As I've mentioned on a number of occasions, my handicapping is aimed at 3 main focal points, pace shape, "moves-within-a-race", and final fractions.

Quite a few of you know how I suggest putting the emphasis on these 3 areas of handicapping because you have my book, "Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level", details of which can be found by clicking here.

This month's newsletter is devoted to a technique that stresses one of those focal points, final fraction calculation and comparison, in conjunction however with Beyer speed figures, the latter being a topic I discussed in the May issue.

Obviously, handicapping the thoroughbreds is not a simple task because there can be so many facets to the process. We can get hung up on a lot of things these days, including jockey/trainer stats, track biases, records on the track and at the distance, running styles and precise labeling of those, and on and on.

Because there are so many things we can look for, after many years of experience with handicapping thoroughbred horse races, I have narrowed things down to the ideas presented in my book.

Once we understand how to make the quick computations required to arrive at each horse's last out final fraction (or prior outing final fraction when there is a reason to go back to that past performance), a quick examination and comparison of raw final fractions can lead us to some nice payoffs.

I say raw final fraction because that is also a part of the equation (raw/actual) that can unearth a superior last out race from among all the entries. I'm sure you have noticed in all the examples given in these newsletters that I have always included the raw FF followed by the actual FF.

This month's handicapping technique works in conjunction with Beyer speed figures, and I'll explain how by beginning with a short field of 5 that composed race 8 at Belmont Park on Thursday June 26th.

When I was making selections for that day, I passed right over this race because of the presence of a horse that looked like a stand out that would also very likely be odds on.

But #1 Ghostzapper was a late scratched part of an entry, and once he was gone the race took on an entirely different look, becoming a potentially good betting opportunity as you will see.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

I recommend waiting until after we review the races before you check on the results.

I have left it unsaid in the prior 9 issues of this newsletter, but perhaps should mention the following for those who are unaware of it.

In order to read the p.p.'s and results charts that are included for free with these newsletters you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer's hard drive.

To download a free copy, you can do so at the Adobe website by clicking here.


I'll list this short field by saddle cloth number from the rail out, followed by running style, Beyer speed figure, raw/actual FF, and any "moves-within-a-race."

2. Sovereign Sweep EP 80 24.3/25.1 ---

3. Our Summer Storm EP 97 26.2/26.1 ---

4. Bold Truth P 86 25.4/25.3 ---

5. Mosayter S 65 25.1/25.1 ---

1A. Make My Day Jur P 69 24.4/26.2 ---

The 2 key components of this handicapping slant again are raw FF and Beyer speed figures.

As far as the latter was concerned, it was easy to see that the public would jump all over #3 Our Summer Storm, who had just run his lifetime best Beyer, a 97. One could say this figure towered over the field, but in reality it didn't.

But let's get to the first part before we analyze each horse's chances. You can see from the chart above (and calculate yourself if you know how) that the best raw FF showing is that of the race #2 Sovereign Sweep is exiting (I often use the present tense in these examples), 24.3.

We can also see that the race 1A Make My Day Jur was exiting had a raw FF of only 1 tick slower, 24.4, but there were a couple of factors involved with this FF and runner.

First of all, this FF was earned in the slop at 6F as opposed to on a fast track at 7F for Sovereign Sweep's last race. And as far as the horse itself was concerned, he didn't show anything in his 2 races this year that would identify him as a contender in this match up.

So in reality the raw FF of 24.3 was significantly better than the others, and that's what we are looking for with this handicapping technique.

If we downgrade the 2nd best raw FF of 24.4, let's say 2/5ths, it then becomes 25.1 and the best raw FF of 24.3 pretty much stands out above the others, which are 26.2, 25.4, 25.1 and the adjusted 25.1. Even if we leave the 2nd best FF of 24.4 as is, the horse himself would not qualify as a play in this spot, so the 24.3 FF would still in essence be a standout.

So now that we have identified a situation in which the first of the 2 components of this play has been satisfied, what's next?

Let me mention first that this approach does not just ignore the other half of the final fraction equation, the horse's actual FF. In order to qualify as a top contender, the horse exiting such a race must show something in his past performances.

