Going Rogue

Going Rogue by Kayla Staples - Kayla Joy Staples is excited to be part of the Rogue Handicapping team. Originally from Tucson, Arizona this desert girl grew up exploring the outdoors, going to horse camps and was always up for a new adventure or challenge. Leaving Tucson for UCLA, Kayla became an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and graduated with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. After attending a sorority alumni event at the horse track a few years ago, Kayla became increasingly interested in horseracing, and connected with the Rogue Handicapping team to help bring horseracing to the new generation of novice players, who like her want to get in the game (with a little help from the pros).


Let me start begin with an anecdote. I grew up cheerleading, but I have to admit that I didn’t really understand football beyond the important of scoring touchdowns. However, in college, once the game was finally broken down for me, following the game and rooting for my team became a lot more fun. I was no longer just waiting for someone to score points, instead I was crossing my fingers for a successful 4th and goal. Understanding the concepts is important to any sport you’re trying to get into, and with horse racing, learning the lingo is your first step to playing like the pros.

So that led me here. Just like with football, I came to a point where I wanted to know what was going on in horse racing and figure out how to pick my pony with more legitimacy than basing it on a clever name. I did my research, and lucky for me, I found the Rogue Handicapper® who brings us the genius Rogue Ratings™ system. The more I learned about the complexity behind this sport, the more I realized what an incredible tool Rogue Ratings™ was. As I began to make connections between the terminology and concepts, like what it actually means to handicap a race, how the track conditions play a big part in making predictions, and where past performances come into play, it all started to make sense. As the bigger picture came into focus, the legitimacy and awesomeness of Rogue Ratings™ became even more apparent. I felt like I had to help other newbies break into the horse racing world and go from being observers to players, just like I did. 

So as a quick crash course into horse racing terminology, here is my Going Rogue A-Z Guide of Horse Racing Lingo. We will start with the most important definition and question you might be asking… what exactly is Rogue Ratings?

Going Rogue A-Z Guide of Horse Racing Lingo

rr-silver-iconRogue Ratings™: a unique handicapping tool that takes the complexity out of thoroughbred handicapping by making calculations for you and delivering educated betting options in a straightforward and easy to read system; making the betting process winnable for the new fans or novice horseplayers in the handicapping game. By the time you get to Z, I believe you’ll have a better idea of how it all works.

Across The Board: A bet on a horse to win, place or show. Three wagers combined in one. If the horse wins, the player wins all three wagers, if second, two, and if third, one.

Breeders’ Cup: Thoroughbred racing’s year-end championship. Known as Breeders’ Cup Day, it consists of 12 races conducted over two-day’s at a different racetrack each year with purses and awards totaling $26 million. It was first run in 1984.

*In 2014, team Conte-Rogue Handicapper® qualified for The Breeder’s Cup Betting Challenge 2014 [BCQualify.com] by finishing second against a field of 204 players in a one-day qualifying event to win the full $10,000 entry. Then team Conte-Rogue Handicapper® went on to finish third against a field of 286 contestants in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge 2014.

Conditions: The circumstances under which a race will be run such as: surface, distance, purse, and eligibilities. [Along with this is the Track Condition: the condition of the racing surface. Dirt courses are generally rated Fast, Good, Muddy, or Sloppy. Turf courses are generally rated Firm, Good, Yielding, Soft, or Heavy.

Derby: A stakes race for three year old horses. The Triple Crown is a coveted title where a three-year-old horse wins all three stakes races in a single year. Winning the “Crown of Roses” is considered a Thoroughbred racehorse’s greatest accomplishment. In the United States the three races are The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The last winner was in 2015, when American Pharaoh made headlines as he took the title for the first time in 37 years.

Eighth of a mile = a Furlong: 220 yards; 660 feet.

Front Runner: A horse who usually leads (or tries to lead) the field for as far as he can. A horse that wants to run on or near the lead.

Graduate: Winning for the first time (breaking it’s maiden), horse or rider. Also, “graduate claiming” ranks a horse, thus allowing it to participate in the stakes or handicap racing.

Handicap: Race for which a handicapper assigns weights to be carried that are correlated into an odds/points system. Each horse is allocated a different weight to carry, the theory being all horses then run on a fair and equal basis in order to make selections on the basis of past performances.

In-the-Money: To finish in the top three (alternatively, “out of the money” would be a horse that finishes worse than third aka you’re going home a loser, sorry). When you finish in the top three you win, so you get a “Return on Investment” or ROI.!

