How to Read a Race Form: For Beginners

What to Consider on a Racing Form: For Beginners


A racing form is your inside track on betting! There’s a lot of information to learn. So, we’ve broken down the three most important parts of the form for beginners!


The Race

Ready to choose a race to bet on? First, check out the number, the distance, and the track surface.

1. In the upper left-hand corner of the form, you’ll see a large number. This is the race number. A race number tells you what order the races will be ran for the day.


2. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see a simple illustration of the track. Inside the inner ring of the track, you will see the distance.


To figure out what the track surface is for the race, look at the illustration of the track.

  • If the outer ring of the track is shaded in, the track is dirt.
  • If the inner ring of the track is shaded in, the track is turf.


TIP: Use the distance and track surface to help you decide if you’re making a wise bet. Does the horse you’re planning to place a wager on typically do well at this distance and on this surface? If not, you might decide to bet on a different pony.


The Horse and Jockey Information

The racing form includes a great deal of information about the horses and jockeys in each race. For now, focus on these seven parts of the form to choose a winning combination.


3. Program Number: In horse racing, the program number is the equivalent of a team jersey. This is the number the horse will wear during the race and the number that will appear alongside the horse in the racing form. It’s also the number you’ll use when you place your wager.


4. Morning Line Odds: Underneath the program number, you’ll find the odds. The odds are set by an oddsmaker—an expert at the track who estimates how likely it is that a horse will win its race. A horse’s odds can improve or worsen based on the betting leading up to the race.


5. Jockey’s Meet Statistics: Get to know the jockey. In this section, see how many times a jockey finished in the top three during this meet.


6. Horse’s Name: Next to the program number, in large, bold lettering, you’ll find the name of the horse.


7. Color, Gender, and Age

Colors: Bay (B.), Black (Bl.), Chestnut (Ch.), Dark Bay or Brown (Dk. b or br), Gray or roan (Gr/Ro.), or White (Wh.)


Gender: Colt (c.), Filly (f.), Horse (h.), Mare (m.), Gelding (g.), or Ridgeling (r.)


Age: Following the gender, you will see the horse’s age. “Dk. b or br f. 3” means the horse is a dark bay or brown, filly, and 3 years old.


8. Breeder: This section tells you who the breeder is and where they’re located. If a breeder is known for producing champions, you might be able to glean some insights into how their horse in this race will perform.


9. Trainer with Meet Stats: Stats are given in this order: starts, wins, places, shows and percent in the money. How have horses trained by this trainer performed?



The Record

The record is the stats box located on the far-right side of the racing form. When you see a row of four numbers – for example 3 2 0 1 – read the numbers from right to left as each horse’s number of:


10. Starts: How many races the horse has started in


11. Wins: How many races the horse has won


12. Places: How many races the horse has finished second place


13. Shows: How many races the horse has finished third place


TIP: It goes without saying, a horse with a great number of wins makes for a strong contender.


14. Earnings: A fifth column will list the horse’s earnings. Use the earnings column as quick way to gauge how a horse measures up against the other horses racing.



Even if you’re not an expert at reading a racing form, you can always do what most of us do: pick a horse with a name you like and hope you get lucky!

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