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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

:45.1 1:10.3

(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

 are there.

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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