Assume for the moment that Horse A wins a $16,000 claiming race one day, comes back two weeks later and wins a $25,000 claiming race, and then loses a $32,000 claiming race three weeks after that. In its next start, what class level would you assign Horse A? Most handicappers quickly conclude that the class level of Horse A is $25,000, the upper class level at which this horse had competed successfully. However, there is more to this scenario, and most handicappers choose to ignore such details.
Horse A beat seasoned, highly competitive, multiple race winners while winning the $16,000 claimer, but none of the horses he beat in the $25,000 race had ever won a race other than their maiden victory, suggesting their class levels are unknown, or suspect at best. Should Horse A then be classified at the $16,000 level? Or, is it possible Horse A could hold its own at the $20,000 level his trainer skipped?
Well, today you have to make that decision because Horse A is entered into a $20,000 claiming race with six other horses, all of which have won at this level previously. Do you assume Horse A can be competitive at this level? Do you toss him from consideration?
It is my contention that determining so-called class levels falls into the same category as Beyer Speed Figures — useless, worthless information. Not every horse can be assigned a class level based solely on the claiming price for which it has previously contested. Case in point: Keyaly, a 5-year-old bay gelding that has had 42 career starts, seven of them this year, without ever breaking its maiden. How do you determine the class level for Keyaly? More importantly, why would you bother?