Handicappers make racing selections by studying each horse prior to a race, reading that day's racing publications, and paying attention to betting trends for a particular race. The exact methods that each handicapper uses can vary considerably between individuals, but the aim is always to have the most information about the horses in a race before making a wager.
Most handicappers start the process of making a racing selection by studying that day's horse racing publications. In the United States, the primary daily publication is the Daily Racing Form, which lists statistics on each horse racing that day, as well as the horse's past performance record, and relevant special information about the animal and its jockey.
Studying a horse prior to the race requires a great deal of skill and experience with race horses. A skilled handicapper can gain insight into a horse's ability to run that day by studying its behavior and body language. Handicappers also pay attention to environmental conditions, such as the state of the track, the ambient temperature, and other factors that can affect a horse's performance.
Handicappers also pay attention to betting trends at the race track. Betting trends can indicate public opinion regarding certain horses, which can provide valuable information about what most people expect the race's outcome to be. However, this method can result in reduced winnings if the handicapper waits until odds become unprofitable before placing a bet.