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May 21, 2004

When Figures Alone Are Worthless

By: Ray Taulbot

"Wishing won"t do the job but working will." When themoss of time is scraped from the surface of this old

 saying one discovers gold beneath itsgreenish surface.

The mere yearning for something will not produce the desiredattainment of a given goal. Success in any

field depends, first upon desire, secondupon the will to work. Thus, it may be said that desire is the fuel that

 powers the willto work. One without the other is useless.

One should, however, remember that work is of two kinds, theright kind and the wrong kind. the wrong kind

 results in nothing more profitable thanwasted energy; it is the right kind of work that produces the desired results.

Successful performance is wholly dependent upon the rightapproach. If one attacks any problem in an

incorrect manner, then his effort is wasted.Unfortunately, too many racing fans are imbued with the mistaken

 notion that figures aloneare sufficient for making good racing selections. But this is a fallacy of the worst sort.

Figures serve to bring out the logical contention in a race; beyond this they have only asmall value. Skill in the

work of making sound selections is found in the individual"sknowledge of horse racing and his ability to evaluate

 h is figures in accordance with thefacts as they pertain to thoroughbred horses.

If horses were machines, then figures alone could be accepted atnear face value. But race horses are not

machines; they are animal athletes whoseperformances in many instances are governed by stable intentions

as well as the physicalcondition of the horse.

The experienced selector knows that every race a horse runseither contributes to the furtherance of good

condition or tends to dull whatever degreeof sharp condition the horse might have previously enjoyed. Further,

 the selector knowsthat no matter what the animal"s figures may seem to indicate, the horse s not going towin

unless it is properly placed.

This is why a selector needs to know more than merely how tofigure horses. He must know how to determine

 stable intentions, which is done through theuse of racing angles and the current condition figures.

Thus it is clear t hat he must be capable of accurately judgingthe probable effect of a horse"s last race upon its

 current condition before he canevaluate its handicap figures. If the horse"s last race was an over-taxing effort its

figures lose most, if not all, of their face value.

We have in front of us the past performances of an allowancerace run this past summer at a major track. In this

field we have two animals whoserespective last races were run in an almost identical manner. Yet the probable

 effect ofthe last race is not the same in both instances. Study these two running lines:

Horse A ... 11/2 11 2nk 33

Horse B ... 11/4 11 21/4 33

These two animals ran, of course, in different races last start.However there was only one-fifth of a second

 difference between their respective finaltimes. Therefore it seems that each race should have abut the same

effect in bothinstances.

This apparent sameness in effect is due to the face that we arelooking only at each animal"s last races, both

 of which are almost identicalinsofar as the running lines are concerned.

But it is what went before which tells us what the probableeffect of the last race will be. In short, we have to

 take a good look at each animal"snext-to-last race before we are in position to make anything like an accurate judgment.Following are Horse A"s last two races:

Last race ... 11/2 11 2nk 33

Next-to-last ... 76 75 64 1/4 86

Note that horse A was NOT in form prior to running his lastrace. He came to form last start, and under normal

conditions should improve today. Nowlook at B"s last two races:

Last race ... 11/4 11 21/4 33

Next-to-last ... 31 21/2 11 11/2

Note that B was sharp and in form prior to running his lastrace. It is not clear now that the effect of each animal"s

last race is not likely to bethe same? A has just come to hand, and his last race should help him toward still furtherimprovement today.

B, on the other hand, has now had two trying efforts, whichcombined are very likely to have taken something out

 of this animal. Its chances ofimproving today are much less than A"s. In fact, B"s last race appears to be the

result ofhang-over speed from his winning race next-to-last start. Therefore B is likely tostale off a bit today.

And that is just what happened in this race. A finished second,while B would up fifth, beaten six lengths.

Why didn"t A improve enough to win this heat? That is a goodquestion that deserves an answer. A was defeated

because in this field we have a horsethat has run three times in stakes company. True, it did not win any of the

 three stakes,but the fact that the stable spent money to enter the horse in stakes events stronglyindicates its connections regard it as being something better than a run-of-the-millallowance animal.

Is this alone sufficient to warrant either backing the betterclass animal or passing the race? In this instance this

animal was the logical finalchoice because since running its last race 21 days ago the horse had been given threeworkouts during the 21 day rest period.

A high class horse of near stakes grade can be brought to topcondition through the medium of workouts. This

cannot be accomplished with cheapsters;they usually need actual recent racing to bring them to their best form.

So here we have a powerful angle which our handicap figuresalone did not reveal. In fact, the winner of this race

was the third figure horse. Butthis animal"s potential class enhanced its figures to a point where it became the logicalchoice in this field.

One can garner many an extra winner, often at a good price, inallowance races where there is an animal that has

 started a few times in stakes races andwhich since running its last race has been given two or more workouts.

There are some pros who back only this type of an animal in allowance races.

The two preceding examples should convince the most skeptical fan that figures alone are not sufficient to make

 good selections. We shall always need figures in our work for the purpose of bringing out the ability of contenders

in any race. Buy the real sill in our work is developed through the acquirement of a wide knowledge of the many

 other factors upon which our figures must be evaluated.

At this point it seems advisable to warn the reader that angles,and knowledge of racing in general, apply to one of

the two, three, or sometimes fouranimals in the field whose handicap figures must be evaluated.

At this point it seems advisable to warn the reader that angles,and knowledge of racing in general, apply to one of

the two, three, or sometimes four animals in the field whose handicap figures place them among the top contenders.

It is a pure waste of time and effort to apply angles or anything else to those animals in the field with figures that do

 not support the idea thatthey are capable of dealing effectively with their competition. For example, if a horsehas

 shown no signs of good condition in any of its most recent races there is no logical reason for giving it detailed consideration. Such animals do now and then upset things and win, but no amount of time and effort is likely to point

 them out as logical contenders before the race is run.

Upsets are a part of the hazards of racing, but because these sudden form reversals cannot be determined beforehand,

 the wise selector wastes no timeand effort trying to figure such an animal. He simply eliminates it from consideration andconcentrates his attention upon those horses in the field which clearly own the ability and current condition to run well with their opposition.

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