Harness racing: What you don't know may not hurt you

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May 19th, 2020

Each week, Frank Cotolo employs proven money-management tactics to build exotic-wagering tickets that focus on plump profits.

As North American harness racing once again presents itself on a bettor’s menu, many public handicappers are coming up with theories on how to deal with the universal-layoff angle, since all horses are coming from a break. 

This week, two Ohio raceways — Scioto and Northfield — offer betting programs (and June will add tracks to the list). The layoff issue concerns handicappers, because it is an element none of them have faced before. 

But how important is this missing element when evaluating the fields returning? I'll offer a warning. Beware of concerning yourself at all that the harness-hiatus factor needs to be addressed. Making any issue of the matter is absurd, because there is no way to measure what effects it had on any horse. There is no information to gauge a horse’s layoff positives or negatives. 

What we do know is there are no exceptions. All horses were on hiatus from active competition. In that respect, they are all equal coming back. That alone should convince you to ignore it. Remember, every handicapper faces the same problem and you can be sure of one thing — nobody will come up with a plausible answer. Attempting to find a cogent factor is counterproductive. The question itself ignites countless other questions. Settling for any theory could hurt your efforts more than help them.  

The best plan is no plan at all. 

Handicapping is such a subjective process that even the strong evidence we have for important factors is never certain. If you found any sort of reasoning to favor or toss out a horse’s chances, because of the hiatus, to what degree would you apply it?

If a majority of handicappers work out personal means to pay attention to the layoff, they may be giving you an edge, if you ignore it.

More chances next time. 

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