- Horse Racing - The psychology of horse racing

Jay Cronley
Horse Racing
Triple Crown
Race Results
Results Ticker™
Live Racing
Money Leaders
NTRA Polls
Breeders' Cup
Daily Racing Form
AQHA Racing
Virtual Racing
Message Board
Thursday, September 9
The psychology of horse racing

Two elements of similar importance go into the astoundingly difficult act of trying to pick a winner at the horse races.

The first factor is the physical handicapping of the race itself where you sit down with all the numbers and the memories of what has and hasn't worked in the past and look for a winner or some losers. Handicapping is the act of combining experience with brains to leave with more money than you brought.

The other part of looking for a winner is the psychological side.

Some people don't even know there is a psychology to gambling, another large beer please Mister Bartender.

Concerning the handicapping end of the game, a great horse player will pass on a race if the numbers or animals or connections aren't right.

Pass a race if an ex-spouse has a lawyer calling?


So far as I can tell, the psychology of gambling has a great deal to do with moods.

Moods determine opinion and behavior; thus, productivity.

The same person can see the same motion picture in the same theater on different days and have wildly varying opinions. All because of the way you feel, which has probably been determined by something that just happened.

It's provable that creative people work better at certain times of certain days. The way you convince yourself of that is to keep a journal, write down the way you are.

I gained experience with keeping a personal journal on two fronts - marriage counseling and income tax audits.

Some of what you learn about your moods and abilities by reviewing notes looks like common sense. For example, it's all I can do to write my name on the proper line on the average Monday. I have found that as a general rule I am pretty good at picking horses when my private and professional lives are in reasonable order.

So Monday is a loser, all around.

Friday is hectic at work.

Friday night at the races I couldn't pick one using your money.

Don't laugh: Wednesday is my best day at the horse races. You don't see a lot of Grade 1 races, middle of the week. So you wind up playing the tracks with fenders in the infield.

It seems to me that the reason why a person should go to the horse races is to make money.

If you use gambling on horses as a diversion from bad news, in most cases your money will be diverted from your pockets. I have had some of my worse days after showing up at the track to get away from one type or another of personal or professional stress.

But if we waited for that very special day when we were in a perfect mood, we'd seldom get to the races, would we.

Gambling on horses should be treated any other important relationship. Some thought should precede action. My notes indicate that taking a bad mood to the betting windows is risky business. Prior to some horse racing, an hour at the gym or swimming poor or jogging path does wonders for a person's emotional composition and handicapping skills.

In the horse-picking game, need doesn't equal creativity.

Here's the way I have found horse racing to be at its most enjoyable: to make a good day better.

Write to Jay at


 ESPN Tools
Email story
Most sent
Print story
Daily email