In the case of Sovereign Sweep, his actual 25.1 FF was also the best of the bunch.

Now here is the second component of this play, the Beyer speed figure aspect. When we find a horse who is exiting a race with a clearly best last out raw FF, and we have qualified that horse as being a contender in this match up, we then have to see how he stacks up in terms of Beyer speed figures.

Not necessarily last out Beyer speed figures, but Beyer speed figures that are appropriate to today's circumstances. We already know that we have an edge in raw FF, and now we want to know if the horse in question has previously shown that he can run fast enough to win this particular match up.

Again, regarding the final fractions, we want our horse to have a competitive actual FF as well as be exiting the race with the best raw FF. If his actual FF is within 2 or 3 fifths of the best of his competitors and he fits on the two main components of this play, he is a bet.

Regarding the Beyer speed figure aspect of this play, we have to decide or estimate what the winning Beyer will be. Let's begin by looking at the highest last out Beyer showing in this example race, the 97 earned by Our Summer Storm.

Players who handicap quickly will see that Our Summer Storm not only has a layover Beyer speed figure, but also that he has done well at the 7F distance as well as on the Belmont main track with records of 8/1-3-2 and 6/1-3-0.

His last race was run at Belmont at a mile, and he earned that big fig when finishing 2nd, which happened to be the 4th straight time he had settled for the place money.

In his prior outing he missed by a neck on the track and at the 7F trip.

And in his first 2 past performance lines showing he won (in the slop) and finished 2nd at 7F on the Belmont main track.

Here was a horse that was simply a standout. Or was he? Not according to the components of this play I'm describing.

Sure, he had that layover or much the best last out Beyer, but look at his raw and actual last out final fractions; 26.2 and 26.1 (adjusted down from 26.3 for going from a mile to today's 7F).

He looked tough on the basis of Beyer speed figures, there's no denying that, but his last out final fractions did not compare at all with those of Sovereign Sweep.

What made him a must use for 2nd in this match up was the fact that his prior outing was the exact same race Sovereign Sweep was exiting today, and his raw/actual FF's in that race were 24.3/24.3, better than those of Sovereign Sweep.

So how could we pick Sovereign Sweep over Our Summer Storm? Because we are comparing last out races, and for this encounter, Sovereign Sweep had the better numbers, 24.3/25.1 vs. 26.2/26.1, a distinct edge.

As we'll see in the next example race, the "last out race" may actually be the prior outing, when the last race can be excused for any number of reasons.

But could Sovereign Sweep compete with the gaudy 97 speed figure? Could he make up the 3 1/2 lengths on Our Summer Storm when he finished 4th to that one's 2nd by a neck?

The 2nd part of this play answered that question. For this race I would estimate the winner's Beyer to be in the range of 88 to 91. I would not expect Our Summer Storm to repeat his lifetime best of 97 off his last slow final fraction.

So the question is can our top selection Sovereign Sweep earn a high enough Beyer speed figure to win? The answer is yes, and that is confirmed by a scan of his past performances.

All one has to do is look at his 4th race up from the bottom and see that he earned a 99 when breaking his maiden on this track and at this 7F distance.

He also shows a 91 at 6 1/2F and a 94 at 6F.

As things turned out, he actually surpassed my expectations and earned a 98 Beyer for winning this race.

So there you have it. A horse that fits this play on both counts. He is exiting a race with a clearly best raw FF, and also shows by his Beyer speed figure record that he can move forward and beat this field, including the even money favorite and horse that finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of him in his last outing.

I've already discussed how 1A Make My Day Jur was not a fit in this field.

#5 Mosayter looked hopelessly outgunned, and it reflected in his odds of 27-1. He finished last in today's race, beaten nearly 30 lengths. Not only was he stale, having not run for more than 90 days, but he showed nothing while running last for the entire 5 1/2F on the turf in his first try off an August to March layoff.

#4 Bold Truth would have to be the 3rd choice, but unfortunately this field was one horse shy of the minimum 6 needed for a trifecta play at the New York tracks. He had been off since April 13th when he ran an okay 4th at this trip at Keeneland with a comparable FF and a couple of 98 Beyers showing in his p.p.'s.

