A handicap race
in horse racing
is a race in which horses carry different weights, allocated by the handicapper. A better horse will carry a heavier weight, to give him or her a disadvantage when racing against slower horses. The handicapper's goal in assigning handicap weights is to enable all the horses to finish together (in a dead heat).
The skill in betting on a handicap race, therefore, lies in guessing which horse can overcome his or her handicap. Although most handicap races are run for older, less-valuable horses, this is not true in all cases; some great races worldwide are handicaps, such as the Grand National steeplechase
in England and the Melbourne Cup
in Australia. In the United States over 30 handicap races are classified as Grade I, the top level of the North American grading system
. Handicaps are less common in harness racing
, where handicapping is by increased distance rather than increased weight.
Handicap races are also common in clubs which encourage all levels of participants, such as swimming or in cycling clubs. All participants are clocked in a time trial before the race, known as the handicap. In the race itself, the participants do not all start at "Go"; the starts are staggered, based on the handicaps. The slowest swimmer (or cyclist) starts first and the fastest starts last, making the end of the race (hopefully) close. An... Read More