When handicapping any race, bettors will want to review what type of surface the horse is entered in. There are three types of surfaces; dirt, turf and synthetic. Some horses prefer to run on one type or surface or another. Owners have also bred horses to run on certain types of surfaces, such as the turf course. By reviewing past performances of the stallion and mare, players can sometimes pick a winner from just breeding.
The dirt track is just what it sounds like and is the most common. Weather can affect the condition of the track. In clear and fair weather, the track will be listed as fast. If it rains, the track condition can become sloppy or muddy. Certain horses may prefer these conditions. Check past performances for previous races on a sloppy or muddy track if rain is in the forecast.
The turf course is grass racing. Weather can also affect the turf course making the track change from firm in good weather, to good or yielding in rain. Sometimes a turf course race will be taken off the grass and be put on the dirt track. Players will want to make sure they have considered this if rain is in the forecast before placing bets. This is done mainly for the safety of the horses and jockeys.
Recently, some tracks have replaced their dirt track with a synthetic track. This is a man made racing surface that is believed to reduce injuries to horses and an all-weather surface. Some horses may prefer the synthetic track, while others prefer the dirt. Make sure that as a player you know what type of surface your horse prefers.
The majority of the big purse horse races in North America run on dirt tracks. For instance each of the three United States Triple Crown races are run on dirt tracks. That being said there are also some very high profile races run on turf as well including the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, Melbourne Cup and more. The Breeders Cup uses all three variations of track which goes to show that horses of the highest profile can be run on any of the three surfaces outlined above.