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Speed figures are arguably the most prevalent metric used primarily by handicappers to determine which horse they think has the best chance of winning a race today. Throughout their origin, speed figures have demonstrated remarkable consistency in their capacity to quantify a horse’s running speed.

It may appear to be a straightforward concept, but that’s because it is: swift horses triumph over sluggish ones. Since speed data provide an accurate method of determining how quickly a horse has run, they have evolved into an indispensable component of horse racing betting.

Although professionals have used speed figures for horse racing for many years, Andrew Beyer decided to make them publicly available. As an essential part of horse race betting, you must understand precisely what speed figures are and how they work. Thus, if you want to learn more, keep on reading!

Evolution of Speed Figures

To learn more about speed figures, you should first become familiar with the history of the concept and how it has developed over the years. 

To make speed numbers readily available to the public in the early 1970s, a guy named Andrew Beyer influenced a sea change in the manner in which people gambled on horses. Picking Winners, published in 1975 by Andrew Beyer, is considered the definitive work on the topic of Speed Figures. 

As a well-known journalist for the Washington Post and an accomplished handicapper, he believed that gamblers would have a better chance of selecting winners if they could assign a numerical value to the speed at which a horse ran in a particular race. 

Moreover, in his published book, Beyer outlined his perspective on speed figures and how he came up with values that might depict horses’ performances across various distances. Initially, the formula employed by Beyer to calculate his speed figures was rather basic but has since developed into a complicated technique sold solely by the Daily Racing Form. 

Since Beyer first presented his speed figures in the 1970s, numerous other horse racing interests have also developed their metrical version. The most well-known version is called Equibase. However, remember that it doesn’t matter which speed figure you use as long as you continuously utilize it. 

What Exactly are Speed Figures?

Using a sophisticated technique, speed figures quantify a horse’s racing speed by normalizing race times throughout all tracks, lengths, and surfaces. The figure is derived from the horse’s exact finishing time and other variables, including rail distance, run-up distance, and track quality. The faster the horse, the higher the number, with the quickest horses reaching speeds in the 120s.

There are numerous speed figures, like TrackMaster, and Brisnet, among others. However, Beyer Speed Figures have been regarded as the benchmark for decades. It is the most precise indicator of how quickly a horse ran through its past races and is an indispensable tool for any handicapper. 

This helps compare performances at various distances and on different courses, and they are frequently used to distinguish between contenders and pretenders swiftly. Moreover, since this method considers the speed and depth of the track surface on any particular day, Beyer Speed Figures are superior to the raw final timings, which many handicappers still utilize. 

The Beyer Speed Figures are an easy indicator to determine which horse will likely become the favorite to win in a race. The figures are straightforward: the greater the number, the quicker the horse. For example, horse “A” has gotten Beyer Speed Figures of 90, 82, and 89 in his last three races. You can then presume that he is faster than horse “B,” which has gotten Beyer Speed Figures of 79, 83, and 85 in its last three races.

The total of a horse’s speed figures can serve as a foundation for estimating the likelihood that it will win a race compared to its rivals. In most cases, the horse that finished the previous race with the best Beyer speed figure will win the race or, at the very least, be one of the leading contenders.

How are Speed Figures Calculated?

Calculating speed figures is a basic three-step process: 

  1. Initially, a raw number is produced based on the actual completion time and a sophisticated mathematical formula involving several parameters. 
  2. This raw value is corrected by the Inter Track Variant (ITV) particular to a track, surface, and distance, which is obtained by evaluating horses that have been sent to and from different tracks, surfaces, and distances throughout the year. 
  3. It is further modified by the Daily Track Variant (DTV), developed from a formula that calculates the difference between victory times and the par timings for each race day. Multiple DTVs may appear on a race card if underlying factors change significantly throughout the day.

How to Bet Based on Recent Speed Figures?

You can use the speed figure to eliminate certain horses from the event and determine the genuine contenders. In most races, only a few horses are potential contenders, while most are likely outclassed from the start. Using the speed figures, you may identify the few horses that seem faster than the competitors.

It would be best to look for horses that have recently (within the past five races) finished near or even more significant than the standard for a particular race. If you do not have the average information, identify the horse with the fastest speed figure from its most recent race and the horses whose speed figures for their most recent five races were the same, close, or even better.

Final Thoughts

If you are new to horse race betting or have minimal knowledge of speed figures, reading this article will help you know what speed figures are and how they are computed. The information given in this article is also helpful because you can use speed figures to handicap horses.

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