Many people who read my books on handicapping ask me to go into more detail about how to keep good records or notes on the races. How you keep track of your bets and also keep notes on horses that you are following is a personal subject. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and different ways of organizing information so this is just a list of suggestions to help you keep your notes and to become a better handicapper.
First of all, let’s set the record straight, keeping notes is one of the most important habits a serious horseplayer can develop. You can think of it as feedback that will help you to find out what you’re doing that is right or wrong and to make corrections. It is also a good money management tool and will help you to mature as a horseplayer. Journaling or note keeping is also a great self-improvement tool for many other areas of live, not just betting on horses, so you may want to think about how you can use this to help you in other ways.
Let’s break note keeping down into several categories. The first we will talk about is money management (also one of the most parts of successful horse racing betting). Money management should keep a running total of your bankroll and wagers should be a set amount of that bankroll. In other words, if you have $1,000 in your bankroll you should only wager a pre-determined percentage for each wager. Let’s say you are using 5%, if your bankroll increases to $1,100 your new wager amount will be 5% of $1,100. Each wager should go into the ledger and there should also be a simple way to identify which type of wager it was if you are using more than one kind. A win wager might simply be marked with a” W,” while an exacta might be initialed, “EX.”
As well as keeping a running total there should be a daily limit and a weekly limit to wagers in order to keep a steady cash flow and to minimize the dangers of tapping out.
The next type of note keeping is keeping track of horses that you are following. You may have noticed that a horse that appears sharp and ready had a rough trip and you want to check it out in its next race in case you find it to be a good value. Using a virtual stable, one of the online services that will alert you when a horse is running, will help with following many horses. Other horses you might follow would be those that have shown an exceptional workout in the last 30 days. They will also go into your virtual stable.
The final category would be keeping notes about your own state of mind and campaigns. I like to break my betting down into campaigns of a set number of wagers so that I can quantify any changes I make to my handicapping. Whether it’s twenty races or a whole meet, I can then review it and see if changes I made to my handicapping methods had a positive or negative effect. I keep these notes in a notebook where I have a journal.