• The Truth About Speed

    POSTED Sep 29, 2011
    Last week, I wrote about the role of speed in determining the greatness of past and present thoroughbreds. This week, I'm going to examine the role of speed in determining the greatness of past and present thoroughbred handicappers.

    As many people know, speed, at least as defined by raw time, was generally not thought of as a major handicapping factor in the early years of the Sport of Kings. No less a horseplayer than George E. Smith, aka “Pittsburg Phil,” called time “a minor consideration.” Instead, players like Phil and Charles Botay, both of whom have been credited with creating the first results charts, relied on things like weight, class and form to guide their wagering decisions.

    However, it should be noted that, back in those days, track conditions varied greatly, making simple time comparisons somewhat dubious. For example, Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner, captured the 1919 Kentucky Derby in 2:09-4/5 — more than six seconds off the track record at the time — over a Churchill Downs strip that was rated as “heavy,” a designation that is rarely (if ever) used anymore.

    A little more than a month — and two races (oh, how times have changed) — later, the Harvey Guy Bedwell trainee shaved two fifths of a second off the track record for 1 3/8 miles at Belmont Park in the Belmont Stakes... not surprisingly, over a “fast” track.

    Ironically, it was a Daily Racing Form employee (the DRF founder, actually) that was among the first to advocate the use of speed figures.

    Frank H. Brunell, who made his own numbers and created the initial past performances, called time “an important factor” and urged readers to “discard the Anglo-American argument about its general worthlessness.” (Apparently, Brunell felt handicappers in other places — Colombia, perhaps? — had a greater appreciation for speed.)

    But the revolution in speed figures that came years later (in the 60s and 70s), which fundamentally altered the game, at least from a handicapping perspective, appears to have reached its point of diminishing returns… and may have done so many moons ago.

    In the September 1997 issue of the now-defunct “Meadow’s Racing Monthly,” handicapping legend Barry Meadow presented a study by Jim Bayle of SportStat that suggested Beyer figures, which debuted in the Daily Racing Form in 1992, held a significant edge over the old DRF speed ratings (and associated track variants) as a predictive tool.

    According to Meadow, “Bayle looked at the results of approximately 3,000 sprint races, looking at each horse’s best rating in its last three starts” and discovered the following:

    Yet, even before Bayle’s survey, Beyer was questioning the effectiveness of his own figures in what he called “the computer age” (back when Windows 3.0 was all the rage). In “Beyer on Speed,” the author told of a fateful visit to Gulfstream Park in 1990.

    “I felt that I was at the very top of my game as a gambler. And I still couldn’t win,” Beyer wrote. “My lack of success was due not to bad luck or photo finishes or any of the other traumas that plague all horseplayers. My frustration was best demonstrated by some of the winners I picked — by horses like Memorable Skater.”

    “In his nine-race career, Memorable Skater had finished out of the money nine times against maiden competition,” Beyer continued. “Now he was running against winners, and any traditional handicapper would have dismissed him on those grounds alone. But his speed figures were competitive with those of his rivals, and, in his last start, he had been forced to race wide on a track with a strong rail-favoring bias. … When I went to the track that day, prepared to make a killing, I thought Memorable Skater embodied all of the handicapping skills I had spent a lifetime learning.

    “The race went just as I expected. Memorable Skater popped out of the gate, angled to the rail, led all the way to win by six lengths — and paid $6.20.

    “A pitiful $6.20,” Beyer lamented.
    Unfortunately for speed-oriented handicappers like Beyer, races featuring overbet “figure horses” have become commonplace in today’s game, leading many to view time in much the same light that Pittsburg Phil did over a century ago.

    As speed figures lost their pari-mutuel punch, Beyer and others attempted to find other uses for them. Hence, goofy ideas like the “bounce theory” were spawned. Worse, with the advent of all-weather tracks and the rising popularity of turf racing, both of which bring pace into the equation to a much larger extent than races on dirt, Beyer numbers as well as other speed figures started to look more and more like performance ratings. How else does one explain the nonsense that occurred at Belmont Park on Sept. 17?

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Before I discuss the chart above, let me provide some background: In a piece that appeared in American Scientist in 1981, Peter S. Riegel showed that fatigue in human runners could be expressed, more or less, in a linear fashion. Later, Dr. Steven Roman found a similar truth regarding thoroughbred racehorses and, in fact, used the relationship between internal race fractions and final race times to determine that Secretariat most likely broke the track record at Pimlico in the 1973 Preakness Stakes — something that Daily Racing Form clockers asserted he did, while Pimlico officials maintained he did not (Big Red’s official time of 1:54-2/5 is based on Pimlico clocker E.T. McLean Jr.’s hand-timed account).

