Class in horse racing is an elusive thing, but most handicappers will tell you differently. They will begin by pointing to claiming prices, suggesting a horse that won a $25,000 claiming race last time out somehow has an inherent edge over a horse that won a $20,000 claiming race in its last start. Personally, I will bet on the horse that came from the $20,000 claiming race, for two reasons. One, the horse from the $25,000 claiming race will likely go to post at lower odds than the horse coming from the $20,000 claiming race, and two, since neither horse has raced against the other before, there is no way to know which horse will beat the other until after the race has been run.
On Sunday, June 7, 2013, Prettypriceygirl won a $25,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park. On the same day, Primo won a $25,000 claiming race at Arlington Park. Most handicappers would assign the same class level to both horses, but I would contend Prettypriceygirl ran against stronger competition since she ran for a purse of $32,000 while Primo ran for a purse of $23,000. So, how do you separate them class wise? Or, stated differently: which horse would win if they ran head to head?
Beyer Speed Figure proponents will come to your rescue at this point and show you the differences in par times between races run at Hollywood Park and Arlington Park, but of course, horses do not run against par times, they run against other horses.
Then, of course, there is the age-old issue of sex. Since Primo is a five-year-old gelding, and Prettypriceygirl is four-year-old filly, would Primo win a race between the two, regardless of their previous best wins, simply because he is a male horse?