Handicap a horse race using speed figures alone and you will soon learn that speed figs are the most overrated and over bet factor in horse racing. Thanks to standardization and accuracy, speed figures do work to assess horses as well as any factor, but that doesn’t mean you can make a profit with them. On the other hand, if you know how to use them, it is a good place to start.
Let’s say you are looking at a $20,000 claiming race and trying to determine which horse is the fastest based on its figs. At first glance it seem that the 1 has the most speed because adding her speed figures for her last three races gives the highest total in the race. She is the morning line favorite and it appears she is the logical choice to win.
However, if you take the time to dig deeper into the race and make some adjustments to those ratings, you may find a good priced winner. For instance, the 2 is a horse dropping in class. Though the 2 has slower speed figures, she was facing tougher competition and faster early pace in each of her races. The question is, does her total for speed over the last three races clearly reflect her ability compared to the 1?
If she faced tougher competition, how should you adjust the speed figures? To the best of my knowledge, there is no easy to use, clearly defined method for adjusting speed ratings according to pace figures. That may seem like bad news at first, but it actually works in your favor. Because no one has found an easy formula, the handicappers who use speed figures don’t try to adjust them for class or pace.
You can, however select races that you wish to develop your own numbers for and then start charting them. Let’s say you are going to develop your own method for adjusting these pace figures and SFs. First you should handicap each claiming race then download the charts. Look at each winner and compare its SF total to its pace figures in its last three races. After 20 or more races you will start to understand how the pace and speed figures work together and how to spot a horse that may not appear very capable, based on its SF totals, but will surprise because of its pace advantage.