There may be no more powerful weapon for EZ Horse Betting than the speed figure. Speed figures were originally introduced by Andrew Beyer and revolutionized the game of handicapping. They are now included with all past performances, but you might be surprised to know that few people know how to use them effectively. Knowing how fast a horse is can be great, but knowing how to bet that information is priceless.
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The Betting Value of Speed Figures
The true value of speed figures is not that they tell us which horse is fastest in a race. The fact is, they can often be misleading in that regard. Their value is they help us identify underlays and high-value betting choices that other bettors may not see.
But to capitalize on the efficacy of speed figures, we need to know a little about them and how they are constructed. Speed figures are not imperfect. They are simply an effort to quantify a horse’s speed in terms of a single number. But that number represents speed under ideal conditions.
Horse racing is fraught with peril and obstacles. A horse that is running far out from the rail is forced to travel more ground than its foes. Therefore, its speed figure should be given more weight. A horse that has everything go its own way should probably have its speed figure down graded. As a bettor, you need to know specific ways in which speed figures can be applied to betting angles.
Speed Figure Angle 1: The Top Figure
One prominent angle used by many handicappers is to bet the top speed figure in a race. This is simple. You just look at the most recent speed figure of each horse, find the one with the highest, and bet that horse to win. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?
Well, if handicapping were easy, everyone would be doing it. The top speed figure in a race won’t win all the time. In fact, it will win about as often as favorites win—one in every three tries. A 33% win rate is not enough to make a large profit for you at an online racebook.
What you should try to do is bolster your opinion by also combining the top speed figure with other handicapping aspects like form and pace. In this case, the speed figure becomes your base but the other factors complement the selection.
Speed Figure Angle 2: Three and Out
One of horse racing’s most proven maxims is known as three and out. This maxim says that a horse cannot improve its speed figure more than three times in a row. To use this angle you find horses that have improved their speed figure in their last three races and eliminate them from competition.
One of the problems with this type of EZ Horse Betting is that it is arbitrary. You are establishing a specific guideline and sticking to it. That can be sometimes mean that a horse you have eliminated from contention will beat you.
Speed Figure Angle 3: Improving on a Lifetime Best
Horses that have posted a lifetime best speed figure in one of their recent races are unlikely to duplicate the feat again today. You should be apprehensive about betting these horses when you feel like a big effort will be required to win.
This betting angle is also very subjective. It could be that a horse does not need to replicate its lifetime best effort today in order to win. But if it is climbing up the class ladder, maybe it will need to improve. If so, it might be best to avoid betting on it today.
Of course, there is one significant exception. If the lifetime best speed figure of a horse came in its two-year-old year and it is now three, there is every reason to believe it could improve once again. This is because horses develop well into their fifth year and continue to improve with age in most cases.
Speed Figure Angle 4: Forget Speed Figures on the Turf
One thing you will need to learn is that speed figures are meaningless on the turf. Because of the way races are ran on grass, the makers of speed figures can only manufacture them with an educated guess. This makes grass speed figures far more unreliable than those posted on the dirt.
What you are betting doing on the turf is to consider the final quarter of a mile in the recent races of each horse. How fast did the horse travel? Did it pass other horses in the stretch? Was it able to generate a final burst of speed to propel it to victory.
Horses on the grass run slow in the early stages and fast late. This is exactly the opposite of how the races are ran on the dirt, and that is why it is hard to assign reliable speed figures.
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