Running Styles Of Horses

book-cover_modern-pace-handicappingTom Brohamer and Sartin Methodology followers believe that horses fall into one of four distinct running styles with respect to where they like to run in the pack, and over the years the following labels and definitions have stuck:

  • E:  The horse must have the lead.
  • EP: The horse is comfortable on the lead or following the leader one to three lengths back.
  • P:  The horse prefers to run four to seven lengths behind the leader in the middle of the pack.
  • S:  The horse prefers staying in the back of the pack in favor of a strong late run.

I think the Sartin folks made things overly complicated, and I prefer to break down the running styles of horses into three categories as follows:

  • Front Runners: As with the “E” horse above, a Front Runner wants the lead from the start of the race and will expend all of its energy if necessary to gain or maintain the lead, often falling to the back of the pack in the stretch.
  • Pace Pressers: A Pace Presser typically sits between one and four lengths behind the Front Runner(s) throughout the early stages of the race, waiting until the top of the stretch before making a final move on the leader. When a race lacks a true Front Runner, a Pace Presser might be found on the lead.
  • Closers: Most racing fans like to watch a Closer as they will fall to the back of the pack and appear to make one big run at the end of the race. In reality, such horses tend to run at a steady pace throughout the race and only appear to be rushing up on the leader. They are simply slowing down less rapidly than the early leaders.

Whichever method you use to determine the running styles of horses, it is a critical aspect of handicapping if you want to get a feel for how the race will take shape.Horse_50x50

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