Speed Numbers: Detrimental To Your Handicapping

08-27-13The Daily Racing Form Speed Rating “is a comparison of a horse’s final time with the best time at the distance at that track in the last three years. The best time is given a rating of 100. One point is deducted for each fifth of a second by which a horse fails to equal that time. Thus, in a race where the winner equals the best time (a Speed Rating of 100), another horse who is beaten 12 lengths gets a Speed Rating of 88 (100 minus 12).” The problem with this antiquated method of assigning a number to a time is one length does not equal one-fifth of a second, not at any distance. Finishing 12 lengths behind the winner would result in a speed rating that is at least two points slower than the actual running time of the horse would warrant.

Beyer Speed Figures are assigned to “every horse in North America” and they supposedly reflect “the time of the race and the inherent speed of the track over which it was run, permitting easy comparisons of efforts at different distances. A horse who earns a 90 has run faster than one who runs an 80. In this system of numbers, 2 1/2 points are roughly equal to one length in sprints, and 2 points to one length in routes.” Let me state flat out: Beyer Speed Figures are a load of bull crap, worse than the Daily Racing Form’s antiquated method. I discovered this when I looked at the times of three consecutive the six-furlong races run at Bay Meadows by Guadalupe’s Tailor in 2002.

Claim    Time      BSF
$16,000  1:10 1/5  85
$20,000  1:10      72
$25,000  1:10      79

Guadalupe’s Tailor was a very consistent horse at this time of his racing career. He contested three six-furlong races in a row at times within one-fifth of a second of each other all at the same race track. Yet the Beyer Speed Figures for these races range from 72 to 85.

If you are inclined to ignore my observations and continue to use BSF’s, I suggest you watch some of the YouTube videos in which Beyer vainly attempts to defend their use. His body language and his hemming and hawing make it clear that even Beyer does not believe in his ratings.Horse_50x50

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One Response to Speed Numbers: Detrimental To Your Handicapping

  1. David Millard says:

    A Nod to GWC
    70 Bets
    13 Winners
    19% Strike
    Average price 11.20
    Got to love those white tables tennis balls

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