How do you read a horse racing form?

All those rows of numbers can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, everything begins to make sense. The classic provider of horse racing information is the Daily Racing Form, which has been around in one form or another since 1894.

The horse racing form organizes information by race, with a section showing the racing history of each entrant.

At the top of the page, it lists the track where the race is occurring, the distance of the race and the conditions – various races have different requirements for entry to prevent complete mismatches, like a stakes race winner entering a race against a horse that has never won a race.Below that you’ll see entries for each horse, beginning from the horse in the no. 1 post and working outward. Those sections give the horse’s name; the owner, trainer and jockey; the breeding (sire and dam, or father and mother); the amount of weight the horse will carry today; and the horse’s record by year and on various racing surfaces.

Below that is a section depicting every race the horse has run in its career (usually capped at 10), beginning with the most recent effort. Each one of those running lines gives, from left, the date of the race; the track where it occurred; the distance and racing surface; followed by the running times at various “points of call” during the race.

That is followed by a brief description of the condition of each race and a “speed figure” intended to give a single number rating of the horse’s performance. And that is followed by a section that shows the horse’s position at each point of call (the larger number being its position in the race and the smaller figures representing the lengths it was behind the leader). Following that comes the jockey, the weight, odds and the top three finishers.

The bottom lines for each horse represent recent workouts between races, which can help the handicapper gauge current fitness, and various trainer and jockey statistics.

Daily Racing Form’s tutorial and past performances

If that all sounds confusing, I’d suggest checking out the Daily Racing Form’s tutorial at drf.com/help/help_howto.

It’s also worth noting that the Daily Racing Form is one of many providers of horse racing past performances, or PPs. Equibase.com, which is the company that collects the essential data from each race, also offers its own product that closely resembles the DRF, and sells it to numerous other resellers who add their own features, including Brisnet and others.

Other providers, including the Ragozin Sheets and Thoro-graph, collect their own data and present it in a graphic form that shows the ups and downs of each horse’s careers. Other providers boil down the information into simple displays capable of being displayed on a cellphone – considered the next frontier of betting.

As you get more familiar with reading the various forms, I’d encourage you to try different products to find the one that works best for you.

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