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Horse Race Handicapping - Speed Points

Apr 3, 2008
It is an old story at the race track: a newcomer to the horse races looks at the jockeys' silks and bets on the prettiest one. An ability to evaluate a horse's chances by its physical appearance does offer a horse bettor an advantage, but the predictive value of the jockeys' silks is easily discounted. If the silks mattered, then losing owners would just change their colors in order to change their fortunes.

The suspicion here is that newcomers to horse race handicapping find themselves faced with too much information and react by finding a simple, silly solution. Newcomers want and should have a simple, reliable way to digest the information in the racing form. Speed Points fits the standard of simple and reliable.

To begin, assign each horse one point. Then look at the five most recent races in the past performances. Three of those races will get rated. Horses earn speed points depending upon their position and beaten lengths at the first call of their races.

Award one point for each race that the horse has been either first, second or third at the first call and award one point for each race that the horse was within two lengths of the leader at the first call. Award zero points for any other sprint performance. Award zero points for any route performance, unless the horse was within one length of the leader at the first call, in which case do not rate that race.

Seven Furlongs Exception
Only award the one point for position if the horse led the race at the first call.

Award one point for each race that the horse has been either first, second or third at the first call and award one point for each race that the horse was within three lengths of the leader at the first call. Award zero points for any other route performance.

Sprints Exception
Award one point for each race that the horse has been either first, second or third at the first call and award one point for each race that the horse was within five lengths of the leader at the first call.

At this point each horse will have earned a rating between one and seven Speed Points.

Horses having seven speed points earn a bonus point if they have been within a neck of the leader in each of their rated races.

Horses having one point lose that point if they failed to beat half the field at the first call in each of their rated races.

Handicappers should consider each horse having five or more speed points and two points higher than any other horse. These horses have a definite early-speed advantage and many of them will lead wire to wire. Alternatively, handicappers can add the speed points for all the horses in the race and then divide that sum into the points for the highest rated horse. Consider any horse having thirty percent or more of the race's speed points.

Novice horse race handicappers will quickly find new and unique ways to use Speed Points. This writer has found them very effective and useful for evaluating track bias, but that subject is another article altogether.
About the Author
Rich Dudka has played the ponies since the early 1980s and now shares his insights and advice about horse race handicapping at Uncle Clyde and Good Horse Racing.
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