The Importance Of Pace and Speed Ratings

If you are new to horse racing and betting, you might think that the pace and speed are one and the same. While both of them are crucial factors in placing a wager, they are, in fact, two different things. It is important that you understand the two factors and their relation to each other to help you decide which horse to bet on. Both are essential tools in race handicapping.


Difference Between Pace and Speed

Pace is defined as the overall speed at which a race was run. It applies to the overall speed of all the horses running in a given race. Pace is key to how well a horse will do when switching distances. It is a factor that is often overlooked. Although the breed of a runner is a big factor, the pace will often dictate how well it will fare in any race regardless of the distance.

If it is forced to go too fast in the beginning, the horse will not finish well. The best way to measure it is to look back at past races where the horse has raced well in and see how well they did during that race. The pace of the horse makes them a contender even if they have raced poorly in the past.

In sprint races, horses must be fast over a short distance. In routes, stamina will be vital. In most cases, the shorter the race, the faster the pace. When betting on horse races, you need to consider the pace in the early, middle, and late fractions of a race.

Speed, on the other hand, is the actual rate of motion at which each individual horse will travel during the race. In simple terms, a horse must be inherently fast enough or have enough speed in order to win a race.

Speed may vary from one race to another. The size of the field, state of the ground, and the number of horses with similar racing styles can impact speed. Horses with innate speed will have an advantage when:

a) the pace of the race is slow;

b) track surface favours front running types;

c) the rail is good.

What are speed ratings?

Speed ratings are excellent tools for analyzing a horse’s performance in a race without having to worry about which size track the time was recorded at or the conditions of the track during the race or in some cases the distance of the race itself. Speed ratings are based on the actual finishing time as well as other factors such as post position and track condition. The higher the rating the better.

Using lengths in speed ratings can provide you with an understanding of where each runner will be in a race. For example, if the horse averages the first half-mile in 44 while another averages the first half in 47, it is expected that the faster horse will be leading the pack. But this is not the case all the time.


Why Pace and Running Style Matters?

Pace makes the race. The more energy a horse can preserve early in the race, the more they have left in the end. If the horses in the first flight are conserving energy and there is a slow pace, it will be more difficult for those in the back to catch up, no matter how well they run.

Let us say that there are several front runners entered in a race. It is likely that they will burn each other out. This could be the opening that those in the middle or back of the pack can capitalize on. Horses are creatures of habit. If they had been used to running in front in 10 or 15 starts, most likely they will do it again.

In addition, if a front runner doesn’t have the speed to run with other front runners, it may expend a lot of energy trying to run with them. In the end, they may no longer have the energy to finish the race. In the same way, if a true front runner does not have any real early competition, it may have an easy race and settle into a nice pace that will give it enough energy at the finish line.

Also, you should keep in mind that horses don’t always do what we expect them to do and will not change their running styles. This is where pace handicapping comes in.


Pace handicapping

Pace handicapping is the art and science of estimating how a horse or horses will run in a race. When it comes to handicapping, the ability to identify early speed is the most valuable skill a handicapper can possess. Aside from current form and other handicapping factors, horses with early speed not only win more than their fair share of races but will almost always influence the outcome of the race.

Early speed should not be confused with final times or how fast a race was run. With early speed, you want to know which horse or horses will get the lead on the first call of the race. If you are able to identify them and bet on them, you will surely make some profit from horse racing.


What is a Front Runner?

As the name implies, a front runner runs out near or straight to the front early in the race. These types of horses are known as “speed horses.” They get out of the gates very quickly and establish their position in first or second place.

Speed horses can do one of six things in a race—get the lead by themselves, force the pace, set the pace under pressure, engage in a duel, or chase the leaders. Front runners are able to get the lead by themselves or open a clear lead among the best bets in racing. Horses who can secure the lead under mild pressure are also excellent bets. Although they have a lower winning percentage, they can still win more than their fair share of races and generate positive ROI.

You can further increase your ROI by eliminating certain types of speed heroes. There are some frontrunners who will not try in the stretch when unable to secure the early lead. Also, there are horses who force the pace, press the pace, or chase other speed horses. Within the race, they are likely to fade. Also, there are certain horses who like to lead in races. If there are no other potential front runners, it will present some great trading opportunities for you to capitalize on.


Sprints – 5f, 6f

Sprints are races that run over 5f to 6f. In these events, the real speed horses showcase their abilities. These are short distances so there is no room for mistakes. In the 5f race, horses go flat out all the way. In these short distance races, the pace is at its strongest.  With the 6f, meanwhile, they can save some energy and come with a late run to win.


Long Distance – 2m+

Also known as hurdle races, long-distance events involve at least 8 hurdles covering at least 2 miles. Since they involve obstacles that are lower than fences, they are usually faster run. This gives horses more momentum.

Hurdle races beyond the 2 miles are called ‘Stayers Hurdles’ because of the amount of stamina required to run at speed over the hurdles for a long distance. The fences in long-distance races are the smaller ones found at a Jump (National Hunt) course.

Horses train over hurdles for about two seasons before switching to fences. However, there are some exceptions who move to the fences right away.

Hurdles are just 3.5ft tall compared to 4.5ft for fences. Aside from that they are flexible and made from a series of panels that have been made from cut brush.


How To Find Front Runners For Back To Lay Trading

It is worth noting that front runners have very good winning records. Selecting a possible front runner can be one of the most important statistics in finding a race winner. The front runners' chances of winning increase if there is not enough competition for the lead.

Front runners if allowed to run the race without pressure often have enough energy to maintain their lead to the finish. Speed horses prefer to be drawn outside compared to other pace-pressing types. Speed horses like to press instead of being pressed.

Unless a front-runner is the only speed horse in the race, positioning at the outer inner lane can prove deadly. The jockey will have no other option but to “send” his mount toward the lead or risk getting caught behind a wall of runners with a horse who must be in front to run well.

Horses that front run during most of the race offer good betting opportunities. The idea is to back a horse prior to the start of the race. As it maintains the lead for most of the race, its price decreases.

Keep in mind that horses that lead at the start of the race, or break well, will shorten-up in the in-running market. You can take this into consideration prior to the race. If you think that a horse will lead in a race, then you can place a ‘BACK’ trade just before the off and then trade out early in the race at shorter odds. You then have an option to either hedge the profit across all the runners or leave the bet solely on your chosen horse.

There are many tools at your disposal that can help automate your bets using trading tools such as BetAngel. Again it all boils down to being able to identify early speed. It will not only help you become profitable during the races but also provide the internal dynamics of each race. Eventually, you will learn the impact of early speed on final times, running styles, and race results.

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