Handicap races are races, in which horses of different abilities compete against one another. A horse, running a handicap race is allotted a weight on the basis of an official rating made up of the horse’s past performance. Therefore, participants of handicap races must have won or run three races at least. The ratings converted into weights, also known as handicap mark, are updated weekly by the official handicapper to give each runner an equal chance of winning. The weight is carried by means of lead bars, ranging from 40 to 110 kilogrammes, and is added to the saddle. If the weight is lost during the race, the horse will be disqualified.
Example: If you bet on the horse with the highest official rating (handicap mark), you bet on the horse, which carries the highest weight. This horse is said to be the best horse in the race.
In the US the amount of weight carried by each horse is assigned depending on the conditions set out by the racing secretary of the course.