Why Horses Win Races
Article #2

I mentioned in article #1 that one major key to making money at thoroughbred horseracing is recognizing match ups.

Part of that process entails getting a clear idea of the pace shape, which can vary greatly from one race to another.

The first step to pace shape analysis is running style labeling.

I use the BRIS (Bloodstock Research Information Services) labels of E, EP, P and S, which represent:

E – early speed; wants and needs the lead, and will in the majority of its races be first or second at the first call point

EP – early presser; will normally press the pace in the second flight of runners, usually in the top 3rd of the field and within 3 or 4 lengths of the leader(s)

P – presser; will press the pace, but not as closely as the EP runner, usually in the middle 3rd of the field

S – sustained closer; sits back well off the early pace in the rear 3rd of the field, making one late run

There are some pace shapes that favor one running style over another; mostly in situations that have few quality early speed types, one or more of which will be allowed to set somewhat leisurely early splits and continue on well to the wire before any pressers or closers can catch them.

I’ll review such a pace shape in this article.

It was Race 3 at Aqueduct on November 2, 2005 with a field of 8 going 6 furlongs for claiming tags of $12.5K.

You can view the past performances and results chart for this example by clicking here, and here.

I’ve labeled this field with the following running styles (from #1 through #8): S, S, P, S, P, E, P, S.

The pace shape analysis recap that I wrote on the top of my Racing Form was: 1E, 3P, 4S (8).

This is a match up that clearly favors the lone early speed horse #6 Team Player, an E runner with nothing but pressers and closers signed on with him.

An even better scenario is a pace shape recap that shows no pressers, only 1 to 3 E and/or EP runners with the rest (at least 3) S runners.

With no pressers in such a match up the sustained closers have much less of a chance to make successful late moves with the advantage going to the early speed types.

So in our example, pace shape advantage horse #6 Team Player having sharp speed on display in his p.p.’s (despite not having won in at least his last 15 tries) and taking a drop in class from $16K/$14K claiming company to $12.5K, would be the prime win candidate at fair odds of 2-1 or higher.

I made selections for this race on my free picks page, and also on my private RSS Feed page for those who at no cost subscribe to that feed, which often includes more than 1 race and always analysis stating why I made the selections in the order I did.

If you would like to check out how to subscribe to my RSS Feed, please click here to get to my homepage and left-click on the What’s an RSS feed? link. It will give you easy instructions about how to download a free RSS Reader and how to have my feed available to you on your desktop each day I make selections.

The other top-2 contender I had listed for this race was #3 Battle Hero.


These reasons:

  • he was a speed/fade play, having shown good early presence in his last

  • he was cutting back in distance from 8 1/2 F to 6F, having displayed that early presence in his last

  • he was taking a drop in class from $20K to $12.5K for a 24% trainer

  • he had made a last-out Red-Scan gain as per my handicapping approach covered in "Calibration Handicapping - The Next Level"

    Other entries coming off last-out Red-Scan gains were: 1, 2, 5, and 7.

    The logical plays were #6 to win and an exacta of 6-3, with smaller reversed on the 3-6 combination.

    My 3rd choice for this race was #1 Atfirst Blush, but a venturous trifecta play to include all the Red-Scan entries in the show slot would have been: 6/3/1-2-5-7 at a $2 wager cost of $8.00, and/or 3-6/3-6/1-2-5-7 at a $2 wager cost of double that or $16.00.

    As can be seen in the results chart the payoffs were:

    6 $6.60

    6-3 exacta $37.80

    6-3-5 trifecta $793.00

    The only 2 entries that had not made last-out Red-Scan gains finished last and second-to-last.

    I trust this example demonstrates (as hopefully many in future articles will) some of the reasons why horses win races.

    Wishing you Clear Skies and Fast Tracks,