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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:10 pm 
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Breeder's Cup Winner

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This topic may have been discussed here before, I am new so I do not know if it has, but, I would like to know if handicappers, expert, novice or anywhere in between, have opinions as to the merits of Beyer Speed Figures (BSF) being accepted as a good handicapping tool, or should they be ignored?

DDT


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:40 pm 
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IMHO to each his own.

I personally don't use any speed figures, however that's becsause I know myself and I learn and observe better when I can visually see something. that's the way my brain works. it might not be the way your brain works. you might be a numbers guy, if you are and you ahd to choose from a list of figures, beyer's are the ones I would go with.

the only downfall to beyers is the more you learn about them the more you know they can be flawed. See Star of Navrone last year.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:50 pm 
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I think using ONLY Beyers to measure how a horse stacks up against the rest of a field is too simplistic. There are too many factors in handicapping that Beyers can't take into account. Some people like to use Beyers as one tool, which is fine for some people, but I'm not a big believer in numbers.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:45 pm 
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I find Beyers to be well-made professional speed figures. Their variants are generally in the right ballpark (and that is the root of all good speed figures).

To me, there are two drawbacks:

1) Methodology: Beyers do not incorporate weight or ground loss

2) They occassionaly will have an entire circuit too fast or too slow, largely based on the figure maker's view of the quality of a given racing circuit. For example, when Turfway Park first got its Polytrack, the Beyer figs were way way too low. California racing is another circuit that tends to be overrated or underrated, dpeending on whose figs you use.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:00 pm 
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Okay, this is a start in the right direction, so when I say use as a tool, I mean can we take a Beyer speed figure at face value to indicate how fast a particular race was run compared to the other horses entered in a specific race? We all know that the fastest horse does not always win the race, so it is reasonable that the horse with the highest last race Beyer does not always win, in fact, in my personal data base, these horses win at around 30-33% in a sample containing over 10,000 races from all over the United States. My personal opinion is that the Beyer number is more reliable than the DRF number or the BRIS figures.

Roke

I agree that simply using the number is not the way to go, for many reasons, but why would you say you are not a big believer in numbers?

What would you say if I could prove to you that using the Beyer figures along with certain basic handicapping factors would give you better than a 60% win percentage and close to 80% for win and place?

DDT


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:16 pm 
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A big drawback, I find, is that Beyers are totally useless when certain conditions exist. Four examples off the top of my head:

1. Let's say a horse has run some mediocre races with a bug rider. All of a sudden, the trainer of the horse switches to his "go" rider - in this case, the Beyers don't tell me anything - the rider switch tells me a lot more.

2. Let's say a horse gets claimed by a Dutrow, a Mullins, or any high percentage "off the claim" trainer - what do past Beyers mean?

3. Let's say a barn known for betting has a 10:1 morning line entry that's 5:2 on the board - if a betting barn is lighting up the board, what do I care what the Beyers say?

4. If a horse takes a VERY suspicious drop, do I care if past Beyers tower over a field? Let's say a horse just ran 2nd for $50,000, and it suddenly drops to $25,000. It might have the best Beyers in the race, but so what? Those Beyers were probably earned when the horse had four legs.

What does Beyer mean with 1st time Lasix? Or first time turf? Or if the horse is off a layoff and I know that a trainer gives a horse a race or two just to get back into shape? Or if a horse suddenly has a bar shoe on? Or if a horse has crappy Beyers but shows up with a bar shoe off?