    Secretariat: 1973 Preakness Stakes

    With that in mind, check out the graph above, which displays the race fractions and final times of Ravello Storm, who won a $20,000 maiden claiming affair over the inner turf at Belmont Park on Sept. 17, and Winter Memories, the three-year-old filly phenom who won the Grade I Garden City Stakes over the same course, at the same track, on the same day.

    Notice that Ravello Storm ran faster at every comparable point in the race, including the finish.

    Now, take a gander at the Brisnet speed figures each horse earned that Saturday:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    See what I mean about speed figures morphing into performance ratings? There is simply no mathematical basis for assigning Winter Memories a higher speed rating than Ravello Storm. What’s more, the run-up distance (the ground covered prior to the official start of the race… and the clock) was 12 feet in Ravello Storm’s race and 72 feet in Winter Memories’ contest.

    So, was Pittsburg Phil right, is time just a minor consideration? Well, if one believes pace and trip are minor considerations as well, the answer appears to be yes.

    Weekend Wagers

    Visit http://blog.twinspires.com/2011/09/weekend-wagers.html.

    Derek Simon’s Free Selection Statistics

    Races (Selections): 52 (55)
    Wins: 19
    Rate: 36.5%
    Return: $142.10
    ROI: +29.18%

    (This year's published selections through 09/29/11.)

    Note: Play is restricted to any horse(s) that meet my fair odds requirements (when listed). Multiple qualifying contenders will be bet separately, however, multiple bets will be adjusted to equal a single wager and the payoffs averaged. For example a winning WIN/PLACE wager paying $6.20 on top and $4.30 underneath would count as a single bet paying $5.25 (the average of $6.20 and $4.30).

    Walter Smith said...

    Harness racing is an incredible game. What I truly like is that the horses race for quite a long time in succession until they need a break. Thoroughbreds which just race each two or three weeks. The drawback of this is I will in general begin to look all starry eyed at a portion of the horses I see frequently. That makes it difficult to wager equitably. someone write my assignment

    Online Assignment help said...

    We Provide assignment help online services likes as manage the assignments in colleges and university. Allassignment help is number 1 assignment help online in US, Australia.

    assignment help online
    online assignment help
    assignment help

    Anonymous said...

    This is where you might have started your search for assignment help.The previous consumers give their feedback on the website to let the other users know about the quality of their service. For example, if you go to the AllAssignmentHelp reviews, you can get to know the opinion of different users about their services. You can also check other websites to compare and select the best service for you. All assignment help reviews

    ireland assignment help said...

    Dissertation writing help in limited time from Irelandassignmenthelp.com. Submit your assignment on time and maintain higher grade in college at a reasonable price. So hurry up get Dissertation writing help from us.

    Aman said...

    TabletGeeky is one of the leading website where you will learn everything about various tablet devices.

    joannawebster said...

    Hi guys! I’m writing on this topic these days, but I have stopped writing because there is no reference material. Then I accidentally found your article and use custom article critique writing service. I can refer to a variety of materials, so I think the work I was preparing will work! Thank you for your efforts.

    Writer said...

    You have published a very interesting research here, thanks. I could only offer you custom ppt writing service to make your post filled with pictures that will attract more readers, maybe.

    david0912 said...

    Students looking for help with their assignments can easily opt for Assignment Help UK services from Ph.D writers at a very cheap price.

    Anonymous said...

    Capital budgeting is all about planning long-term investments for growth and development of the business organizations. The funding of cash for new machinery, replacement of old machinery, new products, research and development projects is required. If you have been given to write homework on a tricky topic of this subject, and you don’t know how to begin with it, then simply take capital budgeting homework help from us.

    Visit us Archlite Assignmen Help

    Professional Marketing Case Study Help said...

    What an excellent article you have shared. Keep it up!
    Seek Professional Marketing Case Study Help from MBA expert writers. If you need help with your assignments. We are providing Marketing assignment assistance at reasonable prices. Casestudyhelp.net delivers Case Study Help Service Online with no plagiarism content. Feel free to connect with us.

    ATHE Assignment Help said...

