Updated: Sunday, March 2, 2014 2:21 PM PST

Horse Racing Software Reviews

The advent of the software age has had far-reaching results in our society. Fortunately for horseplayers, the software revolution has made its mark in horse racing as well.

Good handicapping software is imperative for horseplayers that plan on betting at multiple tracks. There are simply too many horses, races, and tracks to depend on manual handicapping methods. An exception to this statement would be the use of manual spot play systems that quickly identify wagers.

Handicapping software has evolved from DOS based manual input systems to fully automated contender selection systems. Unfortunately, a Black Box program has not yet been invented, but there are many good systems available. Some of the best handicapping software is listed below.

The Master Magician (TMM)

The Master Magician software evolved out of the handicapping methods set forth in Michael Pizzolla's revolutionary handicapping book, Handicapping Magic. Handicapping Magic presented handicapping terms that were actually new and whose ratings could not be found in bold print in the past performances.v

The Master Magician software was designed and created by Michael Pizzolla and his business partner, the late Eric Langjahr. The Master Magician is and excellent piece of software for handicapper's who subscribe to the Handicapping Magic methodology, or those who wish to learn it. Be forewarned, however, that The Master Magician is not a black box program. This is a common misconception about Handicapping Magic, and a very unfair one at that. What The Master Magician will do for a handicapper is pretty incredible. First, it will identify the fulcrum horse for the race. Next, it will give the expected pace scenario for the race (Neutral, Pressured, Heavy Pressure, Speed of Speed, and Lone Early). It will even open each horse's Form Cycle Window in both LASST and Two Excuse mode. And, of course, it will calculate the Pace Balanced Speed (PBS) and Projected Power Fraction (PPF) for every horse. If you don't know what these terms mean then you better read the book before checking out the program.

The Master Magician software uses only Post Time Daily (formerly ITS) data files. This is obviously clever marketing by Post Time Daily as users of the software are in a position of forced loyalty. Fortunately for the end users, the Post Time Daily past performance files are of very high quality. Downloading the data files from the Post Time Daily site is quick and easy as is unzipping (expanding) the file for use with the program. Using the program itself is also quite easy and does not require any special computer skills other than the ability to click a mouse!

When The Master Magician first opens, it automatically opens up to today's date. The handicapper may then select the race card he wishes to handicap from among those he has downloaded. If there is more than one track to choose from, the tracks will be listed alphabetically. After you have a chosen a track, you may then begin looking at individual races. A great feature of The Master Magician is that each race is represented by a tab, thus, all that is needed to go to the next race is to click on the tab for that race.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to using The Master Magician is that it enables a handicapper to very quickly go through a race card and determine whether or not a race is playable. If you see, for example, that the top rated horses are going off at short odds, you can immediately pass the race and move on to the next one. This feature alone makes The Master Magician ideal for serious simulcast bettors.

Newer versions of The Master Magician software come with a special Value Tech module. The Value Tech module assists in identifying the elusive concept of value in a horse race. What the Value Tech module does is create an odds line for the race using Handicapping Magic factors. A separate odds line is also created based on an estimate of how the public will bet the race based on the more traditional handicapping factors found in the past performances. Value Tech horses are then identified as the horses with a positive ratio of the Value Tech betting line compared to the estimated public line (Contention Line). This nifty feature is revolutionary in its ability to identify true overlays.

The Master Magician software is ideal for horse players who subscribe to the Handicapping Magic methodology or at least have an open enough mind to learn the concepts. The Master Magician is also ideal for bettors who wish to take their existing game to a professional level.

The Master Magician is not suitable software for beginning handicappers. Beginners are better off studying traditional past performances in order to learn the fundamentals involved in distinguishing horse's different competitive levels.

The Speed Handicapper

The Speed Handicapper software evolved out of the speed handicapping methods set forth in Charles Carroll's underrated, Handicapping Speed. In a sense, Carroll can be considered the anti-Beyer, even though both he and Andrew Beyer employ a speed handicapping methodology. Whereas Beyer invented a speed figure based par times and track variance, Carroll eschews both of those measures and aligns his figures with the world records held by Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds at various distances. This, Carroll believes and we at Sports Betting Acumen concur, provides a much more accurate measure of speed than Beyer Speed Figures.

The Speed Handicapper software is written by Charles Carroll himself. The software is compatible with multiple data file formats including Post Time Daily, BRIS, TSN, and even Daily Racing Form. Expanding the zip files for use in the software is very simple as is using the software itself.

Upon opening the software, the user encounters a screen listing each race and must then choose which race to open. This process isn't so bad, but it would be nice if the software allowed you to double click to open a race rather than clicking to select the race and then having to click separately on the Open Selected Race icon. Changing to a new race is slightly cumbersome as you have to click an icon to Select New Race and then select from a list. Perhaps in a future release Carroll will see fit to incorporate race tabs as so many other applications are doing.

Once into a race screen, the relevant handicapping information is presented. A very slick feature of the Speed Handicapper is the condensed version of the past performance information for each horse. It gives just the bare essentials of each horse, including the all-important Carroll Speed figure. Each running line for a horse has a Carroll Speed Figure calculated. It is then left to the user to determine which running line best represents how the horse will run today. Needless to say, this takes some handicapping skill. Another drawback to the program is that the handicapper must open a drop down menu to select each succeeding horse in the race. The most recent running line is set as the default rating to be used, thus, the user must click on a different running line to override the default. The upside is that once you get used to the program, all of the clicking really doesn't take very much time or detract from using the program.

The real strength of the Speed Handicapper occurs after the speed ratings have been assigned. The software features a very strong betting decision system that greatly assists handicappers in identifying overlays. There is even a Dutching decision model should your game be slanted in that direction.

The Speed Handicapper is a great program for handicappers who like working with speed figures and who are looking for an alternative to Beyer Speed Figures. The software is not recommended for beginning handicappers as knowledge for horse racing in general, and form cycles in particular, are necessary to select the best running lines for each horse.

If you're interested in purchasing the Speed Handicapper go to www.desertsea.com