Beyer Speed Figures – Part 3 of 3

Horse Betting - Beyer Speed Figures – Part 3

Digging Deeper into Beyer Speed Figures to Get the Edge on Your Competition

by Kenneth Strong, Chief Horse Handicapper at

Most reasonably competent handicappers use Beyer Speed Figures as part of their handicapping process, but many don’t dig deep enough into the figures to find the true overlays in a race. Why? Because it takes time and it takes work.

Many bettors will simply look for the horse with the best last race figure. More accomplished handicappers will scan the Beyer Speed Figures in a horse’s past performance lines looking for a single high figure or group of figures, to get some idea of what kind of figure the horse will run in today’s race. These quick scan methods will work to a point, but they won’t uncover the truly live long shots and overlays that can make or break a day (week, month, year) at the horse races.

Serious handicappers look at every Beyer Speed Figure in the past performance lines both as a group and as individual figures race by race. When looking at the figures as a group they are looking for patterns. When looking at each figure individually, they are trying to determine how the figure was accomplished and whether it could have been better or worse.


Why Beyer Speed Figure Pattern Analysis Works – Form Cycles

Horse betting and handicapping are as much art as they are science. Horses are not machines - they are living, breathing animals that, like humans, have good days and bad days. Think about it. How many human athletes do you know who can deliver their best performance every time they step on the field or the court or the ice. True champions are consistent beyond measure. And they find a way to win even on their bad days. This is true in horseracing too. The problem is most horse races don’t feature stars and champions.

Instead, most horse races are claiming affairs made up of ordinary horses that are not unlike ordinary people. They simply cannot perform at a peak level day in and day out. They have good days and bad days. Like people, horses can have great days, weeks, months and even years, but there is no question that horses with less physical (and mental) talent, poor trainers etc. are more inconsistent. These horses can run big races, just not on a regular basis. Rather, they tend to perform in cycles from bad race to good race to all in between. These form cycles are often revealed in the patterns created by their Beyer Speed Figures.

One of the best ways to determine how a horse is going to run in today’s race is to look at the overall Beyer Speed Figure pattern for each horse, and then dig deeper into each race in the pattern looking for reasons for high or low figures. With regards to lower figures, you’re looking for reasons why the horse ran the poor figure. Was the horse making its first or second start off a layoff? Was the horse racing over the wrong surface or at the wrong distance? Was a low percentage jockey aboard? Was the horse disadvantaged by its trip or a track bias? If so, maybe the figure wasn’t as bad as it looked.

With regards to high figures, you’re looking for reasons why the figure might be bigger or better than it should be. Was the horse the lone speed? Was the horse taking advantage of a track bias? Was the horse meeting lower class competition?

Sometimes abnormally low or high figures will be unexplainable, but in many cases the horse is simply going through its normal form cycle. These form cycles, which are many and varied, can be uncovered through deeper analysis of Beyer Speed Figures.

Common Beyer Speed Figure Patterns

It is generally accepted that among older established claiming horses, after three improving figures in a row, such as 65-68-71, the horse will regress to a lower figure. A few other generally accepted rules regarding Beyer Speed Figures are that older horses will run a lower figure after running a lifetime best figure and that they will also regress after running a strenuous race off a layoff. This is not so true among young horses early in their careers, which can improve dramatically at any given time.

The most common pattern involves a horse who has run a lifetime best figure or three improving figures in a row, followed by a regression to a lower figure, followed by a return or cycling back up to the previous higher figures. For example here is a pattern involving not only three improving figures but also a lifetime best figure. You won’t always see these together but it happens: 43-47-54-36-40-55. After improving three times in a row to a 54, the horse regressed to a 36 as the favorite. The horse then ran a little better in its next start, cycling up to a 40, but still well below its best figure. This is when most bettors abandon such a horse - after two sub par figures. But those who stick with this kind of horse, one with an improving cycle of figures, can often be rewarded with great odds.

Another common pattern is that of a horse who has run a big race off a layoff. The strenuous effort can often take its toll on the horse, resulting in a bounce (poor race) in its next start. One of the most common patterns off a layoff is big race-bounce- recovery-big race or big race-bounce-big race. The figure patterns in this case might look like 68-42-54-70 or 68-54-67.

At other times you might see a pattern like 68-42-65-45-68-43. Good race-bad race-good race-bad race. In this case, the next race would appear to be a good one. There are also horses that seem to run the same figures all the time such as 74-71-72-73-75-73. As long as these horses have shown the ability to win, they will always be bet, the problem is the prices will generally be low. You will also see horses that just seem to keep improving and horses on the downswing. The former would look like 34-40-42-44-46-48 and it’s difficult to tell exactly when the improvement would stop. The latter would look like 65-62-55-42-41-38 and would obviously be a horse to stay away from, especially if dropping in class during the decline.

Pattern Analysis can Provide Amazing Insights into Thoroughbred Form

And Excellent Betting Opportunities

Beyer Speed Figure patterns are not always simple and there will always be patterns that defy logic, but with repeated analysis you will start to see consistent patterns that most bettors will not see. Overall pattern analysis combined with a deeper look at how each figure in the pattern was accomplished will provide you with some amazing insights into thoroughbred form and some excellent betting opportunities, sometimes in races that seem otherwise unplayable.

Occasionally you will find a horse you think is ready to cycle back up to its best lifetime figure in the same race as an over bet favorite with high recent figures. This makes for a very lucrative betting situation, especially if you think the favorite can finish out of the money in the exotics.

Because Beyer Speed Figure pattern analysis takes time and effort, most bettors won’t do it. Those who do take the time to understand the figures and their patterns will uncover overlays one after another. They won’t always win, but they will win often enough to make you a profit.

The key is to catch cycling horses at just the right time, when they are ready to run their best race at a nice price – when nobody else knows it – except you - and the horse.