There are many, many more examples, but you get the idea.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:22 pm 
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the beauty of handicapping is that that there are more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.

another reason i dont' use speed figures is because as roke will tell you at least 100 times int he next year, horses don't run against the clock, they run against each toher. horses aren't machines, they aren't math equations, they are animals.

this is very simplistic but let me put it this way. let's say I am in a 100 yard foot race with my 6YO brother, my 7YO sister and my 10YO step sister. I'm pretty athletic and ran track in HS... I'm not slow.

so we get out and I see that they just can't keep up with me so I make sure I beat them but I don't exert everything I possibly can to beat them... there is no need to.

let's say there was a speed figure for that foot race and I got a 78.... you compare that against people who have been racing people my age and it doesn't compare. what the speed figure won't tell you is that I didn't exert myself and I have alot more speed than I showed in that race. someone looking at the race could see the horse is playing on the lead looking for something to do. someone who hasn't can not.

when I first started handicapping I swore by Beyer becuase I didn't kn ow how to look at races. I think most people who live and die by speed figures just litererly don't know what to look for. in the beyers you see a hosre that could not get out of 3rd place last race, watching hte race you see a jockey that dropped the stick and the horse woudln't change leads.

another reason I prefer not ot use speed figures is becuaase at the end of the day, my most important stat is my ROI. most of my very nice picks come off races where horses have superstar beyers that are nothing but a number... that's hard to put into an words.. an example is Bellamy Road in the Wood or Star of Navrone in the winstar derby



DDT...

I am not going to argue with you winning 60% of the time. if you can tip of the hat. i will tell you what works for me. I consider myself to be good but i'm not THAT good. On avg i'm in the mid 30%'s on a yearly basis... in August of last year I was hitting around 44%, GREAT month... December I was about 18%.

with that said, ROI is IMHO just as important as your win percentage. you can win 60% and if you dot'n know how to manage yoru money still be in the poor house. every pick I make is with the indication that if I made this bet 100 times who is the best bet that will make the the most money, not necessary the best hosre in the race. the best hosre is not always the best bet.

I do al ittle stock trading. acdtually I do alot of stock trading. think of it this way.

Let's take Microsoft, Yahoo and I don't know... Coke

What you are doing in essesne when you say you can win at 60% of the time is you are saying "which company is the best company". That is something that you do need to know, make no mistake. However the company that is the best company is not necessary the company that investing in is going to bring you the most money. If a company like say Microsoft is right now is trading around their high, it might go up a tad but it doesn't make sense to throw alot of money into them becuase the ROI is not worth the risk.

Take a stock like yahoo. Yahoo will never be confused for GE when it comes to company structure, however right now they are trading at more than half less than it's high about 2 years ago, it right now is a very undervalued stock, and more than likely soomeone is about to step in and buy them. (I'd buy some stock if you could afford it BTw in yahoo)

In horse racing terms, while Microsoft is the say...8/5 fav, I'm putting my money on the 5 to 1 Yahoo because I have more opprotunity to make money. and the difference in playing for fun and making a living is being able to pay bills at the end of the month


with that said, are there any other types of figures anyone else uses.. any home made forumlas?

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:32 pm 
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Roke

The answer to all of your questions is that the Beyer number is only ONE tool, and many times it is useless, but the key here is that, for any manner in which you try to evaluate the overall speed or lack thereof for any individual runner using a past performance as a guide does not mean that the feat will be duplicated, increased or decreased. It works both ways, just because a horse ran 1:10 and change a month ago does not mean the horse can do it again in the race in question, especially if the past race was at a different track or over a different distance.

There are many things wrong with the Beyer figures, the sheet figures, or any method of evaluating speed, even raw final times do not tell the entire story.

One question I always ask when discussing Beyer figures is when a horse runs a faster race, same day, same track, same distance but different class, earns a lower Beyer figure than a horse than ran slower but in a higher class. The explanation is always given as par times and class of the race have a greater influence and impact on the final number, so, the higher class race is assigned a higher Beyer even if the final time is slower. Go figure.


I am not saying that the Beyers are not flawed, but I do believe that short of doing your own figures, Beyer figures have some merit, and can be used as a tool, along with many other tools to arrive at a selection.

DDT


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:47 pm 
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good analysis. I think you answered your own question there

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:54 pm 
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Hi DDT,

I didn't write that Beyers were useless or not a tool for those who use them - I wrote that, in many different circumstances, they're of no use when evaluating a horse.

