Betting maiden races can be a challenge for inexperienced bettors. By definition, maiden races are for “maidens” — horses that have never won a single race. Many of the runners in such events are lightly-raced or even unraced. With little to analyze in the way of established form, how do you decide which horse is ready to win?

Never fear, these five tips will have you betting maiden races like a pro in no time:

Maiden special weights are tougher than maiden claiming races

Maiden races are sorted into two broad categories — maiden special weights and maiden claiming races. Maiden special weights are for cream-of-the-crop horses with the potential to develop into stakes winners, or at least allowance runners. The majority of future champions and Grade 1 winners start their careers in maiden special weight company.

In contrast, maiden claiming races are lower-level events in which any runner can be “claimed” (purchased) for a predetermined price, usually less than $100,000. A horse transitioning from a maiden special weight to a maiden claiming race is taking a big step down the class ladder and will frequently respond with a better finish.

Consider Brisnet Speed rating pars

Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances include Brisnet Speed rating pars to help you gauge the strength of any given race. If the typical winning figure for a particular distance and class level is 81, a horse that has been consistently posting figures in the 85-86 range rates a strong chance to win.

On the other hand, if none of the experienced runners in the field have ever reached the 81 plateau, you’re looking at a weak race and might be better off betting a first-time starter. Such unraced runners have yet to prove they can’t compete at a high level, making them viable alternatives to experienced horses seemingly too slow to win at the given class level.

Analyze trainer statistics

If you’re betting on a first-time starter, it helps to know if their trainer is skilled at preparing such runners for winning debuts. A conditioner who wins at a 25% rate with first-time starters is clearly sending them out fit and ready to roll, while a trainer who wins at a 4% rate with debut runners might be focused on giving them a race or two to gain experience and fitness.

Other statistics can be equally a helpful. For example, a trainer’s win percentage with second-time starters, or with horses debuting in maiden claiming races. Applicable trainer statistics are readily available in Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances.

Pedigrees can provide clues

Pedigrees can reveal whether an unraced or lightly-raced horse will thrive when changing distances or surfaces. A son of English Channel out of a mare by Kitten’s Joy (both long-winded grass champions) will almost certainly prove best running long on turf, so you wouldn’t rush to bet a horse like this in a dirt sprint.

Handicapping this way requires a working knowledge of top stallions, their racing abilities, and the tendencies of their progeny. While such data can be researched, a simpler approach is to focus on the sire stats available in Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances. Want to know the average winning distance of any given sire’s foals? The percentage of debut winners they sire? The winning percentage of their foals when running on turf, or in the mud? It’s all there for easy review and analysis.

Review the work tabs

For unraced runners, reviewing their workouts can provide clues to their abilities. A horse that has shown significant speed in morning training is more likely to show speed in the afternoons as well. The ranking of each workout will be identified with a string of numbers such as “3/28,” denoting the third-fastest of 28 workouts morning workouts at the given distance.

But regardless of how much speed a runner has shown, be wary of any unraced horse with an abundance of workouts from the starting gate on their record, as denoted by a lowercase “g” preceding the ranking of the workout. This hints the horse in question might be struggling to break cleanly from the starting gate and could suffer a slow start on race day.

Good luck with your handicapping!