But because Sovereign Sweep and Our Summer Storm had both run in the same best race, the wagers for this match up had to be a win bet on #2 Sovereign Sweep and exactas of 2-3 and 3-2, with more on the former.

As per the results chart, the payoffs were:

2. $11.40
3. 2nd - 2-3 ex. $21.80
4. 3rd

This was a rare situation in which the wager construction was pretty much a no brainer; a win bet and 2-horse exactas.


The day after I made a decision to take a break from posting selections with analysis I took the 24 mile ride with my wife from home to Belmont Park on Saturday June 28th. It was a gorgeous weather day, and after doing some initial handicapping on race 1 at home I thought that race might present a good wagering opportunity.

You can view and/or print the p.p.'s for this race by clicking here.

And the results chart is here.

Late scratches of the also eligible horse #13 No Bad Habits as well as #5 Peruvian Summer left a field of 11 going a mile with claiming tags of $25K down to $20K. I had the pace shape as 4 early and 7 pressers and/or closers, which gave an edge to the early speeds.

Here is the field.

1. Gratiaen P 35 25.2/X ---

2. Weston Field P 73 26.3/26.1 ---

3. Brave One EP 65 26.4/X ---

4. River Spirit S 72 25.2/25.4 ---

6. Durmiente P 77 26.4/27.3 ---

7. A.P. Aspen EP 100 25.3/25.3 ---

8. Pure Harmony EP 78 26.4/28.2 ---

9. Suave Devil P 38 25.0/X ---

10. Terry Kelly S 57 24.2/X ---

11. Impressionist EP 41 26.1/X ---

12. Tactical Side P 55 26.2/27.2 ---

Here is a case in which the stats on this chart are very misleading. Simply because they reflect the last out performances of all the entries.

In the 6th paragraph of this newsletter I mentioned how on occasion we would have to go back to the prior race in the p.p.'s. Well, in this race I had to do that for many of the horses, and I'll explain why.

First of all, I'll go over the horses I immediately eliminated from consideration, which happened to be those occupying the 4 outside slots.

#9 Suave Devil was a quick toss because of his recent form, having finished completely up the track in his last 2, beaten a combined 68 lengths. So the raw final fraction of his last race was meaningless.

#10 Terry Kelly, despite finishing a remote 3rd in his last fit in the same category. That was his first race in N.Y. and it was run in the slop with him positioned 5th in a field of 5 for much of the running. His last out raw FF was also insignificant.

#11 Impressionist last finished up the track in 5th 27 lengths off the winner in a slop race at 9F. His prior race was a whole lot better at this trip on this track when he finished 2nd, but that was like an oasis in the desert, with his prior and after efforts dull. And he was a speed horse going from the outside with better speeds to his inside.

#12 Tactical Side was getting some play strictly because of his trainer, Michael Gill, who completely shattered the races won record for this year's Gulfstream meet. The horse itself had not run since February 20th, and thus was stale, showing no good races in N.Y. Besides, why did Gill not run the horse during the Gulfstream meet? One could only think it was because it had some sort of infirmity, which would not make him a great prospect from the 11 hole in this match up.

That left a field of 7 from which to choose my contenders, and as you will see, the raw FF/Beyer angle applied to this situation. I'll begin with the rail horse.

#1 Gratiaen was the horse I was interested in before leaving for Belmont. I had not seen any odds, morning line or any others, so I was hoping for a price in the range of $7.00 to $8.00 on this horse.

His last race was a complete toss out. It was run for $45K at 7F in the slop, but apparently a lot of players placed a little too much focus on that non effort in which he finished dead last 6th.

It was his prior outing that made him stand out to me. He went wire to wire on the Belmont main strip at 7F, stopping the teletimer in 1:21.1 with a raw and actual FF of 24.3, the latter having to be adjusted upward to 25.0 for today's mile event.

The 24.3 raw FF and 25.0 actual FF for Gratiaen was the best of this narrowed down field of 7. And to top things off, the Beyer he earned in that prior out win was a triple digit 100!

The only other horse in the field to come near to that figure in recent times was #7 A.P. Aspen, who earned the same number when going wire to wire at a mile and an 8th at Keeneland in the slop in his last on April 9th.

