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What is “value betting” in horse racing?

The term “value betting” has no clear definition, but it generally means identifying situations where the wagering public is underestimating the chances of an entrant in a particular race.

When such situations occur, the “value bettor” develops a wagering strategy to efficiently exploit that opportunity. At least that’s the idea.

Situations like this undoubtedly occur every day at racetracks around the world, but they are hard to identify in advance. And unless you’re a very skilled handicapper, it’s often folly to bet that you’re smarter than the crowd, as the parimutuel system is better at predicting outcomes than any individual player ever could be.

Horseplayers use a number of approaches to try to find such nuggets, including workout analysis, “angles” like first time off the claim; pedigree proclivities; trainer patterns; etc. But those typically produce spotty results without additional local knowledge about such things as track biases, class level comparisons and hot trainer-jockey combinations.

Bottom line: the “value betting” approach is a good one, but the execution is the hard part. I suggest creating your own morning line before the race is run and going back religiously to see how your assessment compared to the actual betting. As always, keep notes or statistics to help you improve going forward.