How to Read the Race Card

How to read a race card when betting on Horses all explained

The key pieces of knowledge that all horse bettors must have before making sports betting wagers on the sport revolves around knowing how to read a race card. 

For horse racing fanatics, this is second nature, but for newcomers, it can often be overwhelming with so much information being available. 

Understanding what the numbers and names mean is essential before making a bet on the sport, and we will go through how to read a race card right here.

How Important Is the Race Card?

The race card is a must-read for all horse racing bettors before making their wager on a selected race.  All the key information that is required to make a knowledgeable bet on the sport can be found on the race card, including the form of all runners, jockey, and trainer information, and the tracks that the runners have run at. 

As well as this, the general information for the race taking place can also be found, which shows the track, distance, and type of race.

Making a bet without first examining the race card would be extremely irresponsible, as reading the form ensures that bettors are able to make more informed decisions when it comes to the selection that they are wagering on. 

Race Card Header

The header is the perfect place to start when learning how to read a race card. In this section, you will find all the key information surrounding race. 

That includes the track where the race is taking place, the distance that it will be run over, and the type of race. There are a number of different types of races in the U.S., including maiden claiming, claiming, and allowance. 

Graded Races for Dummies

However, the most significant horse racing terms for dummies to remember are the graded races. The graded races are the most prestigious on the calendar, with Grade 1s being the most sought-after prizes.

On the race card in the header, you will also find the entry requirements for the race, such as age and sex restrictions and the prize money. 

The number in the top-left of the card in the header is also the race number. For example, if there is a six, then it is the sixth race due off at the track.

Horse Information

After examining the race conditions, bettors will then examine the information of each of the runners involved. 

This information is found directly underneath the header, with the horse’s number and name pinpointed on the left-hand side.

The first key information to consider is before the form, as the names of the:

  • Trainer

  • Owner

  • Jockey

Top Section of Horse Information

In the top section of the horse information section, you will find the number of stalls that the horse will start from, as well as the horse’s name. Underneath that information, you will find the owners, trainers, and jockey’s names.

The moneyline odds for the selection are found just under the stall number, with the jockey information also outlining their recent form before the start of the racing action on that particular day.

Middle Column of Horse Information

To the right of the general horse information, you will be able to find the physical and pedigree information for each of the runners. 

In this section, you will find the age of the horse, the color, and its sex. This criterion is key, and the letters that you will find on the race card are explained below:

  • C- Colt

  • F- Filly

  • G- Gelding

  • M- Mare

  • R- Ridgling

  • B- Bay

  • Blk- Black

  • Ch- Chestnut

  • Dkb- Dark Bay

  • Br- Brown

  • Gry- Gray

  • RA- Roan

Pedigree of the Runners

As well as this information, the middle column is also the place to find the pedigree of the runners involved. 

Here, bettors can find the sire, dam, and the breeder of each of the runners, as well as how much the runner cost to buy.

Right Column of Horse Information

The final section of general information for each of the runners can be found on the right-hand side. 

Here, you can examine the career averages of each of the runners involved, which includes the number of wins that have been recorded by year and the best-recorded Beyer Speed Figure. 

Prize Money of Each Selection

Also, in this section, you will find the prize money that each of the selections has won throughout their career. 

The breakdown of results also is essential reading, as it will tell you how many times the selection has run on each of the different surfaces and how many times he/she has won, placed, or shown throughout its career.

Form Section of Racecard

The most essential reading on the race card is the form section. Here, bettors can examine how the contenders have performed in their previous races. 

The most recent runs can be found towards the top, with the most outdated efforts found towards the bottom of the section.

Reading the Form

The form section is straightforward to read for racing bettors. The first piece of information that you will find is the date and track that the run came at. This will also be the place to see the horse’s recent finishing positions.

Here, track names will be abbreviated, which means Lrl stands for Laurel Park, and Aqu is Aqueduct. Next to the track, you will then find the conditions of that race. 

Racecard Conditions

The conditions that can be found on a racecard are explained below:

  • WF- Wet Fast

  • Sly- Sloppy

  • Sl- Slow

  • My- Muddy

  • Hy- Heavy

  • Gd- Good

  • Fst- Fast

  • Fr- Frozen

As well as the conditions, bettors will also find the distance that was run in the previous races. 

This is an essential piece of reading, as form can be matched up depending on the distance that the contenders are racing over in the race that you’re studying.

1. Fractional Times

Next, on the form lines, you will find the fractional times that were run by contenders in the race that they ran in.

The first time that you will see is the time that is taken to complete the first quarter of the race, while the second and third times are the times over half a mile and three-fourths a mile. The final time that you can see is the final finishing time recorded by the contender over the race distance.

2. Horse Position Section

To the right of the fractional times, you will find the horse position information from the races that they have competed in on a Horse Racing position table.

The first number is how many lengths behind the winner the horse finished before the number of runners involved is next on the card.

 The type of race is also important information, as you can assess whether the contender is dropping back in class or stepping up in grade.

Other important information relating to the horse’s performance can be found to the right of this information. 

Beyer Speed Figures

The final piece of important reading when assessing a horse’s chances in an upcoming race is the Beyer Speed Figures.

These are located to the right of the horse position section. Speed figures are so often the best way to find a winner of a respective race, and these can be found. 

Typically, the horse with the highest speed figure is given the best chance of claiming victory, especially if their best figure was recorded over the same course and distance. 

How To Use the Racecard To Find a Winner

The racecard is essential reading when it comes to making more knowledgeable bets. This is because bettors can find all the information that they need to make more informed wagers on the action.

Some of the key factors that should be considered when reading the racecard before making your wager include:

  • Examining past performances over course and distance

  • Study the strike rate of the trainers and jockeys involved in the race

  • Explore whether a contenders medication could have a better impact on their upcoming run

  • Horses taking a step back in grade could be classier than the other runners in the race

  • Examine the speed figures of the runners involved

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How to read a race card FAQs

The race information can be found in the heading section on the race card.

The numbers next to the runners involved in the race are the stalls that they will start from.

The past performances of the runners involved can be found on the left-hand side of the racecard, next to the date of their previous run.

The jockey and trainer information is found before the form figures. The jockey’s name is found underneath the moneyline odds, and the trainer’s name is found directly to the right.

The breeding information is very important to understand on the racecard. This will help bettors to examine whether the runner will have the best chance over this course and distance.