Let's just suppose that a horse has figures that tower over the field...but it shows up wearing fronts for the first time. Am I to assume that the Beyers will hold up any better than the horse will?

Let's say a horse just won a race and earned a top Beyer, but the horse is now taking a class drop off the win. Does the horse figure to repeat, or is the trainer screaming, "I got a win out of this sucker and now I'm unloading him...take him!"

So DDT, I'm not saying that Beyers can't be used to compare horses, but I think there are many situations where past Beyers just don't apply when weighed against other factors. Here's my basic handicapping tool:

A LONG time ago, I was told, "When you're handicapping, look at a horse's form and ask yourself, 'What is this horse doing in today's race?'" Is he in for just exercise, is he in to get claimed, or is he "in it to win it?" What has the horse done in its last two or three races to bring it to today's race? Is the horse sitting on a good effort or a crappy one? I think that's a good way to evaluate a horse before handicapping it against the rest of the field with whatever tools you choose to use/not use.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:32 pm 
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you bring up one of the biggest questions I find myself asking every day roke.. waht the HELL is this horse doing in todays race. if you can answer that quesiton on a race by race basis you are doing better than the field.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:02 pm 
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Breeder's Cup Winner

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Roke

It was told to me in a different manner but with the same meaning, "If you were training the horse why would you enter it in today's race?"

I have to go out for awhile, but I will get back to this because there is more I want to discuss..

DDT


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:03 pm 
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Hi DDT,

One of my FAVORITE "angles" is when a maiden drops in for a tag for the first time - especially if the horse has shown speed. This, also, is a case where Beyers might not mean as much as the class drop.

Let's say a maiden has been running in MSWs and contesting :22, :45 splits only to collapse in the stretch every time. By losing by 20 lengths all the time, it probably has crummy Beyers.

Now, let's say that the horse is entered in a $40,000 maiden claimer and some of the horses in the field have better Beyer numbers than the MSW dropdown, but the main speed(s) have shown that they can't run faster than :23, :46 splits. The MSW dropdown now figures to have an easier time on the lead with less quality horses behind it. Instead of being wrapped up down the stretch like it has been before, the horse might actually get brave, and instead of being wrapped up, asked to run. It's unbelievable what kinds of longshots this angle produces time after time.

The difference between MSWs and maiden claimers is often the difference between day and night. To me, it's the biggest class drop in racing and I don't think past performance Beyers can override the class dropdown factor if horses that have already lost for the maiden $40,000 class have better Beyers than the MSW dropdown.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:20 pm 
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okay let me ask you this roke.. what do you think is the most OVERRATED CLASS DROP or CLASS RAISE in racing?


To me it's the 80ish OC Type race into say a Grade 3 Stakes Race. I can sit here from here until sunday and name horses that bumped up from that 80ish OC type of race to stakes races.


I'll tell you a HUGE class raise that kills people... 4k to 5k at mountineer park. I think that's why alot of peopel struggle there. "it's only 1 thousand dollars".. man, horses in that 4k claimer level can't come close to the 5k claimers at mountineer. it's night and day. it's like moving from 20k to 40k on a regular track for some reason

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:37 pm 
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I think the most overrated class drop is dropping from a Non Winners of one allowance to a $50,000 claimer. In $50,000 claimers, you'll often get hard knocking horses that have 3, 4,, 5 or more wins under their belts - all a Non Winner of One horse usually has only broken its maiden.

On the other hand, I LOVE a hard hitting mid-level claimer this time of year in NY going to the Non Winners Of One allowance. The allowances in NY this time of year are so much easier than in the late spring and summer, so it's often not a class raise at all.

One type of horse I'll usually toss out is the three year old that's facing older horses for the first time, especially in claimers. A straight claiming race for three year olds is nowhere as tough as the same price for horses three and up. Claiming races for straight three year olds often have horses that have only broken their maiden, or maybe have two or three career wins. When they face olders for the same price, they often suddenly face hard knocking five and six year olds with $200,000 or more in earnings.

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