Handicap races are horse races where horses carry different weights to even the field. Handicaps vary in popularity globally, but they tend to make the track more money and are profitable for bettors. A handicapper assigns weights based on past performance, and trainers can withdraw horses if they feel the weight is excessive. Handicap races have interesting odds, and bets can get high. They also generate publicity when famous rivals compete.
Handicap or handicap races are horse races in which each horse carries a different amount of weight in an attempt to even the field. Different regions of the world have different attitudes towards handicap racing; in some cases they are reserved for less distinguished horses, while in other regions handicaps are the flagship. In all cases, handicap races tend to make the track more money, and are also profitable for those who choose to bet on them, even if the odds can be risky.
A handicap is based on the basic concept that different horses have different skill levels. In a normal race, the best horse will win, sometimes by many lengths. In a handicap, each horse is assigned a certain weight, in the hope that heavier weights will slow down more experienced athletes, while lighter weights will give less talented horses an advantage. The ultimate ideal is for all horses to cross the finish line at the same time, although this is rarely the case.
Weights are assigned by a handicapper, an official who grades horses based on their past performance in competition. Some handicapped people also keep a close eye on the horses’ exercise regimes, in hopes of noticing dramatic improvements over time and in overall performance. Handicapped riders typically grade horses on a weekly basis, so they can assign weights quickly once the field is established for a race.
In some cases, trainers or owners may feel that their horses are burdened with excessive weight. In that case, they may withdraw the horse from the race in protest. In other cases, people may retire their horses because they think the weight distribution is just unfair; for example, they may object if a strong lifter is given an unusually low weight. Owners can also appeal to the handicapper, requesting a re-evaluation of the horse in question.
Since the handicap is designed to level the field, the odds on handicap races can get very interesting. People betting on these races have to follow racing trends very closely, as little things can make or break a horse in a handicap race. Bets can get very high on a handicap race, which works well for the track hosting the event, as most tracks use a parimutuel betting system, where the track gets a take on the bets. Handicap races can also be accompanied by a great deal of publicity, especially when famous rivals go to the post together.