Why Post-Race Analysis Can Be Detrimental to Your Wealth

Once, on a beach in Seattle — yeah, they actually have beaches there… or at least they used to, they might all be Starbucks now — I tried to enjoy a day in the sun. I say “tried” because, as is often the case in the Emerald City, the sun was playing hard to get — ducking behind drifting clouds at maddeningly regular intervals (you can do that when you’re the center of the solar system). And a funny thing happened whenever it disappeared: everybody that was sunbathing suddenly sat up and looked around, like groundhogs searching for… well, whatever it is that groundhogs search for.

It was surreal.

A similar type of thing often happens at the racetrack, when, following a surprising result, horseplayers en masse reach for their past performances like earplugs at a taping of The View. Some are seeking an excuse; others, knowledge; and still others, a brief respite from the guy yelling, “What did I tell you? I knew that horse was gonna win. He looked fantastic… I should’ve bet him!”

Many times this post-race analysis does, in fact, lead to a greater understanding of the race in question — perhaps a past effort suggesting hidden talent or a missed workout indicating improved form. But just as often, I fear, such post-mortems only create greater confusion or, worse, a belief that the result was a fluke or in some way pre-determined, i.e. “fixed.”

Hence, while I believe that players should always try to learn from their mistakes, I also think that handicappers must be careful not to overanalyze their failures to the point that they impair their ability to make decisions in the future.

Derek Simon
Derek Simon is the Senior Editor and Handicapper at US Racing.
Posted on
{include file='scripts-footer.tpl'}