*With Rogue Ratings, your ROI or “In-the-Money” percentage increases drastically… check out the impressive list of Rogue Handicapper’s Tournament Results [http:// www.roguehandicapper.com/about/tournament-results/].

Juvenile: A two year old horse. The year working towards stakes races for the next year’s derby.

Key Horse: Is highlighted in the color blue with the symbol *K* and is one of the Rogue Ratings™ potential picks for the winner of the race. The Key horse (blue) is generally the “classier horse” because it is not necessarily the fastest horse in the race with early speed, but has a lower velocity rating, meaning it consistently runs well.

*Rogue Ratings™ gives you color coded picks based on handicapping factors that are put into a computer program that creatively deciphers and allows you to make educated bets based on the horse’s calculations of past performances.

Look of Eagles: A horse that has a confident look. John Henry had the Look of Eagles. I had to add this to my glossary because I think the “Look of Eagles” is awesome and needs to become a widely spread term.

Morning Line Odds: The approximate odds quoted by the track prior to the opening of the pools where the participant wagering determines exact odds.

Nose: Smallest advantage a horse can win by.

Odds: The chance of a competitor winning a particular race based on the wagering of the general public in betting pools. Each bet costs $2. If you were to bet on 3-1 odds you would be paid $8, because you win your $2 back times 3, plus your original $2. On a 20-1 you would win $42, a 30-1 bet would pay $62, or a 50-1 bet pay $102.

*More on this later as I begin to figure out exactly what this all means. Statistics was my worst subject in school, so I’m working on learning racing logistics before I worry about the math statistics. Even more of a testament to the simplicity and power of Rogue Ratings because I can easily figure out what it all means.

Past Performances: A compilation of a horse’s record, including all pertinent data such as speed (red horse), pace, form, class (blue horse), and other factors like the race conditions, jockey, and even the post position on the track all used as a basis for handicapping.

*Crunching all of these numbers for each individual horse is nearly impossible for a newbie… which means you need you new best friend at the track, Rogue Ratings™. Rogue Ratings™ gives you handicapping knowledge beyond your experience level. It crunches all of the past performance calculations for you and gives you a color coded, easy to understand look at what those past performance calculations would break down to, in order for you to make an educated bet and compete right along with the pros.

Quinella: Wager in which the first two finishers must be picked in either order. Payoff is made no matter which of the two wins and which runs second.

Rogue Horse: The green highlighted horse with the *R* symbol in the Rogue Ratings™ system, and is one of four possible picks. The green, Rogue horse is the underdog in a way. The Rogue horse (green) just barely misses the chance at being selected the Speed horse (red) or the Key horse (blue) usually due to lower velocities in general, but has may still has a high chance according to the calculations.

Stakes Race: A race for which the owner usually must pay a fee to run a horse. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee (The Triple Crown spots are based on a point system to qualify). In return the owners win a “stake” (a trophy or prize money) because in betting, “stake” can also mean the sum of money deposited or guaranteed by the parties to a bet.

Triple Crown: Used generically to denote a series of three important races in a year, but is always capitalized when referring to the historical races for three-year-old thoroughbreds. The Triple Crown races in the United States consist of The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Winning the “Crown of Roses” is considered a Thoroughbred racehorse’s greatest accomplishment. The last winner was crowned in 2015, when American Pharaoh made headlines as he took the title for the first time in 37 years.

Untried: Not raced or tested for speed.

Velocity: How fast a horse carries its speed and efficiently distributes its energy from starting gate to to finish line.

*With Rogue Ratings, the lower the velocity number the better, as a horse that runs a zero would be perfectly (equally) distributing his energy. Horses can even have a negative velocity number, which would make for even higher efficiency.

Withdrawn [or Scratched]: A horse that is scratched and therefore withdrawn from a race before the start. Horses can be withdrawn due to adverse track conditions or because of illness or injury.

*Rogue Ratings will recalculate if any horse is withdrawn and can adjust their picks in real time. This lets you see how the recalculated race now looks with the changes and which horses to potentially bet in a race.

EXacta: A bet in which the player attempts to pick the 1st and 2nd place horse on one ticket and is sometimes referred to as a “Perfecta,” (a “Trifecta” would be the first three finishers).

*With these types of bets, you can “box” your horses, which means you win your bet as long as any of the horses that you have included in your exacta box wager finishes first or second, regardless of the order, you win!

