Assessing Racehorse Past Performances
How to Interpret Post Position, Race Call Data and Beyer Speed Figures
If you are betting on Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States, you are blessed with a wealth of horse racing results in The Daily Racing Form (DRF) for your prospective bets, and yet so much information can also seem overwhelming. What do you look at–track conditions, Tomlinson Ratings, the jockey, the trainer? Answer: all of that.
You just need to evaluate the data in a methodical way and then put together a total picture of the horses you are thinking of backing, using any other impressions, such as those gleaned from watching in the paddock when the horses are saddled. Read on to learn more about evaluating data on post positions, racing call positions and Beyer Speed Figures–some of the most confusing elements in the form but ones you need to master to place the most educated bets.
A horse’s post position (which gate it starts from) can be a big factor in determining race success. In shorter races, there is less time to maneuver into position at or near the lead. Horses that start on the far outside, for example, are frequently at a disadvantage, as they need to cover more ground quickly to get into position at the rail. A horse that breaks slowly from the gate on the far outside won’t have much of a chance in short distances. Longer races give horses a bit more time to get through the pack or go to the outside to take the lead or close at the last moment.
In the DRF (Daily Racing Form), a horse’s post position in prior races is in the middle of the past performances data, to the right of the race name.
- Column 1 is the horse’s Beyer Speed Figure (see below) for the race.
- Column 2 is the post position for that race. You can see how your horse ran from a variety of gate positions by first looking at the finish in column 7 (where the horse ended in in the pack and the number of lengths off the next closest horse).
Racing Call Position
So, what happened in between the starting gate and the finish line? That’s what columns 3-6 tell you. Columns 3, 4 and 5 are the horse’s position at different points in the race (call times where the announcer reads off which horse is in each position). Column 6 is the stretch call, the last position of the horse as it approached the finish line.
By looking at this information you can tell a lot about what went on during the race. Did the horse break fast and maintain the lead? Did the horse fade close to the end? Was the horse near the back of the pack then broke to snag a win at the last minute? To fill in a better picture of the horse racing results, check out the race notes at the far right of the row. In that area you will find information about bad starts, fades, closing and similar pertinent data in narrative form.
Beyer Speed Figures
Now, go back to column 1 and look at the Beyer Speed Figure for your horse for that race. Beyer Speed Figures (BSF) are an exclusive DRF feature developed by a highly respected handicapper, Andrew Beyer, and they are often underutilized by bettors. The purpose of the BSFs are to give a rating to a horse’s run that allows you to compare it to other horses, regardless of track or distance–kind of like the SATs of horse racing.
The higher the BSF the better. Scores in the 80s and 90s are helpful for claiming and betting horses, while 100 and up are numbers typically tied to allowance and stakes races, 115+ being the best in the country.
Look at the recent BSFs for every horse entered in a race you’re betting. In conjunction with other information, they should help you eliminate a big chunk of the field right away. These are horses that are not ready for their class, injured, tired, etc. What you want to see are BSFs that are progressively climbing, meaning the horse is on its way up.
If a horse has a steadily declining BSF, this could signify a problem or a big recent change (moved up in class, changed gear, tried a different surface, etc.). One or two low BSFs should prompt you to ask why those numbers were lower. Was it a sloppy track that day? Did the horse have a bad break from the post? Try to use the other form information to decipher what happened and get rid of any BSFs that are clear outliers–not part of a real trend in the horse’s career.
Beyer Speed Figures don’t give you the whole picture, especially for horses that like to hang back and close late in the stretch. Zenyatta was a classic example of that, and she was an incredible champion. Make sure you use post position information and race call data to round out the picture you create from BSFs.
Horse racing results can be tricky to interpret, but once you begin using what you know, winners will start jumping off the form for you. The next time you’re at the track or betting remotely, horse racing results information the three pieces of information above intelligently, and you just might come out a winner.