Horses reveal their running styles early in a race, which is clearly evident in their past performance records. By using a system, commonly referred to as Quirin Speed Points, you can get a fairly accurate picture of how a race will shape up. The method was published by William L. Quirin in “Winning at the Races: Computer Discoveries in Thoroughbred Handicapping in the 1970s.”
The book starts out by emphasizing the importance of early speed in a race, and it is full of proven statistics that provide a well-rounded understanding of the different aspects of horse racing. It is a book anyone who wagers on horse races should read and have as a reference in their library. Used copies can often be found on-line for under $10, but I will attempt to offer a Quick Start guide here based on their use in sprint races at a distance of six-and-one-half furlongs or less.
Every horse entered in a race is assigned points for each of three recent races, starting with the most recent event and working backward, looking for three ratable races in its last five starts, using the first point of call for a race. The total for these three races represents a consensus of its recent ability to show early speed in today’s event.
The total number of points available for each horse is eight, and each horse can receive from zero to two points for each of three races. All horses begin with one point and are given additional points based on the following criteria:
- one point for any sprint in which the horse was 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at the first call;
- one point for any sprint in which the horse led or was within two lengths of the lead at the first call;
- zero points for any other sprint performance;
- zero points for a route race, unless the horse was within one length of the lead at the first call, in which case the race is skipped and not counted as a rated race;
- only past sprint races can contribute to the total; route efforts receive either zero points or a bye;
- award a bonus point to any horse that led or raced within a neck of the lead at the first call of all three rated races.
Horses are penalized points based on the following:
- a horse that receives only one speed point, and that ran in the rear half of its field at the first call in each of its rated sprints is penalized one point;
- a horse whose last five races were all routes, and none of them resulted in a bye, is penalized one point;
- any horse that ran in the rear half of the field in all its rated races is penalized one point.
This is a brief synopsis based on my memory and should not be considered gospel. For a complete understanding of the topic, find a used copy of his book, in which he devotes eight or nine pages to the subject.