    Thank you for sharing useful post
    Are you searching for ATHE Assignment Help for Better Grades? Join us
    Achieve your academic and career goals with Case Study Help UK. At an affordable price, we provide assignment help and writing services in subjects like CMI Assignment Help , Accounting, Management, MBA assignment help, etc. We are 24/7 hours available on our site at https://casestudyhelp.com/.

    Best assignment help UK said...

    Thank you for sharing this information
    Do you need help with your Best assignment help UK ? Don’t worry
    Assignment Task is one of the most famous and trusted assignment help in the UK, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and others worldwide. We are giving our services with good quality of work. We have a team of brilliant Top writers who assist students in their assessment projects. We are 24/7available on the internet at: https://assignmenttask.com/

    Affordable Assignment Help UK said...

    Thank you for sharing this excellent article
    Seek Professional Affordable Assignment Help UK from expert writers. If you need help with your assignments. We are providing assignment help and writing services. Casestudyhelp.com delivers 100% quality work with free plagiarism content. Feel free to connect with us.

    UK Assignment Writing Help said...

    Thanks for share this idea
    Now, get outstanding assignments done by our brilliant writers. Assignment Task UK Assignment Writing Platform with more than 500 qualified and experienced writers.
    Avail the best opportunity by trusting the most reliable hands.
    • Original Content
    • On-Time Delivery
    • 100% Confidentiality
    • Secure Payment Methods
    • Quality Assurance Team
    • 500+ Professional Writers

    Managerial Accounting Assignment Help said...

    Thank you for sharing this idea
    Looking for Managerial Accounting Assignment Help Online
    Do you want Assignment Help and Writing Services at a pocket-friendly price? If yes, here is the best chance for you to score an A+ grade in your assignment writing. Our in-house team of experts offers the best online assignment help service with plagiarism-free content to all students' study levels.

    Management Assignment Help said...

    Thank you for this post
    Do you need Management Assignment Help for better Grades?
    Assignment Task has MBA writers in an essay, homework, dissertation, case study, coursework, research papers, report writing, etc. With a team of PhD professionals, we work on providing reliable Assignment Help to all MBA university students and more. You can get high-quality written papers without any plagiarism.

    Tech Admin said...

    Thank you for sharing such an informative and engaging article! I found the content to be well-researched and thoughtfully written. NBA YoungBoy Net Worth 2023

    Stella Brown said...

    Need to be more capable of composing a perfect assignment? Get online Financial Economics Assignment Help from us and be the topper of your class. Assignmenttask.com is the most reliable and trusted top-quality assignment help and writing services provider. We have a big group of experts. You can contact us about your queries.

    CDR Australia said...

    If you're searching for top-quality project work for students, including CDR report writing and other papers from experienced engineers, contact CDR Australia. We present our writing benefits at the best price possible. Feel free to contact us if you require assistance with your CDR report or any other writing tasks.

    Study Assignment Help for Editing said...

    Need help with editing your assignments in UAE? Our Editing Company offers specialized Editing and Proofreading Services for students in all subjects. Our reliable crew of experts is always ready to assist you with your assessment editing needs.

    Anonymous said...

    OurBus provides an efficient and cost-effective way to travel. With OurBus coupon codes, you can enjoy even more affordable bus journeys to a variety of destinations. Whether it's for commuting, visiting family, or exploring new places, OurBus offers a comfortable and reliable travel experience. These coupons help you save money on your tickets while enjoying amenities like free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and more. Discover the convenience of booking your next bus trip with OurBus and maximize your savings with ourbus coupon code. Say goodbye to expensive travel and hello to budget-friendly journeys with these amazing discounts.

    abigailuna said...

    "The Truth About Speed" explores the reasons behind speed, risks, psychological impact, cultural influence, and narrative depth. It delves into the psychological toll of adrenaline-fueled experiences, the cultural influence of speed on societies, and challenges preconceived notions about speed in various aspects of life. Nueva York de Divorcio en Período de Espera

    James Smith said...

    The truth about speed is that it's often misunderstood. While quick completion is valued, quality should never be compromised. When seeking online assignment help, prioritize services that balance efficiency with thoroughness. Rushing can lead to errors, but a well-paced approach ensures accuracy and excellence in every submission

    CV Writing Services Ireland said...

    losing hope to get a job after rejection on rejection, not anymore, CV Services Ireland company will help you to get hired. Be optimistic with our expert CV writing service Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and across Ireland. Our writers will craft a job-winning CV for you that will present you as the most suitable candidate for the role and set you apart from the competition. Trust us and order your CV today.

    Post a Comment