How to Bet With Horse Racing Pedigrees

The Betting Guide for Horse Racing Pedigrees

No matter what track(s) you bet or days of the week you might play, many a handicapping riddle can be clarified, or sometimes solved, by a closer examination of a horse’s pedigree.

by Vance Hanson

Most knowledgeable players will rely heavily on pedigree information to form an opinion on certain types of races. Maiden races for juveniles or three-year-olds, in particular those containing a number of first-time starters, are wagering opportunities where the importance and understanding of pedigree can be extremely useful.

Pedigree can also be an indicator of how well a horse will adapt to doing something for the first time. Bettors will often look to a horse’s ancestry to determine a potential fondness for running over dirt or turf, handling an off track (i.e. less than fast), or tackling an unfamiliar distance.

Handicappers of long standing can readily identify notable sires, dams, and damsires, forming basic opinions on how a horse in question might perform under new circumstances. However, supplementary or enhanced pedigree information can be of greater use, especially when the bloodlines or the background of a particular horse is not readily apparent.’s litany of reports and handicapping information are terrific sources for enhanced pedigree information. Bettors can find many of the most useful statistics in condensed form on the Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances.

On each individual horse’s past performances, handicappers will find various sire, damsire, and dam statistics. Sire and damsire stats available include the average winning distance of all offspring and the winning percentage and number of starters in the mud (off tracks). Past performances of first-time starters also include the sire’s and damsire’s percentage of first-time winners overall. In turf races, the overall win percentage on turf and for first-time starters on grass are provided for both the sire and damsire.

Dam statistics provided include their highest level of attainment on the racetrack (e.g. stakes winner, stakes-placed, winner, unplaced), the number of starters, winners, and stakes winners produced, and, when applicable, the number of turf winners produced.

Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances also contain BRIS Pedigree Ratings in the tabulated race records section. These ratings measure the quality and suitability of the horse’s breeding for races run on dirt, wet surfaces, at today’s distance on and on the turf.

Naturally, the higher the percentage of success in several of these various categories, the more attractive it is. A success rate of 10% or higher, to use an arbitrary figure, is worthy of serious attention.

An example of where Brisnet pedigree information can be highly useful are in maiden races restricted to state-bred company. The following filly debuted on March 12, 2017 at Santa Anita in a maiden claiming (50,000-$40,000) race for California-bred or –sired fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Bobbie Lincoln’s sire, Tribal Rule, is best known for getting Grade 1 winners Georgie Boy and Spanish Queen. More importantly for this example is the fact his first-time starters win at a highly-respectable 14 percent clip.

Another positive piece of news is that Bobbie Lincoln’s dam, Royal Turka, has thrown three winners from four to race. Owner-breeder Peter Vajda has obviously been doing something right cultivating this family and making it productive.

Handicappers willing to do a little more grunt work using Brisnet reports #200 (Broodmare Produce Report) and #5027 (Lifetime Starts) will have found an even more interesting tidbit. Two of Bobbie Lincoln’s three half-siblings also won first out: Snow Monarch broke his maiden in 2006 at Turf Paradise and paid $10.80, while Maya Angelina made a wining debut four years later at Ruidoso Downs, winning by 10 3/4 lengths and paying $7.20.

Bobbie Lincoln became the third first-out winner produced by her dam after scoring by 1 1/2 lengths over the 17-10 favorite, who had already lost twice at the class level. Bobbie Lincoln paid $9.80.

Another interesting pedigree play occurred earlier on the afternoon of March 12 at Gulfstream Park, where Danceland was making her second career start on the grass in a maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles.

A homebred racing for Joe Allen, Danceland didn’t fare badly in her turf debut seven weeks earlier, losing by less than four lengths after showing tactical speed in her two-turn debut.

In addition to the relatively high BRIS Pedigree Ratings noted in her tabulated record, Danceland obviously has bloodlines that stand out at first glance. She is by Tapit, one of the world’s leading stallions, who commanded a $300,000 fee at the time of Danceland’s conception, and she’s out of a winning mare by Storm Cat.

The average winning distance for offspring of Tapit is 7 1/2 furlongs, so it wasn’t a stretch to think Danceland might improve this time going an extra furlong. The filly’s female family, as you would expect, is impressive, too. Wonder Woman has reared seven winners from nine starters, including five turf winners and two stakes winners.
However, digging deeper into the filly’s family background, using Brisnet pedigree report #750 (Catalog Page), we find several reasons to suggest this filly’s future is well ahead of her.

Not only has Danceland’s dam, Wonder Woman, enjoyed a solid career as a producer, but the stock of her own immediate family had risen greatly in recent years. Well after Wonder Woman hit the broodmare paddocks, her three-quarter brother Naval Officer became a Group 3 winner in France. A few years later, their half-brother War Command captured the prestigious Dewhurst (G1) at Newmarket.

In a race where the 5-2 favorite had already run second four times in six attempts, there was enough in Danceland’s familial and racing background to suggest we had not yet seen the best from her and that she would be a better value than the generally exposed public choice.

Rating less than four lengths off the pace at every call, Danceland split rivals late and won by a neck. The win payoff was $25.80.