Yellow Horse: The fourth type of pick in the Rogue Ratings™ computer program is called the First-Time Starter horse. The yellow *FTS* pick is based on a race simulation projection, which means the horse meets a base velocity requirement required by the Rogue Ratings™ computer program and determines from it’s calculation that this horse is strong enough to win a race for it’s first start ever on the racetrack.

Zodiac & Zippity Doo Dah: examples of names that would sway me to bet my $2 without any logical reason whatsoever.



Thank you to SBNation [http://www.sbnation.com/2015/5/2/8535065/horse-racingglossary-exacta-trifecta], [http://www.ildado.com/horse_racing_glossary03.html], and Daily Racing Form [http://www1.drf.com/help/help_glossary.html] for helping me with my go to guide.


Before I took an interest in the sport, I had no idea how much went on behind the scenes at these horse races, specifically when it came to placing bets. While my experience had been big hats, too many mint juleps, and placing a $2 bet on a horse with no clue whatsoever, I had never seen the complicated calculations that went into betting if you wanted to pick a horse based on more than a smart name and dumb luck.

This statistical game is called handicapping, and a lot goes into a handicapping formula.

First, there are the calculations to be done for each individual horse based on their past performances. Some factors that play a role include: how old the horse is, the horse’s average speed/pace around the track, the velocity or consistency of that run, the “early speed” out of the gate, how a horse handles the different track conditions (dirt, turf, firm, sloppy), etc. and a bunch of other things from the horse’s racing record. With so many factors how do you choose? Do you bet on the favorite who comes out of the gate fast and is generally great on a dirt track? Or the horse who runs a consistently good race in any track condition but might not have the fastest early speed to put him as a front runner? Or what about that fresh young face in the competition, does he stand a chance against the older, experienced runners?

But wait, there’s more. After you figure out how each individual horse performs, you have to stack all of those individual statistics against all of the other horses in that race. And, if you are in a contest like I was, you need to do that with every horse, for every run, in every race, for two whole days. You not only need a little luck on your side, you also need some skills… and the players I was competing against were extremely skilled professionals. I didn’t think I stood a chance. I needed some help and Rogue Ratings was the answer to my horse racing guessing game.

Rogue ratings does all of the handicapping calculations for you and allows you to compete beyond your experience level. The system gives you a breakdown of your smartest bets for each run in the race—color coded and easy to understand.

There are four possible picks the system will present:

  • RED, that’s the *S* Speed horse
  • BLUE is the *K* Key horse
  • GREEN is a *R* Rogue horse
  • YELLOW put its bet on the *FTS* First Time Starter horse 

For each race, the calculations of the individual horses are done for you, then stacked up against all of the competitors on the track, and presents you with the best 2-4 picks to play based on the outcome of algorithm. From here it’s up to you to place your final bet based on the results… because we don’t want to take all the fun out of the gamble! But now the questions are simplified dramatically, and it’s just a matter of do we go with the Speed horse (red) or the slightly classier pick, the Key horse (blue).

For more specifics on the differences amongst the four types of horse picks, like what it means to be a Rogue horse, and why the Key horse is a “classier” pick than the Speed horse, along with a crash course to learning the lingo of the horse racing world, look for my next articles on  my blog, Going Rogue!


There are a talented few who are able to compete in the World Championship of Handicapping, the same way they do for poker. These competitors have strategies and tactics that far out weigh the hopes of just getting dealt good cards or crossing your fingers that your horse runs its heart out. One of these horse racing wiz kids is Hal Wafer, better known as The Rogue Handicapper, and the man behind the Rogue Ratings system. He has competed, won, coached others to wins, and has even walked home with one of those really cool giant checks after placing in one of the biggest handicapping competitions of the year. After years in the business, Rogue Handicapper was reminded about how difficult and confusing it was for the new generation of curious bystanders, and  from that Rogue Ratings was developed.

Kayla Staples, Going Rogue at the Belmont!So after the big American Pharaoh Triple Crown win, my interest was peaked. I liked horse racing but quickly learned this was not as easy to break into as I had thought. I did my research to see how I could compete without reverted back to the insecurity of my sophomore year Statistcs 101 final, where I was barely hoping to come out with a passing grade, let alone a big win A+. I decided to look into the Rogue Rating buzz and I wanted to put this new app to the test. From what I understood Rogue Ratings was an algorithm that plugs and chugs and calculates everything, taking the calculations off your mind so you can just focus on your best bet. Rogue Ratings did the stats stuff for me—I was a fan.

After reading more and more about Rogue Ratings and deciding I wanted to put it into practice, I found myself enrolled in a handicapping contest at Belmont Stakes.
I was such a novice, I didn’t even know that a “contest” was different than your typical day at the track. I expected to show up and buy a $2 or $4 ticket and hope for the best like I had in the past.

A contest is the equivalent to Fantasy Football. You aren’t just watching one game, you’re watching a bunch at once, and you aren’t just betting on one team, but rather watching, hoping, calculating, and predicting whats to come next in hopes of scoring some points. If you understand football and follow the sport, Fantasy League isn’t too hard… but imagine you have never watched a game, you don’t know the players or teams, and you’re expected to put together a winning roster and outsmart a room full of pros based on guessing alone. This is the case in horse racing, where most of us aren’t regularly following this particularly quiet sport. It’s extremely difficult to just join in without prior knowledge, so instead we take a stab at interpreting the odds that don’t seem to far out of reach or my personal strategy, pick the most creative name, take the gamble, and see what happens. While you may get lucky enough for this to work once or twice, this isn’t the most reliable method and especially not in a contest setting where the stakes are high, the competition is skilled, and you’re wrong if you think you can guess your way to a win.

In a contest you make 10 bets. These 10 bets need to be placed wisely because you have two days, three tracks, what seems like hundreds of races, and multiple horses in each run. On top of that you have a huge crowded room full of handicappers who know what they are doing. Here, you play with the big dogs, and I was a small puppy very new to the horse racing world. In fact when I showed up and saw how many people were there and felt the energy in the air, I was pretty intimidated and wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had my Rogue Ratings app in one hand, a coffee in the other, and held on to my seat as the first shot went off and the horses peeled around the track.

My first day I was scared and for the first few races and just watched to see how it all worked. I knew the app was easy, because I saw the picks it was making as I watched the horses cross the finish line. It seemed almost too easy. I watched the app predicting win after win. I learned how to place my bets, I had expert handicappers giving me advice on when to bet, explaining the point system to me, and when they explained it all, my head would spin. Yet, I would look at my app, and there is was, highlighted in red, blue, green and yellow, the winning horses in the palm of my hand.

This is me on the scoreboard, in 22nd place at my very first handicapping contest!

This is me on the scoreboard, in 22nd place at my very first handicapping contest!

After a quiet reminder to myself that it was just a game, I decided to just jump in and see what happens. Just because I couldn’t help myself, my very first race I bet on the coolest name of the day, Rainbow Moonbeam, who lost the race to the Speed horse that the app predicted would win… which means I was a loser. A really big loser because I bet against the app! From that point forward I went right back to my Rogue Ratings strategy. The next race I decided to pony up with the blue *K* Key horse, and I WON! 19-1 odds and I won?! Those points went towards my handicap score and I moved up a notch on the leader board. It went on like this for two days. I would bet on the *S* Speed horse, boom, win! I bet on the *FTS* First Time Starter horse, but shoot that time the *R* Rogue horse took it. I won some, I lost some, but that’s the gamble. The more important fact–by the end of day 1, I was on the leader board, and by the end of day 2, I had ended the contest in the top 25, making me one of the best amongst a room full of pros.

I also learned some fun handicapping facts. In a contest you watch multiple races run at different tracks. And you do your crazy number crunching to trying to figure out the odds of all these horses, all of these races, and it’s all based on points. So lets say you have a horse favored 2-1. This is a pretty safe bet… don’t know why, but what I do know is they have this point system, and if you bet on this horse and it wins, you get two points. Now let’s say you have a horse with 30-1 odds. This is a risky bet and also means if by some miracle this horse pulls off the win, you get a whopping 30 points. So as you can put together, the bigger the risk, the bigger the payout. You are hoping to score big wins and big points to get a big total, and that total is what ranks you amongst your fellow handicappers. Now are you wondering how I cracked the top 25 in my first ever handicapping contest. How this totally clueless blonde girl who doesn’t even understand odds ranking up amongst the big dogs that scared me half to death when I walked in? Rogue Ratings, that’s how.

Rogue Ratings is the answer to horse races for the clueless better and I am living proof. When I walked in I thought I was dead meat, but here I am, alive and eager to tell the tale! Rogue Ratings gave me a real chance at winning by doing the hard stuff for me. No longer placing bets based on the creativity of the horse’s name or a rough shot in the dark at betting for or against the odds, Rogue Ratings is your answer.

The app is so clean and easy. Once you acquaint yourself with the Rogue Handicapper, welcome to the winner’s circle. And with free daily picks. What are you waiting for? Give it a try! Go Rogue.