Friday, 11 March 2011

Horse Racing Handicapping When a Jockey Switches Mounts

Guest Writer: Bill Peterson 
One of the most confusing situations for handicappers is when a jockey gets off one horse to ride another. It is important to try to understand why the rider pulled the old, "switcheroo," because the jockeys and their agents are the closest people to the runners other than the trainers and grooms. In order to be a successful rider you need a good agent who can get you on live mounts. It has often been said that some of the best handicappers in the world are jockey's agents.

Let's say that a rider with a good win percentage gets off a mount and a reins man with a lower percentage takes the mount. Believe it or not, that isn't always a bad sign. There may be a good reason for the switch. For one thing, the new rider may have a special talent that the top jock doesn't have. For instance, he or she may be particularly talented at handling headstrong horses or young horses.

Obviously, the only way to understand a change of rider is to know something about the various riders. It may seem like a lot of work, but a handicapper should study the jockeys at his or her favorite tracks and get to know their strengths or weaknesses. There are reports available that break down a rider's races and show how they rate on each kind of race and different ages and genders of horses.

Human beings all have their strengths and weaknesses and people who ride race horses are no different. When you see a horse that is in a race that your jockey has a high win percentage in, then you know the horse should be taken into consideration. On the other hand, if you see a good jockey get off a horse and a lesser rider takes the mount and you can see a good reason for the switch, then you must assume that the jockey and agent decided another mount offered a better chance to win.

This is probably one of the best free pieces of advice that you will ever get at the track. While the jockey or the agent may occasionally make a mistake, you'll find that they are usually right. That means that you've just gotten one of the best expert opinions in the business and you got it for free. Remember however, that sometimes the riders have a contract with a certain trainer and they have to ride his or her horses when they are entered in a race, even if they have to leave another mount to do so.

That is why it helps to pay attention and to know which trainers your jockey is affiliated with and whether the switch is based on the horse's merits or a contractual agreement. No matter how you do it, however, paying attention to the connections for a horse and who is up in the irons is one of the foundations of good horse racing handicapping.