But why had that one not run in 80 days? Look at his previous 3 Beyers, 0, 12, and 58. Was this a horse that could be expected to run with Gratiaen? I didn't think so, and made him a non-contender while reducing the field to 6.

Gratiaen was my top pick for sure off his prior score. I wasn't concerned that he would have to go an additional furlong in this match up. I figured he would sit close to the early pace after breaking from the rail, and then take over before the turn.

#2 Weston Field had circumstances similar to Gratiaen. His last was run on a sloppy Belmont track at today's distance of 1 mile. He did run 3rd, but his prior outing is what I focused on.

He won that race with a big move on the turn and was claimed from it for $14K from the Dutrow barn, which would reclaim him for $17.5K from his next race. In that win, the raw/actual FF's were 25.4/25.3, which was good for 2nd best in this match up.

My projected winning Beyer for this race was in the range of 78 to 84. I didn't expect Gratiaen to run back to his prior outing lifetime best of 100, and Weston Field had shown on a number of occasions in his p.p.'s that he could run a figure in the range of 78 to 84. (I completely underestimated the winning Beyer in this races as Gratiaen recorded a lifetime best of 103 while winning by 6 lengths).

These 2 horses turned out to be my keys with a preference for Gratiaen because of his numbers and also because of his better early speed capability.

#3 Brave One - I considered this one to be the speed of the speed, but #8 Pure Harmony was also a speed horse that had gone at it with Brave One in their last encounter and had finished 7 1/4 lengths ahead of that one.

Because of the pace shape that apparently favored early speed, I left in the mix both Brave One and Pure Harmony.

#4 River Spirit had last run in the slop at 9F on April 12th. The raw FF of that race was 25.2, but he had run very poorly, finishing 7th in a field of 9.

I had to go back to this one's prior race, which was a good performance on February 21st at Gulfstream Park when he ran 2nd with raw/actual FF's of 26.4/25.1.

Although his actual FF of 25.1 was a fit with these, that was recorded 5 months earlier, and he was an S runner in a pace shape that favored early speed. I threw him out as a contender, making my field reduced to 5, all of which I used in my wagering.

#6 Durmiente was exiting a race at Belmont at a mile and a 16th at the $45K/$35K claiming level. He finished a well beaten 6th in a field of 7 and the raw/actual FF's of 26.4/27.3 didn't stack up well with the top 2 picks in here.

But a few factors made me keep him as a contender. He was taking a drop from $45K to $25K, he had a 100 Beyer speed figure showing, and his record at Belmont was 9/5-0-2.

I didn't think he could win the race, but felt he could be part of the exacta and/or trifecta.

So my final order of preference was 1-2-6-3-8.

As per the results chart, the payoffs were:

1. $18.20
6. 2nd - 1-6 ex. $138.00
2. 3rd - 1-6-2 tri. $306.50

I played it this way:

Win #1

Ex.p/w 1-2/1-2-3-6-8

Ex.p/w 1/2-3-6-8

Tri.p/w 1-2/1-2-3-6-8/1-2-3-6-8

Tri.p/w 1/2-3-6-8/2-3-6-8

It was a heck of a way to begin the day, and I walked away from the cashier's window thinking that this was truly one of those rare instances when the betting public handed me a gift.

I was originally hoping for 5-2 to 3-1 on my top selection and got a win payoff of $18.20, not to mention the exacta and trifecta.

Here was another example of the raw FF/Beyer angle at work, and it came at a real good time, which was the first time I had gone to Belmont in a couple of years.

We passed on the next two races, getting a bite to eat and walking around enjoying the vastness of Belmont Park.

Watching the races from Belmont on T.V. cannot depict just how huge, and of course beautiful this track is.

We then sat in the Clubhouse outside seats to watch and play races 4 and 5, both of which we connected on with trifecta payoffs of $119 and $637, each pointed out by Calibration Handicapping.

We left and drove back home after race 5 thinking that this was one of those times when all went right, a memory to cherish for sure.

Look for this raw FF/Beyer situation and you too will catch some good payoffs.


Until Saturday August 2, 2003, I wish you Fair Skies and Fast Tracks.

Jim

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