1. Do your own handicapping. Listen to no one else. It’s your money. Take your time. You may need to watch replays, look up jockey/trainer stats, check comments by columnists or by a workout analyst, etc. But you’re the decision maker–nobody else.
2. Use information sources which can save you time. Several services offer professionally compiled pace and speed ratings and trainer records, among other factors. Why calculate your own velocity numbers, for instance, if a service can provide these for you at a reasonable cost?
3. Complete your handicapping before first post. Check for late changes (such as races off the turf, revised track conditions, jockey switches, etc.) and scratches, and be aware of any developing biases, but otherwise, stick to your original plan.
4. Make sure you have that plan. That might mean passing some races, betting exactas in others, playing the late Pick 3, etc. You should know what odds you’ll accept for each of your plays or combinations, and what each possible bet will cost. If you don’t get the odds you want, there’s always another race.
5. At the track, watch the in-house TV show. If you’re at home, watch the racing channels on TV. If you don’t have access to a TV, watch those channels on the Internet. Sometimes you can pick up a useful tidbit (this trainer doesn’t think his horse is ready today, that jockey’s agent explains why his rider is on one horse instead of another, etc.).
6. Bring enough money to last even if you lose every one of your bets. You don’t want to be one of those sad souls you see trying to cadge money from buddies, or lining up at the ATM. Remember that overbetting is always worse than underbetting (e.g., if you pick 99% winners but bet your whole bankroll on every race, as soon as you back a loser you’re bankrupt).
7. Investigate rebates. These days, even small bettors can earn rebates in some states. Check to see if your state permits rebates for the tracks you play. At the very least, sign up for players rewards clubs at the track or ADW where you play, and get connected online where passes may be a perk.
8. Maintain records. You won’t know your strengths and weaknesses until you’ve compiled a database of exactly where your profits and losses come from. You can make this database as detailed as you like. This will also provide a realistic view of your results, giving you vital information for the future.
9. Keep learning. You will learn much more about a horse from watching replays than you can from a chart, for instance, so get in the habit of studying replays. Compiling your own bias notes will give you an advantage. Subscribe to a workout service for information that most of the public doesn’t have.
10. Have fun. Too many players try to bet every race at every track. Instead, pace yourself. Pick the races that interest you the most, whether it’s the races at your local track, turf races only, the two biggest circuits, etc. Save your biggest bets for the races where you have the strongest opinion and the value is the greatest.