Horse Racing Handicapping Tips For Horses Switching Leads

You may have seen a jockey shifting his or her weight from side to side as his or her mount came down the stretch while you were watching a horse race and wondered what was going on. It was something you should have noted. Part of good horse racing handicapping is being observant and profiting from the little things you notice. What was happening was that the rider was trying to get the horse to switch leads. If the horse tired badly in the stretch, the chances are that it failed to switch leads. A wise trainer and jockey will work on the problem with the horse and if they solve it, the same runner may run a better race next time out.

Horses lead with one foot or the other as they race and of course, the dominant leg will get more use and get tired as a result of that. Switching to the other leg and leading with that leg down the stretch is an excellent way to get a little more out of the horse. Many horses do it naturally and don’t need to be taught or reminded to do it. But sometimes, during the heat of battle, they forget.

The jockey will often be aware of that and purposely throw his or her weight to the side trying to get the horse to switch leads. Sometimes the tactic works, the horse switches leads and finishes the race with a good run. If the horse fails to switch leads, or waits too long before doing so, it may appear to tire badly. Part of good horse racing handicapping, and trip handicapping in particular, is watching the stretch run and noting when a horse shifts leads. It may appear as though it has shifted gears.

The problem with this, of course, is that you may not know if the horse will switch leads in its next outing. You may see it running against the same caliber of horses and if it will switch leads. One key may be if the trainer doesn’t drop it in class. He or she may have worked the horse and successfully got it to switch leads. If that is the case, and the trainer thinks it can win, it will often return in the same class or may even move up a little.

On the other hand, if the trainer drops the horse, it is a red flag. It may be that the horse needs the drop in order to win or maybe it just won’t switch leads. Some horses manage to win without switching, but often need to race below the level they could win at if they would only learn that basic racing move. If you note that a horse failed to switch leads but has a competent trainer, watch the betting and class of the race it is entered in next. They are excellent keys to whether or not the problem has been solved. However, bet cautiously because you never know until the ultimate test, the race itself.