Handicapping a Horse Race – Weights, Distances, the Class System and Allowances

horse race

In this article, you’ll learn about weights, distances, the Class system and allowances. You’ll also learn about allowance races, which are reserved for horses that have never won money. These races can be very important, as each extra pound the horse has to carry will result in them running about a length slower than a horse that carries the same amount of weight.


When you’re handicapping a race, one of the most important factors in the equation is the weight of the horse. The weight carried by a horse is defined by its official rating and by the rules of the race. It includes the jockey’s weight and the weights placed in the saddle bag. Normally, the weight is displayed in pounds and stone units, but is often shortened into an easier to understand value. For example, a horse with a rating of 66-80 would have a top weight of 80 pounds.

Weights of horse race are not just determined by the jockey, but also by the racing secretaries. Although it used to be a major topic in horse racing, the amount of weight carried by the horses has decreased dramatically over the past few decades in North America. However, the weights of horse races are a hot topic during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks race seasons, because they can cost a horse valuable points in qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.


When you’re betting on horse races, it’s important to consider the distances. While individual flat races can vary in length from 440 yards to two miles, most are between five and twelve furlongs. Short races are commonly referred to as sprints, while longer races are referred to as “routes” or “staying races.” Knowing the distance of a horse’s race will help you determine whether they’re the best bet for your bet.

In addition to distance, other factors affect horse performance. Most horse races have roughly the same distance, but the winning distance can vary widely between races. For example, the Belmont Stakes is a mile-and-a-half, while European routes are one mile long. The winning distance is crucial for betting strategies because it will determine a horse’s future performance, as well as its previous performance.

Class system

In addition to allowing horse owners to easily compare their horse to other horses in a given class, the classification system also helps racing authorities plan and schedule races. The goal of the class system is to ensure that horses of comparable quality compete against each other. Classification also allows for more evenly balanced races that provide betting interest.

Horses in a given class are assigned handicaps that are constantly re-evaluated as horses improve. As a result, a better horse will need to carry more weight, while a horse that has lost weight may be assigned a lower weight.


Allowances for horse races vary from race to race. For instance, a two-year-old filly is eligible for a three-pound allowance during January to August and a five-pound allowance during September to December. These allowances must be claimed when the horse is entered for the race. It is not necessary to claim these allowances if the horse did not place in the race. Moreover, a horse may not receive a weight penalty for finishing second in one or more races.

Allowance races give young and unproven horses a chance to prove their potential. In contrast to claiming races, where entrants are bought out by rival owners, allowance races provide a path to stakes races. As such, many horses begin their careers in allowance races by entering maiden special weight races, where they cannot be claimed by rival owners.


Scoring a horse race is a common part of horse racing. To be eligible for prize money, a horse and rider must cross the finish line first. Prize money is usually split between the first, second, and third place finishers. If two horses finish in a dead heat, the stewards will examine a photograph taken of the finish line to determine the winner.

Before the race starts, the horses line up for scoring. The scoring process occurs after the post parade, but before the official starter calls the horses to line up. It is the first practice the horses receive before the race.