American Turf Magazine
View Cart
0 item, $0.00

American Turf Monthly

To Subscribe to the nation's leading thoroughbred handicapping magazine
click here.

       By Howard G. Sartin, Ph.D

Part One                                                            

I’ve always been hesitant about using WINNING in a title. The reason goes back 28 years when I was asked to address a group of truck drivers on the subject of gambling. They were members of a Teamsters Benevolent Association and had been convicted of felonies or high misdemeanors for horse race gambling related acts committed on the road. They were given provisional driver’s licenses and suspended sentences, providing they went into some kind of psychotherapy.

To prepare myself to lecture on a subject about which I knew nothing, I went to a place in Los Angeles called Smith’s Newsstand where Harry Smith sold everything ever printed and any gadget made that was related to horse racing.

I gave him my calling card and asked him, "Do you have anything that tells how to WIN at the races?"

He laughed and pointed at two 80-foot walls of shelves. Looking at my card he said, "I always thought you head-doc’s were nuts. See those shelves? EVERYTHING on them is about winning at the races, MOST even have WINNING in the title."

When he stopped laughing he suggested three books and a Daily Racing Form, which I bought. Then he said, "Since you only got a week before your speech and you spent all this dough, here’s a bunch of old Racing Forms, you better learn how to read it. And, I’ll make you a gift of this. It will probably do more good than anything else I carry."

He handed me a Ray Taulbot Pace Calculator along with the instructions for use. As I staggered out of his store loaded with books, Racing Forms and a Pace Calculator, his parting remark was: "And if you’re gonna try teaching a bunch of compulsive gambler’s to win, you better understand how to use the Taulbot gizmo; and pray a little for God’s help while you’re at it."

I learned a little bit from the books but with the Pace Calculator, much to my amazement, since I’d never been to a horse race, I started winning immediately. It taught me the basics of Pace and led me toward my goal of helping others to win.

Fade OUT. Fade IN: Several issues back, in the September 1999 issue of ATM, I actually wrote a letter to the editor:

Editor Blair penned this after my letter.


Would you be interested in developing a feature for American Turf Monthly focusing on pace handicapping in general and your recommended strategies with the Pace Calculator in particular?

When a packet of mail was forwarded to me from ATM, Ian asked if I’d write an article on PROPER use of Taulbot’s classic Slide Rule. I was happy to comply since most of the letters said they were not having much success using their Pace Calculator. They ALL said they used the Highlight Pace Time Method which is best.

Of course, those who didn’t write ARE using it properly and winning.

RAY TAULBOT’S place in handicapping history is secure because he focused NOT on the 2nd call pace and Final Time of the horse itself, but on the 2nd call and final time the horse ran AGAINST. The genius of his Pace Calculator is that with a few movements of your hand it properly analyzes one of horse racing’s few incontrovertible truths:


It is this simple yet brilliant concept that many Pace Calculator user’s fail to accept or completely ignore when reading the instruction manual.

NOWHERE in these directions does it EVER mention beaten lengths. It refers to 2nd Call PACE and FINAL TIME of the RACE ITSELF, never the horse. The ability of the HORSE’S PACE and FINAL time is measured against the PACE of THE RACE by the Calculator’s use of the SPEED RATING. This is the key to proper use and the Calculator’s most VITAL Rating.

Taulbot’s definition of Second Call Pace by distance, leaves no room for doubt:

As most of you know, the highlight pace time in a sprint race is the half-mile time, and in a race of a mile or more it is the six-furlong time. So you need these highlight times if you wish to use this latter method, which is the method I always employ in my work.

It should be noted that in today’s improved Racing Form, in ALL Sprint Races through Seven and a half furlongs, the 2nd Call is the Half Mile Time. In Routes from a Mile through a Mile and three-sixteenths, the 2nd Call is the Three Quarter (6 furlong) Time. Don’t let this confuse you when doing races over 7 furlongs or a mile and 3/16ths. Just follow the Taulbot directions as written.

Throughout the Pace Calculator Instruction booklet are guidelines and Angles for selecting contenders. These are guidelines NOT rules. The single most important of those guidelines is THIS:

Consider only the last 3 races in the past performances.

This line alone demonstrates that Taulbot was FAR AHEAD of his time. In my own work, I’ve always suggested using the BEST of the last three lines at a COMPARABLE distance, surface and competition level. Recently, SPORTSTAT, a highly reputable Las Vegas Research Organization did a study proving that using the Best of the LAST THREE races based on the Daily Racing Form Speed Rating PLUS Variant, REGARDLESS of distance, surface or class level, produced only a minus point 04 (-.04) ROI. This figure was FAR better than those coming from the best known Speed Rating with built-in Variant Services, including Beyer, Ragozin and Bloodstock.

