Trying to figure out the class of a horse when handicapping a race isn’t always easy. Some providers of horse racing past performances do a pretty good job of rating races and also of determining a horse’s quality or class based on who it ran against, the time of the race and the pace, adjusted for variants.
While these figures are very useful, there are some people who prefer to evaluate the runners and come up with their own figures. One way to do this is to take the horses last three races over a fast track and add the speed figures. Then, add the purses in those races.
Finally, to determine the horse’s true class based on speed and quality of the competition, divide the speed total into the purse total. Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Speedy, the horse, has posted the following speed figures in his last three races over a fast track…
Therefore, Speedy’s total speed for three races is 240.
The purse in those races was..
So the total purse value of those races was $18,500. Next we divide the $18,500 by 240 and the answer is 65.2.
Treating each of the runners in the race in the same way will give you an idea of class based on ability that is demonstrated at a certain level. However, there are a few caveats that we should think about.
First of all, what was the distance of each race? Secondly, what was the pace scenario and how did it affect the final time, speed figure of the horse in question? Third of course, is in what kind of condition and how far into its running season was the horse? If the horse was returning from a layoff, the first two or three races may have only been for conditioning and may not reflect the true form of the runner.
As you can see, whether you use the commercial figures supplied by the form writers or your own figures, class will always be a bit of an enigma. The fact that it is so difficult may account for that fact that some pundits have argued that there really is no such thing as class in horse racing. That being said, the best way to determine class, whether using speed or some other indicator, is by experience and trial and error. The more races you handicap, the better you will become at determining that illusive quality known as class.