Although there are certain types of workout programs in horse racing, breezing a horse is the most common. Breezing, in its simplest term, is training a horse on the race track in preparation for a race. Horses who are just learning to run on a track need workouts ahead of time to get acclimated to running the oval. They also need to work with other horses in tandem, as during a race, there can be some bumping and challenging situations.
Jockeys weigh just over 100 pounds and are asked to control horses who weigh over 1,000 pounds. When they get uncomfortable, there is little a jockey can do at times. Now imagine running in a big race in a stretch duel, and something happens that has never happened to the horse previously. This is why breezing and getting horses prepared is of the utmost importance for both the trainer and the horse.
Once horses are comfortable on a track, then trainers try to get them to learn when to switch their leads, right foot forward and then left foot forward. Imagine a skateboarder only pushing off one leg to continue to move forward. It gets tiring. Horses learn through breezing how to switch from using one leg to another to continue to push off and be the first step forward.
Breezing also helps keep horses fit between races. You want your horse to stay muscular and in shape. The only way to truly do that is to simulate as much racing as possible. You also don't want to overwork a horse, however. Some horses will give you everything they have in a race, and at times it is smart to back off and allow a horse to rest. There's a reason there is a saying about "running a horse into the ground."
If you are a handicapper or general horse racing better, it's important to study how horses do breezing. There are a ton of characteristics one can notice from a racing program on how a horse is coming into a race. In lower-level races, however, be aware that some trainers who enter horses in claiming races, where they can be bought and sold to other owners or trainers, sometimes they may work a bad horse really fast to get people interested in buying, and other times they may work a great horse slow in the hopes that they can keep the horse in their barn.
Here are some of the key things to note when looking at a horse breezing or a report of the breeze:
What surface are they training over?
If the horse is a turf horse who runs on grass, are they training them on grass or on dirt which the horse might not like as much and therefore not run a really fast time.
What distance are they training over?
Most horses work between three furlongs and five furlongs, but some trainers like to train and have them run even longer. A fast three-furlong work may look good on paper, but if the horse is being asked to run over a mile in their next race, the horse may run out of stamina.
What were the track conditions?
Was the track dry or super wet and sloppy? Slower times happen when the track isn't in its ideal condition.
How fast did the horse run?
There is a 12 second standard per furlong. If a horse ran 4 furlongs in 46 seconds, that would be considered quite fast.
What type of running did the horse do? Was he simply breezing, or was he being run handily by a jockey really working a horse? Did the horse work from the starting gate?
If they worked from the starting gate, this could mean the horse may get uncomfortable when being put in the gate.
How did the horse rank amongst others working that day?
Each horse gets a ranking for the workout of all the horses who worked that day. If their time is slow, but their rank is high, maybe the surface they were on was just a bit off.