How important are speed figures in the handicap of a horse race?

You look at the career form and your eyes run down the page as you try to process all the information. He tries to make sense of all the cryptic letters and numbers in hopes of finding a key that will tell him which horse is going to run better today based on how he has run in the past. Suddenly you see the speed figures from the horse’s last run in bold.
“Now this makes sense!” you tell yourself. “After all, this IS a horse race and the fastest horse must win every time!”
If only it were that simple, my friend. Although many feel that it IS that simple. A high Beyer speed figure on a horse’s past performance should tell us that this horse is faster than a horse with a lower figure, right? Many base their bets solely on this premise and soon realize that there is much more to being a good bettor than simply picking the highest number under the heading of speed. But what other variables could skew this all-powerful indicator of success in horse racing?
Meat and bone – Horses are flesh and blood, not unlike you and me. They’re susceptible to the same problems as any professional athlete with the only difference being that they can’t tell a coach as clearly as they’d like that their muscles are sore or their joints are stiff…or exactly how much their muscles are sore. . They are a domesticated animal but they still have a part of their brain that tells them to try to hide any signs of weakness or illness. So even though your horse ran brilliantly in his last race, he may not feel as energetic as he did three weeks or three months ago.
Bias and track condition – Perhaps in a horse’s last race on this or another track where his speed number was so superior that he got a good post position. It could be that the track was slow or muddy and he was able to get up front and along the rail early in the race and hold the wire-to-wire lead. The poor horses behind him had a bad ride with mud literally thrown in their faces or having to go out and around to avoid the mud, which gave our horse a much superior finish time compared to the ones at the back of the herd
Physical aptitude – Perhaps we need to dig a little deeper into our handicap and evaluation of this horse and see how often he had been run just before the race with Beyer’s high speed figure. Had he just come off a three-month break? Has he run by himself once or twice since his break and is it on the same schedule as today’s race? Is he as fit as he was that day? Does your recent daily training of him show that he still has that speed by comparison?
Jockey – Is our horse being ridden by the same jockey that was in his last race or in the race where he showed all that speed? Maybe the horse likes this particular rider or maybe the rider knows how to get the best out of this particular horse? …he knows his racing style or his likes and dislikes, like where the horse likes to run and where he doesn’t. right. Is this jockey successful and does his winning percentage show it?
These are just a few of the hundreds of things one must take into account when determining a race handicap. Yes, speed is important and a horse that lacks it has little chance of being competitive, but hundreds of things can and will go wrong over the course of a race that will affect the way a horse runs. This is what makes horse racing so exciting and handicaps such a delightful challenge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *