Feb 25, 2005
Outsmarting the Public
By: Ray Taulbot
Regular readers of this publication are aware of pace handicapping, and
it is not uncommon for us to receive many letters each month asking
questions about the pace factor.
Many readers misunderstand the basic principle of pace handicapping, and
believe that the horse with the highest pace rating should win a high
percentage of the races run each day. But such an assumption is based on careless
thinking, or upon a lack of experience in the use of pace.
Pace ability is used merely for the purpose of discovering the pace contention
in a given race. Why is this discovery important? Because it is paceability
that makes or breaks a race horse. But pace ability is based on class and current
condition, and the horse with the best pace rating might be outclassed today.
For instance, the horse with the highest pace figures earned its figures in a
$3,000 claiming race. If this horse is entered today in competition with$4,000
and $4,500 platers, which have slightly lower pace figures than the $3,000
horse,the cheaper animal may encounter a class handicap which sends it down
to defeat-despiteits higher pace figures.
Or the horse with the highest pace figures might be lacking incurrent
condition. The horse may not have reached the upward swing of its current
formcycle, or it may have reached its peak and is now on a downward curve.
A horse coming off a very hard race in fast time often falls into this category.
Therefore, it is clear that the horse with the highest pace figures won't always
be the logical selection. Perhaps the horse with the second highest figures-or
even the horse with the third or fourth highest figures-may be a
sounder selection today. In racing, there is no completely isolated factor
in handicapping. Everyfactor is related to one another.
It is also easy to slip into the habit of using only final time as a means of
figuring pace. While it is true that final time represents the overall pace
picture, it is not true that final time alone is always sufficient when
determining the actual pace ability of a horse.
For example, one might have two horses of the $5,000 grade whose
most recent races were run in identical final times. If the final time figures
are usedalone, these horses might have identical figures. But when the
"highlight time" method is used, the picture may take on a different hue.
Examine the two following races:
(A) 6f $5,000
32 35 23 22-1/2 SR-90
(B) 6f $5,000
11 11/2 22-1/2 22 SR-90
:22.1 :46 1:10.3
Since both of these races were run in identical time, both horses were
defeated by the same number of lengths and earned a speed rating of 90,
both horses will receive identical pace ratings if only final time and speed
ratings are employed.
But when you include the "highlight time," the half-mile time in a sprint or
the six-furlong time in a route, we might arrive at anentirely different
picture. In the above example, both animals received a parallel pace
rating of 391 plus 90, or a final rating of 481. But when we include the
highlight time rating, the final result reveals that A has more early pace
ability than B. Examine thefollowing figures:
(A) 391 plus 394 plus 90…total 875
(B) 391 plus 390 plus 90…total 871
These are the ratings you will get from your Pace Calculator when
using the "highlight time" method. So where we had an identical time when
using only the final time and speed rating, we now have A with a four
point advantage when we include the highlight time.
Since both animals earned their figures in a $5,000 race, and since they are
assumed to be about equal on the condition factor, A's four point edge
onearly pace becomes of real importance. On the other hand, if A was
outclassed or lacking in condition, the four point edge would lose most-if
not all-its significance.
There is another important factor to consider in the above example.
The early pace of A"s race was faster than the early pace of B's race,
and A gained ground after passing the half-mile pole. On a slower early
pace, B lost ground after reaching the half-mile pole. When one horse
gains, and the other loses ground,preference should usually be given
to the gainer.
Let's take horse B and enter it in today's route race. Many players
would pass this animal in a route because it quit or weakened in a
sprint heat.The average player would argue that if the horse
dropped back in the sprint, there is no reason to assume it will improve
at a longer distance. This is poor reasoning. If B is entered today in
a route-where the average half-mile pace is something like :46.4 or
slower-this horse has a mighty good chance, if the class and condition
When a sprinter moves into a route, it is moving into a race where
the early pace will nearly always be slower than the early pace of a
sprint heat.Therefore, a sprinter with a good half-mile time has an
advantage over the routers with slower half-mile times. The slower
early pace might give the sprinter just what it needs to score.
A study of past performance records will soon convince you that this is
true. You can find many examples where a sprinter quit or weakened
on a fast early pace in a sprint race, and then came right back to whip
horses of the same class in aroute race. This is one of the best longshot
angles in racing because the public seldom gives the sprinter support when going in a route.
So far we have pointed out two pace angles: a gaining horse in a sprint
where the early pace was fast; and a sprinter with a fast early pace in a
sprint that is entered against its own class in a route. Both of these angles
will produce some nice-priced winners.
But there is a third angle you should consider. It also involves pace, and
can be used in both sprints and routes. Note how A ran his last race as
shown.The horse was within two lengths of the leader at the first call,
and then dropped backsome three lengths by the time the field reached
the half-mile pole. Then the horse began to gain ground, picking up two
lengths between the half-mile pole and the stretch call,and another
half-length between the stretch call and the wire.
This horse had two very strong pace angles: gaining ground off afast
early pace; and dropping back after the first call to come again after
passing the half-mile call. It takes a pretty fair animal to drop back off a
fast early pace and thencome again to make up lengths down to the wire.
This "drop back and come again" angle is not new. But it becomes a new
and more powerful angle when the pace factor is considered. The fact
thata horse drops back and comes again is not overly important unless
the early pace shows that it did this under fast early pace conditions. This
is another reason why handicappers can't limit himself to final times.
That is also why "highlight times" were included whenthe Pace Calculator
was designed. Those of you with the instrument should not neglect the
use of highlight time ratings if you want accuracy.
A point worth remembering is that the return one receives for his labors
is based upon his ability and his willingness to work. The lazy racing fan
can't succeed. You can be sure that the more you put into this
business, the more you will earn.
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