The flat season draw in horse racing is overlooked by bettors most of the time, without many knowing the draw can have an impact on the outcome of races at specific race courses. This guide will look at the effect that draw bias has on horse racing, and will provide factors and recommendations for you.
What Is The Draw?
During the flat season, starting stalls are used for almost every race, where the horse starts from a static position inside a stall. The racing gets underway when the stalls are opened. The draw is random, and is made on the day of horse running declaration.
The draw starts at number 1, which is the furthest stall on the left, and the higher numbers make up the rest of the stalls that are to the right of stall number 1. The draw closest to the inside rail is dependent on the track, you may find the low draw starting closest to it, or the highest draw closest to it.
Lowest draw starts next to the inside rail on all left-handed courses
Highest draw starts next to the inside rail on all right-handed courses
We recommend you do your research prior to the start of the race, as changes can be made.
In case you were unaware of this term, it refers to the potential advantage or disadvantage that the horse has before they even start, following the stall they have been drawn.
The use of a stall means that the horses are in a horizontal line as they start, meaning they all get a fair start. However, it isn’t long until the horses closest to the inside rail gain an advantage. What is this advantage? Well they basically don’t have to run as much as the horses who are positioned furthest from the inside rail do, due to the bends in a track.
In athletics this is eliminated by using the staggered starting positions in all events where the athletes are required to run a bend, meaning they all run the exact same distance. However, due to the stalls being used in horse racing, it can mean that the other horses can run as much as 50 feet more than the inside horse, maybe more sometimes.
Although a horse closest to the rail may not guarantee itself a win or placing position, it is much harder for the others to overtake on bends, due to having to catch up in distance with the inside horse.
What Other Factors Affects Draw Bias?
There are other factors that explain why horses may gain advantages over the others in the field. We will briefly outline the others so that you can make an informed bet.
The Course Shape and Design
A lot of race courses in both Britain and Ireland are different, with many consisting of long sweeping bends, and others consisting of no bends whatsoever.
Starting positions that are close to a bend, will give the horses closest the inside rail an immediate advantage over the horses who are furthest away. Whereas starts that are quite a distance away from the first bend will make the race fairer for the outside horses, as they may be able to overtake before they reach the bend.
Many tracks use a chute as a starting position, which also gives an unfair advantage to some horses over the others. The outside horses will benefit if the chute joins at the first turn at a shallow angle, and the inside horses will benefit if the chute joins at a sharp angle.
The Distance Of The Race
Understanding how the distance of a race can cause a bias is vital for finding trading/betting opportunities.
It is common knowledge to many fans and professionals within horse racing that the draw affects the shorter races a lot more than the longer races, especially 5, 6 and 7 furlong events. If a horse is position on the outside, and misses the chance to take the inside rail, or fails to react to the break, it will have a lot less time to rally. The horse will then have to make up the required ground on the outside, which will cost it a lot more energy, due to running a further distance than the others.
The Number Of Horses Competing
The size of the field can also have an influence on the outcome of the race, as mentioned below:
Small fields will battle for the rail
Larger fields will be more spread out – which will make it difficult for horses to move from side to side.
In larger fields, the good horses may be bunched together, with another good horse being by the weaker horses. This will disallow the horse to recognise the speed of the other good horses, and will be disadvantaged as a result.
This is a simple factor, as the condition of the ground can be massively advantageous to some horses.
If it has been raining heavily, the courses drainage system will have to be up to standard for all sections of the track to be equal, if it isn’t then large parts of the track may be drained, resulting in faster areas of the track.
Also, many horses may favour better on good to firm ground, whereas others may perform better on another ground condition.
Identifying horses that perform well with these factors included is important, as you don’t want to put your money on a horse who looks good, but runs poorly when it is given a bad draw
Applying Everything Mentioned To Your Bets
When you bet on a flat race, whether you’re backing or laying, make sure you have conducted your research prior to the race, and have a good understanding of how the draw can affect the outcome of the race. If this is done properly, then you will gain profits through trading/betting.