By Denis Blake (The following article is reprinted from the March/April 2001 issue of The Horseplayer magazine.)
As a handicapper you should always be looking for an edge over other players – your competition. Using the Internet can give you access to information that others may not have, and that can make you a more successful and profitable handicapper. It used to be that you could not find much more than entries and results online, but now there is a wealth of racing and handicapping information available.
AQHA’s main racing site, The American Quarter Racing Journal Online, is the most comprehensive site for American Quarter Horse racing. For handicapping information, the “Player’s Page” is filled with jockey and trainer statistics, plus over 40 articles covering all aspects of Quarter Horse handicapping. In the news section you can find information about upcoming stakes races and major events, plus results of the past week’s action. And throughout the year you’ll see numerous handicapping contests on this site, including the Dash to the Challenge, which gives you a chance to qualify for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.
ESPN’s horse racing section (espn.com/horse) offers complete coverage of horse racing, plus a special section devoted to American Quarter Horse racing. You will find a stakes schedule, racing polls, current news and videos of major Quarter Horse races.
TrackMaster (www.trackmaster.com), the exclusive electronic handicapping services provider of AQHA, offers an array of products on their site. With TrackMaster Plus you can use class ratings and par times that are not readily available from other sources. And the detailed jockey and trainer statistics can give you an advantage over other bettors. Their newest product, TrackMaster Platinum, features a variety of statistical information on the jockey, trainer and horse, plus insightful “Horse Notes” which highlight any positive or negative trends – like class jumpers from this horse’s barn have not fared well lately. TrackMaster’s Virtual Stable is a valuable (and free) tool that can help you track a particular horse so you know when he is entered back. You can even enter a short comment about each horse, so you can note if he had a bad trip and is primed for a big effort next time.
In partnership with AQHA, The Jockey Club Information Systems offers American Quarter Horse pedigrees and race and produce records through Equine Line 2000 (www.equineline.com). Although intended more for owners and breeders, serious handicappers might find the pedigree and soon-to-be introduced dam produce records useful when evaluating first-time starters.
By now almost every racetrack has some kind of presence on the Internet. But just as the quality of racing product varies from track to track, so does the quality of their Web sites. Here is a look at a few of the better sites:
Los Alamitos (www.losalamitos.com), which now offers year-round Quarter Horse racing, just completed a major revision of what was already a quality site. In addition to the standard features of most sites like entries, results and workouts, you will also find a Quarter Horse trivia game and Ed Burgart’s daily handicapping analysis. They also have a complete archive of charts and press releases in case you missed any of the past action. An online video tour of Los Al and live audio are two scheduled future enhancements. By clicking over to Compurace (www.compurace.com), you can download and watch video replays of any Los Alamitos race run over the past few months.
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie (www.lonestarpark.com) features unique jockey and trainer standings that give you much more than just the traditional starts-wins-seconds-thirds format. They offer the statistics broken down into more than 10 categories, like first-time starters, layoffs, maidens and more. If you join the Lone Star Online Jockey Club you will receive racing news and upcoming events via e-mail. You can also download a Lone Star Park screen saver, send an e-postcard, or buy a t-shirt in the online gift shop.
Sam Houston Race Park (www.shrp.com) has an extensive site where you can sign up to win prizes and receive monthly updates in the “Coast-to-Coast Club”, post questions to be answered by the Sam Houston team of handicappers, and download video replays of past races to help you handicap.
Sunland Park (www.sunland-park.com), which in recent years has seen purses skyrocket thanks to slot machine revenue, has invested some of that money into a new site. If you need some handicapping help, you can get Eric Alwan’s selections for free.
Prairie Meadows (www.prairiemeadows.com) has all the statistics and news you need, plus live video; Remington Park (www.remingtonpark.com) has a special “Handicapper’s Corner”; Delta Downs (www.deltadowns.com) recently launched a new and improved site; and Canterbury Park (www.canterburypark.com) has one of the best e-mail newsletters, which frequently contain unique handicapping articles and stories.
Proof that a small track can create a site every bit as good as the big tracks can be seen at Blue Ribbon Downs’ site (www.blueribbondowns.net). A unique feature for handicappers is a list of leading sires at the track, while horsemen and handicappers alike will appreciate the stakes updates, which preview major races after the trials are run.
Remember, the more information you have, the better. After spending a little time online you will soon find that you have access to more information than the vast majority of handicappers, and that will hopefully lead to a few more winning tickets.
For more handicapping information, including contests, statistics and articles about American Quarter Horse Racing, visit the The Quarter Racing Journal Online at www.aqharacing.com. To receive a free copy of the AQHA Guide to Wagering on American Quarter Horse Racing, call the AQHA at (806) 376-4811.
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