While these services did not exist in Taulbot’s day, he was far sighted enough to know that an OBJECTIVE, CONSISTENT means of determining Speed and Variant would remain superior to one made by the ego-driven subjectivity of any individual.

Today the DRF speed rating and variant is based on THREE YEAR BEST times, not record times. This is an improvement that only enhances the viability of Taulbot’s writings.

This is in no way meant to discount the ancillary instructions in the AMER-VAR section for those understanding them and choosing to do so.

In short, the Pace Calculator Instructions tell us to use CALL times, NOT the times of the horse itself, which would include lengths behind. Unfortunately, a lot of people are using the horses own Pace and Final Time. This negates much of the Calculator’s value.

I will not be so presumptuous as to say that ALL those writing me about proper use of the Pace Calculator are making this mistake but I’ve met many who are. If you are one of them, RE-READ the Directions. They are complete. To COMPLETELY repeat them would be redundant and space-consuming.

However, there are several lines confirming that Taulbot designed the Pace Calculator to use Pace of the race NOT pace of horse.

EXAMPLE: STAR LAKE PETE on Saturday, October 2, first race at Santa Anita:

In the third race back at Santa Rosa, this horse earned the best raw Speed Rating in its last three races. This is a low class Fair Track and even though it was an Allowance Race, the horse finished 5 ¾ lengths behind the leader. Page one of the Pace Calculator instructions say that any horse under consideration should have finished within FIVE lengths of the winner. In today’s racing you may find that rule too restrictive. However, beaten 5 ¾ lengths at a far lower class track should be enough to ignore that line. I used the Last line at FPX September 19, an oval with the highest class of any Fair Track.


Ignore (:21.3)

6FUR (:21:3) 45:1 111:2.

THIS is the PACE the horse ran AGAINST.

PACE OF HORSE: The Pace Calculator does NOT use Position Calls or Beaten Lengths. Ignore Them. In this section of the Form use ONLY the Speed Rating. I’ll discuss Variant later. In getting a Final Rating from your Pace Calculator, IGNORE THESE FIGURES: 7-9 ½, 7-9 ¼, 6-7 and 3-4 ½. Only when a horse is beaten by MORE than 5 lengths should you consider the final beaten lengths as an elimination factor.

Notice I’ve blacked out the First and the Stretch Call. At the 2nd Call the horse was 7th behind 9 ¼ lengths but finished 3rd, behind 4 ½ lengths with a Speed Rating of 85. Since that’s an adequate SR and the horse gained over 5 lengths from 2nd Call to finish, we’ll keep him.

On your Pace Calculator Move Inner slice Red Arrows opposite 6F-1:11:2. Move Indicator Slide to 2nd Call 45:1 = 778 (Col.D). Move Red Arrows on Inner Slide to the 45:2 Fix Arrows. Now move Indicator to SPEED RATING 85. You’ll see a FINAL RATING (Col. C) of 863.

For Routes follow the printed directions using the ROUTE TIME side of the Calculator. To incorporate the Daily Variant use AMER-VAR or my alternative option appearing in Part 2 of this article.

Taulbot sums up his use of PACE of RACE thusly:

"However, you NOW WISH to add the speed rating (88) to this pace rating in order to obtain a final rating which will reveal just how well the horse coped with this average pace of 777".

Taulbot wrote in a style that was more formal than most of today’s readers feel comfortable. When he says: "However, you now wish to add the Speed Rating to obtain a FINAL RATING which will REVEAL HOW WELL THE HORSE COPED WITH THIS AVERAGE PACE." He did NOT say: You MAY now wish to. In short, he said: DO IT! Elsewhere he refers to this FINAL Rating Step with: "...consists of the Speed Rating which appears in your Racing Paper." The Daily Racing Form.

Many of today’s most renowned handicapping experts are also failing to consider the Pace of the Race itself when discussing pace handicapping. They’re apparently under the impression that the Second Call time of the horse itself, relative to the Horse’s Final Time, represents PACE. TOO much emphasis has been placed on the importance of horses that take the lead or are close-up at the Second Call. This is a VISUAL, sensory impression of EARLY. Following the proper steps on the Pace Calculator will tell you if it’s early ENOUGH! While many truly EARLY horses do win, all too often it’s at lower prices. The longer priced horses are those that BEST OVERCOME the pace of the race against which they ran.

These are the kinds of horses that will make you a profit when PROPERLY using the Pace Calculator. Other vital instructions conceived by the brilliant mind of Ray Taulbot, though written years ago, are still as current as tomorrow’s racing card.

con't : Part 2

Redeeming a gift certificate or promotional certificate? We'll ask for your claim code when it's time to pay.