Horse Betting - Beyer Speed Figures – Part 2 of 3
Creative Ways of Using Beyer Speed Figures for Profit at the Race Track
by Horse Racing Handicapper Extroardinaire, Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
Beyer Speed Figures can be used in creative ways to produce a profit at the races. Many bettors still look no further than the highest last-race Figure in a set of past performances and assume that horse is the most likely winner, but these types win only 25-30 percent of the time at a loss.
It pays to dig a little deeper into the Beyer Speed Figures looking for proven profitable patterns that produce overlays on a regular basis. There are times when the “Top Figure” horse is a good bet, but there are many more occasions when they are not. An understanding of Beyer Speed Figure patterns not only helps you understand when the favorite or top figure horse is a good or bad bet, it also reveals a myriad of additional betting opportunities.
There are three questions you want to ask yourself when examining the Beyer Speed Figures in the past performances.
1.) How were the past figures accomplished with regards to trip, track bias, class etc?
2.) How do the figures relate to the horse’s form cycle and overall figure pattern?
3.) What figure is the horse most likely to run under today’s conditions?
After you have answered the above questions for each horse you can intelligently decide whether a horse is a contender or non-contender. The next step is to determine the most likely winner from among the contenders – preferably an overlay.
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In some races it will be relatively easy to separate the contenders from the non-contenders, but in other races you will not be able to separate them no matter what you do. There are just too many horses in the race that are capable of running similar figures. You can try to separate them using trainer patterns, pace analysis, jockey and surface switches, angles etc. or you can pass the race.
If you are able to reduce the contenders in a race to a reasonable number, you can then dig deeper into the Beyer Speed Figure patterns looking for something other bettors won’t see. Or you can bet the contenders in a fashion that will make you a profit.
If one horse is a total standout on figures but is going off at underlay odds, it might be best played as a key in multi-race wagers or on top in an exacta or trifecta wheel, rather than as a win bet. If two horses in a race are total standouts on figures but can”t be separated, maybe an exacta box of the two horses is in order, or maybe a trifecta or superfecta wheel keying both horses in the top two positions.
There are also occasions when the public will overlook a top figure horse. For example, if a horse has run better figures than the remainder of the field, but has done so while finishing fifth and sixth against better horses in faster races, it is more likely to go off at a nice price.
Sometimes a horse has run a big figure in the past at today’s distance and class level, but that figure has been buried in the past performance lines by recent races in which the horse was poorly spotted at the wrong distance or over the wrong surface or running against a track bias or with a poor jockey. The goal is to determine which horse will run the best figure under today’s conditions, at today’s distance, with today’s jockey etc. Sometimes it takes some digging to discover these horses – put they can pay great!
This is in sharp contrast to a horse that has run big figures while winning as the lone speed or while taking advantage of a track bias in its races. If this kind of horse is likely to face pressure up front, or it will not have a track bias in its favor, there’s a good chance it won’t be able to replicate those past figures – yet the horse will still get hammered at the windows. You’ll know better and will look elsewhere for a solid overlay.
Horses that have run a bigger figure than usual in their most recent races must be looked at closely. Every once in a while you will see a horse with a Beyer Speed Figure pattern that looks like this: 47-49-46-72-49 or 47-49-46-72. Obviously something is out of whack here. What figure do you think the horse is most likely to run in its next start? If you guessed somewhere between 46 and 49 you’d be right. There are occasions when a horse will run an uncharacteristically big figure and keep improving, but these occasions are generally reserved for young horses, which can improve dramatically.
If a figure looks like it is out of synch with the other figures, especially within the form of older claiming horses with established forms, it’s should be considered suspect. Was the horse getting first-time Lasix? A new trainer or jockey? Was the horse the lone speed? Was it in the slop? If you can’t find a reason for the sudden figure jump, you’re better off to discard it as an aberration.
More common are patterns such as 69-65-68-74. The 74 isn’t so high that it looks totally out of place, but it could be a sign of huge effort by the horse. In many cases a horse with such a pattern will regress or “bounce” off the big effort to run a substandard figure in its next start. If the horse in this case came back with a 63 in its next race and was then given a rest, it could very well be expected to cycle back up to its precious figures of 65-69, especially if well suited to the conditions in its next race.
It is important to note that even though horses will often regress to a lower figure off a hard effort or lifetime best figure, these horses can still come back to win, usually at a short price. Why take a chance on a risky underlay when you can find much better value elsewhere?
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The bounce factor after a hard effort is commonplace in racing. A horse will often come back off a layoff and run a big race and a good figure only to regress to a poor figure and a dull effort in its next start (with much of the public’s money on it). The third start off the layoff can often be a much improved effort. Of course, this also depends on the type of race the horse ran in its first start off the layoff. Horses that duel and tire, but that are still hard-used in the stretch in their first start off the layoff will usually regress more than a horse that simply gallops around under a hold readying themselves for their next start – which could be an improved effort.
Sprinters are more likely to regress of hard races than are routers, due to the additional requirement for all-out speed in sprints, and fillies and mares are more likely to regress off a hard race than are colts and geldings. Easier to understand is that cheaper horses are more adversely affected by an exceptionally good effort as indicated by an abnormally high figure than are the classier horses. Classier horses generally get more time off between starts and are more capable of withstanding the rigors of racing – that’s just a fact. Finally, horses with good trainers are less likely to bounce off a hard effort than are horses with poor trainers. The better trainers know what to do with their horses between races.
Lifetime best Beyer Speed Figures recorded by young horses with only a few starts can be deceiving. These horses do not have established forms and many are still learning to run. They can and do improve dramatically. Lifetime best figures and abnormally high figures recorded by older horses with established forms are much more reliable as an indicator off a likely decline in the next start.
In Part 3 of this article we will take a further look at form cycles as they related to Beyer Speed Figures.
Related: Part I.