Horse speed ratings often captivate the imagination of bettors, enthusiasts, and trainers alike. These numerical values provide a snapshot of a horse’s capabilities over a specific race distance, serving as a systematic approach to quantifying a horse’s speed. This article delves into horse speed ratings, including the various techniques and factors in their calculation.
What Are Horse Speed Ratings?
Essentially, horse speed ratings are numerical assessments that indicate a horse’s potential performance in a race. These figures aim to objectively measure a horse’s speed, normalized across different conditions and tracks. A high speed rating usually implies a horse with superior performance in past races and standing a good chance in future competitions.
Factors Influencing Horse Speed Ratings
The time it takes a horse to complete a race is the most straightforward and crucial element in determining its speed rating. Raw times are usually adjusted for track conditions and distance to arrive at a standardized horse speed rating.
The distance of a race is integral to calculating horse speed ratings. A horse may excel in short sprints but falter in longer endurance races. Therefore, any reliable system for generating horse speed ratings will adjust figures according to the length and type of the race.
Track conditions can significantly impact horse speed ratings. Whether a track is wet, muddy, or dry can affect a horse’s time and, consequently, its speed rating. Many horse speed ratings incorporate a “track variant” to adjust for these conditions.
Some racetracks have specific characteristics that may favour front-running or closing horses. These biases can influence horse speed ratings and are often considered by seasoned handicappers when compiling these numbers.
Quality of Competition
Popular Systems for Calculating Horse Speed Ratings
Beyer Speed Figures
Beyer Speed Figures, developed by racing journalist Andrew Beyer, are among the most widely used metrics for assessing horse speed in the United States.
The foundation of the Beyer Speed Figure is the time it takes a horse to complete a race, measured in fifths of a second. This raw time is then adjusted for the specific distance of the race, as horses naturally take longer to complete longer distances. However, Beyer Speed Figures go a step further by incorporating a “track variant,” which is an adjustment based on how fast or slow the track was on the day of the race.
The track variant is determined by analyzing the times of several races of the same distance on the same day and comparing them to an established standard for that track. This accounts for daily fluctuations in track conditions, such as whether the surface was muddy or fast, that can significantly impact race times.
The final Beyer Speed Figure is a single number, generally ranging from 0 to 120, that aims to represent a horse’s performance in a way that allows for meaningful comparisons between horses, races, and tracks.
The figure is then published in the Daily Racing Form, making it easily accessible for bettors and handicappers.
Equibase Speed Figures
Another widely-used system in the U.S., Equibase Speed Figures, adjusts for track condition and distance and is intended to be compatible with Beyer figures, offering another layer of depth for those interested in horse speed ratings.
Equibase Speed Figures are standardised to measure a horse’s performance across varying track conditions and distances. The foundation of the Equibase system starts with the actual time it takes each horse to finish a race. However, this raw time is then adjusted using a “track variant,” which serves as a modifier based on how fast or slow the track was playing on a specific day. The variant is calculated by analyzing the times of races run at the same distance and comparing them to historical averages.
Moreover, Equibase also factors in the distance of each race and the condition of the racing surface to normalize the speed figures. This makes it possible to compare performances across different tracks and conditions more accurately. The Equibase figures are designed to be compatible with other speed ratings, like the Beyer Speed Figures, providing bettors and handicappers with an additional tool for evaluation.
Overall, Equibase Speed Figures aims to create a comprehensive but straightforward numerical representation of a horse’s speed and ability based on a complex blend of these factors.
Timeform, a well-regarded horse racing data and analysis provider in the United Kingdom, has developed its own comprehensive system for calculating horse speed ratings that diverge from some of its American counterparts in methodology and scope. Timeform ratings consider the raw time in which a race is completed and various other factors, some of which can be quite nuanced.
For example, the quality of the competition is heavily weighted; a horse that performs well against top-tier rivals may receive a higher rating than one that wins easily against lesser competition. Timeform analysts also factor in the specific conditions under which a race is run, such as the track’s state, wind conditions, and even the route taken by the jockey.
Moreover, Timeform incorporates subjective observations, often based on expert analysis and real-time visual evaluations during the race. These can include considerations like how easily a horse won, whether it faced any obstructions, and how much energy it seemed to expend.
The aim is to generate a speed rating that reflects a horse’s raw speed and overall performance and potential. It’s a complex algorithm that has been refined over decades, and it stands as one of the world’s most respected horse speed ratings.
While horse speed ratings are an excellent starting point for evaluating racing potential, they should not be used in isolation. A holistic approach, combining speed ratings with other handicapping methods like trainer and jockey statistics, pedigree, and current form, will offer a more complete picture of a race.