An allowance race in horse racing is for horses that are not for sale. They are called allowance races because a horse is assigned a certain amount of weight that it must carry. Allowances are made in order to make a horse eligible for the race. The horses are also assigned a certain weight to make them more equal to each other and the race more competitive.
While some horses are required to carry more weight in an allowance race, others will be assigned less weight. The allowance is usually five pounds. That might not sound like much, but can actually go a long way in determining the outcome of a race.
Assuming the horses are on the same level or of equal ability, the general rule of thumb is that for each pound a horse carries, it will result in it going a length slower than a horse carrying less weight.
An allowance race is a step up from a claiming race. Unlike an allowance race, in a claiming race the horses are for sale at a specified price that must be paid before the race starts. Thus the word "claiming'' as you are claiming (or buying) a horse.
There are a number of conditions that are made in order for a horse to be allowed to run in an allowance race, which offers higher purses than a claiming race. For instance, a horse will be assigned to carry less weight if it hasn't won a race in a certain amount of time or hasn't won a specified amount of money over that time period.
In addition, how a horse is ranked will depend on how it has performed in previous allowance races. These include horses that have never won an allowance race and have only won on a lower level such as a claiming race. Horses are also ranked on whether they have previously won one, two, or three allowance races.
Another way to look at allowance races is by defining what they are not. It is not a race for novice horses or a race restricted to maiden horses. A maiden horse has never won a race. An allowance race, of course, is also not a claiming race.
In addition to past performances, there are other ways horses are graded for allowance races. Among these are the age of the horse, the sex of the horse and the jockey.
An inexperienced jockey will result in a horse carrying less weight. Female horses are assigned less weight than male horses. A horse that is deemed to be at a disadvantage in those areas will be assigned less weight.
Allowance races have other certain considerations that can include age restrictions as well as restrictions on how many allowance races the horse has competed in or won.
Handicap and allowance races are similar in that both have weights assigned to the horses. The difference is in allowance races there are more specifics taken into account than in a handicap race.
An experienced bettor can take advantage of allowance races because favorable odds may be found for horses that adapt to the weight assignments better than others.