pm post times are useless to me.Next if you don,t understand the time difference between half mile and mile tracks in harness racing you can,t handicap a program .As much as 6 seconds could be a equal time.I don,t get how a TB can be off for months have 3 workouts change distances go from dirt to turf and your suppose to know if he,s any good.Next move the fair start pole .I read something a month ago from a guy Mr.Cherry said harness racing should move the fair start pole 50 feet past the start and refund the breakers great idea stop people from getting mad before the race even begins.I can slam my way thru a harness program in an hour and have a chance of picking some winners.DRF got no clue and don,t want to I got enough problems picking trotters as it is.One problem with harness racing is the look .TB look graceful a horse with a bike tied to him looks well kinda strange.But what the hell do I know I watch Banei racing from Japan.

Scott said...

the horse was dead lame and yet there was no vet or stewards on hand to stop the horse from running? How about a penalty for the driver/trainer? That's robbing bettors blind...

Anonymous said...

I was a hard core Harness bettor for 30 years,(avg $1000/day) before completely abandoning harness for thorobreds.

Will return to harness if 2 things happen.
1) Fair start pole: as someone in the above comments stated, the FSP must be moved. Maybe not as drastically as beyond the start, but at least to the actual start line.
2) Announcer change: the current Woodbine announcer should return to Flamboro, from whence he came.
The monotonous drone, race after race, is unbearable, especially after hearing the dynamic calls at the Meadowlands.

The above 2 changes will not happen in my lifetime, (I'm 65), so I'll never again be betting harness. And that's fine with me, very very fine.

Scott said...

speaking of racecallers, I heard a 16yo kid calling harness races in my home town (Mt Gambier, Australia) when I went back on holidays over Xmas. This kid is very good, has the Aussie style of making every race exciting, calling every horse etc. - he deserves to get a trip abroad soon even if just to guest call at a few tracks.

Anonymous said...

Much like some of the other posters, I've found myself dabbling in the T-breds, not because I feel I have an edge, but strictly based on the pool sizes.
For me, there are way too many factors for T-breds, something that you need to follow as a kid and program your brain to have all this info stored.
There is still money to be made on harness racing, you just have to pick your spots.
But these spots are becoming less and less frequent, and not only that, you aren't getting the ROI you deserve because of the lack on money streaming through.
As a harness bettor, I can't stand horses that are off longer than 30 days without a Q... so betting T-breds that are off for 3 years and going of as favourite is very tough to swallow.
Ok he had a workout... big deal... that's not a race and I find them very unreliable predictors of pace.
IMO we have the more marketable product as far as math goes, but we don't have the popularity to keep us a float.

best regards,


Anonymous said...

Almost on cue, a horse a Turf Paradise just won as the heavy favourite after a 2 year layoff.
Could you bet a harness horse off a two year layoff and no qualifier?


Anonymous said...

Harness horses are made of iron. If you see a horse blocked full of pace, you can be fairly certain he'll perform well next week with a clean trip. Post, run style and driver are more important in harness than TB. Replays are easier to watch. Anyone can learn to drive one. Still, I work at a TB track because that is where the opportunities are for employment.


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