In these days of simulcasting, paddock inspection of the horses prior to a race is rapidly becoming a lost art but can be one of your most useful handicapping tools.
Time Required: 10 minutes
- Be at the paddock entrance as the horses are arriving.
- Watch each closely as they enter. Check for any signs of lameness, nerves, or scent of linament. Check the groom too, sometimes his expression can give something away.
- As the horses walk around the paddock, note any signs of lameness, excessive sweating, foaming/drooling from the mouth, over excitability, or whinnying. Any of these is a negative sign.
- Other negative signs include dull coat, runny eyes or nose, open sores, front wraps, excessive sweating between the hind legs, tendon problems, or popping the tail up and down.
- Positive signs to look for are being 'dresssed up' (braids, patterns on the hindquarters, etc.), prancing, neck bowed, focused look, shiney coat, dapples, and that 'ready to run' look in the eye.
- When the jockey mounts and the horses head out to the track, continue to check for the same positive and negative signs. They can show up at any time.
- Once the horses are on the track, they should appear focused and eager to run. Beware horses who look like they would rather be elsewhere.
- Make your selections and go wager!
- Just because a horse looks bad doesn't mean he can't win but usually it will weed out some non-contenders.
- If a horse dumps the jockey in the post parade and isn't scratched, he might be too tired to run well.