There is a lot of confusion regarding horse racing handicaps and how practical works and breezing work.
First, let’s set the record straight. A practical or handwork means that the horse walked easily and did not need much urging. A horse that works hands-on or in hand is one that is full of run and wants to run. A horse that breezes is urged to move faster by the rider. Of the two workouts, H is more impressive because it usually means a horse is full of running.
But before you bet on every horse that shows an H work, be careful. Most watchmakers give the H workmark to most movements. Only when there is a good reason to note that a horse was really pushed or there was some other factor, watchers give the B mark. You will notice on a training report for most tracks that the ringer has given the H tag to most works.
The interesting thing to note is that although it may at first seem like a bad sign if a horse has to be “ridden” to get good work out of it, that may not be the case at all. Maybe the trainer told the rider to ride it hard just to see what the horse really has. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the horse reacts well. It’s just a way to see what the horse has. Pay attention to B works, and you can find one that is much faster than the rest. That is a very good sign. That’s the kind of inside information people pay money for.
One thing that many people don’t know is that not all clockers work for the Daily Racing Form or the track. Some work for private interests who pay these expert horse keepers to clock training sessions and report back to them. They are always looking to see a rider riding a horse hard and to see what it can do.
Training is the most underutilized source of good inside information in horse racing handicapping. It is unfortunate for most disabled people, but not for the few who learn to use them wisely. Any work is an indication of positive intention from the trainer. If a conditioner decides not to bother training a horse, it may be that the horse doesn’t need a workout or it may be too lame to work. Get to know your training patterns and you’ll be able to tell the difference most of the time.