From the aspect of a traditional handicapper determining how an upcoming race will unfold before the event takes place is crucial to winning and losing. This can be accomplished by analyzing the running styles of the horses entered in the event. If there are three Front Runners that are all likely to seek the lead from the start, a logical person could assume those three horses might exhaust themselves as they each try valiantly to keep their nose in front, suggesting a Pace Presser or a Closer might end up in the winner’s circle. However, if a lone Front Runner is entered into a race with five or six Closers, it is entirely possible that Front Runner will get a unchallenged early lead and reach the wire before the Closers have found their strides.
While some horses are capable of changing their running styles to suit the makeup of the race, those animals are rare. Determining how the race will unfold is the best place to start. In a hypothetical field of eight horses, we might see the following running styles:
PP, C, PP, C, C, C, C, C
Notice that none of these horses is a got-to-have-the-lead Front Runner, so the two Pace Pressers are likely to vie for the lead, but the pace is not likely to be exhausting for either. When the field hits the top of the stretch, they are both likely to have some energy left, one of the two will get a decisive lead, the other will finish second, and the closers will battle for third place money.
Over my many years of handicapping, I have noticed that the category with the least number, regardless of their running style, usually has the pace advantage. In the above scenario, the stronger of the Pace Pressers would likely wire the field.