Par times are a useful tool when used properly, but like many horse racing handicapping factors, they should be used cautiously and with knowledge of when they are relevant. Most past performance suppliers now include some form of speed figure to indicate what the average winner posts in certain races. They are just a simple number to show how fast the average winner ran.
If you look at the horses in a race you may be able to determine which ones are capable of running fast enough to win. But like all single digit factors in horse racing, you really have to know what you’re doing in order to use them effectively. For instance, what about young horses who are improving and will likely register a better speed figure today than in a past race?
One example is races for three year olds. As the year progresses, the horses who qualify as three year olds are maturing. By December, they are nearly four year olds according to the rules of the jockey club. When you look at the par times that are supplied by your information provider, are they adjusted according to the time of year? They may just be an average that was calculated using races as far back as January. What effect does that have on the average and how might it be skewed?
Another example may be a horse who has an equipment change. Though we usually think of equipment changes as something that happens mostly to young horses as trainers figure them out, sometimes an older horse will have a change in equipment that will dramatically affect its performance.
An example of this might be a tongue tie or blinkers. Not all older horses have had these kinds of experimental equipment changes or if they did, it may have been a long time ago and not show up in the past performances. A change in trainers can also result in a new lifetime speed figure for a runner as well. Therefore, though the par times are useful here is a caveat to apply to their use.
Look at each runner in the race and see if he or she has some reason to change or improve and then consider how that will affect the expected speed figure from that horse. Now admittedly, we don’t expect a nine year old horse to suddenly start posting lifetime high speed figures, but a four year old or three year old certainly can.
If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to http://williewins.homestead.com/truecb.html and get the truth. Bill Peterson is a former horse race owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill’s horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill’s handicapping store.